Thursday, February 16, 2017

Amazon Announces Literary Prize for Self-Publishers in UK

Amazon Announces New English Language Literary Prize - The Kindle UK Storyteller Award

Press Release

Winning author will receive £20,000 cash prize and be recognised at central London award ceremony this summer

Amazon UK has announced The Kindle Storyteller Award, a new literary prize recognising newly published work in the English language across any genre. The prize is open to all authors who publish their book through Kindle Direct Publishing on between 20th February and 19th May 2017.

Readers will play a significant role in the competition with the award shortlist compiled based on a number of factors that measure customer interest in the titles, followed by an esteemed panel of judges - made up of both Amazon experts and literary authorities - selecting the Kindle Storyteller 2017 winner. The prize will be announced at a central London ceremony in July, with the winning author being rewarded with a cash prize of £20,000 and a marketing campaign to support the book on, as well as the opportunity to have their book translated for international sales.

“Great books deserve to be celebrated and that’s what we want to do with the Kindle Storyteller competition,” said Alessio Santarelli, EU Kindle Content Director, Amazon. “We hope to encourage aspiring authors and those who have already been published, to get writing and make their new stories available to readers across the world. Publishing a book has never been easier, and the Kindle Storyteller Award will reward the author whose story resonates most with both readers and literary experts."

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a fast, free and easy way for authors to keep control and publish their books in print and digital to a global audience, and receive up to 70 per cent royalties on their work. On any given day, up to 25 per cent of the Top 100 books on the UK Kindle store are published through KDP.

Best-selling author Rachel Abbott, who has sold more books in the UK through KDP than any author said: “I expect the calibre of work for the first ever Kindle Storyteller Award in the English language to be impressive, whether it’s from an established author or an aspiring writer who is encouraged by this prize to publish their first book. Kindle helped me achieve my dream writing career and I believe so many people have a bestselling novel in them just waiting to be written."

Claire Allfree, the Metro’s Literary Editor added; “What is genuinely exciting about this literary prize is the fact that the winning title could be anything from a biography, to a psychological thriller, to an historical fiction novel. What matters is the quality of the writing and its ability to connect with thousands of readers around the world. I look forward to reading the shortlist.”

The Kindle Storyteller prize is open to submissions of new English Language books from all authors and genres, and entries must be submitted using Kindle Direct Publishing. Titles must be previously unpublished and a minimum of 5,000 words with no upper word limit. All books entered into the Prize will be available on Kindle and Fire devices as well as the Kindle reading app for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets. Print copies will also available to buy on the store.

Kindle Storyteller opens for entries on 20th of February and titles must be entered into the KDP Select programme for the entry period in order to be considered. For more information, authors can visit

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

15 Nonfiction Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscript Proposals

In some respects, the road to publishing nonfiction books is easier to travel than fiction. If you are an expert in a field or have sufficient experience in an area (which can be anything from stamp collecting to raising chickens), many publishers will be willing to take on your book without requiring an agent.

Nonfiction submissions bear little similarity to fiction submissions. Fiction editors focus on plot, writing, and mass market appeal, which means they will want to see sample chapters and a synopsis. Nonfiction editors require a full proposal, which means you will have to submit detailed chapter descriptions, explain how your book will fit into the market, and establish your expertise. Even if your book is finished, a proposal is a requirement. (The sole exception is memoir, which is similar to fiction.)

Make sure to read the submission requirements of these publishers very carefully, and adhere to them. Don't give the publisher an excuse to throw out your proposal!

Note: For a list of hundreds of publishers accepting unagented books (by genre) see: Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts


Adams Media publishes a broad range of nonfiction topics including, business and careers, parenting, pets, personal finance, self-help, travel, weddings, writing. In 2003 Adams Media was purchased by F+W, A Content + eCommerce Company one of the largest special interest publishers in the world. Read their submission guidelines here.

Allworth Press publishes business and self-help information for the general public and creative professionals. Read their submission guidelines hereSeekingGraphic Design, Business, Performing Arts, Interior Design, Art, Theater, Web Design, Book Arts, Photography, Crafts.

