July/August 2015

Our annual Literary Agents Issue features a roundtable discussion with four young agents on what they look for in a pitch; advice on how to impress a literary agent; interviews with the summer’s best debut novelists; a profile of best-selling author Judy Blume; Jennifer Day of the Chicago Tribune talks about book reviews; a Q&A with Los Angeles poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez; writing prompts and exercises; and much more. 


First Fiction 2015

by Staff
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In our fifteenth annual First Fiction roundup, five debut authors—Rebecca Dinerstein, Naomi Jackson, Julia Pierpont, Chigozie Obioma, and Angela Flournoy—discuss the process of seeing their novels to completion, from navigating the difference...

Telling Stories in the Sunlight: A Profile of Judy Blume

by Kevin Nance

Her books, for readers of all ages, have been published in thirty-two languages and sold more than eighty-five million copies worldwide, but Judy Blume, whose new novel, In the Unlikely Event, was published by Knopf in June, has always taken a simple approach to her work: “I do what I have to do to tell the story.”

Special Section

How to Impress a Literary Agent

by Staff
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Whether it’s simply spelling a name correctly in a query letter or proposing something new, advice for catching an agent’s eye can range from the obvious to the surprisingly counter-intuitive. Here, six agents speak candidly about what stands out to...

The Aha! Moment: Renée Zuckerbrot of the Renée Zuckerbrot Literary Agency

by Michael Bourne
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Agent Renée Zuckerbrot recounts her initial reactions to the opening story of Andrew Malan Milward’s I Was a Revolutionary, a collection she recently sold to Harper that will be published in August.

News and Trends

An Inspired Archive of African Poetry

by Stacia L. Brown

Since its founding in 2008, Badilisha Poetry X-Change has built the largest online archive of contemporary African poetry, including work by nearly four hundred poets from more than thirty countries across Africa and the diaspora. Now, with the launch of a new mobile site, Badilisha is making African poetry more accessible and interactive to millions of Africans.

Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue’s MagNet features the Southern Review, the Pinch, Zyzzyva, Hanging Loose, and Copper Nickel.

Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

by Staff

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Nick Flynn’s My Feelings and Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

Small Press Points: Queen's Ferry Press

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features the Plano, Texas–based Queen’s Ferry Press. Initially devoted to short story collections, the press is now expanding to publish novels, novellas, and an anthology series.

The Written Image: Swann's Way

by Staff

French artist Stéphane Heuet’s Herculean efforts to democratize the work of Marcel Proust come to fruition as Norton releases his graphic-novel adaptation of Swann’s Way.

The Practical Writer

The Savvy Self-Publisher: Clayton Smith

by Debra W. Englander

Clayton Smith has self-published several books, including his latest novel, Apocalypticon, and used his experiences to cofound Dapper Press, a company that provides essential services like editing, design, and promotion to self-published authors. Editor Kim Bookless and publicist Lissy Peace weigh in on Smith’s process, and such self-publishing necessities.

The Literary Life

Preparing for the Worst: The Negatively Framed Outline

by Benjamin Percy
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Pessimism can be a writer’s best friend: Fiction writer Benjamin Percy explores how the worst-case scenario can bring out the best in a story.  

The Time Is Now

by Staff
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Follow in the dactylic footsteps of Homer, leave everyone behind for a solo journey, or report the breaking news of your own life—three prompts to help start your writing off on a great adventure.