About Our Name
A paper nautilus is a very small octopus, also known as an argonaut. The females create thin cases that they live inside of, which strongly resemble chambered nautilus shells. While these shells are a source of shelter, they’re very delicate and can easily be destroyed. Proportionally, however, they are “perfect,” as these spirals are mathematically very close to the golden ratio. For being perfect, a number of species of paper nautili are unfortunately extinct.

We loved this dichotomy: protection and fragility, perfect design and rare survival, mathematical formulas and creative expression. Paper Nautilus wants your gorgeous, strange, vulnerable, elegant words. We think of every chapbook as a temporary shelter for our readers to seek refuge in, knowing this protection only lasts as long as the number of pages.

Our Origins
Paper Nautilus was founded in February of 2011. We started as an independent literary magazine, with one print issue annually. Our annual issue has been on hiatus since 2017, but we hope to resume someday in the future. However, we began holding chapbook contests in 2012, and our main focus since 2016 has been as a chapbook press.

We are a small operation, having no more than three editors per genre in the past; today, the entire staff consists of Founding Editor Lisa Mangini, along with a few interns during the academic year, if students are interested. Any copies you order will more than likely show up with your name and address handwritten by Lisa, who houses all our inventory on a bookshelf in her home. (Also, it is so weird to be writing this in third person, but also seems to be the right choice, so…)

About our Books and Business Practices
We publish chapbooks each year through contests: the Vella Chapbook Prize, and the Debut Series Chapbook Prize. The Vella Chapbooks are open to any writer, while our Debut Series Chapbooks is open only to writers with no previous chapbooks or full-length publications. Previously, our Debut Series Chapbooks were handmade and saddle-stitched, but as of 2018, all our chapbooks moving forward are perfect-bound, like a standard paperback.

We read submissions anonymously, but are committed to having diversity represented among our contributors – the experiences and perspectives of all writers are respected and valued here, regardless if they resemble our own. We also have a special fondness for the emerging writer.

We keep our contest fees as low as possible (between $5-14), and we reinvest every dollar back into our operations: more entries submitted means more chapbooks can be funded, working sort of as a crowdfunding mechanism, rather than any kind of “profit” from these fees. If you are a writer and a fee of any kind is truly a hardship or barrier for you, contact us and we will do what we can to work something out: we want the chance to support your work, regardless of your income. Winners are awarded with generous copies (100 for Vella Chapbook winners; 50 for Debut Series winners) in addition to 10% royalties; this offers the author the freedom to decide if they wish to be a salesperson or a marketer in addition to being a writer — or allows the author to refrain from treating their art like a business and may simply give the copies away, if they so choose. No pre-sale purchase requirements, no sales goals; we respect and understand why other presses do this, but we simply opted for another business model. We are as transparent as possible in all aspects of our production, and value being entrusted with your work.

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One Response to “About”

  1. Hi – have you announced the winner of the chapbook contest, that was to be done Aug 1, 2016? I don’t remember getting any notice, but I may have overlooked it. Info would be appreciated!

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