The Best of Indie AWP: Friday Edition

To help you get the most out of your AWP conference, we’ve compiled a daily (and nightly) guide for the best readings, panels, and parties from indie presses and lit mags.


Digital Lit: Why Online Magazines Deserve More Respect

9–10:15am in Room 606
“Online literary sites attract more traffic than many print journals, expand audiences for literary work beyond a small circle of subscribers, and are building virtual communities of readers and writers. So why does digitally published work seldom win literary awards or make best-of anthologies? This panel of online editors will expose a number of myths about online publishing, conjure the joys of digital reading, and answer audience questions about how to take the leap off the printed page.”

A “New” Nonfiction

9–10:15am in Room 611
“As writers and publishers adapt to the evolving media-driven culture of which they are a part, this panel features writers whose work spans the scope of contemporary nonfiction, from literary criticism to memoir, to immersive journalism and the op ed. They have found traditional print venues for placing their writing, as well as podcasts, webzines, websites, interactive maps, and ebooks, and will discuss how nonfiction has evolved to adapt to the many venues available for its practitioners.” (Featuring Scott McClanahan)

Happy Endings That Won’t Jerk You Around

9–10:15am in Room 202
“While stories of hope are often derided as contrived or suspected of emotional manipulation in workshops, they are in actuality some of the hardest to write. How do we instill glimmers of hope while remaining true to realism? How do we avoid sentimentality while still allowing a positive outcome for our characters? Five writers discuss the concept of the happy ending in contemporary and classic novels and stories and talk about their own approaches to crafting the final movements of their work.”

*The Road Less Taken: Alternative Forms of Distribution*

9–10:15am in Room 609
“Discover new ways to get literature into readers’ hands beyond online “e-tailers” and even local bookstores. The panel addresses print-on-demand, subscription models, digital singles, and more!” (Featuring Electric Literature’s Halimah Marcus)

Return to the Future: Reinventing the Book

10:30–11:45am in Room 604
“In the chaos of new e-book tablet and e-reader technology, unprecedented opportunities exist for literary publishers and their authors looking for innovative ways to publish and distribute their books. New forms like transmedia storytelling and multi-platform publishing push the limits of what a book can be and how it is sold. A panel of indie publishers and authors describe why they chose to publish this way, how they got started, their challenges and successes, and their works-in-progress.”

Graywolf Press: 40th Anniversary

10:30–11:45am in Room 615/616/617
“In 2014, Graywolf Press celebrates forty years of publishing essential works of contemporary literature. From the Press’s beginnings in Port Townsend, Washington, in 1974, to its current roster of award-winning writers, Graywolf has been recognized as one of the leaders in independent publishing. Please join the publisher and director of Graywolf and these fiction writers, nonfiction writers, and poets for a reading in celebration of the next forty years of Graywolf Press.”

Grove/Atlantic Literary Salon

10:30–11:45am in Rooms 618/619/620
“Founded in 1917, Grove/Atlantic is one of the last remaining major independent publishers in America. Dedicated to publishing books of artistic merit and integrity and known for taking risks, Grove/Atlantic presents five award-winning authors reading from their most recent and yet-to-be-published books.” (Featuring Dani Shapiro)

Independent Bookselling: Opportunities for Authors

10:30–11:45am in Room 304
“As bookstore chains disappear and independent bookstores become even more important, what should writers and authors know about working with booksellers? This panel from Seattle-area bookstores — Elliott Bay, Village Books, Third Place Books, University Bookstore, and Queen Anne Book Company — will discuss how writers can work with independent booksellers to market a book. Topics will include author events, store placement, joint promotion, and how to spread the word to the book-buying public.”

Writing Inside Out: Authors’ Day Jobs

10:30–11:45am in Room 302
“Eudora Welty was a publicist. William Carlos Williams practiced medicine. How do our nonliterary day jobs enter into our writing — or do we work writing into the job? Which is more writer-friendly, the huge corporation or the nonprofit? How do we form literary alliances when our colleagues are not publishing? Four authors, some whose co-workers do not know they are writers, discuss writing outside of academia in jobs supportive, hostile, or just indifferent to their literary careers.”

All Publishers Great and Small: Reexamining the Book Business in the 21st Century

12–1:15 pm in The Willow Room
“Major publishers increasingly chase blockbusters and avoid literary authors. Smaller presses still have less money for advances and marketing, but their titles attract an ever-growing share of award and review attention. The paradigm is shifting. A unique group of authors who have straddled this hinge — they each have at least one book out from a large trade house and one from a small independent press — offer an unusually honest and intimate appraisal of the rapidly changing book business.”

Transmedia: The Future Of Storytelling?

12–1:15 pm in Room 3A
“Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling a single narrative across multiple platforms and technologies, with each piece of context not only linked together but also in narrative synchronization. (Think graphic novel, e-book with embedded content, etc.) If transmedia is indeed the future of storytelling, how can writers, editors, and publishers embrace and utilize — rather than fear — these new tools?”

