Visiting Writers: Advice From Allison Wright

Visiting Writers: Advice From Allison Wright

By Nick Chhoeun

Earlier this month, Allison Wright of VQR hosted the spring boot camp. She had much to say about the literary journal including useful tips for submissions. Here’s a brief recap of the event.

About VQR:

  • VQR receives 11,000-12,000 submissions a year, the second highest for literary journals on Submittable. Poetry accounts for the highest number of submissions, followed closely by fiction. Nonfiction accounts for the fewest submissions.
  • Interns and past contributors review the submissions. At least two people read each submission. They vote on the work. Work that receives two “no” votes is not reviewed by the editors.
  • VQR is looking for pieces about people. Stories that focus on people and reveal something significant about them.
  • VQR accepts about .05% of the work submitted through Submittable.

Cover Letters

  • Do not provide an extended explanation of where you were when you wrote the piece, or how you were feeling.
  • Do not address your letter to “Sirs.”
  • Do not write an extended biography; no one really cares where you live or how many kids you have. Keep it to 100 words or fewer.
  • A few key things you should include: a personal connection or relationship to an editor (if applicable), professors you’ve studied with, recognitions as a scholar and awarded fellowships, graduate degree(s), where your work has appeared, pertinent credentials, and completed research.


  • Pitching is for reviews and reported features. Don’t pitch personal essays. Send the completed product.
  • Consider VQR‘s issue schedule when pitching. Features have a 3-6 month lead-time.
  • Make it easy for the the editor to say yes and send a complete, researched pitch. A complete pitch should reflect a week or two of preliminary research. It should make clear why you are the best person to write this piece and the logistics of how this piece will take shape (include everything from travel budget to estimated completion dates).

Advice to Emerging Writers

  • Submit! Even if the odds seem daunting. Even if your submission is a book review or album review. The best way to get noticed is to put your work out there.

Photo: Patricia Park

Nick Chhoeun is a staff editor at Café MFA and a second-year candidate in American University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

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