2016 Book & Chapbook Contest

Contest Judge: Matt Bell

Prize: $1000, publication, ten author copies,

and a copy of the judge’s latest book

About the Contest

The Conium Press Book & Chapbook Contest is an annual prize for a fiction manuscript. The winning manuscript will be published by Conium Press as a standalone title. The winning author receives $1,000, ten author copies, and a copy of the judge’s latest book. Additional author copies may be purchased at a discounted wholesale rate.

Any length is eligible. However, chapbooks and short- to mid-sized books are ideal. You may submit a gigantic maximalist novel, but every single page better be awesome; filler is for calzones, not books.

This year’s judge is Matt Bell. He is the author of Scrapper (Soho Press, 2015), In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods (Soho Press, 2014), Cataclysm Baby (The Mud Luscious Press, 2012), and How They Were Found (Keyhole Press, 2010). Matt teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. If you are a family member, coworker, or student of the judge, you are ineligible for this contest.

Contest Deadlines

Submissions must be received between June 1st, 2016 and September 1st, 2016. All submissions must include a $25.00 entry fee. The winner will be announced in late 2016 or early 2017.

Contest Guidelines

All manuscripts must be submitted through our Submittable page between June 1st, 2016 September 1st, 2016. This is a fiction contest. Do not send poetry or nonfiction (but hybrid work is okay). Manuscript length is flexible; interesting and innovative stories are more important than some ideal page count.

Your name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript, and you should not include an acknowledgements page in your manuscript file. The judge reads blind, and he will recuse himself from considering any manuscript where the writer is identifiable. In the unlikely event that the judge is unable to select a winner, The Conium Review editorial staff will make the final decision.

In the “Manuscript Summary” field, provide a synopsis at least one paragraph long.

In the “Biography Statement” field, include a brief third-person bio. This biography statement is hidden from the judge. If you have any author blurbs, you can also include them to this text box (but remember, this is a hidden field, so don’t expect the judge to be impressed by all your big-name-author buddies; he’ll only see this after he makes a final decision).

Submissions must be original work. Individual pieces from the manuscript may have been previously published in-print or online elsewhere, but the manuscript as a whole must be unpublished (this includes all print, digital, and audio formats).

If individual stories or excerpts have appeared elsewhere, enter the publication details in the “Acknowledgements” field. This is another hidden field; the judge will not have access to this information during deliberation.

Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but you must withdraw your submission immediately if it is accepted elsewhere. If you withdraw a manuscript, your entry fee is not returned. You may submit more than one manuscript, but each manuscript submission requires a separate $25 entry fee.

This contest abides by the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses code of ethics.  Thank you for submitting!

About the 2016 Contest Judge

Matt Bell is the author of four books of fiction: ScrapperIn the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the WoodsCataclysm Baby, and How They Were Found. He is also the author of a nonfiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II.

Matt has also published three fiction chapbooks: Wolf PartsThe Collectors, and How the Broken Lead the Blind. His poetry chapbook, Death Domestic, is forthcoming from Spork Press.

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods was winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, a Michigan Notable Book, and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient. His writing has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Tin House, The New York Times, Conjunctions, Gulf Coast, The American Reader, and many other publications. Born in Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

Praise for Matt Bell’s Scrapper

  • “A fearless and harrowing meditation on the ruination and transformation of cities and of people; but amid loss and destruction, Bell finds a strain of piercing hope. This is an extraordinary book.” –Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
  • Scrapper is a meditative, moody work of art. It’s about love and violence, hope and ruin, a kind of super hero story for adults. Matt Bell is truly gifted and his latest offers more proof that he’s a writer we should all be reading. ” –Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
  • “This is an evocative novel that lingers over what has been abandoned and shows us how the places we inhabit shape who we are and how we are.” –Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia and Eat the Document
  • Scrapper is an offering to the grim phoenix rising out of the ashes of Industrial America – elegy, eulogy, and prophesy. Readers: listen and attend!” –Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne’s War and Dog on the Cross
  • “Matt Bell adds his song to the poetry inherent in the image of the abandoned city. Here, in his fierce second novel, Scrapper, Bell mines Detroit, the zone, with Kelly, an unforgettably rendered ruin, an ‘unaccomodated man… a poor, bare, forked animal,’ who yet amazes with his capacity to love.” –Christine Schutt, author of Prosperous Friends
  • “ . . . [Scrapper is] difficult to describe in just a few words, but what I can tell you is that it’s ultimately about love and death, and that people will still be reading it when all of America, not just Detroit, is crumbling under the weight of its mistakes.” –Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time

About Conium Press

Conium Press typically publishes one to three books and/or chapbooks per year. Each year’s publishing decisions are determined based on the submission pool, available budget, and editorial workload. In addition to publishing the winning manuscript, we may offer publication to one or more finalists. In the past, we’ve also looked through book submissions and asked authors if we could publish individual parts of their manuscripts in The Conium Review‘s annual print edition (from our latest edition, the stories by Zach Powers and Theodora Ziolkowski both came to us through that route). In general, submitting your chapbook- and book-length stuff is a great way to get our attention for upcoming projects (but you control the rights; we’ll always get permission before using a piece for a different project).

We lean toward chapbooks and shorter book-length manuscripts, but any length is considered. We’re not the right publisher for your five-part epic that spans 1,200 pages, but we’ll consider almost everything else, and we don’t get bogged down in stingy word count rules. Chapbooks, flash collections, story collections, novellas, novels, whatever. Feel free to make up a category if you want (maybe call it storyella?). We think books should come in all shapes and sizes, and we like titles that might get overlooked elsewhere. Just send us your weirdest and wildest work.

We’re a boutique literary press. Titles are distributed through Ingram Book Group, and we stock directly with a handful of independent bookstores, including Powell’s Books, Elliott Bay Book Company, Skylight Books, and Quimby’s Bookstore. We also donate copies to non-profits and charity bookstores such as Housing Works Bookstore Café and Open Books. Furthermore, we send copies to various small press review outlets, and we exhibit at the annual AWP Conference.