Barrelhouse Amplifier

Barrelhouse is proud to announce that we’re partnering with Submittable to launch the Barrelhouse Amplifier, a $1,500 award for emerging literary organizations.

These are difficult times. Here at Barrelhouse, the things that have always helped us get through dark periods in the past are literature and the literary community. What is writing and reading if not a call and response: Am I alone? No, you're not alone. I hear you. I feel these things, too. As writers and editors, we hope some of what we do is important. That in its own small, literary way, it reaches people, affirms them, and reassures them that they are not alone.

Like so many others, we have this weird, sad, scared, anxious energy right now and we want to do something. We remember very well the times -- the years -- after we launched when we were unsure whether or not we could financially sustain ourselves long enough to do everything we wanted to do or even to put out another issue. We’re mostly through those times and we want to help other organizations get through them as well, so we’re launching this award, which will provide what emerging organizations need most -- actual cash money, in the form of $1,500 -- in addition to advice, support, mentoring, and any other non-financial resources we can provide.

With our super awesome and generous partner Submittable, we will make this award to one organization a year starting in early 2017.

What Exactly is This?

We want to support organizations support communities of readers and writers. Here's Barrelhouse Assistant Editor, American Book Award winner, and all around awesome writer/person Susan Muaddi-Darraj doing just that at our conference in Arlington, VA. 

We want to support organizations support communities of readers and writers. Here's Barrelhouse Assistant Editor, American Book Award winner, and all around awesome writer/person Susan Muaddi-Darraj doing just that at our conference in Arlington, VA. 

$1,500 from Barrelhouse and our sponsor Submittable.

A free Submittable account.

Also, advice and counseling and mentoring in any way we can provide it. Don’t worry: we’re not going to micro-manage every step of your organization’s development. But we want to offer help when you need it, and advice when you want it. We don’t pretend to be the smartest people in any room, but over the past 12 years we’ve learned some things about navigating the literary world (mostly by trial and error) and we’re happy to pass on whatever acquired wisdom we can.

Who is Eligible? What Does “Emerging Literary Organization” Mean?

We are phrasing this as “emerging literary organizations.” We’re choosing to not define what that means because we don’t want to put too many limitations around this. We’re open to supporting literary magazines, small presses, mentoring organizations, or other kinds of community-driven organizations. We want to support writing and reading, and the people who do the work of supporting writing and reading.

We are looking for existing organizations. If you have an idea but not an organization or a structure in place, this isn’t the right place to find your funding. We want to support a  young, “emerging” organization that could use the support. Beyond that, we’re choosing to leave things open-ended, to encourage creative people with creative ideas to tell us their ideas.  

How Will We Decide?

Good question! Right now we know a few things: there is a simple application process where we want to know who you are, what you do, why you could use the help, and what you might do with the money. We care much more about your mission and how our assistance can help you turn it into a sustainable positive force than we do about your tax returns.

As to how we make that decision: our editors will review the applications that come in, and we’ll discuss them and debate them and figure it out. We know that’s a little vague, maybe frustratingly so, but this is the first time we’ve done something like this. It will be a completely subjective process, and probably a very difficult one on our end, and we’ll all just have to be cool about that.

We’re trying to keep the application short, so you’re not wasting a ton of time filling out paperwork, but we may ask you some follow-up questions, or for more materials, as we work toward a decision. This is the first time we’re doing this, and we’ve had enough first times to know that there will likely be some trial, some error, and some tweaking as we go along involved in this process.

A few things we’re into:

Positivity: the world just got pretty dark. We would love to support an organization that can help  turn the lights back on.

Inclusivity: we are committed to supporting organizations that seek to create and maintain spaces for marginalized voices.

Community: we want to support organizations that in turn support communities of readers and writers, and foster those communities, whether that’s through readings and events or workshops or just getting necessary writing out into the world and into the hands of people who need it.

Sustainability: we don’t want to fund your Kickstarter. We will definitely give priority to organizations who would use this one-time support to make or enhance something that organically supports itself over time. PS - Our position on charging submissions fees is well documented, so keep that in mind.

Serving writers: this is what we like to do.

Serving readers: this is what writers like to do.

A few laughs every now and then: we are still Barrelhouse, after all. We believe we can help make things better without taking ourselves super duper seriously.

Next steps:

If this sounds like a thing you want  to apply for, or nominate a literary organization for, roll on over to the application on Submittable.

If you have questions about this, feel free to email

The application will be open from now through December 31, 2016. We’ll announce a decision in mid-to-late January.