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Our Fall 2021 Salon Series, presented by Mount Saint Mary’s University, has concluded

But all past salons are available for replay and will be made available in our store. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for members.

Electric Literature’s virtual salons demystify the craft of writing and look behind the curtain of the publishing process. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, these events also support Electric Literature’s mission to make literature more relevant, exciting, and inclusive.

Electric Literature’s virtual salons are supported in part by the New York State Council on the Arts Literary Technical Assistance Program. With the support of LitTAP, we are able to offer 50 free tickets to each event for those for whom the ticket price presents a financial burden. To request a scholarship ticket, please email Scholarship tickets can also be used for replays.

Fall 2021 Salon Schedule (details below):

Everyone’s a Critic

Originally aired: Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 6PM ET // 3PM PT

Featuring A.O. Scott, Parul Sehgal, and Brandon Taylor

Whether it’s the role of take-downs, accusations of smarm, writers rebutting their reviews, or the daily Twitter discourse, the role of criticism in our culture is complex, ever-changing, and seemingly always up for debate. The tools of criticism are evolving, too. Goodreads, Substack, and social media remove critics from an ivory tower and allow anyone to assume the mantle. New Yorker staff writer and former New York Times book critic Parul SehgalNew York Times film critic A.O. Scott, and novelist-cum-critic Brandon Taylor will discuss these topics as well as their own pursuits of critical honesty and excellence. Moderated by Halimah Marcus. Their discussion will be followed by an audience Q&A. 

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Steel Yourself Before You Reveal Yourself

Originally aired: Tuesday, October 12, 2021 at 6PM ET // 3PM PT

Featuring Alexander Chee, Morgan Jerkins, Joe Osmundson

A good journalist reports the story, but never becomes the story. But as essayists and non-fiction writers, we’re not journalists. Sometimes our lives are, in fact, the story. What does it mean to write about ourselves and our lives, and then, to publish that writing? What does it mean when people read that writing, and discuss it—and us—publicly, as well as privately? 

Alexander Chee (How To Write an Autobiographical Novel), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), and Joseph Osmundson (Virology, forthcoming 2022) will discuss the choice to write about ourselves and dive into the public discourse as both writer and subject, and how to prepare for the unique scrutiny that comes with essay, memoir, and autobiographical writing. They will also offer tools to help writers determine how much of themselves to reveal in their writing in the first place. Moderated by Denne Michele Norris. Their conversation will be followed by an audience Q&A.

Pitch Roulette

Originally aired: Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 6PM ET // 3PM PT

Featuring Halimah Marcus and Denne Michele Norris

What goes through an editor’s mind when they read a pitch? What turns them off, and what grabs their interest? One of our most popular salons is back with a twist: Editor-in-Chief Denne Michele Norris and Executive Director Halimah Marcus will review your anonymous pitches, submitted just for this event. They will read each pitch for the first time live on screen, sharing their immediate reactions as they go. Your pitch may even be commissioned for Electric Lit! 

Past Salons (more details below):

Submission Roulette II

Originally aired: July 19, 2021

Featuring Halimah Marcus and Brandon Taylor

What goes through an editor’s mind when they read the first lines of your story? What can you do right away to hook them and keep them turning pages? Which tired moves make them groan and lose interest fast? One of our most exciting salon events is back by popular demand! Recommended Reading editors Halimah Marcus and Brandon Taylor return to edit your anonymous first pages, submitted just for this event. They will read each page for the first time live on screen, sharing their immediate reactions as they go. Here’s what previous attendees said about this event: 

“Immediately planning to rewrite all my first pages.”
“Live impressions are true-to-life and that’s why this session has been so uniquely valuable.”
“10/10 would pay for more of these.”
“Just listening to the way they think has inspired me with like 5 revision ideas for a story I’m working on.”