Andrews McMeel Publishing is the country's premier calendar publisher. Its core publication categories include: comics and humor, puzzles and games, inspiration and gift, and comics for middle grade children. Interestingly, they also publish poetry.

Barricade Books publishes quality non-fiction manuscripts--preferably that lean toward the controversial. Send an outline, one or two chapters, and a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Carole Stuart, Barricade Books, 2037 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee, NJ 07024. No email submissions.

Ben Bella publishes niche market books, works by celebrities and experts in their fields, pop culture books, and anything that is associated with a brand. Prospective authors should send a pitch.

Career Press, Inc. publishes quality, nonfiction books for adult readers seeking practical information to improve themselves in careers, college, finance, parenting, retirement, spirituality, and other related topics. Read submission policySeekingBusiness, Career, Job Search, HR & Work Place Issues, College Preparation, Small Business/Entrepreneurship, Motivation/Self-Help, Management, Marketing/Sales, Negotiation, Study Aids, and more.

Free Spirit Publishing. "Our mission is to provide children and teens with the tools they need to overcome challenges and make a difference in the world. We publish high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children and teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people."

Gryphon House, Inc. publishes books that help teachers and parents enrich the lives of children from birth through age eight. They do not accept children's booksSeekingEducational resource books for parents and teachers aimed at young children. Read submission policy.

Hohm Press is committed to publishing books that provide readers with alternatives to the materialistic values of the current culture and promote self-awareness, the recognition of interdependence and compassion. Their subject areas include religious studies, natural health, parenting, women’s issues, the arts and poetry. Read submission guidelines here.

Menasha Ridge Press and its sister company, Wilderness Press, publish primarily books on adventure, nature, and wilderness sports activities (excluding hunting and fishing). Read submission policy. 

OneWorld Publications was founded in 1986 by husband and wife team Juliet Mabey and Novin Doostdar as an independent publishing house focusing on stimulating non-fiction. Located in the UK. Read guidelines here.

Osprey is a UK publisher specializing in military history. Read submission guidelines here. (Scroll down to "Proposals.")

Skyhorse publishes a broad range of nonfiction titles. They only accept submissions that fall into their categories, so make sure you consult their list before submitting. See submission requirements here.

The New Press is a non-profit independent publisher focusing on contemporary social issues, with an emphasis on race relations, women's issues, immigration, human rights, labor and popular economics, and the media; education reform and alternative teaching materials; cultural criticisms; art and art education; international literature; and law and legal studies. The Press has also taken a leading role in publishing a wide range of new work in African American, Asian American, Latino, gay and lesbian, and Native American studies, as well as work by and about other minority groups. They are very selective.

Ulysses Press is a small house focusing on niche markets. Genres they publish include Cleanse, Arts and Crafts, Coloring, Gifty Grabs, Fashion and Beauty, Healthy Eating, Krav Maga, Mmm Bites, Pop Culture, Prepping (for the apocalypse), Fitness, Special Diets, Trivia, Working Out, Rehab and Injury Prevention.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

75 Agents Seeking Muslim Writers

In response to Trump's Muslim ban, as well as the climate of fear that he and his administration have created for Muslims (aka Islamophobia), many agents are calling specifically for Muslim writers. 
Writers occupy a hallowed place in history. For one thing, we write history. We can document our experiences and worldview eloquently, and with passion. These agents (and there are more by the day) want to represent writers who can shed light on the Muslim experience - whether in fiction or nonfiction.

