Great Circle Books

A new UNC Press book series — Great  Circle Books

Great Circle Logo cropped


Great Circle Books publishes literary nonfiction—including memoir, literary journalism, personal and lyric essays, and work that defies easy classification—by emerging writers. The Great Circle is the intersection of lines on the celestial sphere—lines overlapping and creating new entryways of understanding. In that spirit, Great Circle Books seeks, through innovative work, to merge the human experience with our relationship to place. Its books are intended for general readers, as well as students and teachers of writing, particularly those interested in urgent and previously unvoiced cultural conversations that offer new ways to see and understand a world in a constant state of flux.

As much as the series emphasizes groundbreaking, place-based literary nonfiction, Great Circle aims to provide a welcoming space for writers broadly defined as emerging—emphasizing those who have not yet published a book-length work of literary nonfiction. The series is particularly invested in writers who lack access to publishing networks like agents and editors, and who have been overlooked by large commercial presses.

Series Editors

Our series editors and editorial board members create a wide-reaching network of writers, readers, teachers, editors, and thinkers who offer deep and valuable perspectives on emerging literary nonfiction, particularly areas of interest and trends that may not yet be embraced by mainstream literary publishing.

Kiese LaymonKiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the NAACP Image Award winning novel, Long Division and the essay collection, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. Laymon is the Libby Shearn Moody Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rice University and founder of the Catherine Coleman Arts and Justice Initiative.


Marie MockettMarie Mutsuki Mockett was born to an American father and Japanese mother. American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf) won the 2021 Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction and is a tribute to the complicated and nuanced history of the United States and its people. Her memoir, “Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye,” was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award. She lives in San Francisco, and teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Editorial Board

Check back soon for more information.

A value-added peer review process

Great Circle titles, like all UNC Press books, will go through the peer review process. This involves at least one round of review, with written feedback, by writers and scholars from fields related to the manuscript. Our creative non-fiction titles have benefited from peer review in similar ways to a creative writing workshop—and the process might best  be understood as an additional workshop from experts in the field.

We also strive to provide a balance of peer reviewers: at least one who writes and publishes in the subgenre at hand, and at least one who can speak to the historical, political, and/or cultural context of the work. In this way, the writer receives feedback on craft as well as content, and the manuscript becomes both more engaging and more authoritative.

Peer review provides an additional benefit for writers who may not have had access to professional feedback: an opportunity for the writer provides access to early reactions and suggestions for their work.

Editing, design, marketing, and publicity

In addition to our scholarly titles, UNC Press publishes a robust trade books program with a national—and sometimes international—reach. All Great Circle books will receive the Press’s trade book treatment, including access to in-house developmental editing; award-winning interior and cover designers; and superior marketing and publicity resources.

Our past creative nonfiction titles have been reviewed in Kirkus, Choice, the Times Literary Supplement, among other media outlets, and serialized in Harper’s, Southern Cultures, and more.

An ongoing relationship

While the Great Circle series is devoted to emerging writers, UNC Press publishes creative nonfiction by more established writers, too. We’re looking to build relationships with writers for the long term, and we welcome returning authors to the larger creative nonfiction list.

UNC Press Sponsoring Editors

Lucas Church, Senior Editor

Cate Hodorowicz, Editor


Submission Guidelines

We welcome your proposal and will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible after consulting with the series editors. All proposals should be submitted to

A book proposal should include the following items:

  • A cover letter introducing yourself and stating your interest in the series
  • A detailed description of the work (and projected length); its appropriateness for the Great Circle series; its contribution to the field of literary nonfiction; its relation to similar and competing works; and the intended audience
  • Proposed chapter outline with a paragraph on the contents of each chapter
  • At least three completed chapters/essays
  • C.V or resume

If you’re unsure about how to craft a proposal, please read through our brief guide to manuscript proposals.

We prefer that authors do not submit complete manuscripts unless invited to do so.