Some Questions Worth Sharing

July 26, 2013

With the 2013 Vella Chapbook Prize submissions period quickly coming to an end in just a few weeks, I’ve received some questions. After answering them individually, I thought it might make more sense to answer them here as well, since other folks interested in entering their manuscripts might have similar concerns.

I got an email from Paper Nautilus with a link to submit to the chapbook contest, but it doesn’t work.
OK, not a question, but still something worth addressing. Some recipients of our group emails – for whatever reason – can’t simply click on the link to our Submittable, while others can. However, the link address – ” ” – is correct, so if you copy and paste it, it should work just fine. (And if you’re wondering what emails I’m referring to, and your last name starts with a letter between R and Z, it’s on its way to you soon! We’re just sending the emails in alphabetical waves.)

Would you consider creative nonfiction for this contest?
The reason we don’t specifically seek out CNF is because I have no formal background in it, so I often feel like it’s unfair for me to evaluate the effectiveness of it. However, the line between creative nonfiction and regular fiction is broad and blurry – I believe that most (if not all) writers borrow from their own lives to a certain extent. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a canonical novel with lots of invented characters and events, but there are at least half a dozen scenes that were pulled directly from his own life; poor poets are often assumed to be writing about their own lives even when they aren’t, and nobody ever demands them to clarify if it “really happened” or not. If it’s arranged so that the narrative has the same affect on a reader as if the piece were fictional, if it’s powerful and well done, I am delighted to read your nonfiction manuscripts!

Is the winning chapbook based on your own taste, or on the merit of the writing itself?
This is such a complicated question, but I’m glad someone thought to ask this. As many of you know, Paper Nautilus makes a point of being eclectic for our annual magazine, and the staff and myself work hard to think and read with a critical eye that allows us to see (to borrow a popular workshop phrase) “what’s working” in an individual piece. With the addition of so many staff members this year, I think many of you will find that the 2013 issue has a broader reach than ever in terms of tone and style. As vague as it may be, the reason we often say “our only criteria is quality” is because we want to be inclusive of all the good work that’s being written out there. However, I’ll be the only one reading these chapbook entries, and “quality” is often subjective. I am open minded and committed to running a fair contest to publish the best possible work, but I’m still a human being with preferences and opinions and all sorts of other non-technical ways to evaluate something. You should know, though, that often the pieces I fall hardest for are the ones that surprise me by being so beyond the range of what I like to think of as my own taste.

I already submitted to have an individual work in the 2013 issue. Can I still submit a chapbook?
Yes! If you have work sitting in the queue for our general submissions for poetry, fiction, or aphorisms, you are of course welcome to send your manuscript along, too. You’re welcome to submit more than one chapbook entry, as well, with a separate entry fee.

If you folks have anything else on your minds, please just let me know.

Lisa Mangini


3 Responses to “Some Questions Worth Sharing”

  1. Christin Rice said

    Help! I’m trying to submit at 10pm Pacific Time, but the contest is already closed out. Any chance it could be reopened for a few more hours? Thought I’d at least ask. Thanks!!

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