On the ride home from work yesterday I got the germ of a new book idea. I want it to be a collection of creative non-fiction essays organized around a theme. Aside from basically everything David Sedaris writes, there aren’t many non-fiction short story collection books for sale in stores. So I was wondering, how does one get them published? And where do they get them published? Do you get an agent or go straight to a publisher? What publishers are actually interested in that kind of manuscript? Obviously everyone is interested in David Sedaris because he’s awesome:
To me, this book idea feels a little bit like a poetry chapbook, which I’m more familiar with, and I know there are oodles of poetry chapbook contests out there where people can win money and get published all at one, so I figure there’s got to be similar contests for other genres, right?
I found a few fiction chapbook contests–Gold Line Press, for example, has one (deadline 11/1/11) where you can win $500 and publication with an ISBN number–but only one non-fiction one. They don’t have the deadline posted for this year’s competition, but it’s hosted by AWP and has been an annual contest since 1975, so it seems like a pretty safe bet that the contest will be held again. If you have a similar manuscript done or in the works–they permit some of the short stories to have been published elsewhere first, so you could try to assemble some previously published stuff into a submission–then read the info below and submit!
Who/What is Illegible: The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence. Only book-length manuscripts are eligible.
What They Want: Poetry-48 pages minimum text; short story collection and creative nonfiction-150-300 manuscript pages; novel-at least 60,000 words.
How They Want It: Snail Mail. Manuscripts must be typed and double-spaced on good quality paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Poetry manuscripts may be single-spaced. Photocopies or copies from letter-quality printers are acceptable, but dot matrix is not acceptable. Manuscripts should not be bound or in a folder; they must be binder-clipped or rubber-banded together. See more submission guidelines here.
Prize: The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $5,000 and publication for the best book-length manuscript of poetry. This competition is open to published and unpublished poets alike. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction awards the winner $5,000 and publication. Winners in the novel and creative nonfiction categories receive a $2,000 cash honorarium from AWP and publication. The Award Series conducts an evaluation process of writers, for writers, by writers. AWP hires a staff of “screeners” who are themselves writers; the screeners review manuscripts for the judges. Typically, the screeners will select ten manuscripts in each genre for each judge’s final evaluations.