During our June and November open reading periods, we accept submissions in the following categories: novel, novella, short story collection (full-length and chapbook), poetry (full-length and chapbook), biography & cultural studies, translation (from the German), and creative nonfiction. We also enthusiastically accept hybrid submissions.
We also hold several annual contests. Here is our reading schedule:
The Big Moose Prize: December 1 – January 31
(Open competition, novels)
The Hudson Prize: February 1 – March 31
(Open competition, poetry and prose collections)
The Spring Black River Chapbook Competition: April 1 – May 31
(Open competition, poetry and prose chaps)
Open Reading Period 1: June 1 – June 30
The St. Lawrence Book Award: July 1- August 31
(First book competition, poetry and prose)
The Fall Black River Chapbook Competition: September 1 – October 31
(Open competition, poetry and prose chaps)
Open Reading Period 2: November 1 – November 30
(Please note that we occasionally offer early bird specials on our contests. These specials allow authors to submit their manuscripts ahead of time at a discounted rate.)
Please submit your work to the appropriate category below. If you are submitting a hybrid manuscript, please select the submission category that best fits your work.
During the month of December, Black Lawrence Press author TJ Beitelman is on board to critique fiction manuscripts. TJ is the author of the novel John the Revelator, the short story collection Communion, and two poetry collections. His poetry chapbook Pilgrims: A Love Story won The Black River Chapbook Competition. His stories and poems have appeared widely in literary magazines, and he’s received fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham. He taught writing and literature at Virginia Tech, where he earned an M.A. in English, and at the University of Alabama, where he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing and also edited Black Warrior Review. He currently directs the creative writing program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham.
TJ will provide detailed comments on your manuscript as well as a cover letter. After receiving these files, participants who submit chapbooks and full-length manuscripts may also book phone/video conferences with TJ at no additional charge.
TJ is accepting everything from flash fiction to full-length novels. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:
- Flash Fiction, up to two pages, $25.00
- Short Stories, up to 20 pages $55.00
- Chapbooks, up to 40 pages, $275.00
- Novellas, up to 100 pages, $425.00
- Short Story Collections, up to 180 pages, $550.00
- Novels, up to 300 pages $795.00
All manuscripts should be double-spaced and formatted in 12-point font.
The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is December 31, 2023. TJ will complete his work and respond to all participants by January 31, 2024.
TJ Beitelman's Statement of Purpose
When I respond to fiction drafts of any length, I try to think in the simplest of terms: what is the story doing well, what is it about, and what could it do better? I’m fairly convinced that authorial intent, while important, is often overrated—especially by the writer her or himself. My answers to the simple questions above will, hopefully, point you towards productive (and more complex) new questions you haven’t yet considered. The revision process, then, is an opportunity to answer these new, good, and unexpected questions.
So that we can share a vocabulary for all of this questioning and answering, here are a few essential elements of fiction as I see them:
The Elements of Fiction
What’s it about? Writers ask why. Good stories leave you feeling like you know why they exist and why you’ve read them. Sometimes there’s a specific, tangible reason and you can summarize it in a sentence or two. The most memorable stories tend to be those that leave us with just an intuitive sense of why we read them. We “feel” why they’re important. And they seem to be about a lot of things while maintaining a certain simplicity and accessibility. Those are the stories that seem to stay with us the longest.
Beginning: All stories start somewhere. Most good ones start with a vibrant sensory image, a compelling action, and they leave readers with an open-ended question. Beginnings are supposed to spur you to keep reading, and the combination of those three things (image + action + open-ended question) will almost always do just that.
Ending: And all stories end. Or at least all stories stop. Stories that truly end — and end well — have the quality of resonance. When a sound resonates, it echoes for a while after the note has been struck. Think of a bell. There’s the initial ding and then there’s the sound that issues forth. Sometimes that sound can last a long time after the ding. It’s sort of the same with the end of a story. The story comes to a close — the “ding” — but a good story lingers with a reader long after she’s put it down. Often it helps you to make new connections to other elements of the story, and if you’re really lucky as a reader, it helps you make new connections to what it means to be human.
