Submissions & Inquiries

Mayapple Press is a highly-selective small press established in 1978 by poet and editor Judith Kerman. We focus on literature not often celebrated by either the mainstream or the avant-garde. This includes poetry which is both challenging and accessible; women’s writing; the rustbelt/rural culture that stretches from the Hudson Valley to the Great Lakes; the recent immigrant experience; poetry in translation; science fiction poetry. We also welcome poetry anthologies, short fiction and science fiction poetry. Publications are in trade paperback formats (30-120 pages). In general, we publish only authors with prior publications with reputable presses or literary magazines. We do not publish books which have been previously self-published, although parts of a longer poetry collection may have appeared in privately-printed chapbooks.

July 3, 2020

Mayapple Press is CLOSED for submissions

We will reopen again, sometime.


Mayapple Press does not make a distinction between chapbooks and full-sized books. Our current list includes poetry by single authors, poetry anthologies, short fiction, Great Lakes regional nonfiction and literary translations. We very rarely publish novels; the only exceptions have been unusual work that does not have commercial prospects. We occasionally do an outstanding book that involves interior color art. Our single-author poetry books are between 30 and 100 pages, including frontmatter; bilingual editions, anthologies and fiction may be longer. We expect to publish 10 to 12 books per year. Mayapple Press books are edited and designed primarily by one person, Judith Kerman, and the editorial stance reflects her preferences (see below).

Editorial preferences: Although quite a few very competent works are submitted to Mayapple Press, we only have time and resources to handle works too exciting to pass up. This is a highly subjective standard. However, we are not partisans of any particular literary faction. In poetry, we look for complexity and intelligence expressed through strong imagery, and we prefer a musical but rather informal diction. Beyond that, we are open to everything from very experimental work to traditional or rhymed forms, as long as they support a contemporary voice and sensibility. Fiction and nonfiction so far have had a Great Lakes orientation.

We especially welcome work in the following areas: work by women, work with a feminist orientation, Great Lakes regional writing, writing dealing with the immigrant experience, Caribbean or Jewish themes and materials; literary science fiction, especially poetry; bilingual editions of translations, especially works of proven literary and cultural importance in their home cultures. We are willing to consider crafts books and “artists’ books” suited to reproduction, especially those with content related to our areas of interest, but we rarely do books with interior color artwork.

Literary books – the business end: All Mayapple Press books are given a Mayapple Press ISBN number, listed on Books in Print and featured on the Mayapple Press website when they first come out; after that, they will be included in the online catalog, including a cover image, sample piece and brief author bio. They are listed on, exhibited in the annual Poets House book exhibit in New York, included in any book fairs we attend, and considered for nomination for appropriate prizes. Books are kept in print indefinitely.

Mayapple Press books currently retail for $10-$25, depending on the number of pages; bigger books and books with interior color are more expensive than chapbook-length books, but not much more. Our books are available to bookstores direct at standard discounts as well as through Partners Book Distributing and Small Press Distributing.

The author receives 5% of books printed (minimum 10) as a royalty. Authors always receive a discount for purchased copies; the amount of the discount depends on the number of copies purchased.

Publication Format: All Mayapple Press books are now “trade paperbacks” (6×9 inches, 4-color cover and “perfect” binding). A trade paperback can be chapbook length (20 pages of content, plus frontmatter) or longer. We no longer publish traditional chapbook format (with a “saddlestitch” staple binding).

Staying in print: We can usually reprint as few as 25 copies of any book with a few weeks’ lead time. It is therefore not usually necessary to do a large initial print run unless there is an obvious market. As long as Mayapple Press is in business, a book will never go out of print, and we will keep at least a few copies in stock, although it may not always be possible to reprint a chapbook on identical papers.

The hard facts about marketing and distribution: We strongly suggest that poets, in particular, buy copies of their books to sell because sales of poetry and literary fiction are very small even for regionally-known writers unless you are actively giving readings, promoting your book to friends and colleagues, etc. Our best sellers have sold over 800 books, but most of these were not bookstore sales through distributors. They were sold when the author gave readings and signings, contacted friends by mail and email, got friends to use the books as textbooks at universities and workshops, etc. Those approaches work well.

We feature new books on our website homepage when they first come out, and list all books in the website catalog permanently, with an image of the cover and a sample text and author bio linked to the listing. sells a steady trickle of our books; we list with them mainly as a form of advertising and to make it easy for your contacts to find the book. Small Press Distributing is a more effective outlet. We are open to authors’ suggestions about entering their books in competitions. We are happy to design a flyer or postcard which the author can send out to friends to solicit sales; the postcard uses the same general design as the book cover. When feasible, we arrange Michigan-area readings and assist with press releases.

Guidelines for working with Mayapple Press: Mayapple Press provides full editorial and design services. Manuscripts should always be in final form, proofread and free of obvious errors. We will (tactfully, we hope) suggest improvements such as tightening or different sequencing of poems. We are experienced in working with authors for whom English is a second language. However, we do not offer major rewriting or ghostwriting services. Manuscripts should be uploaded to Submittable in Microsoft Word or RTF file format; if you use a Mac, make sure the file is readable on a PC. Please do not upload PDFs.

A photo and color artwork on the cover are standard. We will design the book; all final decisions about cover design will be made by Mayapple Press, but we try to use authors’ ideas whenever possible. If you have a particular artist whose work you would like to use for a cover, or other cover art ideas, please let us know as early as possible. A book can include black-and-white internal artwork or photos; reproducing black-and-white artwork inside the book involves no additional expense unless there is an artist’s fee. We rarely use interior color artwork because of the printing costs; these are very special projects and must present unusual marketing possibilities. Artwork can be submitted in email attachments, on disk or in hard copy (we will scan and return the originals if requested). Typically, if the author wants artwork which involves a fee being paid, the author pays that fee. Please query us if you have ideas about interior or cover artwork.

We send you galleys (actually page proofs, including the cover art) online, so you can proofread and consult with us about design issues if you have access to the Web. Miracles of modern technology!

A last word: No one at Mayapple Press is trying to make a living at this. Our staff consists of myself (unpaid), two very-part-time assistants and a couple of manuscript readers who are professional writers. The goal is to help you publish a book which is physically beautiful as economically as possible and without long delays. Because I am very selective, being published by Mayapple Press is a strong statement about the quality of your work. If you buy additional copies, final cost to you will be comparable to self-publishing with the services of a graphic designer and a quality printer (and significantly less than vanity publication). Whether you decide to buy copies or not, you get a reputable imprimatur and the professional satisfaction of knowing someone else believes in your work.

I hope this explanation helps you as you consider submitting your book to Mayapple Press.

Judith Kerman, Publisher
Revised September 2013