How to Pitch and Edit an Anthology

Originally aired: July 20, 2021


  • Sari Botton, editor of Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York (Seal Press, 2nd edition 2021)
  • Jennifer Baker, editor of Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology (Atria Books, 2018) and a senior editor at Amistad Books.
  • Tajja Isen, co-editor of The World As We Knew It: Dispatches from a Changing Climate (Catapult 2022) and an editor of Catapult Magazine
  • Moderated by Halimah Marcus, editor of Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Reclaim the Iconic Bond (Harper Perennial, August 2021) and executive director of Electric Literature

Have you ever dreamed of editing your own anthology? Even if you haven’t, should you? Join our panel of veteran anthology editors to learn how to develop an idea for an anthology, pitch it to publishers, solicit and edit work from writers, and pull together a finished book that unites a range of talented voices, all digging deep into a topic you are passionate about. We’ll also address how writers can get their work included in such anthologies. Whether you already have an idea for an anthology or you’re wondering if this publishing pathway might be right for you, bring your curiosity and your questions to this event. Audience Q&A to follow. 

How to Get a Literary Agent

Originally aired: July 21, 2021

Sarah Bowlin, Aevitas Creative
Kirby Kim, Janklow and Nesbit
Renée Jarvis, Triangle House

Literary agents are the publishing professionals whose job is to be in an author’s corner, to champion their work and find it the best home and negotiate the strongest deals. So, how do you research hundreds of agents to find ones who would be the best fit for your creative visions? How do you query them to demonstrate that you are a perfect addition to their list? Once you’ve signed with an agent, what will your professional relationship look like? What are the reasons an author-agent relationship might end, and what should you do next? Join our panel of seasoned literary agents to learn about all about the process, from the early stages to the book deals and beyond, and bring all your questions to the Q&A. Moderated by Halimah Marcus.

The Secrets of Successful Author Interviews

Originally aired: March 11, 2021

Do you dream of having in-depth discussions with your favorite authors about their latest books? Join a panel of Electric Literature’s veteran interviewers—Tyrese Coleman, J.R. Ramakrishnan, and Arriel Vinson—to learn how the professionals do it. How do you pitch an interview to a publication and get the author to agree to talk to you? What are the secrets of crafting great interview questions—and how do you avoid the ones that thud? How do you get your conversation with the author to really flow—and if it does flow freely, is there any way to make transcribing less arduous? Our panel will dig into all of these questions and more. Moderated by Preety Sidhu. Q&A to follow.

Demystifying Publishing

Originally Aired: March 15, 2021

You know you want to publish a book—but you’re not sure how to take the first step, or even what the first step is. (“Write the manuscript,” obviously, right? Well, no, not always!) Agent DongWon Song (Howard Morhaim), nonfiction editor Rakia Clark (HMH), fiction editor Angeline Rodriguez (Orbit), and marketing director Meghan Deans (Ecco) open up the black box of publishing and walk you through the steps between “good idea” and “physical book you can sign.” Learn what to expect, what will be expected of you, what to watch out for, and how to prepare yourself to navigate the publishing world. Moderated by Jess Zimmerman. Q&A to follow.

Submission Roulette

Originally Aired: March 17, 2021

First impressions count—and they never count more than when you’re trying to impress an editor who has 1,500 submissions to read. Editors often say that they can tell within the first page whether a story will be worth accepting, so how do you make your first page really shine? Eavesdrop on our evaluation process—and vie to get your story noticed—with Recommended Reading editors Halimah Marcus and Brandon Taylor. They’ll be reading opening pages submitted just for the occasion, sharing their reactions and thought processes as they go. Submit your own first page anonymously to see if your story has what it takes to catch our editors’ eyes, or simply tune in to see how other writers fare. 

How to Get Published in Recommended Reading

Originally Aired: December 11, 2020

About a third of the stories published in Recommended Reading are unsolicited submissions, which share space in the magazine with work by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners. Unlike some legacy lit mags, we really are reading all the work you send in, and we really do publish it. So how can you make your stories stand out among the thousands of submissions we receive every year? Recommended Reading’s editorial team—Halimah Marcus, Brandon Taylor, Erin Bartnett, and Alyssa Songsiridej—pull back the curtain on their decision-making process and offer invaluable advice to short story writers. A must-watch for anyone who is planning to submit. Q&A to follow.

