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.

You're in the submission form for poetry. If you're intending to submit fiction, please return to the main page and select the fiction category instead.

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or short fiction between 16-36 pages in length.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 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 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 has been previously published as a 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.
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.

  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 Retribution Binary by Ruth Baumann; The Branches, The Axe, The Missing by Charlotte Pence; The Missing Girl by Jacqueline Doyle; The Muddy Season by Matthew Raymond; and Atlas of the Body by Nicole Cuffy. 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 fiction. If you're intending to submit poetry, please return to the main page and select the poetry category instead.

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or short fiction 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 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 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 has been previously published as a 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.
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.

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 Retribution Binary by Ruth Baumann; The Branches, The Axe, The Missing by Charlotte Pence; The Missing Girl by Jacqueline Doyle; The Muddy Season by Matthew Raymond; and Atlas of the Body by Nicole Cuffy. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

During the month of September, Black Lawrence Press author Elizabeth J. Colen is on board to critique mixed genre and hybrid manuscripts; and she is accepting everything from short 2-page pieces of work to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

• Short pieces, up to 2 pages in length, $15

• Medium piece, up to 10 pages in length, $30

• Long pieces, up to 20 pages in length, $45

• Extended pieces/chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $150

• Short manuscripts, up to 90 pages in length, $250

• Long manuscripts, up to 200 pages in length, $500

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

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

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

Note: Please do not send manuscripts that promote hate speech, are intended to harass or bully a specific person or group of persons, or include glorified sexual violence.

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Elizabeth J. Colen's Statement of Purpose

Genre is a story we tell ourselves in order to make the world understandable. Like the moon is to the east of the north star this day. Like north is north and east is east. The moon doesn’t believe in east, and the star doesn’t know what north is. It only knows its fission, which it doesn’t have a name for anyway.

This is to say, I don’t believe in genre. I believe a work stands or it falls regardless of what it’s called. The moon still there, nameless.

That is not to say there are no rules.

In the second century b.c., Terence said, “There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said before.” The first rule is to make it beautiful, to push it up against some newness in presentation. Since, after all, you’re just repeating. The first rule is to bring focus into qualitative control. Where the reader looks, where the eye lingers, where the moon’s dark leaves a wet ring on the coffee table. The first rule is balance.

I read best from a 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 page 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, sound, or the building of image, 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 work that doesn’t rely on conventional means. It is my hope that by reading everything, all the secrets of language and story will unlock themselves, matrix-like before me. Writers I currently cannot live without include Maggie Nelson, Roland Barthes, John Keene, Rachel McKibbens, Carmen Machado, Gertrude Stein, Selah Saterstrom & Craig Santos Perez.

During the month of September, Black Lawrence Press author Paula Carter is on board to critique mixed genre and hybrid manuscripts. She is accepting everything from short pieces (up to 2 pages) to full-length manuscripts (up to 200 pages). The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:


• Short pieces, up to 2 pages in length, $15
• Medium piece, up to 10 pages in length, $30
• Long pieces, up to 20 pages in length, $45
• Extended pieces/chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $150
• Short manuscripts, up to 90 pages in length, $250
• Long manuscripts, up to 200 pages in length, $500


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


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


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


Note: Please do not send manuscripts that promote hate speech, are intended to harass or bully a specific person or group of persons, or include glorified sexual violence.
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Paula Carter's Statement of Purpose

I believe that stories have power and that by sharing our stories we can build empathy and understanding.  Regardless of the form these stories take – fiction, spoken word, poetry, images, or nonfiction – it is by communicating our experiences of what it is to be human that we can begin to connect and reveal truth. I am spellbound by narrative, but the use of language at the sentence level is what brings me back to a work again and again. 

When working with writers, I find it is important to facilitate the development of the writer’s voice and vision. This means that I might know what I would do with a piece, but I don’t know what the writer would do. Therefore, my editing style is to ask lots of questions, note places where things are confusing and unclear, and offer suggestions for the writer to consider. The suggestion may not be the direction the piece is meant to go, but it will hopefully illuminate a challenge in the work that will nudge the writer towards a resolution. 

I have worked both as a creative writing teacher as well as an editor of a magazine, so my approach is somewhere between giving something the time it needs to grow and getting something ready for publication.

I am fascinated by genre bending and blending. My work is categorized as creative nonfiction, but has a kinship with prose poetry. My book, No Relation, is a collection of flash memoir. Themes found in my work include gender, family, the Midwest, the environment, and science. Some of the books I’ve been spending time with recently include Citizen by Claudia Rankine, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, and Outline by Rachel Cusk.

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