We are so pleased to announce the release of Eloisa Amezcua’s, Symptoms of Teething, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

Amezcua’s poems received the following praise:

Here is a book of poems that is, at every turn, deeply invested in the kinds of love we share—with each other, with ourselves, with our pasts, and with our futures. In one moment, “we fall asleep / and there is no more falling.” In the next, the morning where “we fabricate each / other into being.” I am so grateful to Eloisa Amezcua for all her fabrications, for building us this little museum of love.
Kaveh Akbar, Calling a Wolf a Wolf

We have three more chapbooks to release this year, with two titles very close to release

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, our annual contest ends May 31st, 2017. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable. We hope to see your book release announcement here next year!


We are excited to announce the release of Michael Cuglietta’s chapbook, Clams in White Wine, now available for order! You can purchase a copy here, or over under the books menu, where you may find a few other titles you’d like to pick up.

Cugiletta’s collection of short fiction received the following praise from Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award winner for Lord of Misrule:

“An air of fly-by-night, strip mall, paycheck to paycheck impermanence laces the crafty short tales of this Florida writer, in which the one thing you can count on is good fast food — Szechuan dumplings, Cuban sandwiches with sweet fried plaintain, cream-piled cupcakes white brown and red. Michael Cuglietta’s characters at least know how to eat well in this anxious world. What to do with the anger, grief and loss lurking just under their place mats is another — no, the very same — story.”

Clams in White Wine is the first of our five 2016 chapbook contest winners to be released, with Eloisa Amezcua’s collection of poems, Symptoms of Teething, to follow soon.

If you think you have a manuscript we might love, we are one month into our annual contest, which ends May 31st, 2017. You can find all the details you need at our Submittable. We hope to see your book release announcement here next year!

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

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: https://papernautilus.submittable.com/submit/41571

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.

We are quite busy here this spring, but we thought we’d take a minute to share with you just how many things we’ve got going on.

First, we are in a race against the calendar to finished up the layout, proofs, and printing of our three Vella Chapbook contests winners from 2014. These collections From Allie Marini Batts, Stephanie McCarley Dugger, and Johnathan Harper are superb, and the goal is to have an unofficial release party for them at table 430 in the AWP bookfair.

The conference and bookfair take place from April 8th – 11th, in Minneapolis – which will be my first time visiting the area – and we hope you’ll stop by and pick up one of our issues or chapbook titles, find out more about our two contests currently open, or pick up some fun surprises we have in store. Also, huge thanks to the folks who run the AWP bookfair Facebook, who ran this spotlight for us today. If you’ve ever wondered more about us, here’s your chance:unnamed

Except, way back when we sent this staff image over to the Bookfair folks, we hadn’t yet selected our newest fiction editor. For a volunteer job that pays mostly in frenzied emails and enthusiastic thank-yous, I was surprised and flattered at the response we received. Deciding on these potential editors in many regards was even more difficult than deciding on what writing to publish, since many of these letters of interest were so candid and honest about their desire to be a part of a team of editors.

After some tough decisions, we are happy to be welcoming Keith Lesmeister to our fiction team. Keith, who lives in Northeast Iowa, completed his MFA from the Benngington Writing Seminars. He has been a reader for drafthorse, taught college-level creative writing, and had his work featured in Tin House blog, American Short Fiction online, Meridian, Redivider, River Teeth, Harpur Palate, and others. We are also really bummed his photo is not included in the above promo image.

We do have some other ideas in the works, but despite that we clearly don’t believe in “one thing at a time,” we have to draw the line somewhere. More on these new developments when they’re a little less new and a bit more developed.

Also, we are already nearly one month into our 2015 and – so don’t forget to take another look at your manuscripts and send us your best!

In just two days, Paper Nautilus celebrates its fourth anniversary, after being founded on a snowy sick day in my apartment.

Today, we are opening for our fourth round of the Vella Chapbook Contest, named after my grandparents – Nancy and Charles – whose generosity allowed me to found Paper Nautilus and pay for the first issue’s production. The prize for this contest is 100 perfect-bound copies, with ISBN. $11 entry fee.

Today we are also opening for our very first Debut Series Chapbook Contest, which is only open to writers who have yet to publish a chapbook or book-length work in any genre, with just a $5 entry fee. (In order to keep costs lower for writers, we have an additional option for this contest that, for $8, pays the entry fee and comes with a back issue). We have a strong commitment to emerging writers, and this is our new venture to truly showcase how serious we are about getting their voices out into the world. The prize for this contest is 50 hand-stitched copies, without ISBN.

Both contests are open to poetry, short fiction, mixed-genre or hybrid work. You can find both contests at our Submittable page.

Paper Nautilus produces an additional 15-25 copies of each title, for us to sell at conferences and book fairs, or directly on our website; for any sales generated in this way, authors will receive 10% royalties. If a title is popular, and the author wishes for more copies, we will happily pursue additional printing and sell them to you at-cost.

You can find more details about our process, business model, or other aspects of how we operate, by checking the links for each contest in the menu bar above. We welcome any and all questions, as transparency in our approach matters a lot to us.

Thank you and we look forward to reading your work between now and May 15th!

