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Publish It Forward

Writers and Industry Pioneers Leading Change

About the Lecture Series

With the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, GrubStreet presented “Publish it Forward,” a lecture series dedicated to bringing some of the most innovative and forward thinking writers, publishers and agents to Boston. Innovations in technology and communication have made the written word more portable, accessible, and popular than ever, creating an exciting but challenging time for writers. With this series, GrubStreet aimed to educate and inspire Boston-area writers to think creatively and optimistically about new opportunities and new models made possible by the digital age.

Past Lectures

Matthew Battles - December 4th, 2014

Deeds of Gift: On Giving and Receiving in Literary Life

Jane Friedman - May 3rd 2014

Jane Friedman shares research and stories about the history of authorship and the writer's relationship with money, going back to the days of Gutenberg (and beyond). Her keynote speech, delivered on May 3rd, 2014 at GrubStreet's Muse and Marketplace Conference, explores how writing and money have intersected over time, and how authors can survive—even thrive—as the business of publishing continues to transform.

Kate Pullinger - October 15th 2013

Kate Pullinger's Publish It Forward lecture enlightened us to the way digitization is transforming our industry: writing, reading, and publishing are all changing in fundamental ways--even storytelling itself is evolving. Away from mainstream publishing, new hybrid forms of literature and storytelling have been emerging over the past decade, and new business models as well. For writers who are interested in experimentation and collaboration, there are huge opportunities. Since 2001, Kate Pullinger has been working with digital technology to find new ways to tell stories; in her lecture, she spoke specifically of her experience of combining her work as writer of literary fiction with a series of ground-breaking digital collaborations.

Amanda Palmer - May 4th 2013

Amanda Palmer's keynote speech, delivered on May 4th, 2013 at Grub Street's Muse and Marketplace Conference, touches on what it means to be a writer -- or an artist of any kind -- in this new digital age where gatekeepers no longer control the means of distribution and it's just "your voice to the world." She poses the question: Without intermediaries, how can writers bridge the "noisy, crass" marketplace and their secluded, protected writing rooms or garrets which afford them the distance and silence to write their novels, poems and essays? In her first public appearance since the controversy surrounding her poem about the Boston bomber, Amanda makes an impassioned plea for empathy, and the role artists play in keeping it alive. This is the reason writers must share their work, even though it makes them vulnerable to attack or ridicule. Writers -- and all artists -- need to be brave enough to invite the world in. Otherwise, what will happen to empathy, understanding, and connection?

Susan Orlean - July 17th, 2012

More and more, it seems like writers are being told they should be using social media for self-promotion and marketing. But what exactly is the true power of social media and how do you effectively use it? With over 200,000 followers, Susan Orlean has earned her name as the Queen of Twitter. Confused by Twitter in the early days, once Susan began Tweeting regularly she began to see all that this new mode of communication can offer creative writers, including: a deep and interactive connection to readers, a writing discipline that strengthens narrative muscle and – of course – marketing might. In the lecture above, Susan speaks about the pros and cons of Twitter for new and emerging writers, and shares behind-the-scenes stories from her years as one of the country's most prominent and plugged-in non-fiction writers.

Richard Nash - May 5th, 2013

What does it mean to be a writer in a world where seemingly everyone is a writer? Richard Nash, serial entrepreneur, maverick, and student of books and media, answers this question in a lecture that took place at the Muse & The Marketplace 2012. He draws on legal, economic and intellectual history, on his experience running iconic indie Soft Skull Press, on his start-ups Small Demons, Red Lemonade and Cursor to offer writers a new framework for understanding the business of writing and the culture of reading. This talk, entitled "Don't Get Left Behind: New Opportunities for Writers," will leave you with a new perspective on the incredible range of opportunities now available to writers which will enable you to make the best possible choices in your own life and career.

Jason Allen Ashlock - March 13th, 2012

On Tuesday, March 13th, Jason Allen Ashlock, the brilliant and trailblazing principal of Movable Type Management, spoke to GrubStreet about the changing role of literary agents. Above is the lecture Jason gave entitled, “Agents For Today’s Author.” He’s an engaging speaker, and this lecture will fascinate any writers who are interested in the rapid changes taking place in publishing. Click here to watch part 2 of his talk.

Barry Eisler - November 10th, 2011

On Thursday, Nov. 10th, Barry Eisler spoke to GrubStreet about his controversial decision to self-publish and the future of the publishing industry in the first of GrubStreet's Publish It Forward lectures. Mr. Eisler recently shocked the publishing world when he turned down a half-million-dollar advance from a traditional publisher in order to self-publish his next two novels. Since then, he has been outspoken and optimistic about the unprecedented choices writers have in the new world of publishing: legacy, indie, and hybrid. A strong advocate of writers taking advantage of their new opportunities and determining their own fate, the first part of Mr. Eisler's fascinating talk is available above. Click here to watch parts 2 and 3 of his talk.