October 1, 2016
It is always bittersweet to announce these winners each year. I am thrilled that enough writers trusted us to send us 220 manuscripts to review, and that I had the honor of reading these collections that few others have had the opportunity to read. And then knowing that I’ll get to work closely with a handful of these writers and help make their manuscript a finished chapbook is always exciting. All of that is pretty incredible. But it’s also sometimes hard to deliver over 200 rejections to individual writers in one sitting on a Saturday morning, knowing that at least some of these people will probably be pretty disappointed, and perhaps doubt the quality of their work. There were many, many more manuscripts even beyond the finalists listed here that I would publish in a heartbeat if Paper Nautilus could take them on. So, please keep writing and doing your important work, and it will find the right press at the right time.
Below is a list of winners and finalists in each category. We received almost 90 Debut Series entries, and over 130 Vella Entries.
Debut Series Winners:
Jess Kim: These, Our Bodies
John Miller: Heat Lightning
Debut Series Finalists:
Lisa DeSiro: Simple as a Sonnet
Melody Nielsen: Navelgazer
Jennifer Bradpiece: Lullabies for End Times
Jacquelyn Shah: Small Fry
Woody Woodger: Postcards from Glasshouse Drive
Robin Parsons: Burnt Offering
Ellene Moore: What We Do with our Hands after Flood
Kelly Bancroft: Agnes
Laurie Barton: Ring My Bell
Kolleen Carney: Your Hand Has Fixed the Firmament
Vella Chapbook Winners:
Eloisa Amezcua: Symptoms of Teething
Michael Cuglietta: The Feast of Jupiter
Anita Olivia Koester: Arrow Songs
Vella Chapbook Finalists:
Jennifer Van Alstyne: Pelt
Eliot Khalil Wilson: The Lunatic’s Left-Hand Man
Massiel Ladron De Guevara: Wild Horse
Kat Meads: Miss Jane Repurposes
Vivian Wagner: Erratics
Joyce Goldenstern: Way Stops Americana
Billi MacTighe: Simulacrum
Brett Riley: Movies and Daydreams
Marina Carreira: I sing to that bird knowing he won’t sing back
Victoria Moore: Au Bateau
Anne-Marie Yerks: The Cat Photographer
Holly Woodward: Read Whatever You Want Into This
Pedro Ponce: The Sign Crash
Thank you again for sharing your work with us.
August 12, 2016
I can hardly believe that we’re nearly midway through August already, and am stunned at how quickly Summer has passed. We have some exciting things in progress that we’d hope to have done, but are not quite to fruition yet.
Kathryn Kulpa’s “Girls on Film” was sent to the printer today! Be on the look out for it in the next two weeks or so, and please consider placing an order for this stunning short fiction collection. Fellow 2015 Vella Winner Jill Khoury’s “Chance Operations” will be quick to follow, too!
Talisha and I have been devoting a lot of time to “Excavating Honesty: an Anthology of Rage and Hope in America,” and we have made huge amounts of progress this summer. There were so many excellent works submitted — and a handful we are still actively discussing — but we expect to have this digital anthology released some time in September 2016. I am confident it will be well worth the wait.
Because I had initially hoped the anthology would have already been completed by the beginning of Summer, I had also anticipated on having that time to review Chapbook submissions — and had also not necessarily planned on teaching an intensive Summer class the last six weeks (but, hey, those bills aren’t going to pay themselves, unfortunately). All of this is to say that — surprise! — chapbook decisions are also delayed as well. The new goal is October 1st for results. I know that is a long time to wait for those of you who sent in manuscripts in mid-February, but I also have manuscripts of my own languishing for what seems like forever in other publishers’ Submittables, so I definitely understand and thank you for your patience!
The 2016 issue of Paper Nautilus is, at the moment, still slated for it’s late fall/early winter release of around Thanksgiving.