Note: For a comprehensive list of agents looking for writers see: Agents Seeking Clients
Like so many of you, we are gravely alarmed by the present administration’s recent broad ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim countries. Our hearts ache for the innocent people affected. We also fear the message sent by these bans to people within our country and to those outside of our borders. But we are also heartened by the immediate and widespread opposition these bans have met. And we’d like to do our part!
Literary agents are in a unique position to help contribute to bringing more empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance into this world through books. We seek out unheard voices so that others can hear them.
We are a group of literary agents having an open call for book submissions by Muslim writers. We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace. We are taking action to help make that happen.
Here are instructions for submitting writers of Muslim heritage: (Please note that we cannot respond to queries under the Open Call that do not fit our Muslim heritage criteria)
    • For your manuscript to be considered, please include “Open Call” in the subject line of your email.
    • Please abide by the individual submission guidelines laid out on our agency websites. For example, many agents do not accept attachments.
    • Only submit to an agent if your work is one of the genres they represent. A children’s book agent can’t do anything with an adult memoir submission, etc.
Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary Agency is open to middle grade, young adult, and select adult fiction (namely women’s fiction and fantasy).
Lauren Abramo of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret is looking for adult fiction (romance, women’s fiction, thrillers, general, and literary), adult nonfiction (of all kinds, especially social justice oriented), YA fiction (contemporary, romance, thrillers), and middle grade fiction (contemporary, fantasy, adventure).
Jessica Alvarez at BookEnds Literary is looking for commercial fiction, particularly women’s fiction, romance, suspense and thrillers.
Jennifer Azantian of Azantian Literary Agency is seeking middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency is seeking middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Laura Biagi of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency is open to picture books, middle grade, young adult and adult fiction and nonfiction.
Michele Brower at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth is open to adult literary fiction.
Penelope Burns of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners is open to middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Linda Camacho of Prospect Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction and adult fiction.
Beth Campbell at BookEnds Literary is looking for young adult, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, and romantic suspense.
Kirsten Carleton of Prospect Agency is open to speculative, literary, thriller adult and young adult novels.
Andrea Cascardi of the Transatlantic Agency is open to picture books, middle grade and young adult, fiction and nonfiction across those genres.
Minju Chang of Book Stop Literary Agency is seeking picture books, chapter books and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as illustrators.
Steven Chudney of The Chudney Agency is open to middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Ann Collette of Rees Literary Agency is seeking adult mystery/thriller, historical and commercial women’s fiction, as well as memoir and narrative nonfiction.
Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency is looking for chapter books, middle grade and young adult fiction.
Ilse Craane of Book Stop Literary Agency is seeking picture books, chapter books and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as illustrators.
Jessica Craig of The Craig Agency is open to literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, narrative nonfiction and memoir, and middle grade and young adult fiction.
Laura Crockett of TriadaUS Literary Agency is seeking young adult (contemporary, fantasy) and adult (women’s fiction, contemporary, fantasy) fiction.
John Cusick of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management is looking for picture books, middle grade and young adult novels.
Stephanie Delman of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc. is open to adult literary, historical and speculative fiction, and select narrative non-fiction.
David Dunton of the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction.
Melissa Edwards of Stonesong is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, commercial women’s fiction, mysteries and thrillers.
Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media is open to middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Linda Epstein of Emerald City Literary Agency is looking for picture books, middle grade, and young adult, both fiction and nonfiction.
Jessica Faust at BookEnds Literary is looking for adult fiction and nonfiction.
Moe Ferrara at BookEnds Literary is looking for middle grade, young adult, and adult genre fiction.
Caitie Flum of Liza Dawson Associates is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, women’s fiction, romance and historical fiction.
Lilly Ghahremani of Full Circle Literary is open to adult nonfiction.
Adria Goetz of Martin Literary Management is open to picture books and adult lifestyle books.
Jenny Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary is open to adult science fiction, fantasy and historical nonfiction.
Tara Gonzalez of Erin Murphy Literary Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction.
Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management is open to picture books, chapter books, middle grade and young adult, fiction and nonfiction across those genres.
Wendi Gu of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc is seeking picture books, middle-grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as select adult literary fiction about the first-generation American experience.
Erin Harris of Folio is seeking literary adult fiction and young adult fiction.
Alyssa Jennette of Stonesong is seeking picture books, middle grade, young adult and upmarket adult.
Jennifer Johnson-Blalock of Liza Dawson Associates is seeking commercial and upmarket fiction, especially thrillers/mystery/suspense, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as all nonfiction.
Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis is open to picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Molly Ker Hawn at the Bent Agency is looking for young adult and middle grade fiction.
Pete Knapp of Park Literary & Media is looking for middle grade and young adult across all genres.
Abigail Koons at Park Literary & Media is looking for narrative non-fiction (current events, history, women’s issues and popular science) and commercial fiction (suspense, thrillers, contemporary and anything with an international focus).
Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and adult contemporary and speculative fiction.
Daniel Lazar of Writers House is seeking middle grade, young adult and adult fiction, especially books with a great sense of history and maybe even a touch of magic.
Becky LeJeune of Bond Literary agency is open to adult and young adult horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy and gen fic.
Tricia Lawrence of Erin Murphy Literary Agency is open to picture books, middle grade and young adult, fiction and nonfiction across those genres.
Kim Lionetti at BookEnds Literary is looking for adult and young adult fiction.
Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency is open to young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction as well as adult narrative nonfiction.
Tracy Marchini at BookEnds Literary is looking for picture book, middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction. She is also open to picture book illustrators.
Kendra Marcus of Book Stop Literary Agency is seeking picture books, chapter books and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as illustrators.
Taylor Martindale Kean of Full Circle Literary is open to middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret is open to middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Lydia Mo√ęd of The Rights Factory is seeking middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and narrative nonfiction.
Penny Moore of Empire Literary is seeking picture book, middle grade and young adult fiction.
Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency is open to middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret is seeking adult and young adult submissions, with a special interest in narrative nonfiction, book club fiction, and young adult suspense.
Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content is open to nonfiction and memoir geared for children, from picture books to YA.
Maggie Riggs of The Riggs Agency is open to adult literary fiction.

