Chapbooks/Books (Press)

Chapbook contest ($11 fee) + editor interview – Paper Nautilus, DEADLINE: April 20, 2020

Paper Nautilus is a small press publishing chapbooks each year through two contests: the Vella Chapbook Prize, and the Debut Series Chapbook Prize. There is a reasonable fee for each contest, but if the fee is an economic hardship to an eligible submitter, please contact them, and they will do everything possible to work with you.

I don’t typically post contests or calls that require a submission/entry fee, but I appreciate the literary citizenship of press founder Lisa Mangini. Here’s an example, a guest blog post she shared with my readers:

4 things to look for in a poetry contest - guest blog post by Lisa Mangini of Paper Nautilus Press

I wanted to know more about what they are up to, so I asked Mangini some questions to find out. See my interview as well as a link to contest guidelines below.

HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about Paper Nautilus. 

MANGINI: Paper Nautilus is a chapbook press. It takes its name from a type of octopus that resides in a delicate “paper” shell. I was really drawn to this idea of a mysterious octopus seeking shelter in something fragile, masquerading as a chambered nautilus (I also love the Golden Ratio). It felt representative of all the varied, complex types of writing I hope we attract.

HOPKINSON: How/why was Paper Nautilus originally started?

MANGINI: Paper Nautilus started as a literary journal in 2011, just as I was about to enter my final year of grad school. After having worked on the campus literary journal at three different colleges and universities, I realized that the best way to keep doing this was to just launch a publication myself. We started publishing chapbooks in 2012, and transitioned to exclusively a chapbook press in 2016.

HOPKINSON: Who is your target reader audience?

MANGINI: I’m not sure I think of the work we publish as aimed at any one audience in particular. I try to think of it more as maybe not every title will resonate with every reader, but that we aim to have everyone find at least one title from our catalog that speaks to them.

HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?

MANGINI: I’m often surprised by which manuscripts speak to me in any given contest period! A sense of sound and (sentence) rhythm and how language is used is something I notice in all genres of manuscripts. There’s a broad range of stuff we like, but do generally want an overarching theme within the manuscript. We tend to be drawn to works that take risks in terms of technique, but while still being accessible to most readers.

HOPKINSON: What do you wish you’d see submitted, but rarely comes in?

MANGINI: Some goals we have each year are to publish a range of genres — but people mostly think of the chapbook as a form exclusively for poetry. So, more prose manuscripts, including literary non-fiction. (But don’t get me wrong, we publish a lot of poetry, and are looking for that, too!)

HOPKINSON: What are some of your favorite lit mags/journals?

MANGINI: Wow, there are so many it’s almost overwhelming to pick. Memoir Mixtapes, Atticus Review, Black Warrior Review, Adroit, DIAGRAM, Brevity, Drunk Monkeys, Measure, New Ohio Review, Gigantic Sequins, and maybe a hundred others. There are so many places publishing amazing stuff.

HOPKINSON: What is your favorite part of being on staff with Paper Nautilus?

MANGINI: I get to support writers, and help make their important work more widely available and visible to more readers. That moment when the author receives their books and it becomes “real” for them is pretty amazing.

HOPKINSON: Where can we send submissions?

MANGINI: To our Submittable:

HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you? 

MANGINI: Email is best: paper.nautilus (at)

Click here to read submission guidelines.

CONTEST DEADLINE: April 20, 2020

FORMAT: Printed chapbooks



PAYMENT: 100 copies/10% royalites

FORMS: poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and mixed- or hybrid-genre works (prose poems, flash fiction, a lyric essay bookended by two poems, a short story sandwiched between poems, one long-ish short story or memoir, 24 pages of poems, and any other combination that might be missing in this list)

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4 replies »

    • It depends on the press, but most have similar guidelines to what Paper Nautilus states in theirs: “Collection as a whole must be unpublished, but individual publications are fine.”

  1. Hi Trish,     Would you be willing to post the Blue Light Press chapbook contest. I’d be happy to do an interview with you. We have a $10 fee, which is low these days compared to other presses, and we’d be willing to waive it in cases of economic hardship. We are a micropress and use 100% of the submission fees to publish the winning ms. If we collect more than we need, we often choose more than one book.     Does this interest you? Best wishes, Diane Frank Blue Light Press

    • Hi Diane, thanks for asking. I need to think about the best way to approach this. I’m not sure I’ll continue to share any fee contests or submission calls. I’ve thought about adding a Classifieds type section to my blog, but not sure when I’ll have time to put that together. My best recommendation for now is to submit it to Allison Joseph’s CRWROPPS blog.

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