Reed's published works include his ten novels. Among his other books are six collections of poetry, including New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007; ten collections of essays, most recently Going Too Far: Essays About America's Nervous Breakdown (2012); one farce, Cab Calloway Stands In for the Moon or The Hexorcism of Noxon D Awful (1970); one libretto, Gethsemane Park; a sampler collection, The Reed Reader (2000); two travelogues, of which the most recent is Blues City: A Walk in Oakland (2003); and six plays, collected by Dalkey Archive Press as Ishmael Reed, The Plays (2009).
He has also edited 13 anthologies, the most recent of which is POW WOW, Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience—Short Fiction from Then to Now (2009), a collection of the work of 63 writers, co-edited with Carla Blank. Spanning more than 200 years of American writing, Reed in his "Foreword" calls it "a gathering of voices from the different American tribes." POW WOW is the fiction companion anthology to From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900–2002 (2003), in which Reed endorses an open definition of American poetry as an amalgamation, which should include work found in the traditional canon of European-influenced American poetry as well as work by immigrants, hip hop artists, and Native Americans. The 2013 Signet Classic edition of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn features a new Afterword by Ishmael Reed.
Since the early 1970s, Reed has championed the work of other contemporary writers, founding and serving as editor and publisher of various small presses and journals. His current publishing imprint is Ishmael Reed Publishing Company, and his online literary magazine, Konch, features poetry, essays and fiction. Reed is one of the producers of The Domestic Crusaders, a two-act play about Muslim Pakistani Americans written by his former student, Wajahat Ali. Its first act was performed at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Hall in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2010, and remains archived on their website.