Reading Fee: Chapbook Open Reading Period

While our Chapbook Open Reading Period does have a fee to enter, there is no set reading fee: you determine the fee you will pay. While most presses charge $12 to $25 to read chapbook manuscripts, we’re leaving it up to you to decide the value of having your manuscript read by the staff at Bull City Press. Select your price below.

This reading fee is only for submissions during the Open Reading Period from May 15 – June 15. Please note that your account in our submissions manager is not tied to the rest of bullcitypress.com.



What does it cost to enter the Chapbook Open Reading Period?

While our Chapbook Open Reading Period does have a fee to enter, there is no set reading fee: you determine the fee you will pay. While most presses charge $12 to $25 to read chapbook manuscripts, we’re leaving it up to you to decide the value of having your manuscript read by the staff at Bull City Press.

Why have you introduced a “pay what you want” option for the Chapbook Open Reading Period?

One problem we have with a publishing model that includes contest and reading fees is that it excludes writers with low or no income; and writers with no access to institutional support from MFA programs, conferences, and foundations. That system inherently privileges a subset of writers based on criteria other than the merit of the work.

We believe that if the books available to you are to represent the broadest possible range of voices, there must be submission options available to writers who don’t have the means to pay those fees. So we’ve introduced an option that allows writers to determine what fee they will pay… or pay no fee at all.

We ask that if you can afford to pay, you do. Just this spring, we were hit with high costs connected to the collapse of Small Press Distribution (e.g. fees to have our inventory returned to us & uncollected revenue from SPD for copies sold prior to their dissolution).  Consider whatever you give as a contribution to the reading process for a small, independent press staffed by volunteers and run out of a basement.

More than ever: every dollar you contribute helps us keep the lights on and print more books.

What will happen to the fees you collect?

All fees collected will be applied to acquiring, publishing, and distributing the collection(s) selected through this process.  If the fees collected don’t cover those expenses, we’ll make up the difference.

Our staff—including all readers for this open reading period—is made up entirely of volunteers.

If I pay less, will my manuscript receive the same consideration?

We read each collection with the same level of intensity and generosity, regardless of the fee you paid to submit.

What if I can’t afford to pay anything right now?

We get it. A lot of us have student loans to pay off, and there aren’t a ton of high-paying jobs that give writers the flexibility to write. We don’t believe that a lack of money for submissions fees should prevent you from submitting and publishing a collection. So you have the option of not paying anything at all when you submit your chapbook. If you take that option, we ask that you give some of your time to your literary community in lieu of a monetary reading fee. Celebrating the work of writer you admire on social media, offering comments to an emerging writer, volunteering time to a nonprofit for writers, or serving as a reader for a journal or press you admire– any of these would make us really happy!

Can I sponsor another writer’s submission?

Absolutely! The easiest way to do this is to buy any chapbook in the Bull City Press store and enter the coupon code SPONSOR20 when you check out. You’ll save 20% on the chapbook and part of the purchase price will sponsor another writer’s entry to the Chapbook Open Reading Period.

Do you accept previously published work?

Your collection may include previously published stories, essays, or poems provided that you have the rights to include them in a collection (please include an acknowledgments page in your manuscript).  However, we do not accept collections that have been published in their entirety by another publisher or on the Web.

How many chapbooks will be accepted in the Chapbook Open Reading Period?

Each summer, we commit to accepting at least one chapbook from our open reading period. Last year, we accepted two titles: one poetry and one fiction. You can see below a list of selected Open Reading titles from previous years—in 2021 we accepted THREE! But we don’t want to mislead anyone: we are committing to at least one.  The final number will be determined by our editors’ passion for this summer’s submissions and our volunteer staff’s ability to support the collection(s) we accept through the editorial, design, and post-publication process.

Which books were selected in previous Chapbook Open Reading Periods?

2023 – Arah Ko, Animal Logic
2023 – Daniel Wallace, The Uncollected Very, Very, Very Short Stories of Daniel Wallace

2022 – Maggie Cooper, The Theme Park of Women’s Bodies
2022 – T. De Los Reyes, And Yet Held

2021 – Caroline M. Mar, Dream of the Lake
2021 – Emily Pittinos, Animal, Roadkill, Ashes, Gone
2021 – Katie Jean Shinkle, Thick City

2020 – no reading period

2019 – Britton Shurley, Spinning the Vast Fantastic
2019 – C.T. Salazar, American Cavewall Sonnets

2018 – Siân Griffiths, The Heart Keeps Faulty Time
2018 – John LaPine, An Unstable Container
2018 – Han VanderHart, What Pecan Light

2017 – Ryan Napier, Four Stories About the Human Face
2017 – Leah Silvieus, Season of Dares
2017 – Connie Voisine, And God Created Women

2016 – L.A. Johnson, Little Climates
2016 – Michael Parker, Everything, Then and Since

Does Bull City Press pay its authors?

For books taken in our open reading period, we pay an advance against royalties (but because our chaps are so inexpensive the royalties themselves are not awesome), 10 free copies, and additional copies available at an author discount of 50% or more.

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Bull City Press

We love readers, we love writers.