It took longer than we wanted it to – in part, because of the impressive quality of the 150 entries we received – but we have the results for the 2014 Vella Chapbook Contest.

Because of the number of entries and overall success of Paper Nautilus this past year, we have the resources to support the publication of three manuscripts that we received during our submission period last May through August.

The chapbooks we’ll be publishing from the 2014 contest are:
Pictures from the Center of the Universe, by Allie Marini Batts
The Monster in the Mountain, by Johnathan Harper
Sterling, by Stephanie Dugger

Our finalists – our favorite 10% of the remaining entries – follow below, in no particular order:
Whatever Light Used to Be, by Dan Howell
Waiting for Pernod, by Mark Terrill
Passwords, by Heikki Huotari
Wildlife, by Monica Wendel
Living on Empty, by JoAnn Guernsey
Overwintering, by Maggie Cleveland
Song and Tornadoes, by Adam Tedesco
The Fourth Nest, by Sara Backer
water-bound by Peter Vanderberg
fluid., by Tammy Lynne Stoner
Swans, by Katie Berger
Umpteen, by Aaron Anstett
Nineteen Artifacts, or “Yesterday I Disassembled All My Furniture, So I’m Afraid I Can’t Offer You a Seat,” by Kayla Pongrac
Easing the Tightness of Braids, by Jo-Ann Reid
Object of Art, by Kate Schultz

As I have said in previous years’ contests, these decisions were very hard, and seem to get more challenging every year. There were so many other manuscripts worth recognizing – and publishing – and we wish we had the means to support many more than we can. Please know that, even if you manuscript was not selected or mentioned here, it was read with care and the value inherent in your hard work did not go unnoticed.

Thank you to all who entrusted us with your work, and we look forward to 2015’s submissions, and to bringing these three fine collections to you in the months to come.

With 2015 just days away, now seems as appropriate a time as any to reflect on this past year and consider ways to make the following year even better.

Some things we are proud of:

*The 2014 issue was released one week ago, and is packed with amazing work. You can purchase a copy here.

*For the 2014 issue, 26 out of our 38 poets this year are female, as are 4 of our 6 fiction writers, and 4 of our 7 “aphorists.” We read submissions blind, and are proud of our ability to support all writers whose work is a good fit for Paper Nautilus, but are especially thrilled that we can support women, who are still often underrepresented in literary magazines.

*Our 2014 Vella Chapbook contest generated a record 150 entries, which will allow us to take on three titles for publication this year.

*Supporting emerging writers: in every issue, we still have at least one writer tell us this is their first publication. It is the best feeling ever.

Some things we could do better:

*Faster turnaround time for the chapbook contest. Results are coming, I promise! As mentioned in a previous post, the current timing of our reading periods for both contests and the annual issue are kind of at odds with my life beyond Paper Nautilus, which accounts for the lengthy delay. As a writer myself, I know exactly how frustrating it can be to wait around for the “verdict” on my work. It’s a huge act of trust for most of us, and I have deep gratitude for all 150 writers who have trusted me to read their manuscripts, which I am reading (and re-reading) every day.

*Even greater support to emerging writers. While it’s always exciting to have the one or two voices who have never been published before – and equally exciting to become a more competitive, established space as a literary venue – there is a part of me that’s sort of…almost disappointed that it’s becoming harder for new writers to find room in our pages. Yes, it’s true that sometimes people who aren’t getting published still have work to do on developing their craft, but quite often, a lot of worthy work is turned away simply because there’s not enough space. This is, I think, especially true for manuscript-based publication, like chapbooks.

Some New Year’s Resolutions we’re adopting to address these items:

*New publication time for the annual issue. As of today, Paper Nautilus has a publication of “Fall,” which has been loosely defined as any time between October and December. Even though I have a stellar staff who handles the general submissions for the magazine now, this is quite possibly the worst time of year to try to release an issue. Some staff are linked to an academic calendar the way I am, but even still, with all the holidays and colds going around, and 16 hours of darkness a day, it’s not exactly a highly productive, serene time of year. Publication of the annual issue will now be more of a “Summer” release date, falling more around July or August. (Because we accept submissions year-round, reading periods are not affected, just the timing of the issue’s release.)

*New reading periods for the Vella Chapbook Contest, which will run from February 15th – May 15th for 2015. This makes so much more sense, because all submissions will be received and ready for the long summer break. Without other work like classes and grading to distract me, I’ll be able to get through these manuscripts much more effectively.

*New Chapbook contest exclusively for emerging writers. During the same time as the 2015 Vella Chapbook Contest, we’ll also be holding our first Debut Series Chapbook Contest. This will be open only to writers who have not yet published a full-length or chapbook-length collection in any genre. More specific guidelines will be released shortly. Reduced entry fee of $5 – and if your economic situation is not conducive to that fee, talk to me and we will make it work. This new contest is designed with a greater degree of inclusiveness and accessibility in mind, because I think it’s important in general, but also a crucial part of our vision for Paper Nautilus.

As we prepare to enter a new year, we are so grateful for your support of Paper Nautilus, and are excited to continue publishing daring, meaningful work in 2015.