Details: In a way, this is the starting point. No matter what, great stories (great writing of all kinds) appeal to the five senses. The absolute best way to do that, hands down, is to use a predominance of interesting nouns and verbs. Adjectives and adverbs tend to be abstract (difficult to touch and taste and hear and smell and see), while nouns and verbs are concrete. You access them through and with your body. Last but not least, it’s important that you choose specific details that mean something to the narrative. Don’t just notice things to notice them; notice details that advance the story and that create three-dimensional characters.
Plot/Organization: All good stories are well-organized and most good stories have some sort of plot. Plot means that every cause has an effect — somebody does something and that causes another thing to happen, which causes another thing to happen, and so on. Stories are well-plotted when those causal sequences lead to a significant change in the essential elements of the story. Usually that change occurs in the main character.
Character: And that — change — is the crucial way to understand character. Characters change. At the very least, they have the clear opportunity to change and, for whatever reason, turn it down. Either way, this change (or lost opportunity for change) leads to real consequences for the character, positive and/or negative.
Setting: Setting is sneaky. It’s really a support mechanism for two of the other elements, Details and most especially Character. And it’s crucial to understand that Setting is made up of both place AND time. Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, is not the same setting as the Birmingham of 2018. Just as downtown Birmingham in 2018 isn’t the same setting as a cookie-cutter subdivision in nearby Hoover in 2018. Those differences, subtle or glaring, are extremely important, especially when it comes to creating the characters who inhabit those four different settings. Simply put, knowing where/when in the world the story takes place — and rendering it in an interesting way — does more than half of the work in creating believable characters and giving a reader lush sensory details she needs to fully immerse herself in the story’s reality.
Voice: Voice is the most difficult to define element. It’s also arguably the most important one. Voice is about the idiosyncratic choices you make as a writer. The vocabulary you use. The way you build sentences. The details you choose to describe. The characters you choose to populate the story and the aspects of them you choose to focus on. The settings you’re drawn to inhabiting. Also your thematic preoccupations and obsessions. It is, by definition, subjective. It is how you get “you” on the page.
During the month of December, Black Lawrence Press author Marcela Sulak is on board to critique poetry and hybrid manuscripts.
Marcela Sulak's fifth title with Black Lawrence Press, a novella-in-verse, The Fault, is forthcoming in 2024. Her previous four titles include three poetry collections, City of Skypapers, a 2021 finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, Decency, and Immigrant, as well as her lyric memoir, Mouth Full of Seeds. She’s co-edited with Jacqueline Kolosov the 2015 Rose Metal Press title Family Resemblance. An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Sulak, who translates from the Hebrew, Czech, and French, is a 2019 NEA Translation Fellow, and her fourth book-length translation of poetry: Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was nominated for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation (University of Texas Press). Her essays have appeared in The Boston Review, The Iowa Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Asymptote, and Gulf Coast online, among others. She coordinates the poetry track of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, where she is an associate professor in American Literature. She also edits The Ilanot Review and hosts the TLV.1 Radio podcast, Israel in Translation.
Marcela is accepting everything from individual poems to full-length collections. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:
- Single poem or hybrid piece of up to 2 pages: $25
- Folio of five poems/short hybrid work of up to 7 pages: $55
- Chapbook of up to 40 pages: $275
- Manuscript of up to 80 pages: $425
- Manuscript of up to 200 pages: $625
Marcela will provide detailed comments on your manuscript as well as a cover letter. After receiving these files, participants who submit chapbooks and full-length manuscripts may also book phone/video conferences with Marcela at no additional charge.
All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is December 31, 2023. Marcela will complete her work and respond to all participants by January 31, 2024.
Marcela's Statement of Purpose
I am seduced by tensions in poetry. With regard to the music of the poem, “tensions” might mean the slippage between an ideal form or meter and the physical form or meter embodied in the syntax of the sentence and line breaks. In narrative, it might mean the balance between what is said and what remains unspoken. In documentary poetics, it might mean the desire new facts and information create in me to change my life, or to learn more. In hybrid work, tension might mean the memory of a traditional genre in the unmapped freedom of an experimental form.
Although we love most what we have to work for in poetry, as in most things, we also have to have a reason to invest our interest and our care. Sometimes poetry fails to engage us because we can’t access it—the poem is still in the poet’s head, speaking a private symbolic language. Sometimes a poem is so anxious to please us or so anxious not to be misunderstood, it spells everything out, overwhelming us. A good poem is an exploration the reader and writer make together. A good poem is a process—it introduces us to a new born world, rather than wrapping up a completed one. A good poem is a generous poem, that gives the reader a space to feel, think, and discover connections for herself, through the gaps between what is said and what is suggested; what is and what might be.