Lisa Rodgers
 of Jabberwocky Literary Agency is looking for adult romance, science fiction, and fantasy, and for YA/middle grade science fiction, fantasy, and contemporaries.
Rena Rossner of The Deborah Harris Agency is seeking picture books, middle grade, young adult and adult fantasy, sci fi, thrillers, historical fiction and literary fiction.
Eddie Schneider of Jabberwocky Literary Agency is open to middle grade and YA fiction and middle grade and YA graphic novels.
Brooks Sherman of the Bent Agency is open to picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction and adult contemporary and speculative fiction.
Jessica Sinsheimer at Sarah Jane Freymann is looking for picture book, middle grade, young adult fiction, women’s/romance, thriller/mysteries and literary fiction.

Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency is looking for young adult fiction as well as adult sci-fi and fantasy.
Kelly Sonnack at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency is looking for children’s fiction and nonfiction for all age groups (this includes picture books, readers, middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, poetry).
Lauren Spieller of Triada Literary Agency is look for picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction.
Becca Stumpf of Prospect Agency is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction.
Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction, adult literary fiction, women’s fiction, romance, suspense/thriller, memoir and humor nonfiction.
Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary is open to all adult fiction.
Meg Thompson of Thompson literary is open to adult nonfiction.
Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency is seeking reality-based, girl-centric young adult and women’s issues/feminist nonfiction.
Cindy Uh of Thompson Literary is open to picture books, young adult and adult, fiction and nonfiction across those genres.
Jennifer Unter of The Unter Agency is seeking picture book, middle grade, young adult and adult fiction.
Emily van Beek of Folio Jr. / Folio Literary Management is open to picture books, chapter books, middle-grade, and young adult novels.
Roseanne Wells of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is open to picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as adult sci-fi, fantasy, upmarket mysteries, and literary fiction.
See more agents here

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

6 Established Literary Agents Actively Looking for Clients

Here are six established agents actively seeking new clients. Each is from an established agency with a solid track record. Be sure to check out the agency's website before submitting!

