Book Prize Guidelines

River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize (photo by Patrick Tomasso)

River Teeth's editors conduct a yearly national contest for a book-length manuscript of literary nonfiction in English. All manuscripts are screened by the co-editors of River Teeth. The contest winner receives $1,000 and publication by The University of New Mexico Press.

Submissions open August 1. 

Deadline for Submissions: October 31

Final Judge: Natasha Trethewey


/upload/rigobertogonzalez.jpgPulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014), while also serving as the Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi (2012-2016). She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir (2020); a book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010); and five collections of poetry: Monument: Poems New & Selected (2018), which was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award; Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. She is also the editor of The Essential Muriel Rukeyser (2021), Best New Poets 2007: 50 Poems From Emerging Writers, and Best American Poetry 2017. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. From 2015-2016, she served as poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine. In 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities, and in 2020, she received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry from the Library of Congress. A member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets in 2019. At Northwestern University she is Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.


General Guidelines:

  1. Entries must be submitted online through Submittable. Manuscripts must be in English, double-spaced, and between 35K-85K words long (approximately 150-350 pages).
  2. The winner will receive book publication with The University of New Mexico Press and a $1,000 honorarium. 
  3. The reading fee is $27 (which includes a one-year subscription to River Teeth to begin in the spring). While our contest is open to entries outside of the U.S., we cannot offer free subscriptions to non-U.S. submissions because of high mailing rates.
  4. The deadline for submissions is October 31st. The contest winner and finalists will be announced by early March.
  5. Submission should be previously unpublished as a complete book (it’s fine if excerpts or individual essays have appeared in literary journals or magazines). Any literary nonfiction (including memoir, personal essays, investigative reporting, et cetera) is eligible.
  6. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but as ever, be sure to withdraw your manuscript immediately if it is accepted elsewhere for publication before the conclusion of the contest.
  7. The editors make every effort to screen manuscripts without bias of identifying author details; however, because the contest is nonfiction, it is not always possible to eliminate identifying characteristics about the author from the manuscript. Do not include your name on the title page or in the header or footer of the manuscript, but otherwise do not fret too much over anonymity. Please include a brief bio in the cover letter section of Submittable.
  8. River Teeth encourages underrepresented voices to submit their work for consideration, including but not limited to: BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled writers.
  9. Close friends, family members, and former students of the judge may not submit in that year. (Writers who have had short-term interactions with the judge at residencies, conferences, or fellowships do not count as students.) Current Ball State University faculty and students (including interns) are ineligible.

Please direct all questions to

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Entries must be submitted online through Submittable.
  2. Online submission fee is $27 

Please direct all questions to

Photo by Patrick Tomasso at Unsplash.

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