July/August 2021

In our annual Literary Agents Issue, authors share their successful query letters, writers discuss getting “the call” that could lead to representation, and four agents share what they read when they’re not working; plus Destiny O. Birdsong’s profile of poet and scholar Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America; our twenty-first annual roundup of the summer’s best debut fiction; Kristen Radtke’s loneliness project; savvy self-publishing tips; writing prompts; contest deadlines; and more.


Clint Smith

How We Remember: A Profile of Clint Smith

by Destiny O. Birdsong

In his first nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed, published in June by Little, Brown, poet and scholar Clint Smith delves into the legacy of slavery alive in the monuments and landmarks within and beyond the United States, in an immersive read that exquisitely depicts how a nation and its inhabitants remember its history. 

Anthony Veasna So

First Fiction: Anthony Veasna So

by Alex Torres

Alex Torres reflects on the literary legacy of his beloved partner, Anthony Veasna So, the author of the debut story collection Afterparties, who died in December 2020.

Special Section

I Look Forward to Hearing From You: The Art of the Query Letter in Real Life

by Kevin Larimer
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A look at two real-life query letters from a published and soon-to-be published author, Gina Frangello and Beth Morgan, with commentary from their respective agents on what caught their attention.

Your Career on the Line: Writers and Agents Discuss “the Call”

by Laura Maylene Walter
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The first call between an agent and a writer to discuss representation is considered a milestone for an aspiring writer. The author talks to agents and published writers about what to expect during “the call.” 

A Week in Reading: What Agents Do When They’re Not Working

by Various
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Literary agents Maggie Cooper, Larissa Melo Pienkowski, Kat Kerr, and Eric Smith describe their reading habits off the clock.

News and Trends

Emily Poole's "Trout Friendly Lawns"

Conservation Stories

by Emma Hine

The nonprofit Creature Conserve brings together artists, writers, and scientists through classes, events, and more, all with a mission to support conservation by focusing on how we tell stories about animals. 

The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem reimagining an old building in the past, a story in which three people try to achieve the same goal, or an essay about a trip that helped you realize your complicity in a social issue.

The Loneliness Project: My Journey Through American Loneliness

by Kristen Radtke
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The author reflects on facing her own loneliness and that of others in her second graphic book, Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, published in July by Pantheon.

Infertile & Querying: Struggling to Conceive While Seeking Representation

by Emma Fedor
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The author of the forthcoming novel At Sea describes her struggle to get an agent and conceive a child and meditates on the expectations of being both a mother and an author.