For a full list of agents actively looking for writers go to: Agents Seeking Clients


Melissa L. Edwards of Stonesong

Melissa Edwards joined Stonesong as a literary agent in August 2016. Previously, she was a literary agent at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency, where she managed the foreign rights for a 40-year backlist. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis and Vanderbilt Law School, Melissa began her career as a litigation attorney before transitioning into publishing. She is a tireless advocate for her clients and a constant partner during the publication process and beyond.

What she is looking for: Melissa represents authors of children’s fiction, adult commercial fiction, and select pop-culture nonfiction. She is looking for warm and timeless middle grade fiction and accessible young adult fiction. For adults, she is looking for fast-paced thrillers and smart women’s fiction. She can be found on Twitter @MelissaLaurenE, where she often tweets her active Manuscript Wishlist requests under #MSWL.

How to submit: Submit your query addressed to Melissa at Include the first chapter or first 10 pages of your work, pasted into the body of your email. Please do not send attachments.


Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties

Sara is a senior agent at Pippin Properties. She began her career at The Wylie Agency, and worked in foreign rights for 8 years. For the last decade she has been at Harvey Klinger, Inc. building a list of children’s and adult fiction including many New York Times Bestselling and award winning authors and titles. She loves finding new talent to champion, and nurturing and developing careers.

What she is looking for:  Children's and select adult fiction.

How to submit: Send your query and the first chapter of your book in the body of an email to


Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary

Margaret Bail has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing. With years of experience editing manuscripts, as well as teaching university-level English and writing, she looks forward to working closely with new and established authors to help develop their voice and craft. Formerly agent at Inklings Literary Agency, she recently joined Fuse Literary as agent.

What she is looking for: Margaret is interested in adult fiction in the genres of romance (no Christian or inspirational, please), science fiction (soft sci-fi rather than hard), mystery, thrillers, action adventure, historical fiction (not a fan of WWII era), and fantasy. In nonfiction, Margaret is interested in memoirs with a unique hook, and cookbooks with a strong platform.

Fiction genres Margaret is NOT interested in: YA, MG, children’s books; steampunk, Christian/religious literature, chick lit, women’s fiction, literary, poetry, screenplays.

How to submit: To query Margaret, send a query letter, a brief synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your manuscript to:


Cathryn Summerhayes of Curtis Brown

Cathryn re-joined Curtis Brown in September 2016 having started her literary agency career there as an intern in 2004. She established an eclectic list of clients at WME, where she worked for ten years. Prior to that she work at DGA, DHA and Colman Getty PR – where she worked on a number of high profile book events including the Man Booker Prize and Samuel Johnson Prize.

What she is looking for: Literary and commercial fiction.

How to submit: Use the form on the website. In order to submit your work, you will need the following: COVER LETTER, SYNOPSIS OF UP TO 3,000 WORDS, SAMPLE MATERIAL OF UP TO 10,000 WORDS. "Once you have submitted your novel you should then hear from us within ten to twelve weeks. If you don’’t hear from us after this time, please get back in touch and let us know something is amiss."

Peter Knapp of Park Literary & Media

Fueled by the thrill of reading a new story for the first time, Peter works creatively with clients and the PLM team on marketing, branding initiatives and promotions to get great books into the hands of readers. Before joining PLM, he was a story editor at a book-scouting agency working with film clients, and he continues to look for new ways to partner with Hollywood on adaptations and multimedia properties. Find him re-watching Studio Ghibli movies, playing board games with friends, or at PLM and on Publishers Marketplace to learn how to submit a new fiction query—he’s ready to add more authors to his growing client list!

What he is looking for: Middle grade, YA (realistic and fantasy), YA horror and adult fiction.

How to submit: To submit a manuscript for consideration, send a query letter and the first three chapters of your manuscript pasted within the body of the email to queries [at] parkliterary [dot] com. Please include "Query - Pete Knapp" or "Query - Peter Knapp" in the subject (this is important so that our mail system files it into my submissions folder) AS WELL AS THE CATEGORY AND GENRE OF YOUR WORK (i.e.: "YA FANTASY"). All material must be in the body of the email. NO ATTACHMENTS. Include all necessary contact information.You will receive an auto-response confirming receipt of your query.

"Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions I receive, I am unable to give specific feedback on projects I am passing on, but you will receive a form reply to your query if I am passing. Please give 10 weeks before following up on your query. If I have requested your manuscript, please do not contact me for updates any time before 12 weeks from when you sent the full manuscript unless you have received an offer of representation and need a more immediate reply."

JL Stermer of  New Leaf Literary & Media

Before joining New Leaf, JL Stermer was an agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. She is always looking for fresh and exciting projects, J.L. brings her enthusiasm to clients while helping them navigate the world of book publishing–she takes pride in being involved with her clients every step of the way. J.L. also teaches a class at the Gotham Writers Workshop: How to Get Published. Born and raised in New York City, and a graduate of Columbia University, she currently resides in Manhattan.

What she is looking for: YA and women’s fiction. She seeks voices that reflect the world as it changes, stories that share the human experience of life, love, growth and achievement. And they don’t have to be serious–having fun is very important to me!

How to submit: Send query to Please do not query via phone. The word “Query” must be in the subject line, plus the agent’s name, ie – Query, JL Stermer. Please also include the category (ie, PB, chapter book, MG, YA, adult fiction, adult nonfiction, etc.) You may include up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email.

Friday, February 3, 2017

PEN America Warns Writers, “Prepare yourself”

PEN America is a non-profit organization devoted to protecting the right of free speech. Based in New York City, it was founded in 1922 and has over 3,000 members. (I am one.) The organization defends journalists and writers worldwide against harassment, legal actions (such as imprisonment and lawsuits), and attempts at censorship. PEN also awards prizes totaling over $150,000 to writers of fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction.
In light of Trump's many threats to journalists, as well as his administration's clear intent to silence them, PEN has issued the following statement. I suggest you take it seriously.

“Prepare yourself.”

– Writer and PEN America Trustee Masha Gessen

"Autocracy: Rules for Survival,” The New York Review of Books, November 10, 2016
With an incoming U.S. presidential administration that has threatened to silence voices it cannot control—from demonization of the press, to divisive rhetoric against minorities, to threats to arrest or imprison political opponents—many in the PEN America community are looking for ways to respond. We have launched this Defending Free Expression: A Toolkit for Writers and Readers to help authors, journalists, artists, and others who exercise creative expression mount a defense of their craft and core freedoms.
We start by identifying the warning signs of a developing autocracy that is taking steps to curtail the rights of citizens. Then, we suggest specific actions writers and readers can take to protect our First Amendment rights. And finally, we share the advice of others with experience in countering anti-democratic forces hostile to free expression.
This toolkit is part of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign to stand as a bulwark defending free expression, free assembly, the diversity of voices, and the force of reason. It is a work in progress and we will update it regularly; we welcome your contributions at


What are the telltale signs of an emerging autocracy? Be on the lookout for a leader who:
  • Condemns the press and limits its access
  • Controls information by replacing a free press with media outlets he controls in order to corrupt public debate with one-sided coverage and disinformation
  • Limits the freedom to gather peacefully
  • Limits the freedom to criticize government and other public figures and discourages a diversity of views through intimidation or legislation
  • Allows or promotes the use of government surveillance of citizens, including journalists
  • Keeps political power and money in the family
  • Fails to take responsibility for the consequences of his policies and decisions
  • Limits transparency of government deliberations, decisions, and spending, making it more difficult for citizens to assess government actions and participate in civic life
  • Builds fear of a common enemy and uses a state of emergency to justify exercising heightened power and tightening control over the citizenry
  • Instructs the public not to worry
  • Rebuffs the Constitution and/or the rule of law
  • Limits participation in the political process
  • Persecutes or ostracizes ethnic and religious minorities
  • Punishes, eliminates, or marginalizes his enemies
  • Surrounds himself with government appointees who share his views on limiting free expression rights and other core freedoms


The ability to speak truth to power is a primary underpinning of a healthy democracy. It is also a core obligation for writers, journalists, and others who are committed to protecting free expression. Here's what you can do:
1. Ask your Representatives to protect your First Amendment rights and protections in all government policies and appointees.
Former Congressional staff members have put together Indivisible: A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda, a comprehensive handbook for making members of Congress listen. Another set of tips has been collected on how to effectively talk to your representative. 

