Our annual Writing Contests Issue features a guide to finding the right contest for you, tips for revising your work before you hit submit, and a survey of uncommon contests; a conversation between Porochista Khakpour and Elif Batuman, the best-selling author of The Idiot as well its sequel, Either/Or; an interview with Samantha Hunt about her new genre-bending work of nonfiction, The Unwritten Book: An Investigation; Jami Attenberg on 1000 Words of Summer; Courtney Maum on showing your memoir to your family; plus agent advice, writing prompts, and more.
Life Goals: A Q&A with Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman, the best-selling author of The Idiot and its sequel, Either/Or, talks to Porochista Khakpour about the new novel, being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and what she learned on a trip to Russia and Ukraine.
Learning to Fly: A Q&A with Samantha Hunt
Samantha Hunt’s exploration of ghosts and ghost stories, The Unwritten Book: An Investigation, is haunted by a special book: Within its pages is an incomplete novel, written by her father and discovered just days after his death.
Finding the Writing Contest for You
Having won several writing prizes, the author shares how to find the right contests to enter, what to consider when weighing contest options, and how to use writing contests to build a writing life that fits your dreams.
Eight Final Revisions to Try Before You Hit Submit
The author of Refuse to Be Done: How to Write and Revise a Novel in Three Drafts offers tips for the last round of revisions that will improve your piece and separate your submission from the slush pile.
Writing Contest Success Stories
For some fortunate writers, winning a contest results in life-changing book deals, visibility, and the confidence and encouragement to keep going. The author speaks with recent winners about the real yet sometimes intangible effects of winning.
A look at contests that, in addition to cash prizes, award residencies, retreats, and introductions to agents, among other unique opportunities.
Your Summer of Submissions: Tools and Tips for Planning When, Where, and How to Send Out Your Work
A guide to submission strategies—as well as the free tracking tools, calendars, and listings on the Poets & Writers website—that can help you stay organized during the submission process.
News and Trends
When the pandemic affected booksellers’ job security, several bookstores transitioned to employee-ownership models to create more equitable workplace environments.
The first lines of a dozen noteworthy books including The Candy House by Jennifer Egan and Ante body by Marwa Helal.
Established in 2018, the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize awards an African writer an advance and publication by Graywolf. The prize aims to offer African writers a platform without them having to leave the continent.
The Matwaala collective was launched in 2015 to create visibility for South Asian poets. Today, Matwaala programs such as the Poets of Color festival foster solidarity between different identity groups through literature.
Two University of Baltimore MFA students founded the small press that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid work, and as well as a podcast and literary magazine.
The author spotlights five journals that published lyric and narrative poems from her debut poetry collection, The Body Family.
Writer and visual artist Ben Shattuck turned his journals from walks through New England’s wild spaces into a book of drawings and text titled Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau.
The new editor in chief of the Rumpus, Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn, discusses what sets the magazine apart and what she looks forward to in her new role.
The Practical Writer
The agent answers questions about mentioning positive feedback in a query letter, how much plot to include in a query, and agents for teen writers.
The author chose to share her memoir draft with family and friends and face their varied reactions to her recollection of the past—reactions which ultimately made the book richer.
The Literary Life
The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
Write a poem in which each sentence opens with an imperative, a fiction piece about a protagonist who finds a new direction for living, or an essay that uses a metaphor to evoke the process of learning a skill or language.
For two weeks in June, more than 15,000 writers from around the world commit to writing a thousand words a day as part of the annual 1000 Words of Summer project.
What I Deserve: How to Write Like Nobody’s Reading
The author and bookseller explores the changes in her relationship to writing and publication, and the expectations she puts on herself to produce more.
The Shape of Time: Planting Words on a Page
The author returns to the Anderson Center at Tower View in Minnesota and reflects on his past two residencies, what has changed, and the fellow artists he’s lost since his first time there in 2006.