It’s that time again, writers!
Barrelhouse Books is looking for its next manuscript to publish. This go-round, we’re on the hunt for innovative nonfiction: book-length projects that experiment in some way with form, or take an unusual vector through their subject matter.
We realize that’s a little vague, so what we’re asking for, rather than a full manuscript, is a brief note telling us about your project. If it sounds like our kind of thing, we’ll get back to you and ask to see the whole manuscript.
So, why are we doing things this way? Last time we had an open call for submissions we asked for full manuscripts, and while that netted us a book we love—the wonderful novel, Year 14—the process on our end was pretty overwhelming. And we realized that a lot of the books people submitted just weren’t right for us—which isn’t a statement about the quality of those books, but on our own editorial idiosyncrasies. We want to publish a book that’s “our kind of thing,” but it’s not so easy to define what “our kind of thing” is. Often, we don’t know it until we see it. So we thought this would be easier for all involved—you give us a sense of your project, and we decide whether it sounds like our kind of deal. If it does, we’ll follow up and ask for more.
So, what do we want to know?
1. Your name; the title of the book; word count.
This part should be easy, no?
2. What’s your book about?
Just give us a paragraph. This doesn’t need to be a full, detailed synopsis. We want to know what makes the book interesting (to you, and to potential readers). We want to know what makes it different. Are you doing something unusual with form? What’s your connection to the subject matter? We know that describing your book in a paragraph is hard. But we also think it’s a useful exercise. We don’t need to know every little thing—if the description sounds like something that might fit with our catalog, we’ll ask for more.
3. Who are you?
Feel free to include whatever biographical information you want us to know. Give us a link to your website, too, if you have one.
Ok, before we wrap this up, here are some nuts-and-bolts guidelines for what we are, and aren’t, looking for. Please read this over before submitting!
- Only nonfiction. We don’t want novels, or story collections, or poetry.
- We want innovative work. We know “innovative” is a broad term. But we’re unlikely to be interested in a straight-ahead memoir about your childhood, or the redemptive story about the time you traipsed across the globe while eating, praying, and loving. Those books might be great! They’re just not really our thing.
- “Innovative” could apply to subject matter or to form. Like maybe you wrote letters to God every day for a year. Or maybe you did a deep dive researching a movie you watched a hundred times as a kid. Or maybe you’re Maggie Nelson, and you wrote a book called Bluets, but we’re living in an alternate universe where Bluets wasn’t yet published and you want Barrelhouse to publish it.
- For this round of submissions, we’re most interested in book-length projects, rather than essay collections. We might consider a collection, though, if the essays within it are connected in some meaningful way.
- We’re interested in work that’s personal in one way or another. We want you to be in your book. We’re not interested in academic criticism, or straight-up journalism. Though we might be pretty jazzed about a book that combines elements of memoir and reportage, or memoir and research?
- The book should be completed, not just at the pitch-and-sample-chapter phase. If we like the sound of it, we’ll probably ask to see the full manuscript.
And that’s it! Easy, right? Type that stuff up, and submit it to us via Submittable. The submission window will be open for roughly the month of January. We’ll read through them on a rolling basis, and we’ll get in touch with you if we want to see the manuscript, or if we have follow-up questions. If you don’t hear from us, please don’t take it as a rebuke! Your book might be amazing, but just not the right book for our little press staffed by weirdoes.