Applying for a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship

12–1:15 pm in Room 3B
“This session is geared toward individuals interested in applying for an NEA fellowship in poetry or prose. Staff members from the NEA’s Literature Division will discuss and advise on all aspects of the program, from submitting an application to selecting the winners. Plenty of time will be allotted for questions.”

Peripheral Visionaries: Taking Action to Cultivate Literary Diversity

12–1:15 pm in Room 303
“If literature is to depict our humanity, it must reflect the gamut of human experiences. While there is much work ahead, what literary diversity initiatives already exist and what can they teach us? This panel of academics, editors, nonprofit leaders, and grassroots activists shares their triumphs and obstacles and inspires attendees to help bolster under-represented voices. From data research to K-12 residencies, join this dialogue on diversity efforts as varied as the writers they champion.”

A Reading and Conversation with Chris Abani and Chang-rae Lee, Sponsored by the University of Washington Bothell MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics

1:30–2:45pm in Ballroom ABC
“Chris Abani, author of numerous works of prose and poetry, and Chang-rae Lee, author of the novels Native Speaker and The Surrendered, will present readings of their award-winning work, followed by a discussion moderated by Steph Opitz.”

The Art of the Book Review

1:30–2:45pm in Room 607
“Thousands of books are published each year. We are lead to many of them by engaging, knowing reviews. A well-written review will investigate the mysteries deep reading affords, and it will please as well as inform, because it has style. The five widely published writers/critics on this panel will discuss the review as a genre in its own right, a unique artistic form that contributes to the formation of taste, raises the level of public discourse, and establishes critical reputation.”

The Art of Juggling: How to Publish, Present, and Everything Else with a Teeny-Tiny Staff

1:30–2:45pm in Room
“Learn tricks of the trade from masters of doing everything, from publishing books and magazines to running literary festivals, hosting readings to raising money, and everything else.”

Labor of Love: Working with Volunteer Staff

3–4:15pm in Room 400
“Sometimes the old adage “you get what you pay for” feels painfully true when working with volunteer staff in the literary world. It doesn’t have to. Experienced editors will share their tips and tricks for successfully engaging volunteers in everything from reading the slush pile for literary journals to serving as editorial assistants at small publishing houses.”

A Reading and Conversation with Ben Fountain and Amy Tan, Sponsored by the National Book Critics Circle

3–4:15pm in Ballroom ABC
Two National Book Critics Circle award-honored novelists, Ben Fountain and Amy Tan, read from their work and talk with NBCC Vice President/Online Jane Ciabattari about inspiration, research, readers, awards, the unique challenges of first novels, and the imaginative process that gives their work originality. Since 1974, the National Book Critics Circle awards have honored the best literature published in English. These are the only awards chosen by the critics themselves.

How Readers Read: A Report from the Stacks of Submissions

3–4:15pm in Room 303
This panel will examine all the ways that prose writers get read over the course of their literary careers, from magazine submissions to submitting to agents, to submitting to contests, book editors, and anthology editors. This panel will cover the whole range of submissions from the reader’s point of view, and at all levels of the selection process. This isn’t just about the slush level submission or the high level placement of a manuscript; this panel will address all levels.

To E, or Not to E: Journals in the 21st Century

4:30–5:45pm in Room 2B
“Managing a journal isn’t as uniform as it was just five years ago. Due to new services and innovations, editors now have many options to help their journal grow, even in the face of economic pressure. This panel gathers writers and editors from five journals that operate from all online to hard copy only, and everything in between. They will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of their methods, how writers have responded, and how varying methods affect the quality of work they receive for publication.”

McSweeney’s Poetry Series Launch: A Reading and Discussion

4:30–5:45pm in Room 609
“This reading and discussion will feature the diverse and talented line-up of poets whose books have been published as part of the newly launched McSweeney’s Poetry Series. Award-winning authors will read from new collections. A Q&A will follow on poems, editing poetry, and publishing with McSweeney’s.”

A Tribute to William S. Burroughs

4:30–5:45pm in Rooms 615/616/617
“This is a tribute to honor William S. Burroughs, one of the most notable American novelists of the 20th century, on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Burroughs was an influential member of the Beat Generation and Postmodernist movement. He wrote eighteen novels including his most well-known and controversial novel, Naked Lunch, which was published in 1959. His work has continued to shape popular culture in music, television, film, and literature.”

AWP After Hours

Journal Porn: Lit Mags You’d Sleep With

8–11pm at Black Coffee Coop
“With four of the sexiest journals on the planet: Big Fiction, Parcel, Two Lines, Versal. Featuring poets & writers from around the country: Samuel Ace, Tasha Cotter, Mylene Dressler, Jerry Gabriel, Rochelle Hurt, Sam Martone, Erica Mena, Kaija Straumanis. Special musical guests XVIII Eyes & DJ Dewey Decimal. With hosts Megan M. Garr & Travis Kurowski”

AWP boogie with Graywolf, Riverhead & Elliott Bay!

8–10pm at Elliott Bay Book Company
“This AWP, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Riverhead Books & the 40th anniversary of Graywolf Press & Elliott Bay Book Company! Get out of the Seattle rain and into a beautiful bookstore filled with beer, wine, cake & our awesome literary writers.”

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Thank You!