2. Support hard-hitting, investigative, and long-form journalism (and read it, too!).
Trump surrogates such as Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee have argued that “journalism is dead” in the United States. While this is certainly not true, the demonization of the media in 2016 and the rise of a “post-truth politics” mean that probing journalists and day-to-day reporting are under increasing threat. Subscribe or donate to the news outlets that you believe are doing important reporting. Include your local newspaper—support its vital coverage of your community.
3. Educate yourself about your First Amendment rights and protections.
It is difficult to defend one’s rights without knowing what they are. There is no better way to understanding the First Amendment than to read it yourself. Education doesn’t stop there. Find an online course on free expression, such as Columbia University’s Freedom of Expression in the Age of Globalization, or UCLA/Berkeley’s Freedom of Speech and the Press.

4. Launch a petition.
The Constitution guarantees your right to petition your government. Exercise it. Petition sites such as Change.orgWe the PeopleAVAAZ, and Care2 allow you to launch a petition for free. You can also add your name to the pledge to protect the First Amendment led by PEN America with other progressive organizations and signed by many thousands of supporters, including all the U.S. Poet Laureates.  

5. Mount or join a resistance event.
Writers Resist is a nationwide movement that seeks to tap creative energies to temper growing public cynicism and a cavalier attitude towards truth. On January 15, 2017, Writers Resist events will be held across the country, with the flagship event—sponsored by PEN America—occurring in New York City. Join us on the steps of the New York Public Library or click here to find a Writers Resist event in your city.

6. Protect yourself against government surveillance or hacking. 
Online privacy is an evolving challenge, and the debate about government monitoring vs. privacy rights remains unsettled – and vulnerable to calls for sacrificing a degree of privacy for greater national security. Know how to protect your data and your privacy rights:
Secure messaging:
Review Amnesty International’s rankings of the 11 most popular messaging apps and how secure each is from third-party hacking or surveillance.
E-mail encryption services:
A variety of free apps and add-ons provide encrypted e-mail services, including: ProtonMailTutanotaInfoEncryptVirtruMailvelopeEnigmailGpg4win, and Mymail-Crypt for Gmail.
Private internet browsing:
Tor Browser is an internet router for private browsing, keeping your location and the sites you visit private from anyone attempting to view your search history or collect your data.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has developed a Surveillance Self-Defense Kit, with further tips on how to guard your privacy.
7. Exercise your right to free speech by using the power of words to counter disinformation, hate speech, and moves against the First Amendment.
Letters to the editors and opinion pieces have long been a tool for citizen activists. Newspapers and online media outlets serving your community will have information on how to submit. There are many other creative ways to commit to sounding the alarm against hate speech and disinformation, from skits to leafleting to skywriting. Google “creative ways to protest’’ to get ideas. You can also learn more about how to speak out against bigotry and counter hate speech online, and particularly on Twitter.
8. Learn how to identify “fake news” and disinformation, and help others to do so, too.
Read up on best practices in news literacy, including ways to spot false stories and how help to stop spreading this disinformation further. Use and support fact checking initiatives.

9. Seek out and share works that consider the growth of authoritarian regimes and how to defend free expression and press freedoms.
Whether you set out on a personal exploration or form a book club to widen the discussion, there are many titles to choose among. PEN America staff point to books such as Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (on our 2017 Literary Awards longlist) or the more classic There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech (winner of the 1994 PEN Literary Award for the Art of the Essay).


Alas, there is experience to be shared by those who have fought for freedom expression under autocratic regimes and observed how they function. Here are places to start reading:
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