Our Writing Contests Issue features a look at the ever-expanding universe of book awards and literary prizes, including tips for successful entries as well as advice from agents and editors; a survey of the novella e-revolution and how digital tools are reviving the neglected form; a craft essay on writing with urgency; a profile of novelist Claire Messud; an interview with poet Frank Bidart; and much more.
The World Arranged: A Profile of Claire Messud
With her fourth novel, The Woman Upstairs, published in April of 2013 by Knopf, Claire Messud tests the ties of novelist, wife, teacher, and mother that define and bind many working writers.
Frank Bidart says a poet must use language that embodies the immediacy and intensity the poet feels, which may explain why his ninth collection, Metaphysical Dog, is his most intimate book yet.
The Winner’s Circle: What It Means to Win a Writing Contest Today
Contributing editor Kevin Nance provides a historical perspective on writing contests and examines their value today.
Winners on Winning: The Intangible Benefits of Coming Out on Top
Five writing-contest winners share the effect winning has had on their writing and their life.
Do Contests Matter? Agents and Editors Weigh In
Six editors and agents reveal how they perceive the importance of writing contests when considering whether to work with a writer.
Follow the Guidelines: Advice From Contest Series Editors
Four writing contest series editors offer tips to writers about the best way to prepare their submissions for competition.
The Aha! Moment: Flannery O'Connor Award Series Editor Nancy Zafris
Author and Flanner O'Connor Award series editor Nancy Zafris reveals the qualities that made Lori Ostlund’s award-winning manuscript stand out in the submission pile.
Here are seven strategies for a more efficient (and hopefully more effective) process of submitting your work to contests.
News and Trends
San Francisco poet Beau Beausoleil starts a book art project in honor of Baghdad's literary community affected by a 2007 car bombing.
As online book reviews and user-sourced suggestion models have become increasingly important to the bookselling industry, publishers are developing new digital platforms for reviews and recommendations.
Portland, Oregon-based Octopus Books and Tin House Books join forces to collaborate on a new poetry series that carves out a space for a new audience and invigorates the city's poetry community.
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 Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, Booth, West Branch, and Pleiades.
The biennial Gift of Freedom Award, sponsored by the Placitas, New Mexico-based A Room of Her Own Foundation, transcends competition by acting as an agent for change in the lives of women writers.
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 Sophie Cabot Black's The Exchange and Brian Kimberling's Snapper, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.
Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features Gazing Grain Press, an inclusive feminist press based in Fairfax, Virginia, that publishes one title each year as part of its annual poetry and hybrid-prose chapbook contest.
Reagan Arthur, the new publisher of Little, Brown, discusses her new role and the health of the company she now leads through these uncertain times in publishing.
With a total of more than $9 million, Poets & Writers Grants & Awards section saw an increase of more than $3 million from tens years earlier.
The Practical Writer
First: Bennett Sims’s A Questionable Shape
With the publication of his deeply thoughtful, zombie-centric debut novel by indie press Two Dollar Radio, Bennett Sims is finally getting the living dead out of his system.
The Novella E-Revolution: Digital Tools Revive a Neglected Form
Several innovations in digital publishing provide new opportunities for publishers and writers who want to make their novellas available to a wide readership.
Literary agent Matt McGowan, who represents Eula Biss, John D’Agata, Brian Evenson, and many others, answers writers’ most commonly asked questions.
The Literary Life
Writing With Urgency: Propel Your Characters Forward
Fiction writer Benjamin Percy offers five steps writers should follow to jack up the momentum in their short stories.
A Crucial Collaboration: Reader-Writer-Character-Book
Novelist, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki explores the collaborative relationship among readers, writers, and characters that informs the best of books.
The Calm Before the Calm: Silence and the Creative Writer
Novelist Daphne Kalotay argues the merits of silence, even when it follows the publication of an author’s book.
Fiction writer Aaron Hamburger got more than he bargained for when he signed up for a class in food writing. Instead of simply learning about a new genre, he also learned some valuable lessons about the one he'd been practicing for years.
Character calls forth writer. Writer calls forth reader. It seems straightforward—but is it? Novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki explores the relationships embedded in every novel and work of fiction.