2016 Able Muse Book Award

Able Muse Book Award in Poetry (book manuscripts)

Able Muse Book Award (for Poetry) -- 2016

(2011 Results HERE) | (2012 Results HERE) | (2013 Results HERE) | (2014 Results HERE) | (2015 Results HERE)

 $1000 prize plus publication of the winning manuscript by Able Muse Press.

Finalists will also be considered for publication.

Entry deadline: March 31, 2016

Final Judge:
A.E. Stallings - Final Judge
A.E. Stallings



  • Blind Judging by the Final Judge A.E. Stallings.
  • Initial screening by the Able Muse Editors.
  • Entries may not be previously published, but individual poems and chapbook-length sections may have been if the previous publisher gives reprint permission. (Still, more than half of the manuscript. may not have been previously published as a collection.)
  • Simultaneous submissions accepted as long as we're immediately notified if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • Unlimited entries per person.
  • All poetry styles are welcome (metrical or free verse).
  • A poetry manuscript of 50 to 120 pages
  • Acknowledgments may be included in the manuscript but are not required.
  • We prefer online entries, however, paper/snail mail entry is available for those who insist on the traditional submission method.
  • If you wish to enter more than once, then a separate entry fee and submission form must be completed for each entry.
  • If you're entering by paper/snail mail, the manuscripts cannot be returned so, do not send us your only copies.
  • For paper/snail mail entries, include an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to receive the announcement of the winner.
  • The contests will be judged blind by the final judge, so:
    • Author's name should only appear on cover page/cover letter and nowhere else.
    • Initial screening will be done by the editors of Able Muse.
      1. The final judge will received anonymized manuscripts (five to ten depending and the number of total entries and their quality).
      2. The final judge will be instructed to disqualify any work that he recognizes. The entry fee the work thus disqualified will be refunded.
    • Include on your cover page ONLY:
      1. the title of your manuscript
      2. a brief bio
      3. the poet's/writer's name
      4. address
      5. phone number, and
      6. email address.

Entry Methods:

  1. Preferred method is our online entry form
    1. DO NOT type or copy and paste your manuscript in the poem text box. Rather, upload your submission file from the upload field (accepted formats are: Text, RTF, Word, Wordperfect, PDF, HTML).
    2. Only send one file attachment with everything (50 to 120 pages), with the cover page prepared as described in the blind judging section above (do NOT attach a separate file for each poem!)
    3. There should be no identification in the manuscript file itself as described in the blind judging section above.
    4. Enter at http://www.ablemuse.com/enter-contest online.
  2. Second favorite entry method is via e-mail—
    1. Again, do not type your submission in the body of the email. Rather, attach your submission file to the email (accepted formats are: Text, RTF, Word, Wordperfect, PDF, HTML).
    2. The subject of the email should be: "<Your Name>: Book Award (poetry)"
    3. Email your entry to submission@ablemuse.com without any identification in the manuscript file itself as described in the blind judging section above.
  3. Least favorite entry method is paper by snail mail—
    1. The manuscript should be without any identification as explained in the blind judging section above.
    2. The cover page should be prepared as explained in the blind judging section above.
    3. Duplicates not required, so do NOT send duplicate of the manuscript.
    4. Send your entry to:

      Able Muse Review
      Book Award for poetry Contest
      467 Saratoga Avenue #602
      San Jose, CA 95129

Entry Fees:

  • $25 for a manuscript of 50 to 120 pages.
  • No matter how you choose to enter (online or email or snail mail) you may choose to pay:
    1. Online ( right below!), OR,
    2. By check: Able Muse Review, and sent to the contest address indicated above.
    3. In the event of a withdrawal, entry fees are non-refundable.
    4. To enable us to match your payment to your entry, be sure to indicate the name you entered with in your manuscript (i.e. your pen name, etc), if it's different from the one under which payment was made, and this applies for online or check payment by snail mail.

Pay Entry Fee & Enter Contest Now:



After payment, submit your manuscript online at:
http://www.ablemuse.com/book-award-submission .
Or, enter by email/snail mail as explained above:



I assume the book award is for fiction? (If so I would like to submit sample chapter of my novel manuscript.) Or could it be just for chapbooks?
Thanks, cinda.mackinnon@comcast.net

Hi Cinda,

For now, the book award is for poetry manuscripts only, as indicated in the contest description. The Write Prize on the other hand is for poetry and fiction (i.e. individual stories).