June 2, 2016
Like most small presses, we have been busy here at PN: all three of our 2015 Debut Series chapbook winners have been produced and released — and some have even sold out and gone into their second printing already! I was nervous about exploring handmade chapbooks, and there has definitely been a learning curve in figuring out the time constraints in sewing them by hand, but they ultimately appear to be some of our most successful titles. I couldn’t be more thrilled. We have two more 2015 Vella titles that are in very late stages of layout and just waiting for some final touches, and those should be available very soon, too.
Our 2016 chapbook contest period finished up in mid-May, and I am excited to begin reviewing the manuscripts we received. Entries were down probably about 35% from last year. I love being able to help support as many titles as possible, but having fewer to read and produce is likely a good thing, since this past year has been a bit overwhelming.
Submissions for our 2016 annual issue are open for roughly two more weeks, or until 6/15.
My amazing Co-Editor Talisha and I are working hard at getting the “Excavating Honesty” digital anthology closer. We have gotten some incredible work, and are anxious to finish deciding on submissions and make the final product available, as I’m sure all of the writers who’ve patiently waited on this project are as well. This has been a long work in progress, so thanks to all of you for hanging in there while we’ve been working towards making a strong collection. It means the world to us.
And another note on long delays, but directed toward general submissions to our annual issue: we have had some staff who needed to leave PN for various reasons, and the staff who remain with us, myself included, have day jobs and demanding, complex lives. None of us get paid to work on this journal or small press, but we do it out of a desire to support good writing and writers. So please bear with any backlogs and delays kindly — we’ve gotten a few nasty messages from writers who were unhappy about how long it’s taken to respond to their work. I am not, in general, a patient person, so I can understand the frustration at having to wait, especially with something so personal as one’s writing. Please just remember that there are real people at the other end of Submittable or an email you send (both at PN and other journals) who are not customer service bots, but are donating time to these publishing projects out of love.
Expect to see some updates on the final two 2015 Vella releases soon, and until then, I hope you all enjoy the long days of late light we get this time of year.
February 13, 2016
We have just released two of our 2015 Vella Chapbook Winners – Charles Rafferty’s Diminution and Christina Olson’s Weird Science – and have several more late in the proofing stage and very close to the end of production. Which means I’m shocked to realize that it’s already time for all of you to start thinking about what manuscripts you may want to send to our 2016 contests! Both the 2016 Vella Chapbook Contest and the 2016 Debut Series Contest open February 15, and run through May 15th. We cannot wait to see what incredible work we receive this year; the decisions get more difficult each time, and the number of entries keeps growing. We are overjoyed to be a place where so many writers trust us with their work, and are amazed at the rate that we seem to be growing.
Which brings me to another point: Paper Nautilus has gotten so big that we really need to consider how to make our production more manageable. This means making some changes, which always seem to make people a bit nervous. But I think we can make these transitions in a way that everyone can benefit from and be all the happier with.
It’s worth noting that nothing with the chapbook contests will change. Vella winners will get 100 perfect-bound copies + ISBN, Debut Series will get 50 hand-bound copies, and we will NEVER pressure our authors to make additional purchases or reach pre-sale goals. We believe that artists should be able to earn money from their work, but not that they must reduce their art into something that should be profitable. That’s why we give our authors the books and let them decide. And while we’re a bit behind on our production schedule from last year’s amazing winners, the small press end of Paper Nautilus is strong and successful as-is.
The annual issue, however, is more challenging. It requires an enormous amount of time from both my staff and myself, and we think that our production schedule makes it difficult to obtain the best work we can. By accepting submissions all year, we get backlogged quickly, which means lots of wonderful work gets withdrawn before we can even read it – and also makes for some frustration for writers who have to wait so long to hear back. To address this, we’re closing our reading period on June 15, 2016. Moving forward, our reading period will run February 15 – June 15.
We are also considering potential format changes four our 2017 issue. We love print for a number of reasons, but it can sometimes really limit who can see our authors’ work, which we think is potentially a disservice to them. No decisions have been made on this yet, and we’re surveying other editors and writers to get a full sense of what makes the most sense and keeps as many people happy as possible. More to come on this in the future — and we’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
And we’re still making progress on the Digital Anthology, another thing we’re beyond excited about, but also behind on, which is all the more reason to keep thinking about how we can shift our process to run more effectively. Stay tuned for more on Excavating Honesty‘s release, which we’re hoping will be late spring!
