About Us
A small press that takes its cues from an obscure octopus. Send us your mysterious, oceanic, fragile, theoretically-perfect words.


About Our Name
A paper nautilus is a very small octopus, also known as an argonaut. The females live inside of a kind of paper shell for extra protection — despite that these shells are very fragile. Proportionally, however, these shells are “perfect,” as these delicate spirals follow the proportions of the golden ratio.

We loved this dichotomy: protection and fragility, perfect design and rare survival, mathematical formulas and mysterious ocean-dwellers. 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 to help her during the academic year, if students are interested. (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 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 do charge reading fees. These range from $5 to $14 (some price points also include a book at a discount), and we are not getting rich off of them. These funds are used strictly for press operations; think of every fee as a contributing to the crowdfunding of someone’s book. 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.

For more specifics on what we’re looking for and what authors can expect, check out our info on the Debut Series and Vella Chapbook contests.

Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and (sporadically) Twitter

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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