First off, please excuse a young writer a potentially naive & ridiculous question. I have a poetry collection of 27 poems. The longer poems definitely require page breaks. Is it a valid 50 pages if I format the page breaks myself? If I publish this work myself, I am anticipating 6x9 dimensions. Appreciate your honest advice on how to determine acceptable and appropriate page length.

Rather humbly yours,

Hi Elizabeth,
It's no problem, and it's perfectly fine if your 27 longer poems span about 50 pages.
The length requirement is about how many pages the poems cover altogether, not about the number of poems.

Can you make a contest about writing fiction and free entries? Shouldn't your writing contest be about recognizing people's       Talent rather than gaining money?? 

Hi Joe,
We'd love to offer it free. As it its now, as a small press, we're not even breaking even when all is told. Running it without entry fee means we won't be able to sustain it.

Considering the costs of paper, ink, cover stock, and pre-press operations, the idea of a free contest is a bit unrealistic. Small presses have to charge an entry fee to make all of this possible. Despite the advancements made in printing in the last twenty years the truth is that to produce a book, usually no less that a 500 book run, it costs a significant amount of money. Most small presses have to "farm out" their books to the best printer, and they have to hope that quality of the printed product does the book and the press justice. There's nothing like a poorly printed book to make the buyer wonder whether it's really worth it. We should be thankful that the folks at Able Muse are so willing to take on this rewarding but monumental task.

Does a doctoral dissertation count as "previously published"?  I think there's a Library of Congress entry for it, but it's not physically in print anywhere and cannot be accessed online.
I've wondered about this for some time now.  Thanks.

Hi Matt,
The conditions you describe appear to imply that it's essentially unpublished. So, an exception can be made. Remember though that this is a manuscript contest - not one on critical essays.

Thinking of entering but was wondering...the winning manuscript is published.  Does Muse sell this publication? If so, what proceeds are returned to the writer?
Thanks for your insight!


Hello Jennifer,
Yes, Able Muse Press will promote and sell the published book through the regular book distribution channels. Besides, the winning prize, the winner will also be given a standard book contract including royalties on the book sales.

I have a about 26 poems in a book format, but the page size I have the word document set at is 5x8. My question is whether or not, the entry has to be formatted to an 8.5x11 page size or if I can enter using the existing 5x8 setting? Also is it okay for me to use the poems I entered in the Write Prize contest in my manuscript?

Hi Jaylyn,
It depends on how long or short the poems are. If they're very short poems (e.g. sonnet length or so), then the answer will be no. If they're longer, then I'll say yes since the page count will likely increase on a smaller size paper. 

Hello Editors:
Like many others, I am hesitant to send my credit card or checking acct. information over the web.  Is it permissible to send the ms. and then to mail the check separately?  I think you answered this in iii above, but I want to be clear that you aren't speaking there of checks submitted with mailed mss. 

Hello George,
Yes, you can send the manuscript by the online form or email, and then send a check separately by snail mail.

Is this open to international submissions?

Hello Shana,
The short answer is yes -- this is a worldwide contest, open to all countries.

So to make sure I get this straight: the blind judge is not allowed to know the title of the manuscript? What if that's important?

The blind judge is not to know the name of the poet. The manuscript  title will be seen by the judge.

Hi Able Muse,
I am (unfortunately) submitting via USPS, and I am wondering if the above March 31st deadline is a postmark deadline or an "in hand" deadline for postal submitters.  I am sending my ms through the mail today (March 30th) so I highly doubt that the ms will make it to you by tomorrow.  If it comes a few days after the deadline, but is postmarked by the deadline, is that alright?  Please let me know, if you can.  You can also contact me at marchettis@net.elmhurst.edu.  Thanks so much.

Hi Sandra,

Sorry to be too late to get to this, but for future entries, it is a postmark deadline.




HI---Trying desperately to submit a book for contest, but each time I hit "to Pay" button it goes to my email home page.  Any ideas at this late hour????

