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


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.

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!


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.


We are proud to announce the winner of our first Chapbook Contest, “The Rules of Night Migration,” written by Pamela Gross of Seattle, WA. Congratulations, Pamela! The contest was judged by Christine Beck, and here are some of her thoughts on this collection:

The Rules of Night Migration finds unexpected touchstones between the world of winged creatures and of humans. In the title poem, the author commands us to “Believe this” and proceeds to follow large migrations guided by stars and tides, funneling to a pair of Purple Finches: “One, shadow-streaked,/a secret. The other all blood-knot/all idiot song.” In language that startles and compels, the author moves deftly down the page to end lines that are as unexpected and fleeting as a hummingbird at the window.

Christine goes on to say that

Ultimately, the metaphor of birds meets human loss through death. In “Associated Wing,” the poet sees a flock of shorebirds like a double-edged blade, prompting her to think of how “the shapes of hunter/and of prey so resemble one another remember/how sure how swift the shadow/of your death advanced and how nimbly/in front of it my fear flew.” This collection leaves its print on the page in ways as graceful as flight. Its words linger to be read and re-read, as they slowly reveal and reveal.”

It is quite a stunning manuscript, and we’re thrilled to begin the process of publishing it, so it can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

Many thanks to Pamela, Christine, and especially to all who submitted – without your interested and support, this contest would not exist.

Paper Nautilus


Timelines and To-Do Lists

September 9, 2012

At Paper Nautilus, it goes without saying that we love writing. We get very excited about all of the work we receive and being able to share it with all of you once the annual issue is complete. This year, we’ll be publishing our very first in what we hope to be a yearly chapbook contest winner (which, just so you know, we are VERY close to announcing the winner, so expect that update in the near future).

Another way we love writing is by trying to help student writers improve their skills. Now that school is back in session, it cuts into our time to read submissions. Joey Gould, our Assistant Poetry Editor, is a an excellent writing tutor at Framingham State University, and will have less time to review your poems now that he’s busy reviewing student essays. However, one change that we weren’t anticipating was that I would be teaching a section of English Composition through a special arrangement at the university where I’m finishing the last of my MFA. While I’m beyond thankful for this opportunity to help new writers develop skills that will help them throughout college and their professional lives, it’s a fairly intense time commitment that I did not factor into to the Paper Nautilus schedule.

Not to worry – we’re not closing the magazine; we’re not even closing submissions! We’re just coming forward and letting you know that there are going to be some delays. We’ve been getting some emails about the status of submissions, and we don’t want anyone getting nervous. We read chronologically, so if you submitted a few months ago, we may just be trying to decide if it’s a good fit. If you just recently submitted, or are planning to submit soon for the 2013 issue, just know that it may be a while before we can get to it. We always accept simultaneous submissions, so if someone else snatches it up before we get to your work, that’s our loss. We don’t like losing out on excellent work, but we also don’t want to hold your writing hostage while it’s under consideration with us.

So here’s a bit of a rough timeline on what to expect for the next few months:

* First priority will be to announce the chapbook winner and make sure everyone who participated in the contest finds out the results. You trusted us with your manuscripts AND your entry fee, so we want to address your entries first – there’s nothing more unsettling than paying to enter a new contest and then getting a lot of silence from the press that sponsored it. Many thanks to those who entered and made this contest a huge success. Again, we expect to make this announcement officially within the next two weeks or so.

* Read through and decide on what will be in the 2012 issue. This will include all submissions we received prior to September 1st. This make take us longer than it typically does, so please be patient. If you’re at all concerned, please email us at

* Get the 2012 issue ready for print. While we try to have the issue released annually in the fall, the 2012 issue may not be shipped out to contributors until just before the December holidays. We’re aiming for earlier if we can!

* Have the winning chapbook printed and sent to the winner. And lots of other related excitement, potentially including interviews and reviews and promotions and whatever other ideas we come up with.

OK, I think that about covers it, folks. Please don’t be shy about contacting us if you have any questions – it’s about 2 a.m., so I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

With Love and Exhaustion,
Paper Nautilus