a haven for books that matter

Our Story

Lookout is more than a name—it’s our publishing philosophy.

Founded in 2009 by publisher Emily Louise Smith and editor emeritus Ben George as the literary book imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Lookout seeks out emerging and historically underrepresented voices, as well as overlooked gems by established writers. In a publishing landscape increasingly indifferent to literary innovation, Lookout offers a haven for books that matter.

In concert with our award-winning sister magazine, Ecotone, we partner with authors over the long term through significant editorial relationships, attractive design of our paperback originals, quality production, and sophisticated national publicity. We’re particularly proud of our work discovering and nurturing authors in the promising early stages of their careers. We offer our authors 50-50 profit sharing, rather than the usual royalty structure, and reinvest profits in future titles.

Lookout’s boutique model allows for devoted focus on a single book a season, rotating between fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The magazine and imprint are the centerpieces of The Publishing Laboratory at The University of North Carolina Wilmington, and offer students engaged learning experiences in the art and craft of publishing.

“. . . One of the most auspicious publishing launches in history.”

Ron Charles

The Washington Post


Our Teaching Model

“One of the chief blessings of the process was Publishing Laboratory involvement. How many authors have a classroom of helpers—rows of sharp eyes and eager hands—to pitch in wherever needed? To serve as sub-title consultants, proofers, designers, and book tour guides? I had that.”

Ben Miller

Author of River Bend Chronicle


Our Teaching Model

“I want to inspire students to carry into the world beyond our hallways their appreciation for intelligent editing and imaginative design, an unflagging belief that books enlarge our sympathies.”

Emily Louise Smith

Founder and Publisher, from Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century


Our Teaching Model

“The department’s Publishing Lab affords it professional instruction in publishing that, probably, no programs in the U.S. have yet matched, partly because UNCW’s affiliated literary magazines and press are so excellent, and partly because the program integrates publishing so well into its curriculum. The department has developed a new hybrid program, a studio/research/publishing type.”

Association of Writers & Writing Programs

on UNCW's MFA program