Brain Mill Press is an independent publisher of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and graphic novels, as well as essays on our digital magazine platform, VOICES.

Our acquisition priority is work by authors of color, women, LGBTQIA+, disabled authors, and First Nations authors.   

This page is where our editors will open calls for queries, open reading periods, magazines, and essays. Please follow the guidelines provided by each editor for any open calls.

We do not accept queries, pitches, or manuscripts via snail mail or email. Please use the Submittable platform. If you have any questions or barriers to using this platform, please email us at inquiries@brainmillpress.com. Brain Mill Press accepts directly solicited queries, pitches, and manuscripts via the "Invited Submissions" portal. Do not use this portal unless you have communicated with an editor at Brain Mill Press who has directed you to submit via this portal.

Brain Mill Press accepts agented submissions directed to one of our editors or to the publishers via inquiries@brainmillpress.com.

Opens December 1, 2018

Closes January 23, 2019

$250.00 cash prize and Brain Mill Press Publishing Contract

The Driftless region of Wisconsin state is land that the glaciers never reached — a dramatically hilly landscape, unpressed by the weight of glaciers, with ore so close to the surface it was collected by individual miners who dug their own “badger holes” in the mineral-rich ground.

Since the miners left, this beautifully strange region has collected artists and makers, inspired by each other and the shadows and light created by ancient trees and changes in elevation.

Brain Mill Press holds the Driftless Unsolicited Novella Contest to select the novellas that will be published in the series. Two winning novellas each receive a $250.00 cash prize, a publication contract, and royalties for the novella with Brain Mill Press. The novellas are published in print and ebook and receive international distribution.

See here for previous winners and shortlisted novellas http://www.brainmillpress.com/driftless-series/

The 2019 Driftless Unsolicted Novella Contest will select two novellas in two different categories. All authors will be notified of the outcome of the contest February 1, 2019. Please familiarize yourself with the submission guidelines for each category. There is no fee to enter the contest, but a $12.00 submission will purchase the submitter a print and ebook copy of the winning novella in their category.

Writers may submit one project in either category, but may not submit multiple manuscripts or submit the same manuscript to both categories.

Fiction Category

Complete fiction novellas and novella-length short story collections may be submitted in this category. Submission must be between 20,000 and 45,000 words. Novella or collection cannot be previously published, including self-published, or have appeared in its complete form on any digital platform. Novella excerpts of 10% or less, individual short stories (single or multiple, but not the complete collection), or excerpted/earlier versions of the novella may have previously appeared in journals or digital platforms and still be considered. 

This category welcomes all approaches to literary and adult fiction including experimental narrative and structure, cross-genre approaches, and traditional narrative and structure approaches. Please do not submit screenplays, verse, poetry, or illustrations/images. Do not submit excerpts/parts/volumes belonging to your novel or longer short story collection. The contest is meant to celebrate the novella and short collections and their contribution to literature and to readers. Your submission should argue for itself as a novella-length work. 

Brain Mill Press has an acquisition mission to publish underrepresented authors and considers submissions from authors of color, LGBTQIA+ authors, disabled authors, First Nations authors, BAME authors, 50+ authors, and women/femme authors. All submissions are read in full by the editorial staff at Brain Mill Press. 

Submissions must be in a standard font (Times, Garamond, Ariel), double-spaced, cleanly formatted, and submitted as a .doc or PDF on the Submittable platform with a brief (less than one page) cover letter and biography. 

Genre Fiction Category

Genre authors in Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Horror may submit, in a single file, a complete synopsis (300-1,000 words that describe all action of the novella, including the end) and first three chapters of their genre novella. The synopsis should describe a novella of 20,000 to 45,000 words. This category is not for cross-genre submissions, genre-breaking submissions, experiment-with-genre submissions, or genre-inspired submissions, but for exemplary examples of your genre with the intent to celebrate your genre and its contributions to fiction and to readers. Own-voices genre submissions are encouraged. Authors should be familiar with the genre they are writing in, and if professional conventions are available that define your genre, authors should honor these conventions (for example, Romance should have an emotionally satisfying ending, i.e., the “HEA/HFN”). However, authors need not limit themselves to current market-defined ideas of what genre conventions demand. We are always thrilled to see underrepresented protagonists and characters, unconventional settings, tropes, and time periods, etc.

Your audience may be adults or young adults. If your submission is YA, please be familiar with the conventions of Young Adult fiction. 

Novella cannot be previously published, including self-published, or have appeared in its complete form on any digital platform. You may not submit books that are currently out of print but whose rights have reverted back to you. 

Brain Mill Press has an acquisition mission to publish underrepresented authors and considers submissions from authors of color, LGBTQIA+ authors, disabled authors, First Nations authors, BAME authors, 50+ authors, and women/femme authors. All submissions are read in full by the editorial staff at Brain Mill Press. 

If your submission is selected for publication on February 1, 2019, you will be asked to submit your final manuscript by April 30, 2019, and you will be provided with a schedule for edits. 

