New Trends in Literary Publishing: A Panel at AWP

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I’d love to see you at AWP! Restless Books will be at this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, to be hosted at the Minneapolis Convention Center this week from Thursday through Saturday. I’ll be speaking with publishing luminaries Fiona McCrae of Graywolf Press, Jon Fine of Amazon, Deena Drewis of Nouvella, and Kevin Nguyen of Oyster, in a panel on “New Trends in Literary Publishing,” moderated by Jeffrey Lependorf of CLMP, the Council of Literary Magazines of Presses.

What: AWP Panel: New Trends in Literary Publishing

When: Thursday, April 9, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, Auditorium Room 2, Level 1


Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director of CLMP

Fiona McCrae, Publisher of Graywolf Press

Deena Drewis, Editor of Nouvella

Nathan Rostron, Director of Marketing at Restless Books

Jon Fine, Director, Author & Publisher Relations at Amazon

Kevin Nguyen, Editorial Director at Oyster

We’ll be talking about a host of issues facing literary publishing, including the changing landscape of digital publishing, new subscription models, longer/shorter formats, digital marketing, the rise self-publishing, and how traditional and new publishers are adapting to the changing climate.

More about the panelists:

Jeffrey Lependorf, CLMP’s Executive Director, has over twenty years of experience in development, fundraising, corporate sponsorship, and strategic planning. He serves as a “shared executive director” for Small Press Distribution ( His past work experience includes Development Director for the Creative Capital Foundation, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project, the Poetry Society of America, and In the Life Media. He is also a professional musician, active as a composer, a “certified master” of the shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute), and serves as Director of Music Omi, an international music residency program in upstate New York. His Masterpieces of Western Music audiocourse is available through Barnes and Noble’s “Portable Professor” series.

Fiona McCrae has been publisher of Graywolf Press since 1994, following eleven years at Faber and Faber, in London, where she was a director and executive editor. At Faber and Faber, she worked with such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro, Caryl Phillips, and Howard Norman. In 1982, she moved to Boston to work with Faber and Faber USA. While there, McCrae taught publishing courses at Harvard University and Emerson College. Authors that McCrae has published at Graywolf include Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Baxter, Per Petterson, Salvatore Scibona, Percival Everett, and Binyavanga Wainaina. She currently serves on the board of Books for Africa and is an advisor for Open Letter Press.

Deena Drewis is the founder and editor of Nouvella, an independent press dedicated to novellas. She started Nouvella in 2011, and in the three years since, they’ve picked up a National Jewish Book Award and an Amazon Best Book of December pick, and helped launch the careers of New York Times bestsellers like Edan Lepucki and Emma Straub.

Nathan Rostron is the Director of Marketing at Restless Books, a new independent publisher of international literature, based in Brooklyn. We’re devoted to expanding the horizons of English-language readers with great books and important stories from around the world. Nathan oversees Marketing, Publicity, Sales, and Distribution for Restless. Previously, as an online editor, he helped to launch Bookish, an innovative book discovery website for readers. Prior to that, as a book editor at Little, Brown and Company, he edited several award winners and New York Times bestsellers.

Jon P. Fine is director of Author and Publisher Relations for, coordinating outreach to the author and publishing communities, including the company’s grant program which supports a diverse range of not-for-profit author and publisher groups dedicated to fostering the creation, discussion and publication of new writing and new voices ( He joined the company as Associate General Counsel for media and copyright in January 2006, and subsequently led business development for Brilliance Audio following its acquisition in 2007. Prior to joining, he served as VP and Associate General Counsel for Random House, Inc., where he directed legal affairs for the Alfred A. Knopf division as well as for Random House of Canada. He previously served as Senior Media Counsel at NBC, handling content and associated issues for NBC News, Saturday Night Live, MSNBC, CNBC and other divisions; as counsel at King World Productions for Inside Edition and other “reality-based” programming; and as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, where he focused on copyright, libel, internet and other media-related matters.

Kevin Nguyen is the editorial director at Oyster and edits The Oyster Review. He writes regularly for Grantland and has been published online in The New RepublicThe Paris ReviewThe Millions, and elsewhere.

The Jackal in the Hermès Suit

Andrew Wylie, the literary agent known as “The Jackal,” sat down recently for one of his always delightful interviews with the New Republic’s Laura Bennett.

Literary agent Andrew Wylie and his alter ego

Literary agent Andrew Wylie and his alter ego

Among the many zingers (“If one of my children were kidnapped and they were threatening to throw a child off a bridge and I believed them, I might.” –on what it would take for him to sell a book to Amazon Publishing),  there was some tough love for the book industry that felt to me like a breath of, if not fresh-smelling, at least refreshingly honest air:

The biggest single problem since 1980 has been that the publishing industry has been led by the nose by the retail sector. The industry analyzes its strategies as though it were Procter and Gamble. It’s Hermès. It’s selling to a bunch of effete, educated snobs who read. Not very many people read. Most of them drag their knuckles around and quarrel and make money. We’re selling books. It’s a tiny little business. It doesn’t have to be Walmartized.

It’s not a travesty that not a lot of people read books–it’s just true, and it’s always been true.  So why not leave the “Fifty Shades of Grey”s of the world to the people going after those elusive profits, and serve your small audience the very best?

Rage on, Jackal.