Your Spirit Guide to Indie AWP
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
AWP is a mess, but it’s our mess. Come get indie with us at all of our recommended events. Or, like, one of them. #IndieAWP
Trying on New Bootstraps: Self-Sustaining Models for Literary Magazines. (Steph Opitz, Jennifer Woods, Megan M. Garr, Halimah Marcus) As the university-supported literary magazine increasingly becomes a less viable model, literary magazines must find new methods for generating support. Publishers from Electric Literature, Versal, and the Lumberyard Magazine share their secrets. Room 101, Plaza Level: Panel R105.
Being a Good Literary Citizen. (Rob Spillman, Alan Heathcock, Emma Straub, Julie Barer, Matthew Specktor) Publishing is a small ecosystem. If you do not support the ecosystem, you can’t expect the ecosystem to support you. An editor, agent, and two writers talk about the importance of being genuinely engaged with all aspects of publishing. Topics include using social media in a nonself-serving way, mentoring fellow writers and editors, helping literary organizations, and hand-selling books and magazines that have nothing to do with you. Room 302/304, Level 3: Panel R148.
Noon — 1:15 pm
Only Half as Crazy as We Seem: Exploring Unconventional Strategies for Indie Lit Startups. (Steve Westbrook, Matty Byloos, Carrie Seitzinger, J.A. Tyler, Skyler Schulze) At present, the notion of developing an independent literary startup tends to be perceived as a naïve dream or a bad business idea. Defying conventional wisdom, contributors to this panel discuss their recent experience of founding successful new journals, presses, and a reading series. As they examine how their efforts toward sustainability intersect or contradict industry lore, they offer strategies for developing alternative funding structures, distribution models, and marketing techniques. Room 200, Level 2: Panel R167.
New Media and Storytelling. (Jeff Parker, Kenneth Calhoun, Victoria Redel, Adam Cushman, Matthew Derby) The relationship between new media and literature is evolving in unexpected ways. From hypertext to book trailers and from literary mobile applications to online marketing, the future forms of storytelling in new media and the uses of new media to gain readership for traditional texts are seemingly infinite. These five panelists, all writers actively engaged in new media and writing, offer visual presentations of their work and discuss techniques, strategies, and where we go from here. Room 312, Level 3: R213.
Women Writers in the Contemporary Literary Landscape. (Susan Steinberg, Fiona Maazel, Mary Jo Bang) What limitations and expectations are placed on women writers by society, and how do these constrain the process of writing? How does critical reception and public perception differ for books written by women versus those written by men? Three experienced writers share their perspectives on gender and its impact on writing, publishing, and the reception of books by women, and discuss how they’ve broken free of cultural limitations in their own works. Moderated by Fiona McCrae. Room 111, Plaza Level: Panel R225.
Bending Genre. (Margot Singer, Nicole Walker, Robin Hemley, Dave Madden) The hot debate over ethics in creative nonfiction has sidelined important questions of literary form. Hybrid, innovative, and unconventional, nonfiction is arguably the most exciting area on the literary scene today. But how does nonfiction actually work? How does it recombine and transform elements of other genres? What techniques distinguish nonfiction from other kinds of prose? Contributors to a groundbreaking new anthology of critical essays share their perspectives and ideas. Room 209, Level 2: Panel R263.
AWP IRL: Join Tumblr, Electric Literature, and Lapham’s Quarterly for the AWP IRL Happy Hour, and share FREE DRINKS with your literary internet friends and favorite Tumblr users in real life. At Sweetwater Tavern, 3 Boylston Place.
8 — Midnight
VIDA Prom: Show off your prom dress at the swankiest dance party & reading during AWP! FINAL LINE-UP OF READERS: Robert Pinsky, Cheryl Strayed, Pam Houston, Bob Shacochis, Roxane Gay, and Jennine Capo Crucet. $10 donation at the door. At Daisy Buchanan’s, 240A Newbury Street.