Submissions must be in a standard font (Times, Garamond, Ariel), double-spaced, cleanly formatted, and submitted as a .doc or PDF on the Submittable platform with a brief (less than one page) cover letter and biography. 

Kindred Books
Edited by Vanessa Willoughby

Submissions Open

“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”

― Octavia E. Butler


We tell stories in order to learn how to live. In a publishing world that is overwhelmingly white, stories by minority and/or marginalized voices are often viewed as a way to fill a diversity quota, turning an author’s creative artistry into tokenism or exoticism. Those who are “spared” this type of treatment are either ignored or dismissed. Despite the progressive attempts to combat the whiteness of the industry, marginalized authors still must fight to get their stories properly told.

In a recent response to a New York Times article about the purpose of sensitivity readers for children’s book authors and publishers, author Joyce Carol Oates tweeted, “No one should censor writers--just don't read what offends you. Start your own publishing houses & magazines as many (of us) have done.” For many marginalized and non-white authors such as N.K. Jemisin and Angie Thomas, Oates’s tone-deaf response was a reflection of the systemic racism and discrimination of traditional publishing. Not only does Oates fail to realize that her argument suspiciously echoes segregationist thinking, it also dismisses the fact that the whiteness of the industry impacts accessibility. People of color have never waited for permission from white supremacy to start their own writing and publishing platforms. However, this still doesn’t guarantee the same type of exposure, publicity, and monetary support and funding reserved for white authors. Despite contradicting protests from old guard authors such as Oates, marginalized authors are not competing on an even playing field. The idea that these authors should happily accept the status quo is as regressive as it is oppressive.  

Inspired by the unrelenting ambition, perseverance, and trailblazing vision of MacArthur Fellow and sci-fi writer Octavia Butler, Kindred Books aims to put marginalized voices first. The imprint champions and spotlights diverse identities, but also understands that these narratives do not simply end and begin with racial/gender identity and/or sexuality. Fiction Editor Vanessa Willoughby is actively seeking narratives that make readers reflect and question the world around them. She is especially interested in fiction that evokes the stylistic language and themes of authors and writers such as Jesmyn Ward, ZZ Packer, Danielle Evans, Toni Morrison, Hilton Als, Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Angela Flournoy, and Celeste Ng. She would be pleased to acquire emotionally raw, coming-of-age stories concerning young people of color, especially black girls and women. Kindred Books believes that diversity in publishing, whether it specifically concerns the authors, agents and/or editors, is a necessity to the lifeblood of the industry.


About Vanessa Willoughby
: Vanessa Willoughby holds a BA in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College. Following Emerson, she attended The New School and earned her MFA in creative writing. Her bylines have appeared but are not limited to the following publications: Bitch, The Establishment, The Hairpin, Hazlitt, The Toast, and Vice. A full archive of her work is available on her blog.


Guidelines: Your electronic submission of a manuscript pitch and 1-2 sample chapters will be accepted at the Brain Mill Press submission portal at brainmillpress.submittable.com. Up to two manuscripts may be submitted per person. Incomplete submissions and manuscripts, or manuscripts that are discovered to not meet the guidelines of this call, will be automatically rejected. All other submissions will be read by the editor in a timely manner. Authors who have not heard from the editor eight weeks from submission are welcome to inquire about their submission to vanessa@brainmillpress.com. Form rejection should be anticipated by authors whose submission does not meet the needs of the editor at this time, but comments and feedback may be occasionally offered per the editors’ discretion. 

Good luck, and direct inquiries not answered in this call to inquiries@brainmillpress.com.

Call for Pitches: Essays for BMP Voices Column "Makers on Making"

Opens: ongoing

Brain Mill Press seeks emotional, radically authentic essays of 750-1,500 words to appear on Voices, our online content platform, in the "Makers on Making" column.

Makers on Making features a different maker each month — printmakers, writers, knitters, crafters, painters, photographers, textile artists, and anyone else involved in art — with essays about their process on a particular project. These pieces delve into the psychology of making, the lessons we learn from success and (often more usefully) failure, and what it is to be a human authentically and emotionally involved as a maker in our world.

Essay pitches will be reviewed for suitability by Brain Mill Press staff. If your pitch is selected, you will be given a mutually-agreed period of time to write your essay. You will receive editorial development and feedback on your submitted piece, a contract granting Brain Mill Press the limited right to reproduce your piece in Voices, and payment at industry-standard rates upon publication. You will retain all other rights to your work.

Your essay and profile will be promoted on our social media outlets. Your essay will contain your headshot and bio, as well as information you may wish to include about recent work and your website and social media links. We will also include your profile on our page of Voices contributors.

Brain Mill Press exclusively invites submissions from people of color, women, and LGBTQIA+ writers.

Other interested writers for Voices, please contact inquiries@brainmillpress.com directly, and we will consider your pitches on a case-by-case basis depending on the response to the original call.

Brain Mill Press publishes “Love Books for Humans” in multiple genres. Find more information at brainmillpress.com.

Contact Brain Mill Press at inquiries@brainmillpress.com with questions.

If you have been invited to submit to Brain Mill Press, this is the place!
Brain Mill Press