How to Pitch Electric Lit

Originally Aired: December 14, 2020

For freelancers, writing an essay, feature, or opinion piece doesn’t start when you type the first line. It starts with the pitch. Having a topic and a talent isn’t enough; you also have to be able to package your idea in a way that catches an editor’s eye. But how do you get started writing a pitch? How long is too long—and how short is too short? What does a good pitch look like—and a bad one? And why does Electric Lit ask people to write a pitch, anyway? Electric Literature editor-in-chief Jess Zimmerman and contributing editor Jennifer Baker fill you in on everything you need to know when proposing nonfiction work to Electric Lit and other publications.

How to Get Published in The Commuter

Originally Aired: December 16, 2020

Unlike most literary magazines, The Commuter chooses its weekly piece of poetry, flash, graphic, or experimental narrative almost exclusively from unsolicited submissions—9 out of 10 issues are drawn from the so-called “slush.” (We don’t think it’s slush!) Work published in The Commuter has been recognized by Best American Poetry and Comics, the Wigleaf Top 50, and Best Small Fictions. But we get thousands of submissions every year, and only publish 52 issues. So how can you help your work get recognized? Commuter editors Halimah Marcus, Kelly Luce, and Ed Skoog invite you behind the scenes for a frank editorial discussion that is a must-watch for anyone planning to submit. Q&A to follow.

Thank you to Reedsy, our presenting sponsor!

Writing White Fragility, an editorial discussion, presented by Penguin Random House

Originally Aired: October 20, 2020

Recommended Reading senior editor Brandon Taylor talks to Ross Feeler about “Parisian Honeymoon,” a story about a man who discovers that his new wife is a bigot. They will discuss their editing process, and how to write anti-racist stories with racist characters without being morally didactic.

This event is presented by Penguin Random House

Swords Out: A Dungeons & Dragons Murder Mystery, presented by Substack

Originally Aired: October 22, 2020

Some of the funniest and most charismatic authors we know—John Darnielle, Leah Johnson, Daniel Lavery, Amber Sparks, and R. Eric Thomas—join Dungeon Master Matt Lubchansky for this classic tabletop role-playing game with a literary twist. The publisher of Lightning Bolt Literature has been murdered, and they’ll have to solve puzzles, fight monsters, and maybe even battle a god to get to the bottom of things. If you’ve never played D&D before, don’t worry—most of our players haven’t either.

This event is presented by Substack.

Magical Feminism, an editorial discussion

Originally Aired: October 26, 2020

Electric Literature executive director Halimah Marcus talks to Marie-Helene Bertino and Elissa Washuta about coping with trauma and subverting expectations at the intersection of magic and reality. They will discuss how magic works in practice and as a rhetorical device in fiction.

Spot the Fake Memoir, A Game of Two Truths and a Lie, presented by Sipsmith London

Originally Aired: October 28, 2020

Making stuff up is an important writerly skill, as long as you don’t present it as true. Five Electric Lit contributors and writing group pals Angela Chen, Lilly Dancyger, Deena ElGenaidi, Jeanna Kadlec, and Nina St. Pierre will try to pass autofiction off as memoir, in a literary twist on this time-honored get-to-know-you game. Hosted by Jess Zimmerman.

This event is presented by Sipsmith London.

Live Closed Captioning

Our virtual event platform, Crowdcast, is still working on providing built-in closed captioning. In the meantime, Google Chrome users can now use the new “Live Caption” feature. When enabled, Live Captions automatically appear in a small, moveable box at the bottom of your browser when you’re watching or listening to a piece of content where people are talking. Live Captions can be enabled in the latest version of Chrome by going to Settings, then the “Advanced” section, and then “Accessibility.” 

All of our salons will also be uploaded to Youtube and made available through our store. Youtube now includes closed captioning. Simply hit the “CC” icon on the navigation bar on the bottom of your video player.