My approach to reading your poems and helping you maximize their creative tensions is discovering what your poem most values by determining how the poem works. Then, I can act as a poet-mechanic, helping you fine-tune the language, the music, the balance between what is there and what is implied. I pay special attention to the meaning-making music of your work (rhythms, vowel and consonant sounds, the play of syntax and stress, etc.).
My approach to reading your manuscript is to determine what your collection values, and how best to achieve the fullest effect, with regard to musical scope, narrative arc, and the timing of emotions, information, and sound.
In my own work, I specialize in prosody (the music of lines), documentary poetics, hybrid work (prose poems, nano-nonfiction, essays in verse, lyric essays, etc.) and literary translation. In other people’s poems, I particularly enjoy work that engages with the world around it with fresh curiosity. I love work that is beautiful and musical, but not slight. I appreciate poems that are honest, vulnerable, complex, and that take risks. I like poems that are acts of investigation and discovery. Poets and writers I have recently been enjoying, and who have influenced me most long term include Yehuda Amichai, Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Celan, Hart Crane, Natalie Diaz, Emily Dickinson, Terrance Hayes, Yusef Komunyakaa, Layli Long Soldier, Sabrina Ora Mark, Erika Meitner, Pablo Neruda, Mary Ruefle, Wallace Stevens, C.D. Wright, Rachel Zucker, and Louis Zukofsky, to name a few.
During the month of December, Black Lawrence Press author Kristina Marie Darling is on board to critique poetry and hybrid manuscripts.
Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty-six books, which include Look to Your Left: A Feminist Poetics of Spectacle, which is forthcoming from the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics at the University of Akron Press; Stylistic Innovation, Conscious Experience, and the Self in Modernist Women’s Poetry, forthcoming from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group; Daylight Has Already Come: Selected Poems 2014 – 2020, which will be published by Black Lawrence Press; Silence in Contemporary Poetry, which will be published in hardcover by Clemson University Press in the United States and Liverpool University Press in the United Kingdom; Silent Refusal: Essays on Contemporary Feminist Poetry, forthcoming from Black Ocean; Angel of the North, which is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry; and X Marks the Dress: A Registry (co-written with Carol Guess), which will be launched by Persea Books in the United States. Penguin Random House Canada will also publish a Canadian edition. Her work has been recognized with three residencies at Yaddo, where she has held the Martha Walsh Pulver Residency for a Poet and the Howard Moss Residency in Poetry; a Fundación Valparaíso fellowship to live and work in Spain; a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, funded by the Heinz Foundation; an artist-in-residence position at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris; six residencies at the American Academy in Rome; two grants from the Whiting Foundation; a Faber Residency in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, which she received on two separate occasions; an artist-in-residence position with the Andorran Ministry of Culture; and the Dan Liberthson Prize from the Academy of American Poets, which she received on three separate occasions; among many other awards and honors. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press & Tupelo Quarterly.
Kristina is accepting everything from individual poems to full-length collections. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:
- Single poem or hybrid piece of up to 2 pages: $25
- Folio of five poems/short hybrid work of up to 7 pages: $55
- Chapbook of up to 40 pages: $275
- Manuscript of up to 80 pages: $425
- Manuscript of up to 200 pages: $625
Kristina will provide detailed comments on your manuscript as well as a cover letter. After receiving these files, participants who submit chapbooks and full-length manuscripts may also book phone/video conferences with Kristina at no additional charge.
All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is December 31, 2023. Kristina will complete her work and respond to all participants by January 31, 2024.
Kristina Marie Darling's Statement of Purpose
Most of my work as a teacher and an editor attempts to expand what is possible within these received forms of writing. For many writers, the question of genre is inherently a question of power. These beliefs about what texts are legible, what texts are considered legitimate, reflect larger structures of authority in the literary community and in the academy. Poet and critic Sarah Vap writes, “I am extremely interested in what is often called hybrid or conceptual within the outstandingly elastic abilities of poetry-- these efforts that pose a challenge to the categories of writing (scholarship, journalism, coding, etc.), asking them to also expand their abilities and considerations and concerns and ways. To democratize.” What Vap is suggesting is that dismantling the categories of writing is a larger ontological and metaphysical challenge to the social order – it calls into question the values and hierarchies that we impose upon language. So when she’s saying that hybridity is a democratization, this is what she means. Hybridity – placing disparate forms and or types of language in conversation – is a way of challenging rules but also the people and institutions in power who make those rules. When working with writers, I welcome unruly texts, unclassifiable texts, the innovative and the experimental. After all, a new message -- and a challenge to the status quo -- often requires new forms of discourse.
Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Big Moose Prize for an unpublished novel. The prize is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes will be awarded on publication.
The Big Moose Prize is open to traditional novels as well as novels-in-stories, novels-in-poems, and other hybrid forms that contain within them the spirit of a novel.
Entries are read by senior Black Lawrence Press editors and a rotating panel of former Big Moose Prize winners. That panel currently includes:
-Tracy DeBrincat, author of Hollywood Buckaroo
-Ron Nyren, author of The Book of Lost Light
-Jill Stukenberg, author of News of the Air
All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page and table of contents. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Manuscripts should be 90-1,000 pages in length, not including front and back matter (table of contents, title page, etc.). Identifying information for the author should not be included anywhere on the manuscript itself, including in the name of your file or in the "title" field in Submittable. You are welcome to include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable, which will only be made accessible to the editorial panel after the group of Semi-Finalist and Finalist manuscripts has been chosen.
Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
The annual deadline is January 31.
The previous winners of The Big Moose Prize are Tracy DeBrincat, Jen Michalski, Betsy Robinson, Genanne Walsh, Megan McNamer, Robley Wilson, Shena McAuliffe, Colin Hamilton, Ron Nyren, Caroline Patterson, Jill Stukenberg, Sara Johnson Allen, and Leslie Li. Below, you will have the option to purchase a selection of their novels for a discounted fee, which includes the cost of shipping. While authors from around the globe may submit to the Big Moose Prize, these discounted book prices are only available to those with U.S. mailing addresses.
The immigrant narrative is at the heart of the American experiment. However, despite the contributions of immigrants to the cultural, financial, scientific, and artistic makeup of the United States, there is no clear home for new immigrant writings in the United States. To remedy this, Black Lawrence Press proudly announces the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series, an innovative program designed to provide a home for new immigrant writings in the United States and fill a much needed gap in the American literary community. The Series will remain a self-standing body with complete autonomy within Black Lawrence Press, and its editorial and advisory boards will be composed of immigrant writers and/or authors whose works explore the immigrant experience.
The Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series aims to provide a clear and consistent home for new Immigrant Writings in the U.S. Book selections will be made by a four-member editorial board composed of writers in the U.S. who are either immigrants or whose works focus on the immigrant experience. Selections will be based on merit with the goal of publishing the best works by immigrants. Poets and authors, at any stage of their careers, who identify as immigrants are welcome to submit a book manuscript of poetry or prose or a hybrid text for consideration. Submissions are accepted year-round. However, selections are made in June and November for a total of two books per year. In addition to publication, marketing, and a standard royalties contract from Black Lawrence Press, authors chosen for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series will receive a travel stipend of $500, which can be used for book tours or in any manner chosen by the authors.
Sun Yung Shin
Barbara Jane Reyes
Rules & Eligibility
1. Works by immigrants will be considered for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series.
2. Submission is open to any individual living in the U.S. who identifies as an immigrant and who either (i) was born in another country, (ii) has at least one parent who was born in another country (iii) is a refugee, or (iv) lives in the United States under Asylum or a Protection Program, such as TPS or DACA .
3. No more than two book manuscripts can be submitted per year per author.
4. A third book manuscript submitted in a given year by an author will not be considered for the Writing Series.
5. All manuscripts received after May 31st will be considered for the November Reading Period.
6. All manuscripts received after October 31st will be considered for the June Reading Period.
7. Only full length manuscripts of poetry (at least 45 pages), prose (fiction or nonfiction), and hybrid texts of poetry and prose (at least 100 pages) will be considered for the Writing Series. We are not accepting chapbook manuscripts at this time.
8. An author whose book manuscript has previously been selected for the Writing Series and published through Black Lawrence Press will not be considered a second time for the Series. However, the author in question is welcome to send new book manuscripts to Black Lawrence Press (BLP) for consideration during BLP’s June and November Open Reading Periods.
