November/December 2023

Poet Safiya Sinclair, a Jamaican woman with long black hair and a green patterned dress, stands with folded hands in front of a plain black background. Magazine headlines surrounding her above and to the left.

Our November/December issue features a special section on university presses, book contests, literary magazines, and Substacks where writers are publishing now; profiles of memoirist Safiya Sinclair and novelist E. J. Koh; our eighth annual 5 Over 50 roundup of debut authors; an interview with Gilbert Cruz, editor of the New York Times Book Review; plus an overview of the pros and cons of hybrid publishing, a farewell ritual for the debut book, writing prompts, contest deadlines, and more. 


Dreaming Up Her Own Salvation: A Profile of Safiya Sinclair

by Renée H. Shea
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In a stunning new memoir, How to Say Babylon, Safiya Sinclair tells the story of growing up in a Rastafarian family in Jamaica, breaking free of her father’s oppressive control, and finding her own voice as a woman and poet. 

Love, Loss, and Liberation: A Profile of E. J. Koh

by Brian Gresko
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In poetry, memoir, and now her novel, The Liberators, forthcoming in November from Tin House, E. J. Koh breaks new ground in understanding the Korean diaspora and the emancipating power of love.  

Tommy Archuleta, a man in his late fifties, sits with his face leaning against his right hand. He wears black-rimmed glasses and a black t-shirt and has slightly tousled brown hair. On both arms, the black outlines of tattoos are partially visible.

5 Over 50: 2023

by Various

Essays by debut authors Alma García (All That Rises), Bernardine “Dine” Watson (Transplant), Tommy Archuleta (Susto), Chin-Sun Lee (Upcountry), and Donna Spruijt-Metz (General Release From the Beginning of the World).

Thinking Outside the Big Five: The University Presses, Book Contests, Lit Mags, and Substacks Where Writers Are Publishing Now

Commitment and Care: Publishing With a University Press

by Aaron Gilbreath
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University presses excel at nurturing innovative voices and literary forms that commercial operations can’t always take a risk on, serving writers and readers alike. 

A Winning Way to Publish: Considering Small Press Book Contests

by Ananda Lima
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The author of Mother/land outlines factors to consider in sizing up small press book contests and shares what prize-winning authors have to say about the advantages of contests as a route to publication.

Upcoming Contests and Submission Windows: Twelve Small Presses That Want to Read Your Manuscript

by Emma Komlos-Hrobsky
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Count on small presses to boast enthusiastic staff, personal publishing experiences, and editors ready to champion your work. Our senior editor selects twelve top contests and reading periods from indies open to submissions this winter.

Unconventional Ink: How Literary Authors Are Thriving on Substack

by Jonathan Durbin
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Since its launch in 2017, Substack has become a haven for creativity. Several notable authors, including George Saunders, Rebecca Makkai, and Carmen Maria Machado, talk about how their Substacks help them sustain a writing life.

The Magic in the Mix: Letters on the Art of Reading and Editing a Literary Magazine

by Brooke Randel and Nadia Staikos
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In letters exchanged over several months, two prose editors for the Chestnut Review shine a light on the care, commitment, and rigor that guides the selection and editing of stories for publication. 

News and Trends

The Practical Writer

Publishing Myths: “If You Don’t Earn Out Your Advance, You’ll Never Publish Another Book”

by Kate McKean
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In our column debunking the myths of the publishing industry, a veteran agent explains how advances are determined and encourages readers with the truth that there’s no single indicator of an author’s next book deal. 

Hybrid Publishing: An Alternative Model With a Price Tag

by Michael Bourne
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For some, hybrid publishing provides a more accessible path to publication, allowing authors to have a greater say in the production and marketing of a book—but it may come at a cost.

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem set in the imagined world of your favorite film, a short story in which a character spends the entirety of the story alone, or an essay about the stresses of the holiday season.

Making Space: A Farewell Ritual for the Debut Book

by Christopher Soto
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After months of writing, editing, and promoting, the author of Diaries of a Terrorist created a ceremonial practice that allowed him to say goodbye to his first book of poetry and open up to new dreams.