Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314

Press 53 publishes up to five (5) short fiction collections, and between six and eight (6-8) poetry collections each year, plus (on average) one anthology and one out-of-print classic (under our Press 53 Classics imprint). We no longer publish novels or book-length nonfiction. Aside from authors who win our contests, we look for widely published authors who are active in the literary community and have a manuscript that connects with our editors. We do not find our authors by way of a standard submission process. 

We find authors a number of ways…

The Press 53 Award for Short Fiction (Opens September 1): We find one short fiction collection each year by way of the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. This is an award for an outstanding, unpublished collection of short stories by a U.S.-based author regardless of the author’s publishing history. We are looking for excellent stories. This contest runs from September-December each year with the winning entry earning publication, a $1000 advance, and travel expenses to Winston-Salem for a reading and book launch party the following October. Complete details can be found here.

The Press 53 Award for Poetry (Opens April 1): Similar to the short fiction contest, this contest runs from April-July each year. The winner will be selected by Press 53 poetry series editor Tom Lombardo, and will be published as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection. The contest will offer the same cash prize and travel expenses as the short fiction contest. Complete details can be found here.

The Prime Number Magazine Awards (formerly the Press 53 Open Awards): Each year, our award-winning, digital online quarterly journal, Prime Number Magazine, runs a writing contest from January-March, and the winners in three categories (Poetry, Short Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction) earn a cash prize plus publication in Prime Number Magazine. Over the eight-year period that this contest operated as the Press 53 Open Awards, we eventually published books by several winners and finalists. We will continue to watch the Prime Number Magazine Awards as well. Details on this contest are here.

Our remaining short fiction and poetry collections are found by our editors who actively seek out authors by reading journals and magazines, and through recommendations from writers we have published or have come to know and trust over the years. We meet many writers at the AWP conference and various other conferences and literary events we attend each year. We also receive recommendations from magazine and journal editors.

Our advice: Authors who do not enter our contests can gain our attention by publishing widely in journals and magazines, by winning or placing in other contests (we keep an eye on who is winning and placing in a number of contests), and by becoming involved in the literary community. We are always looking for voices that connect with us on a variety of levels.

Journals and Magazines: The best introduction is a publication credit (the more, the better), and there is no better place to gain recognition, build readership, and to make valuable connections and alliances than by publishing in journals and magazines. This is where you gain experience working with seasoned editors, meet fellow authors, and build readership for your book. To find journals and magazines that are the best fit for your writing, we recommend Please support your favorite journals and magazines by purchasing a copy or a subscription.

We Publish Only U.S.-based Authors: While many of our authors are local / regional to the Carolinas, we publish just as many writers from outside our region, from Florida to New England to California to Washington state and many points between. We also publish a balance of men and women (OK, a few more women than men). Neither of these statistics were established by design.

Questions should be emailed to founding editor Kevin Morgan Watson.

A Note Regarding Our Every-Odd-Year Anthology Series,
Surreal South

Since 2007, Press 53 has published Surreal South, an anthology created by Laura & Pinckney Benedict, who served as the original editors. We continued to publish Surreal South every odd year (2009, 2011 & 2013) on Halloween. We had a lot of fun publishing this eclectic mix of Southern fiction, and when we opened for submissions each January we were inundated with stories to consider for publication. Sales, however, never came close to the number of submissions our editors worked through to find the stories that we published every odd year on Halloween. 

So, due to a lack of support from readers, we have decided that Surreal South '13 will be our last anthology in this series.

I want to thank the readers who believed in this series as much as we did and supported it by purchasing a copy. 

I want to thank the many authors who contributed stories to Surreal South and gave readings to bring it attention. We loved your stories and even discovered a couple of future Press 53 authors among its pages.

I want to thank Laura & Pinckney Benedict for bringing Surreal South to Press 53 and for trusting us with it these last eight years. 

And I want to thank Josh Woods, editor of Surreal South '13, who took on a huge challenge and did a fantastic job.

Today's publishing environment is chaotic, cluttered, and constantly changing. Many great books suffer from lack of attention, and publishers often face hard decisions when lack of sales can only mean lack of interest and support. Since Press 53 is not a nonprofit press, we rely on book sales rather than donations to keep publishing books. So we have to consider sales when deciding on which books to continue publishing.

We plan to keep all four volumes of Surreal South in print for some time, and if interest in this series grows, we will gladly resurrecting it.

I hope readers will consider Press 53 books, as well as books from other small presses, when looking for a great read. Without the support of great readers, great books will eventually disappear.

​Best wishes,

Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher
Press 53
January 2015