May/June 2022

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.


Elif Batuman

Life Goals: A Q&A With Elif Batuman

by Porochista Khakpour

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

by Kate Tuttle
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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. 

Writing Contests

Finding the Writing Contest for You

by Ananda Lima
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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

by Matt Bell
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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

by Katie Arnold-Ratliff
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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.

Your Summer of Submissions: Tools and Tips for Planning When, Where, and How to Send Out Your Work

by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
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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

The outside of Trident Bookstore

From Booksellers to Owners

by Lynn Rosen

When the pandemic affected booksellers’ job security, several bookstores transitioned to employee-ownership models to create more equitable workplace environments.

The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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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. 

What I Deserve: How to Write Like Nobody’s Reading

by Kristen Iskandrian
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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

by Frank Bures
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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.