Thanks as always for being a part of this; having so much interest and excellent writing is a great problem for us to have, and it’s because of your support of us.
December 1, 2015
A big box of copies of the 2015 issue arrived to my home in Pennsylvania while I was visiting family for Thanksgiving in Connecticut. They are in my living room, and will be addressed and mailed to contributors within the next several days.
Production of the Debut Chapbook winners is beginning to gear up, and we may even have some updates on a few of those titles as early as January, with Vella Chapbook winners following thereafter.
Thanks to all our authors (and artists) for all of their contributions, and for letting us be a part of making them more widely available. Now, back to work.
October 24, 2015
We know it’s been a longer wait for these results, and we thank you for your patience. This decision gets more difficult every year — and, thankfully, the contest generates more interest every year as well, which has allowed us to steadily expand how many titles we can take on. This year, we have four Vella Chapbook Winners, in alphabetical order:
Chance Operations – Jill Khoury
Girls on Film – Kathryn Kulpa
Weird Science – Christina Olson
Diminution – Charles Rafferty
Each year, we also name 10% of the manuscripts we receive as finalists, which are below, in alphabetical order:
RoofBoy Come Down – Rick Alley
17 Seventeen XVII – E. Kristin Anderson
The Fourth Nest – Sara Backer
Visible Light – Zoe Etkin
What the Moon Sees – Kathryn Kulpa
After the Creek – Autumn McClintock
Miranda in the Tower – Khristian Mecom
The Girl on the Bridge – Susan Morehouse
Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face: Three Tales of Men in Pain – Timothy O’Leary
Maroon Angela Penaredondo
What is Reflected Susan Rukeyser
Sustenance – Sheila Squillante
Killing a Bird – Ryan Taylor
Wonderful – David Welch
What I Would Say if We Were to Drown Tonight in the Ocean – Sharla Yates
We received over 150 manuscripts for this contest. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to consider so many manuscripts, and to have been trusted with your work. Please know that many manuscripts that were not selected for publication or named as finalists were still highly moving, powerful, memorable, and compelling, and demonstrated excellence in craft. This was a very difficult decision to come to among so much excellent work.
We are in the early stages of formatting PN15, which we hope to release sometime around Thanksgiving. Once we finish up with our annual issue, we’ll be shifting out focus to getting these four titles (and our three Debut Series Winners) put into production.
Thank you, as always, for your support of Paper Nautilus, and please join me in congratulating the winners and finalists!
October 5, 2015
We hope that everyone is beginning to enjoy fall, and that folks who are connected to academic life are settling into a good routine for this semester or school year.
This note is just to give a quick update that were are currently finalizing the works that will be included in our 2015 annual issue, and moving towards layout shortly.
We are also still working through the many lovely manuscripts received for the Vella Chapbook contest, and hope to have the results very soon. My goal is to have the winners and finalists announced before Halloween – which is still a long time to wait for those who sent to that contest when it first opened in mid-February – and hopefully earlier, if possible.
We are additionally working towards layout and production of our three Debut Series winners – Bernard Grant, Emily Moore, and Emily Webber – so stay tuned for more updates on when those are available.
Finally, we have our “Excavating Honesty” anthology that we’ll be reading for until November 1st. If you have literary work that addresses identity – particularly related to race, class, sexuality, and the like – and the complexity and difficult experiences surrounding it that might help foster understanding, please send it along to be considered for this collection.
So, we may be a little quieter on social media and updating fewer blog posts here, but know that we are busy working to keep up with all of these projects, and to continue bringing your incredible, powerful writing into the world. Thank you so much for your trust and patience and we strive to catch up!
