Debut Series Chapbook Contest: Entries accepted here.

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– Manuscripts may be between 16 – 24 pages of body text (i.e., without counting the title page and table of contents and other front matter), or less than ~9000 words for prose. This relatively flexible, and you don’t need to ask if it’s alright to send us 26 pages of poems or 9300 words. Just use your best judgement and don’t go wild, ok? We trust you.

This contest is open only to writers who have not yet published a full-length manuscript or chapbook in any genre.

– Please include a title page with ONLY the title, as well as a table of contents. Please be careful that you don’t have your name in the manuscript.

– Open to 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 several poems, one long-ish short story or memoir, 24 pages of poems, and any other combination that might be missing in this list).

– Thematically-linked works are encouraged, but not required. Quality is the only criteria.

– Collection as a whole must be unpublished, but individual publications are fine.

– Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please withdraw it immediately if someone else snatches up your amazing work before we do.

– Prize: 50 perfect-bound copies of your winning chapbook, to use however you’d like (sell them, give them away, make a modern art installation in your living room, etc.) Paper Nautilus will be selling additional copies through our website or at literary events (for which you’ll receive 10% royalties on any sold), but we really want the money your book earns to go to you, not us, which is what happens when you sell your copies directly. We will never require you to buy copies of your book, nor meet a pre-sale goal. 

– Entry fee: $5, payable through Submittable. If this fee is an economic hardship, please contact us, and we will do everything possible to work with you. We also have an $8 option that comes with a random chapbook from our catalog (so at least you get something tangible for your entry fee).

– Entry period: January 20 – April 20

– Expected announcement of winner: approximately August 2020, but has been as late as October in years past.

– Expected date of publication: approximately April 2021, but has been as late as August in years past.

– Contest entries will be judged by Lisa Mangini, Paper Nautilus Editor in Chief.

12 Responses to “Debut Series Chapbook Contest”

  1. David Kann said

    Hi. Would like to enter the Debut Series Chapbook Contest through Submittable, but for the life of me I can’t find a link to Submittable ion the page. Probably, I’m missing it. Please direct me to the right spot. Thanks.

  2. […] Debut Series Chapbook Contest DUE: May 15, FEE: $5 […]

  3. Steven said

    If a few pieces have profanity, will that disqualify me?

  4. Mo said

    Manuscript is about 16-24 pages for the contest, is that for single space or double space? It it’s more than 24 pages, would that disqualify?

    • Hello! For fiction or other prose (which is most often where line spacing is a concern) we will accept a manuscript of up to 9,000 words, regardless of page numbers. The 16-24 pages refers to manuscripts that are primarily or entirely poetry, since the spacing and formatting of this work often doesn’t make sense to measure with a word count.

      The length guidelines are approximate: a poetry manuscript that is 14 pages or 26 pages is not a big deal, but sending something way outside of that will probably not fit well with what we are looking to publish. I hope this helps!

  5. Dian Parker said

    I self published a memoir on Amazon in 2014, but that is it. Does that disqualify me from the Debut contest?

    • Hi Dian, that’s a tough one. I’m going to go with no, and that you’re OK to enter the Debut Series. Hope this helps!

      • Dian Parker said

        Thanks! Here’s another question. I have a 24 page book of essays about color, with an intro. Is this something that fits with your idea for a chapbook?

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