A useful organization for people who hope to become professional writers — especially if you think you want to be a literary writer — is Poets & Writers, Inc.. Now the largest organization for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, the nonprofit Poets & Writers has been around since 1970 and publishes Poets & Writers Magazine, a useful resource available at libraries, by subscription, and online.
Although P&W’s overall tack is somewhat elitist — it caters to the MFA set, and genre writers seem to rank pretty low on its totem pole (possibly in the grass?) — the organization provides leads to a wide variety of resources for anyone who’s serious about building a career as a writer. And it has begun to take print-on-demand and e-book self-publishing into the fold, as reflected in the magazine’s department, “The Savvy Self-Publisher.”
The website’s “Tools for Writers” page is a good place to start. It’s one of the few places to find a list of legitimate agents who are actively looking for new writers.
Here you also can find a jobs list (mostly academic and publishing ), a treasure trove of writing contests, grants, and awards, a valuable informational page called “Top Topics,” and databases of MFA programs , of small presses, of conferences and residencies, of literary magazines, and of “literary places.” They even include a passel of writing prompts!
These are only a few of P&W’s blandishments. All in all, it’s one of the richest troves of resources for poets and prose writers that you’ll ever find.