Publishers: Big vs. Indie. (Ethan Bassoff, Tim O’Connell, Tom Mayer, Kris D’Agostino) Today’s market provides more publishers than ever, and if you’re lucky, you might have the choice between a major publisher and an independent one. In this panel, editors from both corporate and independent publishers share their experiences alongside a literary agent and novelist, Kris D’Agostino, to provide a lively discussion on the pros and cons of going big or going indie, helping you understand their strengths and weaknesses, how to target your submissions, query agents, and get your book published. Room 306, Level 3: Panel F126.
Books in the Age of Reader-centric Publishing. (Buzz Poole, Lisa Pearson, Richard Nash, Matvei Yankelevich, Elizabeth Koch) The concept and production of the “book” has finally begun to keep apace with the multimedia capabilities of contemporary technology and culture at large. These panelists challenge the traditional models of books and publishing by embracing contemporary technological capabilities while also honoring traditions that remain central to the notion of a book, whether fiction, nonfiction, or illustrated. In doing so, they prioritize authors and readers. Room 201, Level 2: Panel F143.
Noon — 1:15 pm
How to Build a Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Publishing Project. (Meaghan O’Connell, Benjamin Samuel, Mat Honan, Joshua Mandelbaum, Laurie Ochoa) Kickstarter moderates a panel of editors from Electric Literature, Words Without Borders, Slake, Longshot, and Tomorrow Magazine for an instructional and informational session on developing a successful Kickstarter campaign for your periodical or publishing project. We’ll walk you through the process step by step and discuss how to best represent your brand, set a fundraising goal, shoot a video, create rewards, engage backers, and promote your campaign. Room 202, Level 2: Panel F173.
Not Just a Blog: How Publishers and Writers Can — and Should — Use Tumblr to Create and Promote. (Fernanda Diaz, Rachel Fershleiser, Michele Legro, Ryan Chapman, Miles Klee) This panel aims to demystify Tumblr for the first-time user and outline good Tumblr practices for more seasoned members. Panelists will talk about the rewards — and the challenges — of running a successful Tumblr that helps publishers and writers promote their work, interact with readers, and contribute to the growing literary community on the site. Room 312, Level 3: Panel F217.
Breaking Digital Ground: E-Books and Independent Literary Publishing. (Craig Morgan Teicher, Fiona McCrae, John Oakes, Amelia Robertson, Dennis Loy Johnson) E-books are here to stay; by now they have penetrated every segment of the book market. Some indie literary presses were on the e-book vanguard, while others waited for the big guys to test the waters before jumping in. By now, though, everyone is working on, or executing a digital publishing plan. In this panel, sponsored by Publishers Weekly, indie press editors will discuss and debate what has and hasn’t worked in terms of e-book strategy and how digital changes the indie publishing world. Room 210, Level 2: Panel F240.
Ready for Prime Time? The Future of Enhanced Digital Publishing. (Martin Lammon, Karina Borowicz, Julie Marie Wade, Benjamin Mitchell, Emily Chamison) Editors of the new digital literary journal Arts & Letters PRIME discuss the future of enhanced digital publishing, from start-up to design, from production to distribution. Designed for tablet readers such as the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, and Kindle Fire, enhanced digital books and journals are changing the way we read. Joining the editors are two PRIME contributors, author Julie Marie Wade and poet Karina Borowicz, who discuss how digital media has impacted their work and literary exposure. Room 312, Level 2: Panel F278.
Literature Party: Featuring: Sermon by SCOTT McCLANAHAN, responsive reading by MELISSA BRODER, special music by MIKE YOUNG, the evil deeds of Boston’s own THE GREAT BURIERS, SARAH JEAN ALEXANDER’s live booze art, MARK CUGINI bets his Twitter password on Cee-lo and ALL your hunting and fishing questions answered by JEFF SNOWBARGER, and nail painting (probably) by KENDRA GRANT MALONE. See CASSANDRA TROYAN for medical attention and slow sipping. Sponsored by HTMLGiant and Submittable and Publishing Genius. At Spontaneous Celebrations, 45 Danforth St, Jamaica Plain.
