Graywolf Press Review – Should You Join the Pack?

POSTED ON Mar 1, 2023

Christopher Ortiz

Written by Christopher Ortiz

Home > Blog > Reviews > Graywolf Press Review – Should You Join the Pack?

With the freedom of the internet and the prevalence of specialist publishers, writers today are faced with more choices than at any previous point about which direction to take their work to become published. Weighing up all the pros and cons can be a confusing and arduous process, so today we’re going to review one publisher that is spoken about frequently; Graywolf Press. In this review, we will discuss in depth who they are, what they do, and whether or not they are worth consideration by a writer looking to submit. 


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What is Graywolf Press?

Graywolf Press began its mission nearly 50 years ago in Washington, USA. As a non-profit, they are committed to fostering new thinking about what it means to live in the world today through fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and genre-defying literature. With such a wealth of experience, it’s no surprise that a number of their titles have been nominated for or won some of the most prestigious prizes in literature. These include but are not limited to; The National Book Award Shortlist for Poetry, The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry & The Booker Prize. 

As an independent publisher & a nonprofit, they have free reign to pursue with complete clarity their mission and ethos, which is self-described as them ‘championing outstanding writers at all stages of their careers to ensure that adventurous readers can find underrepresented and diverse voices in a crowded marketplace’. 

Graywolf Press believe works of literature nourish the reader's spirit and enrich the broader culture and that they must be supported by attentive editing, compelling design, and creative promotion. 

What type of genres does Graywolf Press publish?

Graywolf Press, as we’ve already noted, publishes every manner of literature & does not hone in on or specialize in one particular genre. Rather, it may be most descriptive to focus on the spirit of the writing and the voice of the writer.

Graywolf Press is dedicated to avant-garde thinking, new perspectives, and offering the chance for voices to be heard in a literary environment that does not always give them the chance to do so. Books that defy convention and do not fit neatly into pre-ordained categories or boxes. They are also committed to making their books accessible to communities and individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. Often mission statements like this are a transparent attempt to garner praise but Graywolf has a level of sincerity not often seen when it comes to this type of message.

In essence, the genre and theme of a book will always be somewhat relevant when it comes to a publisher's goals, but at Graywolf Press, they don’t take priority. What is however at the forefront of their mind, is the writer themselves, and what they and their works represent.

Which Authors Publish with Graywolf Press?

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that Graywolf Press publishes an unbelievably wide range of writers, especially given their ethos regarding the genre that we touched on earlier. 

A list of some notable authors and their works published under Graywolf Press can be found below; 

  • Percival Everett- The Trees
  • Jenny Xie – The Rupture Tense: Poems
  • Diane Seuss – Frank: Sonnets
  • Mai Der Vang – Yellow Rain: Poems
  • Natalia Diaz – Postcolonial Love Poem: Poems
  • Marieke Lucas Rijneveld – The Discomfort of Evening 
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga – This Mournable Body
  • Anna Burns – Milkman
  • Layli Long Soldier – Whereas Poems
  • Jamel Brinkley – A Lucky Man: Stories

How much do titles offered by Graywolf Press cost?

Their price points fall very reasonably, and most titles can be purchased for somewhere around the $15 mark. It won’t come as a surprise to note that some editions are more expensive based on the fact they’re limited edition or hardcover etc but most offerings are very reasonably priced. 

Can authors submit to Graywolf Press?

Graywolf Press does accept submissions, but as is almost always the case with publishers and open submissions there are numerous criteria to be met, which we will go into in more depth below. 

The first thing to note is that Graywolf Press publishes around 30 books annually which should give you some idea of their limitations. 

Secondly, they have limited periods for open submissions, which at the time of writing they are currently not accepting. In general, however, they are seeking high-quality literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that combine a distinct voice with a distinct vision. Their editors also seek out and solicit promising work from authors that they encounter on the pages of magazines, at writing conferences, and in other venues.

Outside of this, there are various “prizes” which they run annually whereby writers can submit their work to enter.

At present, these prizes are ‘The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize’ and ‘The Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize”. Full detail on the specifics of what is involved as well as submission guidelines can be found on their website.

However, it is worth noting that both these prizes came with some prestige and recognition in the literary world as well as a cash sum for both an advance and a stipend for their work, which will no doubt be enticing to most writers. 

What are some alternatives to Graywolf Press?

Writers naturally have several other pathways worth considering, aside from submitting to Graywolf Press

Foremost, this would be for the writer to consider self-publishing. Pursuing this route would be beneficial for several reasons. 

Firstly, the writer would not be at the behest of an editing team they likely do not have a personal relationship. Having put their life and soul into their work, often writers find themselves engaged in a lengthy back-and-forth dialogue regarding the content of their work. Having autonomy over the final edit is something that naturally appeals to many writers. 

Secondly, it’s worth considering that the strength of Graywolf Press' diversity in terms of genre may be seen as a weakness for a writer considering submitting. The fact that Graywolf doesn’t specialize or focus on a particular genre can be beneficial to some writers. But others working in a more niche or specialized field may want to feel that the publishing team they are conversing with are experts or at least have a comparable level of knowledge to the writer themselves. 

Lastly, as we noted earlier, the open submissions period is not at present open for Graywolf Press. It, of course, will be again in the future, but a writer who has finally completed their work and feels ready to submit, likely will not wish to be confined to a publisher's deadlines and windows which may not be applicable for a long time ahead.

In pursuing the self-publishing route, a writer can work to their schedule and given the huge number of resources available to them in today's age, may find all they need to make a success of their work without outside help.

Each writer will have their own set of circumstances to consider and should weigh up all the options, pros, and cons before making a final call.

Graywolf Press Review – Final Verdict

To summarise Graywolf Press is a great publisher with genuine care and a desire to help their writers achieve their goals and maximize the success of their works.

One only needs to look at both their list of awards as well as the fact they are nonprofit to see this. With that being said however, the nature of the submissions process to a publisher of such repute, may not be the best course of action for writers who do not have the luxury or finances to sit and wait to align with Graywolf Press' schedule. 

A writer who is in a position to wait for the submissions process to re-open, or whose work fits in nicely with Graywolf Press' prizes schedule, could find it incredibly rewarding to submit to Graywolf.

If their work was to be accepted it would likely be a launchpad for their work to be a success. But the sheer volume of submissions, combined with the limited number of 30 publications annually, may mean submission to Graywolf Press does not present the best chance of success. 

Self-publishing is an option that is increasingly popular in today's age and could provide the opportunity for the writer to achieve what they wish for, whilst maintaining control of their work and their schedule. 

3.5 Stars

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