a haven for books that matter

Introducing Lookout Labs

It’s been a rewarding first decade at Lookout Books, and in celebration of our anniversary, we’ve opened up our drawer of knowledge to you. Putting the finishing touches on your first manuscript and want to know what comes next? Thinking about a career in publishing but aren’t sure where to start? We were newbies once too. In keeping with our mission as a teaching press, we introduce Lookout Labs, a series of virtual conversations between authors and publishing professionals, designed to demystify the process and prepare you for your own first publication, as well as to support the next generation in learning the art and craft of publishing. Each episode runs about an hour and fifteen minutes.



Episode 1: From Agency to On Sale

Since its founding in 2009, Lookout has published numerous debut books that went on to win or be nominated for major awards, including the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award, the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Nonfiction Discovery Prize, the Independent Publisher Book Award, the Foreword INDIE Book of the Year Award, and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. We’re particularly proud of our work discovering and nurturing authors in the promising early stages of their careers.

For our first Lookout Lab, we asked two authors who entrusted their debut books to Lookout— Clare Beams (We Show What We Have Learned: Stories) and Cameron Dezen Hammon (This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession)—to join co-founder and publisher Emily Louise Smith and editor KaToya Ellis Fleming for an in-depth conversation about their experiences. This episode demystifies the publishing process for emerging writers and covers how each author found her literary agent, the ins and outs of contract negotiation, the editorial process, the author questionnaire, book covers, publicity and reading tours, as well as lessons learned along the way. It’s also an excellent guide to working with Lookout Books.



Episode 2: From Small Press to Big Career

Teaching the art and craft of publishing has always been at the heart of Lookout’s mission. Throughout our first decade, we’ve worked with the Publishing Laboratory at UNCW to initiate a new generation of editors, designers, publicists, and nonprofit leaders. Join us as we talk with alumni, including Kate McMullen at Hub City Press, Sumanth Prabhaker of Orion Magazine, and Kinzy Janssen of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts as they discuss how they prepared for success in the literary world. Moderated by Lookout publishing assistant Lindsay Lake, this episode covers breaking into and navigating the book and magazine industry, working through an evolving publishing climate during the Covid-19 pandemic, and starting your own publishing ventures.


The University of North Carolina Wilmington is committed to providing assistance to enable qualified students and participants to derive the full benefit of this series and accomplish their educational goals. Accommodations for disabilities may be requested by emailing lookout@uncw.edu.


This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.