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 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 short story 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 short story collections)

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 October, Black Lawrence Press author Kelly Magee is on board to critique fiction manuscripts. Kelly teaches creative writing in the undergraduate and MFA programs at Western Washington University. She is the author of multiple prose and poetry titles, including the short story collection Body Language, which won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize. Her work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, Booth, Barrelhouse, and others. 

Kelly is accepting everything from flash fiction to novels for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

  •     Flash fiction, up to 2 pages in length, $25
  •     Short stories, up to 20 pages in length, $50
  •     Chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $195
  •     Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $325
  •     Short story collections, up to 180 pages in length, $450
  •     Novels, up to 300 pages in length, $700

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

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. Kelly will complete her work and respond to all participants by November 30.

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Kelly's Statement of Purpose

I’m most drawn to stories that have a sense of urgency – that feel like they needed to be written. Discovering subject matter that ignites the imagination is important, as is being willing to take risks with form and content. But channeling and sustaining that urgency is a matter of technique. Sometimes it’s what hovers around the edges of a story that is most vital, or sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right container to deliver the content. I am interested not just in where a story goes, but where else it might go: what submerged themes might surface, what layers might be more consciously developed, what surprising threads might emerge with a few well-placed cuts. 

When working with a fiction manuscript, my first goal is analysis: what are the stories doing, what is their ambition, what are the reasons behind the choices and directions they’ve taken. Then I examine how are they working together as a collection/cohesive narrative. I strive to honor the ambition of the story or collection, and then to consider how it might more strongly fulfill its own goals. This can happen at the macro level, by examining plot, structure, character, setting, point of view, and scenes; or at the micro level, by sharpening word choice and sensory detail, attending to the musicality and pace of the sentences, and condensing the language. The work of revision is, as Heather Sellers says, to identify ways to intensify the experience for the reader…whatever that experience might be.     

I’m delighted by work that blurs genre, finds the magic in the everyday, and uncovers the “consistent inconsistencies” in each character and setting. I love a story that asks me to sympathize with a villain or second-guess a hero. I am a particular fan of fabulism and fairy tales, as well as realist work of all genres that addresses identity and intersectionality (such as recent work by Kelly Link, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Diane Cook, and Maggie Nelson). In my own writing, I gravitate toward difficult characters and questions, especially as approached irreverently or with humor. I favor active settings that don’t just channel characters’ emotions but influence the plot. And while I enjoy playing with unconventional points of view and experimental forms, my fidelity is always to the well-told story. 

Above all, the experience of reading a work of fiction is a relationship between the reader and the text, one built, as Michael Chabon says, on “mutual support through intertwining, like a pair of trees grown together.” My job is to support your text through careful analysis of its aims and pleasures, and by proposing ways to heighten the experience of reading it.  

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press author Lisa Fay Coutley is on board to critique poetry manuscripts. 

Lisa Fay is the author of tether (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), Errata (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, and In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a Rona Jaffe scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, chosen by Dana Levin.

Lisa Fay is accepting single poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $20
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $50
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $195
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $325

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. Lisa Fay will complete her work and respond to all participants by November 30.

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Lisa Fay Coutley's Statement of Purpose

In an ideal workshop, an editor would meet a poem nowhere but on its own terms, though if we’re honest with ourselves we must admit that we each bring our own aesthetics and experiences into any reading and interpretation. My best readers are those who attempt not to mold my poems but to react with a thoughtful and well-articulated gut response, giving an exegesis of the language, lines, syntax, form and content, and the tensions and patterns therein. That is what I can promise you.

I will read and respond to your poems one at a time, first by typing how I experience the poem (given its images, line breaks, sonic qualities, etc.) upon an initial reading, and then compose a more careful critique with subsequent readings. I will read your poems as individual entities while also noting commonalities in form and subject among the batch. I will give a fair amount of feedback, but if you’d prefer that I give more pointed comments, I can do that as well.  

It’s not always the most trained reader who gives the best feedback but the one who learns to listen to the poem and sit with it a while. Outside eyes often notice obsessions we aren’t even aware of—themes and images we can’t seem to stop circling—and I will do my best to sit with your poems and listen to them—to understand their gestures and rhetoric, to find their sturdiest and softest spots, and to learn them on their own terms.

All of that I say as an editor. As a reader, my aesthetic calls me toward poems that are willing to make the best use of their form in order to enact their content. I am intrigued by lyrical, raw poems that demonstrate a willingness to observe subject matter without flinching. I am likely to nudge your poems in a direction in which they do their best to be their bravest yet most vulnerable selves.

I look forward to reading and responding to your words. 

All Best,

Lisa Fay

You're in the submission form for poetry. If you're intending to submit prose (fiction, creative non-fiction, etc.), please return to the main page and select the prose category instead. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner will receive book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.

All entries are read without identifying information by our panel of editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents (if applicable), 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 16-36 pages in length (double-spaced for fiction), 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.

A note regarding previously published work: Chapbooks containing individual stories or poems that have been previously published online or in print are absolutely eligible for the BRCC–please simply note previously published work on an acknowledgments page. On the other hand, if your chapbook–or a significant portion of the work included in your chapbook–has been previously published as a book or chapbook-length collection (including publication with a press, self-publication, online/digital publication, and publication in a small, limited-edition print run), then the manuscript is not eligible for the BRCC.

  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions (the submission of more than one manuscript to the contest) are permitted.
  • Collaborative collections are welcome.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • Prose category: Beginning with the Spring 2019 contest, our category previously titled “fiction” has been re-categorized as “prose” to accommodate fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.
  • We will consider submissions including visual art (i.e. interior illustrations or photographs), but please note we do not regularly publish chapbooks with interior art. Please do not include suggested cover artwork with your submission.

  The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31.

Optional book bundle: Interested in reading a few of our chapbooks while we read yours? Below you will have the option to purchase a bundle of five of our chapbooks, which includes Pilgrims: A Love Story by TJ Beitelman, Saint Monica by Mary Biddinger, Dyke (geology) by Sabrina Imbler, Turning Inside Out by Sandra Kolankiewicz, and The Pilot House by David Rigsbee. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

You're in the submission form for prose. (This includes fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts.) If you're intending to submit poetry, please return to the main page and select the poetry category instead. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner will receive book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.

All entries are read without identifying information by our panel of editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents (if applicable), 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 16-36 pages in length (double-spaced for fiction), 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.

A note regarding previously published work: Chapbooks containing individual stories or poems that have been previously published online or in print are absolutely eligible for the BRCC–please simply note previously published work on an acknowledgments page. On the other hand, if your chapbook–or a significant portion of the work included in your chapbook–has been previously published as a book or chapbook-length collection (including publication with a press, self-publication, online/digital publication, and publication in a small, limited-edition print run), then the manuscript is not eligible for the BRCC.

  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions (the submission of more than one manuscript to the contest) are permitted.
  • Collaborative collections are welcome.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • Prose category: Beginning with the Spring 2019 contest, our category previously titled “fiction” has been re-categorized as “prose” to accommodate fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.
  • We will consider submissions including visual art (i.e. interior illustrations or photographs), but please note we do not regularly publish chapbooks with interior art. Please do not include suggested cover artwork with your submission.

The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31.

Optional book bundle: Interested in reading a few of our chapbooks while we read yours? Below you will have the option to purchase a bundle of five of our chapbooks, which includes Pilgrims: A Love Story by TJ Beitelman, Saint Monica by Mary Biddinger, Dyke (geology) by Sabrina Imbler, Turning Inside Out by Sandra Kolankiewicz, and The Pilot House by David Rigsbee. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

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.

Black Lawrence Press