Hello, friends. I'm just curious to know if there's an estimated date planned for the announcement of this year's winner/finalists. Thank you so much!

When will the judging be completed?

The 2012 contest results were announced in late December, 2012 at http://www.ablemusepress.com/2012-book-award-results

  My style of poetry is somewhat similar to that of Philip Larkin, in that there are many monologues of poetry combined with a free style story.  Is this exceptable?

Yes. All styles are welcome as indicated in the submission guidelines.

  • It seems as though many of those planning on submitting ar unfamiliar with contests,terms, and haven't read with understanding, the eplanations clearly in the rules.How nice that you have responded cordially and without frustration to the 
  • queries! Blessings B​. E .

Hi Barbara Ellen,
Thank you for your kind remarks!

hello! do all submission manuscripts get edited and into the contest or if they are not satisfying do they get tossed asided?

Hello rm,
No, entries are not edited. They're read and considered as submitted, and will win or not on the strenght of the manuscript as submitted. Still, the winning entries, and finalist entries that are ultimately selected for publication might receive editing recommendations from the editors.

HI: I'm just gtting ready to send my manuscript.I realize it's blind judging, and I have all poems in one document.
Do you want the cover letter IN that document as well? Thanks! B

Hi Barbara,

You may submit the cover letter, but as a separate document so that it's easy to exclude for the blind judging.




I have written and self-publsihed two of my three epic poems. I am currently almost done with the final one. Since it's part of a trilogy does that disqualify me from submitting it? Also, since it is an epic, it is essentially a fictional story. Thus, I want to know if I should submit it to the Write Prize instead. 

Hello Derek,
If the final epic poem that you refer to can somehow stand on its own, then I see no problem with submitting it to the contest.

Hi Alex, :)
Quick question.  After the author is published, do they receive royalties when the book sells?
Thanks so much.

Hi Jody,
Besides the contest winning prize, the winner will also receive a standard Able Muse Press book contract, royalties included.

I an going to submit electronically and was not clear: do you want the cover page included in the manuscript that is uploaded?  I understand no info that appears on the cover page should appear anywhere else in the manuscript.

Yes, you may include the cover page in what's uploaded electronically. Any identifying information is removed before the manuscript is seen by the judges.

Can a partial manuscript be submitted and then edited and added to after being chosen?
Thank you,

Hello Vicky,
The simple answer is that chosen manuscripts can still be edited afterwards by the authors (pending the editor/publisher). However, you'll only be judging is solely based on what is submitted to the contest.

 I just tried to upload my manuscript submission and don't think it worked. There was a line where I could enter the file name on my computer, but there was nothing that allowed me to upload it. Is there something wrong?

Hi Carl,
Actually, the upload worked just fine. But we also received your emailed file attachment after that. So, you're doubly covered and properly entered in the contest. Good luck.

I am ready to submit but I see that the only online payment option is Google. I do not have Google Wallet.   Is it possible to pay with Paypal?

Hi Janet,
No we don't use Paypal. However, you don't need to have Google Wallet to pay with it. All you need is any major credit card. Or, if that fails, you can pay by the snail mail/check or money order method as described above (item 3 of  "Entry Methods").

Hello there,
My manuscript only contains 26 poems, however, the nature of the project is that each poem goes with one or two photographs (ekphrastic poetry), so overall the manuscript is greater than 50 pages.  The poems themselves wouldn't span 50 pages though.  The manuscript also includes a foreward.  I noticed someone else asked a similar question about number of poems v. pages, but since mine wasn't just about the poems, I thought I'd clarify: is this a qualifying 50+ page manuscript? also, do forewards get read? is the photo thing workable?
Also, I know this is quiet last minute, so if I don't get the chance to submit this time around, that's fine.  But it would still be lovely to get your insight.

Hello Em,

Ekphrastic submissions of poems with some pictures are fine. However, since the emphasis of the contest is on the poems themselves, we will still require 50 pages minimum of the poetry text.




When is the judging period over? 

When do you anticipate the Able Muse Book Award (for Poetry) -- 2013 winner and finalists will be announced?



Hi Tom,

The results have been announced at: http://www.ablemusepress.com/2013-book-award-results





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