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Self-Sufficient and Therefore Free: Main Street Rag

Charlotte-based Main Street Rag is an independent small press that is independent in the truest sense of the word: not affiliated with a university; not supported by grants or public funds; and wholly reliant on reader support through subscriptions and direct sales and bookstores.

It’s a business model that not only grants them total artistic freedom but clearly works: they’ve been fiercely independent for more than twenty years.

MSR offers three imprints: Main Street Rag (poetry); Mint Hill Books (fiction); and Pure Heart Press (self-publishing).

Main Street Rag selects manuscripts strictly through contests, including the Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest and the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. They publish between “sixty and ninety poetry collections every year.”

The annual KAKALAK contest is coming up; submissions open March 1. This contest offers cash prizes and publication in an anthology to poems by residents of North and South Carolina. Learn more, and get ready to submit, here.

Mint Hill Books publishes two to four anthologies yearly, as well as a dozen or so other works of prose such as creative nonfiction, memoirs, novellas, novels, and short fiction collections.

Authors include poet and NCWN trustee Alice Osborn; poet Mark Smith-Soto; poet Stephen E. Smith; novelist Susan Woodring; and many more.

Pure Heart Press, the self-publishing imprint, publishes “nearly anything the author or editor is willing to pay for…the author is responsible for the content, the cost of production and all the marketing (although we do offer marketing assistance for an additional fee).”

For full submission guidelines, click here.

Since 1996, Main Street Rag has published a literary magazine, which we highlighted on this blog last year.

A vital part of this state’s literary community, Main Street Rag hosts monthly readings around North Carolina and helps facilitate programming such as the forthcoming Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowship, which will offer  a North or South Carolina poet a week at Weymouth Center as Writer-in-Residence and a $500 stipend.

Visit Main Street Rag on the web at; order books through their bookstore at; and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.