Through our annual contests and open reading periods, we seek innovative, electrifying, and thoroughly intoxicating manuscripts that ensnare themselves in our hearts and minds and won’t let go.

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 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 short story collections)

The Spring Black River Chapbook Competition: April 1 – May 31
(Open competition, poetry and fiction chaps)

Open Reading Period 1: June 1 – June 30

The St. Lawrence Book Award: July 1- August 31
(First book competition, poetry and short story collections)

The Fall Black River Chapbook Competition: September 1 – October 31
(Open competition, poetry and fiction 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.
Ends on November 30, 2018$15.00 - 700.00
$15.00 - 700.00

During the month of November, Black Lawrence Press author TJ Beitelman is on board to critique fiction manuscripts, and he 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,  $15.00
  •     Short Stories, up to 20 pages $45.00
  •     Chapbooks,  up to 40 pages, $150.00
  •     Novellas, up to 100 pages, $250.00
  •     Short Story Collections,  up to 180 pages, $350.00
  •     Novels, up to 300 pages $700.00

All manuscripts should be double-spaced and formatted in 12-point font.

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is November 30. Our consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by December 31.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!


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.

Ends on November 30, 2018$15.00 - 700.00
$15.00 - 700.00

During the month of November, Black Lawrence Press author Erica Wright is on board to critique fiction manuscripts, and she is accepting everything from flash fiction to full-length novels.The fees and parameters for page lengths for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Flash fiction, up to two pages in length, $15
  • Short stories, up to 20 pages in length, $45
  • Fiction chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $150
  • Short story collections, up to 180 pages in length, $350
  • Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $250
  • Novels, up to 300 pages in length, $700

All manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in twelve point font. 

The deadline to submit work for this  consultation program is November 30. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by December 31.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon! 

Erica Wright's Statement of Purpose

In my favorite craft essay, “Writing Off the Subject,” Richard Hugo offers the following advice: “When you are writing, glance over your shoulder, and you’ll find there is no reader. Just you and the page. Feel lonely? Good.” And it’s thrilling, isn’t it, to be in that room by yourself, working on something that matters to you. You might find as the hours (and days and months) progress that new themes emerge, new characters and conflicts. Working on a novel’s first draft can feel a bit magical.

The process doesn’t end in that empty room, though. Eventually you’ll want to share your manuscript, which is why it can be helpful to work with another writer. Personally, I like the revision phase, and I hope that you can find some joy in this step, as well. Sometimes a fresh perspective is needed when trying to determine what’s missing from your story. Together we can tackle major elements such as pacing and plot. A few questions we might consider are:

  • Are those important first pages going to grab an agent’s or editor’s attention?
  • Are any scenes rushed? Do we need more details there?
  • Is the dialogue doing enough?
  • Is there a need for research? And if so, how do we incorporate that information naturally?
  • Is the ending satisfying? Is it fair to the readers and the characters?

I’m also happy to work with writers on their independently determined goals. If you think it’s time to open your door and let someone peek over your shoulder, I can help.

  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.

All entries are read blind by our panel of editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. 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.

 EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Submit your manuscript by November 30 and enjoy a $5 discount on the entry fee!


The previous winners of The Big Moose Prize are Tracy DeBrincat, Jen Michalski, Betsy Robinson, Genanne Walsh, Megan McNamer, Robley Wilson, Shena McAuliffe, and Colin Hamilton. Below, you will have the option to purchase 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.


Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit biography and cultural studies manuscripts to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Biography & Cultural Studies submissions should be double-spaced and 45-500 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit creative nonfiction manuscripts to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Creative Nonfiction submissions should be double-spaced and 45-500 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit fiction chapbooks to our open reading period here. Chapbooks should be 16-36 pages in length, double-spaced for fiction.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit novels to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Novel submissions should be double-spaced and 120-500 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit novellas to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Novella submissions should be double-spaced and 50-110 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Submit poetry chapbooks to our open reading period here. Chapbooks should be 16-36 pages in length.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Submit full length poetry collections to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Full-length poetry collection submissions should be 45-120 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Submit short story collections to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Full-length short story collection submissions should be double-spaced and 90-300 pages in length. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Ends on November 30, 2018$12.00
$12.00

Black Lawrence Press publishes translations from German and French. Submit translations to our open reading period here.

All manuscripts should include a title page (including your name and contact info), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Please include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere. 

Black Lawrence Press is happy to select many of our titles through our twice-annual Open Reading Periods in June and November. We ask all submitters to select one Black Lawrence Press publication at a discounted price ($12, including shipping for print editions). Proceeds from the open reading period will go directly back into supporting the activities of the press.

Please note: this category is open only to our current BLP authors (those with forthcoming or previously published 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.
Black Lawrence Press