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.

Lisa Mangini


2016 and Looking Forward

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.

Lisa Mangini

2015 Issue now available!

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.

If you would like to purchase a copy, you can order with PayPal here. And we have six stellar chapbooks and four great back issues that might make for great holiday gifts, too. Just saying.

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.

Lisa Mangini

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!

Lisa Mangini

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!

Lisa Mangini

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:

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.

–Lisa Mangini

Pardon our Delays

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.

–Lisa Mangini

The Final Stretch

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.

Lisa Mangini

It was such a great experience to get to meet so many fellow writers at the AWP bookfair – some former contributors, and I’m sure some future contributors as well – and be able to share our annual issues and publications with so many new people.

Thank you to all who stopped over. I know for next time to have flyers with submission information, instead of just cards with our website and contact info – I appreciate the feedback for future bookfairs! We got a lot of complements on our covers. Quite a few people seemed excited by our unique publishing model for the chapbooks, too, since paying the winners in copies allows the writer to keep the entire face value of any books they sell, rather than just a royalty percentage. We also sold out of both the 2013 and 2014 issues, as well as Jason McCall’s chapbook; We do have more issues of PN13 and PN14 available now that we’re home, but Jason’s book will now go into its second printing – a first for Paper Nautilus, and we are really excited about it.

Which leads me to another positive result from attending AWP: a new digital anthology. This two-part anthology will include literary works that address and examine the uncomfortable realities of race, class, gender, sexuality, faith, and other influential aspects of identity and experience in America, as well as works that move toward healing or reflect moments of reconciliation. This anthology is the result of some great collaboration with Talisha Shelley before and during the AWP conference, and because we believe that it will be a great resource and reading experience for classrooms, writing groups, and people of all backgrounds, this anthology will be available as a free download once released.

When I asked Talisha what she wanted to pursue for this anthology, she offered a handful of different ideas, but we were both most excited abut this one. When I think of examples of individuals who have truly had their views shaped on these issues of misunderstanding others, it has almost always been through the experience of empathy and growing close to one person – either in life, or through a character – that served to bridge that misunderstanding. An entire anthology collecting all of those specific moments from a multitude of different perspectives has tremendous potential for impact. Talisha Shelley and I will be co-editors, and you can send us your poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction here:

And, of course, our two chapbook contests only have about a month left, so polish up those manuscripts and send them over!

Lisa Mangini

New releases and AWP15

March 29, 2015

Our three 2014 Vella Chapbook winners are now officially published and available. You can find copies under our “Books” menu.

Copies of all our chapbooks and annual issues will also be available at AWP. Paper Nautilus will be sharing table 430 at the bookfair, so please come by and say hi, pick up an octopus pin, and maybe enter some fun contests!

We are also sending out our once-a-year newsletter, announcing all this good stuff about the chapbook releases and the Vella and Debut Series Chapbook contests. Because of emailing limits, they are being sent in stages, and the addresses are pulled right from Submittable – so if you’ve submitted under multiple emails, you maybe end up receiving two (or more) messages from us. We are sorry for any unintended obnoxiousness from these mailings, and we truly never want to harass you with anything that remotely feels like spam – a major reason why we only send one newsletter each year!

Additionally, if you are a member of a writing community – a literary journal, a college campus, a local writing group – please help us get the word out by sharing our call for manuscripts with the writers in your life. The more manuscripts of fiction, poetry, mixed/anti/hybrid-genre work we receive, the more collections we can support and help bring out into the world.