August 20, 2015
We have selected three manuscripts for publication in the Debut Series, which are the following:
Puzzle Pieces – Bernard Grant
Shuffle – Emily Moore
Macerated – Emily Webber
We have also selected ten finalists, whose work we also very much admired:
Two Dreams of the Afterlife – Kelly Bancroft
Finally the Open Sea – Shebana Coelho
Like Wet Leaves in Floridian Heat – Nicholas Finch
Bowling in the Bumper Lane – Corey Ginsberg
Getting to the Point – Joanne Kerrigan
Animals & Enclosures – Joe Lucido
Girl Life – Leila Ortiz
Maroon – Angela Penaredondo
Hotels & Motels – Jennifer Porter
V – Chris Wiewiora
We received over 100 entries, and the quality of work was overwhelmingly high. Please know that this was a very tough decision, and there were many titles beyond these 13 that I found deft and memorable and moving — and very much deserving of publication. I was astonished that these manuscripts came from writers who have yet to publish a book or chapbook — which is to say, please, please keep sending your work out, even if I was unable to publish it this time. Send it everywhere. Your work belongs out in the world.
The Vella Chapbook submissions are still undergoing review. I am doing my best to work through these 150 manuscripts, but without rushing and still giving them the attention they deserve. I thank you for your patience.
We are still seeking work for our Digital Anthology focused on underrepresented groups and identities that explores both the uncomfortable realities and moments of healing and reconciliation. Works should be creative (poetry, short fiction, memoir/lyric essay/other CNF, or mixed genre), and should also be from a writer who identifies as a member of an underrepresented community. You can send submissions here: https://papernautilus.submittable.com/submit/41571
Additionally, PN15 should be just about full, and we’ll be beginning layout and production on that shortly. Release date is tough to estimate at the moment, since I’ve not yet settled down into my new position, but I’m hoping for late September or October.
Until then, I hope you all enjoy these last days of summer, and I’m looking forward to helping get all these works out into the world.
June 12, 2015
Hope folks are enjoying their summer! This is just a quick update to let everyone know that we may operate more slowly in the next 2-3 months. We have six fantastic genre editors at Paper Nautilus, and thankfully, they handle all of your poetry and prose submissions to our annual issue. Potential contributors for PN15 shouldn’t notice any real hiccups.
However, As Editor in Chief, I handle many other elements, including book order fulfillment, and reviewing the chapbook contest submissions. As a writer myself, I know how impatient I get when waiting to see a response to my own work – which is why I shifted the reading period for the 2015 contests to three months earlier in the year, so that it would be summer and I would have plenty of time to read the 250 manuscripts we received. I am unexpectedly moving out of state for work this summer, though, so now what was going to be time to read and re-read and enjoy everyone’s chapbook submissions is now time I’ll need to use for packing, moving, renting my home, and all the other tasks that accompany relocation.
These are all really exciting things, and I am by no means complaining! But, I do realize that it may be harder for me to have results to the contests by the timeframe we initially estimated, which was sometime in August. I am hoping results won’t be too far beyond that (and who knows, it may take me less time to get settled than I expect), but I think it’s important to be clear about how we operate, which includes aspects that can potentially impact our response times. And because I am splitting my time between two locations, only one of which has our inventory, depending on where I am, orders for issues or chapbooks may not be mailed until 7-10 days after they are placed.
In the meantime, my editors have given me great feedback on the work we’re receiving for PN15 and how excited they are about some of the pieces they’ve seen. And so, no matter where I’m living or how much longer it takes me to respond to everyone who submitted, I am always aware of how it is your work and your willingness to trust us with it that allows us to do what we do. Thanks for that.
May 7, 2015
Both the semester and our two chapbook contests are coming to an end shortly. I’ll be picking up my last stack of final essays next week, and I’m looking forward to reading all these wonderful manuscripts as soon as all my grades are submitted.
If you haven’t sent us something yet, and you’d still like to, you have until May 15th! You can find the full guidelines on both the Vella and Debut Series Chapbook Contests in the menu above – or, just go straight to our Submittable.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out – we are always happy to help writers feel more comfortable with our guidelines, process, and business model.
Did I mention yet just how excited I am to start reading all of these next week? Because, while it’s always a tough decision which collection(s) we select, I truly look forward to this every year, and am so grateful to be trusted with your work.