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 July, Black Lawrence Press author Thomas Cotsonas is on board to critique fiction manuscripts. His work has appeared in such journals as Web Conjunctions, Western Humanities Review, and Puerto del Sol. Nominal Cases, his first book of fiction, won the St. Lawrence Book Award.  He teaches in the Writers House at Rutgers University and lives with his wife in New York City. Tom is accepting everything from flash and short stories to full-length collections and novels. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are 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
  • Full-length collections, up to 180 pages in length, $450
  • Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $325
  • 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 July 31. Thomas will complete his work and respond to all participants by August 31.  Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!

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Thomas' Statement of Purpose

“Language is a drug,” Ben Marcus tells us, and our stories are the delivery system. I want stories that know this, stories that take hold, stories that get to my nerve endings and into the lining of my veins. I want to see, more than anything else, a mind at work. I want to be exposed. I want to come in contact with the strong and the strange, the idiosyncratic. I want stories that mean it.

When I read your work at first, I’ll read to see what it seems to want to do. I’ll concentrate on what I think the work’s intentions are, and what it does or does not do to fulfill those intentions. We may differ in this respect, but whatever differences we have are what makes the consultation a conversation, a shared back-and-forth to make the work as strong as possible. I’ll give you technical advice as well, observations and suggestions concerning elements such as structure, point of view, narration, characterization, dialogue, and syntax & diction.

I am completely without bias with respect to genre. I draw no meaningful distinctions between what’s called Realism, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Crime, Gothic—whatever. I am drawn to fiction writers who often think like poets, fiction writers for whom there are no genres. Prose writers I read and love include Nicholson Baker, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Jorge Luis Borges, Lydia Davis, Don DeLillo, William H. Gass, Maggie Nelson, and Marilynne Robinson. I take any chance I get to praise the staggeringly underrated and -read Sarah Orne Jewett, whose 1896 book Country of the Pointed Firs is possibly the best short story cycle in U.S. lit.

In my own work—especially with shorter texts—I like to play with form. I’m interested in consciousness, memory, the concept of time, paradoxes, and characters who may not know the difference between certainty and uncertainty. I like puzzles, but never at the expense of character, and never with indifference to the reader.

If possible, I’d appreciate an informal cover letter with your submission. Nothing elaborate: just a short bio type-thing. I look forward to reading, to getting to work on your work!

Ends on $20.00 - 325.00
$20.00 - 325.00

During the month of July, Black Lawrence Press author EJ Colen is on board to critique poetry manuscripts.

EJ Colen is a PNW-based educator, writer, and editor interested in long-form poetry, the lyric essay, literary and visual collage, and research-based approaches to storytelling and memoir. She is the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award and Audre Lorde Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. With more than two decades of social justice activism, EJ remains committed to centering marginalized voices in all the work that she does. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches in the English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments at Western Washington University.

EJ 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 July 31. EJ will complete her work and respond to all participants by August 31.

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EJ Colen's Statement of Purpose

A poem should yield potential pleasure on (at least) two levels. First, surface: the sonic qualities of language coupled with precise observation, syntax, and image should produce engagement purely with what’s presented on the page, sound and denotation. A reader should enjoy a poem for how the words play prior to any search for deeper ‘meaning.’ Second, whatever metaphors or allusions the poem is working with should add additional layering. A complicated understanding that a reader may or may not glean, based on what references and prior understandings they bring with them to the piece. This second, deeper reading may inform and even compete with surface pleasure, but it should never replace that surface pleasure. In short, whether or not a reader ‘understands’ a poem, a poem should please or stun.

I read best from that surface place of enjoyment, loving the words for what they are, stung cold when they don’t perform, worse yet when a writer packs a poem with loose and unnecessary sounds. Condense, condense. While I read to understand the deeper intentionality of a piece, it is the line-level urgency of communication I’m most interested in.

When constructing a whole book, the manuscript should move forward by way of narrative, concept, or mix-tape methodology, writer matching sounds from one poem to the next, accruing meaning through both intention (content) and intuition (sound).