9. Only authors who have not previously published with Black Lawrence Press will be considered for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series.
10. Aside from Rules 1 through 9, there are no conditions for submitting manuscripts.
11. There are no entry fees.
12. Submissions are accepted year-round.
*13. Only one book manuscript will be selected for the June Reading Period, and only one book manuscript will be selected for the November Reading Period, for a total of two books per year. (* If no book manuscript is chosen for a June Reading Period, the Series Editors reserve the right to choose two book manuscripts (instead of one) in the November Reading Period immediately following the June Reading Period in question)
14. The Series Editors reserve the right to choose no book manuscript for the Writing Series during any given year or any Reading Period.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you define an immigrant?
Anyone who identifies as an immigrant and who either (i) was born in another country, (ii) has at least one parent who was born in another country, (iii) is a refugee, or (iv) lives in the United States under Asylum or a Protection Program, such as TPS or DACA
2. I live outside the United States, can I submit my work?
No, immigrant authors must be living in the United States when they submit their work for consideration
3. Can I submit an anthology for consideration?
No, anthologies will not be considered for the Writing Series. However, Black Lawrence Press (BLP) welcomes proposals for anthologies during its June and November Open Reading Periods
4. Are collaborations welcome?
No, works should be by one author only. However, collaborations are welcome during BLP’s June and November Open Reading Periods
5. Are BLP’s June & November Open Reading Periods the same as those of the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series?
No, these are different and distinct programs within the Press. While the readings occur concurrently, The Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series is a self-standing entity with its own eligibility and rules and editorial and advisory boards. The editorial board, composed of immigrant authors, has complete autonomy in selecting book manuscripts for the Writing Series. Each year, these editors recommend up to two books for publication through Black Lawrence Press. Please see the program’s mission statement , rules and eligibility, and bylaws.
6. How many book manuscripts can I submit in a given year?
Only two book manuscripts will be considered each year per author
7. Can I submit two book manuscripts in different genres?
No, each author can submit no more than two manuscripts in a given year, regardless of genre
8. I am an immigrant and I have two book manuscripts, can I submit both at once or at different times of the year?
Yes. Each author is welcome to submit a maximum of two books per year either together or at different times in the given year
9. It’s the end of June or November and there’s been no announcement yet on the manuscript selected for the Writing Series. What’s going on?
Thanks for your patience. The four-member editorial board will announce the selected manuscript as soon as they’ve made a decision. That said, the editors also reserve the right to choose no manuscript during a reading period.
10. I have other questions not addressed here. Who should I contact with my questions?
Please send questions to email@example.com.
You may send an email to the same address to request a copy of the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series bylaws.7. Only full length manuscripts of poetry, prose (fiction or nonfiction), and hybrid texts of poetry and prose will be considered for the Writing Series. We are not accepting chapbook manuscripts at this time.
Black Lawrence Press now offers scholarships for our consultation program. Although we work hard to keep the costs of our consults as low as possible, we understand that many writers are not able to afford these services.
We plan to award a total of $1,000 in scholarships per month. The deadline to submit your manuscript is December 31. We will award the scholarships in the first week of January. If your manuscript is not selected for the scholarship, please feel free to apply again in the future.
Scholarship recipients will be chosen by senior Black Lawrence Press editors and will be selected based on the merit of the submitted work. While we do not request that submitters disclose any personal financial information, we want to be clear that these scholarships are intended for writers who would not otherwise be able to afford the cost of our consultation service.
1. Who is eligible for this scholarship?
Any writer who is looking for feedback on their work and would not otherwise be able to pay for a manuscript consultation is eligible. Applicants may be at any stage in their writing careers and we heartily welcome new writers.
2. I'm not currently a student, may I apply?
Yes. This scholarship is open to both students AND applicants who are not currently pursuing degrees or otherwise enrolled in academic institutions.
3. Do I need to demonstrate need to receive this scholarship?
No. We do not require any such demonstration.
Please note: this category is open only to our current BLP authors (those with forthcoming or previously published chapbooks or full-length titles). Submissions entered via this category from writers who are not currently published by BLP will not be considered. If you are not a current BLP author, please exit out of this category and submit through the relevant open category or contest. Our full reading schedule appears on our Submittable page. Thank you!
Current BLP authors: We're so happy that you'd like us to consider another manuscript from you. Please submit it here.