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2016 Chapbook Contest: Week 3 Review (finalists)

Friends! Today is a big day, and I’m quite excited to share all the news!!

Reading, Continued!

Since last week, Jeremiah and I kept working our way through your many MSS, taking notes in our managing page as we went. And by Friday afternoon, all 102 MSS had been reviewed!

From there, we spent the whole evening (and a good chunk of Saturday!) rereading all submissions that interested either one of us, expanding notes and reconsidering. In this way we got down to ~25 Semifinalists.

Judging Semifinalists

After Jeremiah and I had an hour long talk to discuss Semifinalists, Finalists (how we plan to feature them—stay tuned for more info!), and FALD #013, I decided that narrowing down our list was becoming too hard to handle with raw intuition.

So I created a new tab in our managing page, and we went through the ~25 MSS yet again, scoring each of them with the following criteria: Originality + Freshness, Heart, Style + Craft, and Consistency. Was the submission doing something we hadn’t seen before? Did it still have an emotional core that made us feel? Was the writing done well? Did the MS hit clumps of rough waters, or keep on sailing?

Throughout this phase of reviewing, both of us would occasionally pause to reexamine our scores, selecting a single category at a time for comparison. Having reread these MSS yet again, did A + B still have the same amount of Heart? Were C + D still slightly more Consistent than E + F, or had our feelings changed as we read? In this way we both tried to make sure our scores continued to make sense in the context of the other MSS.

Jeremiah and I spent all Sunday in back-and-forth discussion as went. After taking our notes for everyone individually, we finally entered and compared our scores, which I then averaged together (weighed equally, 50/50). In this way, by around 6:30pm we’d finally reached a top 10.

Selecting + Notifying Finalists

Fun Fact: of the ~25 MSS, Jeremiah and I had many of the same picks in our top 10s. Yes, too many good submissions had to be cut, including plenty of writing we both admired. But we had our top 10, ready for today’s announcement.

With that, we realized we needed to make sure everyone received their rejection notes ahead of time. So I modified last year’s templates, creating 3 tiers. Rejecting people is always a really rough business, but by the end of Monday everyone had been contacted. Also FWIW, it took us ~3 weeks from the time you all submitted to reread everyone and respond (including AWP!), which makes me proud (we don’t want to be a press that keeps people waiting).

That left the Finalists!!!

As I didn’t want to stagger too much time between notifying people (having to keep them wait!) + posting this announcement, everyone was contacted late last night. Which is always one of the very best parts of this process—I particularly love discovering new writers and their work; like last year, I was only aware of half the finalists before the contest!

Without further adieu, Nostrovia! Press is THRILLED to announce the following Finalists for our 2016 Chapbook Contest(!!!):

Wow, wow, wow!!!

While Jeremiah and I reread these ten to figure out our winners (trying to make that decision this weekend), we’re already planning some fun promotions, and will be reaching out to some presses we admire soon to see if they’re interested ❤

Along those lines, if your press or review wants to help promote our writers, please contact me (email, Twitter, FB, etc)—I’d love to hear from you!!

Stay tuned: next week we announce our three winners!!!

Much love to you all ❤


We intend to have a new Tavern post each Wednesday, giving an inside look at the N! process, so stay tuned for more updates!

Here’s the Week Two Review of our Chapbook Contest!
And here’s the Week One Review!


  1. Pingback: 2016 Chapbook Contest: Week 5 Review (finalist feature) | Nostrovia! Tavern

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  12. Pingback: 2016 Chapbook Contest: Week 16 Review | Nostrovia! Tavern

  13. Pingback: 2016 Chapbook Contest: Week 17 Review | Nostrovia! Tavern

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