Digital Writing: Performances and Readings of Electronic Literature. (Eric LeMay, John Cayley, Dene Grigar, Nick Monfort, Stephanie Strickland) Performances and readings by John Cayley, Dene Grigar, Nick Montfort, and Stephanie Strickland will feature innovative writing that is digital in the sense of literature conceived and created for electronic media. Come and experience work that challenges and reinvents narrative form, literary composition, and poetic meaning. Afterward, there will be discussion of the present and future of e-lit: its range, its possibilities, and its promise for enlivening and enriching contemporary literature. Room 201, Level 2: Panel S114.
Finding Money, Time, and a Place to Create: Upbeat News in a Down Economy. (Mira Bartók , Dan Blask, Mary Sherman, Joshua Glenn, Jung H. Yun) Every writer — from emerging and mid-career to established — needs three basic things: money, time, and a place to work. In this lively, informative session, panelists discuss what kinds of grants, fellowships, and international residencies exist, how to find them, and practical tips on the application process. We also offer innovative ways to fund non-mainstream writing projects and interdisciplinary collaborations. Plenty of time allotted for questions afterwards. Room 203, Level 2: Panel F174.
Noon — 1:15 pm
Small Presses Win Big: Publishers Sound Off on Their National Book Award Winners and Finalists. (Martha Rhodes, Parneshia Jones, Fiona McCrae, Bruce McPherson, Emily Louise Smith) What does it mean to be published by a small or independent press today? As National Book Award judges select more winners and finalists from smaller presses, publishers representing recent winners and finalists will discuss the impact of the NBAs on both press and author. Join Four Way Books, Graywolf, Lookout Books, McPherson & Co., and TriQuarterly/Northwestern for a conversation that will look at changing face of the NBA as it honors more writers from a broader swath of publishing houses. Room 203, Level 2: Panel S167.
Numbers Trouble: Editors and Writers Speak to VIDA’s Count. (Jennine Capó Crucet, Don Bogen, Katha Pollitt, Stephen Corey, E.J. Graff) VIDA’s annual Count, well known for its documentation of gender bias in literary publishing, has produced hundreds of responses in media outlets around the world. It seems everyone wants a share in this conversation that now appears necessary and long overdue. This panel is the first organized discussion about VIDA’s numbers and what they may mean to women writers nationally. Established editors and writers will respond to this complex issue occupying the forefront of our literary landscape. Room 208, Level 2: Panel S198.
Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love and Money. (Elizabeth Benedict, Stephen McCauley, Stephen Elliott, Maud Newton, Steve Almond) Grace Paley’s advice to writers: Keep your overhead low. But when teaching doesn’t lead to tenure, how do literary writers cobble together a living and a life while writing work that matters? Panelists who have had unconventional careers largely outside the academy examine their decisions and discuss the role of money, literature, and serendipity in their creative pursuits: editing an online literary magazine, writing soft-core porn, and creating advice columns, TV shows, and yoga books under a pseudonym. Room 210, Level 2: Panel S228.
Because That’s the Way It’s Always Been Done: When Literary Journals Face Necessary Change. (Michael Nye, Anna Schachner, Cara Blue Adams, Lydia Ship, Andrew Ciotola) Literary journals must respond to changing readerships, budgetary constraints, evolving aesthetics, and limited staffing resources. The Chattahoochee Review, the Missouri Review, the Southern Review, and West Branch editors will address achieved results through editorial restructuring, website redesign, press partnerships, increased print and online content, social media outreach, and digital formatting. Room 207, Level 2: Panel S252.
Twilight of the Genres: PATRICK MICHAEL FINN (fiction)! ALLISON ADAIR (poetry)! JESSICA ROAKE (non-fiction)! ADRIAN VAN YOUNG (fiction)! Free wine and beer! 42 Dana Street, Apt. 2; Cambridge, MA 02138