Chapbook Publishing

August 18, 2013 — 4 Comments


I’ve been working on a chapbook manuscript this month, since fall submission deadlines are approaching. I’ve found some online resources that are helpful and others that are confusing or out-of-date. Entry fees seem to run between $15 and $20, and length between 16 and 38 pages. It’s common for chapbooks to be published through contests, though there are publishers that will consider manuscripts outside of contests, such as Finishing Line Press. Check back each year because chapbook publishing seems to vary based on demand, the finances and staffing of the presses, etc. The publisher of my first chapbook, Main Street Rag, for example, is not currently holding chapbook contests.

There are three approaches to publishing a chapbook: contests, approaching a publisher on your own, or self-publishing. I don’t have experience with self-publishing, so these resources cover the first two options.

The most up-to-date sources for current contests are Poets & Writers Magazine and listings. Newpages has a scrollable listing, and for the Poets & Writers online site, I went to the grants and contests section and then entered “Chapbook” in the search box.

There are two main lists that show up in Google results for chapbook contests and publishers: Poetry Society of America chapbook contests and These two lists formed the basis for my research. These lists are not arranged by submission deadlines, and they have many links to sites that are not current. I added new information relevant to each list as I found it. It is worth checking back frequently to see if updates are available.

Poetry Society of America list of chapbook contests

  • Main Street Rag, suspended chapbook contest
  • Susan Blalock Chapbook Contest/Permafrost renamed Midnight Sun Contest
  • Slapering Hol Contest only accepts manuscripts if you have never published a book or a chapbook
  • Wick Poetry Center Contest is open to residents or writers associated with Ohio list of chapbook publishers*

  • Moon Pie Press is currently not considering submissions
  • Main Street Rag, suspended chapbook contest
  • Floating Bridge contest is open to residents or writers associated with Washington state
  • Slapering Hol Contest only accepts manuscripts if you have never published a book or a chapbook
  • Wild Honey Press is located in Ireland and isn’t currently considering manuscripts

*Several names on the list are not contests but publishers that you would have to approach yourself.

Finishing Line Press will let you submit manuscripts any time during the year, though they are not listed in either of these two resources.

New contests that have started:

  • Arcadia (August deadline just passed)
  • Tupelo Press Sunken Garden Chapbook Contest

Don’t forget the Poet’s Market book (from Writer’s Digest) as a resource. It also helps to attend bookfairs, such as at the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference to see the types of chapbooks being made by publishers.

Things to keep in mind about chapbooks:

  • It isn’t necessary to have all of the poems published before submitting a manuscript, though it really helps to have at least a few listed on the acknowledgments page. My first chapbook had roughly 30% published poems.
  • Poems can be ordered in a variety of ways. Often in a short chapbook there is a unifying theme.
  • Length can vary. Put your strongest work in and don’t feel obligated to go to the maximum page length.
  • Read and follow the guidelines for each press. Some chapbooks are printed in a specific size and font that limit how long a line can be, and how many lines can fit on a page. Some manuscripts are read blind with no identifying information, and others are not.
  • Most contests allow electronic submissions, and almost all will have a reading fee. The reading fee supports the press, and often there is a perk in exchange for the fee such as a subscription to the literary journal or a copy of the winning chapbook.

An earlier blog post on putting together a manuscript references Jeffrey Levine’s (editor of Tupelo Press) page of tips, including ordering poems, proofreading, and submitting. Mr. Levine’s tips are available here. My blog post is below as well.

The chapbook publishing market is experiencing a resurgence, and some of the contests (The Diagram/New Michigan Press) had 500 entries last year. In many of the contests, you may be competing with poets who have already published a chapbook or book.

Poets & Writers has an article on how to make and bind your own chapbook here.

4 responses to Chapbook Publishing


    Hey! Thanks for posting this about chaps – I do have a question – my chapbook was published and I’m curious if I can republish those poems? Not much was really done with my work as far as exposure, and I do retain all rights to them. I’m not too hip with all the publishing lingo and wanted to make sure what I wasn’t doing wasn’t say, illegal if I wanted these to be a part of another chap or just individual pieces.


      There are a couple of ways that you can get more exposure for these poems. Once published, these poems would not be eligible to be included in another chapbook. You can include any of them in a full-length manuscript, or you can submit previously published poems to anthologies or Verse daily, Poetry Daily, and other similar sites. These are the primary places that I can suggest. I have seen a few journals that will take previously published work as long as it is credited. The submission guidelines will let you know if you can do this. Thanks for the question!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Submission Season « Lynn Pedersen - September 8, 2013

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  2. What is a chapbook? - November 6, 2013

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