My aesthetics are informed by ravenous reading habit, 2-4 books a week with a focus on contemporary poetry. It is my hope that by reading everything, all the secrets of language will unlock themselves, matrix-like before me. Poets I currently cannot live without include C.D. Wright, Gertrude Stein, G.M. Hopkins, Richard Siken, Shane McCrae, Craig Santos Perez, and Sueyeun Juliette Lee.

Sometimes the hardest part about writing is just getting started. If you’re struggling with writer’s block or creating time to write, you’re not alone. Even though as writers we want to write, there are often real obstacles to enjoying the process. Is your apartment covered in sticky notes for a book you’re not working on? Do you struggle with finding time to write or sticking to a schedule? Are you so afraid of rejection that you don’t send out your work? Confused about how to get published and the etiquette of the process? Craft concerns can also derail your best writing habits. Maybe you’re great at mapping out a plot but feel confused about how to develop your characters. Or you’re stuck midway through a project because you don’t know what happens next and it’s daunting to write into that void. Maybe you’ve finished your memoir, and you know it’s great, but you’re afraid to publish it because it’s about your family. Maybe you’re intimidated by other writers’ success.

Coaching can help. While a manuscript consultation addresses issues with your writing itself, coaching focuses on your writing process: the pragmatic and psychological obstacles to starting, finishing, and publishing your work. If you’d like to talk through your writing struggles with someone who understands, listens, and can offer constructive guidance, I’m excited to work with you. I’m fascinated by the creative process and I’ve struggled with all of these things (and more!) myself.  Let’s talk, map out your concerns, and find a path forward.

An initial coaching session is a two-part process.

Step one: You write a 1-2 page statement describing the issues you’d like to address during our session. This will help me prepare for our call and help you name what’s holding you back.

Step two: Our session will be an hour long, by Zoom or phone, whichever you prefer. We’ll discuss your primary concerns and map out pragmatic strategies for moving ahead.

Follow-up appointments are available in 30 or 60 minute blocks.


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Carol Guess is the author of twenty books of poetry and prose, including Doll Studies: Forensics and Tinderbox Lawn. A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University and lives in Seattle.

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award the St. Lawrence Book Award for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The St. Lawrence Book Award is open to any writer who has not yet published a full-length collection of short stories or poems. 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. 

Beginning with the 2014 St. Lawrence Book Award competition, all entries will be read blind by our panel of editors. 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 45-95 pages in length (poetry) or 120-280 pages in length (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. 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 for the prize is August 31. Please enter fiction submissions here.

The past winners of The St. Lawrence Book Award are Marcel Jolley, Stefi Weisburd, Jason Tandon, Fred McGavran, Yelizaveta P. Renfro, Brad Ricca, Katie Umans, Adrian Van Young, Craig Bernier, KMA Sullivan, Thomas Cotsonas, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Vedran Husic, Leigh Camacho Rourks, Jody Chan, Anna B Sutton, and Kim Sousa. Below, you will have the option to purchase a selection of their titles for a discounted fee, which includes the cost of shipping. While authors from around the globe may submit to The St. Lawrence Book Award, these discounted book prices are only available to those with U.S. mailing addresses.

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award the St. Lawrence Book Award for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The St. Lawrence Book Award is open to any writer who has not yet published a full-length collection of short stories or poems. 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. 

Beginning with the 2014 St. Lawrence Book Award competition, all entries will be read blind by our panel of editors. 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 45-95 pages in length (poetry) or 120-280 pages in length (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. 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 for the prize is August 31. Please enter poetry submissions here.

The past winners of The St. Lawrence Book Award are Marcel Jolley, Stefi Weisburd, Jason Tandon, Fred McGavran, Yelizaveta P. Renfro, Brad Ricca, Katie Umans, Adrian Van Young, Craig Bernier, KMA Sullivan, Thomas Cotsonas, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Vedran Husic, Leigh Camacho Rourks, Jody Chan, Anna B Sutton, and Kim Sousa. Below, you will have the option to purchase a selection of their titles for a discounted fee, which includes the cost of shipping. While authors from around the globe may submit to The St. Lawrence Book Award, these discounted book prices are only available to those with U.S. mailing addresses.

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