Open Container

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Periodically, Container opens to submissions of original poetry, fiction, nonfiction and other text-based work to develop into limited-quantity text objects and artist’s books (think: a poetry manuscript published on a fold out map, a short story printed on a milk carton, a novel rolled into cigars and presented in a cigar box).

While we’re interested in making books into art objects, we’re open to more than strictly “artist’s books.” Some examples of works by other book artists we admire:

We strongly encourage you to read the content on this page, as well as these two posts for more details prior to submitting:

Generally, a complete submission contains:

  • Contact information
  • Pitch letter
  • Bio statement
  • The text
  • (Optional) Any material which supports your proposal: napkin sketches, audio files, videos—if it helps us visualize or understand the project, send it.

How it Works

Ready to get started? Explore the tabs below to learn more about the kinds of work we accept and how to pitch your idea to us.

How do I submit my work?

A complete submission, sent to us via Submittable, contains:

  • Contact information
  • Pitch letter
  • Bio statement
  • The text
  • (Optional) Any material which supports your proposal: napkin sketches, audio files, videos—if it helps us visualize or understand the project, send it
What genres of texts do you accept?

We accept poetry, fiction (including short stories), nonfiction (including essays) and drama. Experimental and hybrid texts are also welcome.

How long should my text / manuscript be?

There are no restrictions on the length of text you can submit. You can submit something as short as a single poem, story or essay, or something as long as a novel or full-length poetry manuscript. What’s most important is that the length of the text corresponds with the form of the object you see it being published as.

Can I submit a text that’s already been published?

While we prefer to receive texts that have not yet been published, we will consider previously published works on the condition that 1) you own the rights to the text, and 2) the form you’re proposing is substantially different from the original form in which your text was published.

What should my pitch letter contain?

Instead of a traditional cover letter, submit a pitch letter telling us how you picture your text working outside of the traditional book context. Is it meant to be contained in a shoe box? Smeared on a set of petri dishes? Shaped as a workable model volcano?

In this letter, be sure to describe the intent of the project and how you see the text supporting the form/shape you’re pitching. Questions you might consider: What do you envision the final object looking? What materials should it incorporate? What process might we follow to create it? What design influences does it draw on?

Your pitch letter can include images, feature hand-drawn sketches, link to mood boards or anything else that helps us understand your vision.

Is there a fee to submit?

Submissions to Container require a $10 fee. These fees support printing and material costs, and help keep the lights on.

That said, we believe publishing should be open and equitable for all; should circumstances preclude you from being able to afford the submission fee, please contact us for instructions on how to submit your work fee free.

Our Publishing Model

What happens once a piece is accepted?

  1. We’ll send you an offer letter with details about how many editions we can produce in a run, our approach to creating the object, the expected price, and a projected timeline with milestones. If you agree, we send over a contract for your review and signature.
  2. We begin with an editorial conversation, proposing edits where valuable to strengthen your work, followed by a copyediting phase. The choice of whether to accept these recommendations is up to you.
  3. Next, we enter the prototyping phase, where we create a physical mock-up of your text object, send you photos and collect your feedback.
  4. We (Container) produce the text object or artist’s book run.
  5. As compensation, you receive author “copies” of the text object. We sell the remaining copies on our website and at in-person fairs and festivals. Any revenue generated goes to recoup the initial manufacturing costs and fund future text objects.
  6. We, as the publisher, retain rights to the work for three years or until the run sells out, whichever comes first.