A Compass and a Map
For many writers, trying to get published can feel like wandering in a maze. To assist those writers who find themselves running into one dead end after another, unsure of where to turn next, Poets & Writers recently launched a new program designed to demystify the publishing process, democratize access to information about publishing, and aid writers in developing clear, personalized plans for achieving their goals.
Mapping the Maze is a series of online workshops targeted to poets and writers of literary prose who have devoted time to their craft and are ready to make a plan for getting their work published. Led by Thierry Kehou, who joined Poets & Writers last year in the newly created director of programs and partnerships position, Mapping the Maze draws on the depth of knowledge about the business of writing the organization has honed over the past fifty-plus years. “What we hope to do with this program is help writers create concrete, actionable plans tailored to their own unique needs,” Kehou says. “In addition to shedding light on the publishing landscape, we want to help each individual writer orient themselves within that landscape and chart their own course. In other words, we want writers to walk away with both a compass and a map.”
The first two installments of Mapping the Maze have been filled to capacity, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. One attendee remarked: “I feel more enlightened about what to expect from the publishing process, how long it might take, and what it could look like to pursue this as a career.” Another noted: “The workshop was everything!” In reflecting on the first two workshops, Kehou says: “I think they’ve been successful because we are providing writers the opportunity not only to learn about the publishing process from seasoned professionals, but also to ask and get answers to questions that address their specific situations. As participants interact with and learn from the presenters and from their peers, they are also building genuine fellowship.”
Growing out of Poets & Writers’ United States of Writing initiative to expand the organization’s national reach, especially to writers from historically marginalized groups, the workshops center on the concerns of BIPOC writers and feature authors, agents, and editors of color. Discounts and fee waivers are available to participants for whom the registration fee is an obstacle, with priority given to BIPOC writers from Detroit, Houston, and New Orleans—cities where we’ve expanded our services under United States of Writing. To connect with writers in these cities, and to help them connect with local organizations and publications, Poets & Writers has formed partnerships with Bayou Magazine and the Words & Music Literary Festival in New Orleans; Defunkt Magazine, Gulf Coast, Inprint, and Kindred Stories in Houston; and in Detroit the Michigan Quarterly Review and the Detroit Writers’ Guild.
Mapping the Maze will be offered quarterly in the year ahead. The programs and partnerships team has also recently launched Get the Word Out, a publicity incubator for debut authors. To encourage voices of the next generation, Poets & Writers has begun offering free subscriptions to Poets & Writers Magazine to high school students and their teachers, working with groups that recognize achievement in young writers. Each of these programs is made possible thanks in part to the generous support of Leonard and Louise Riggio and Macmillan Publishers. For more information about the next installment of Mapping the Maze, visit at.pw.org/PubWorkshops.