The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Publishing Opportunities for Fiction and Nonfiction Writers with Beth Staples

Date(s): October 17 - November 21, 2020
Online Class
Genre and Form(s): Agents, Business of Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Editing, Fiction, Publishing


About the Class

The goal of this course is to give you a basic understanding of the publishing industry: how it is structured, how to navigate it, and how to make the best choices for your writing life and the life of your books. You are a writer, an artist—the most important thing you can do is focus on your work. But when the time comes to bring your writing to an audience, a host of other skills and knowledge come into play. While it’s true that the publishing world exists to support and promote art, it is also a business; agents, editors, and publishers must be mindful of the market and of money. Understanding these concerns and the decisions related to them, and positioning yourself and your book for the appropriate publisher and market, will make your navigation of the process more successful, and more pleasant. This class will give you the basics, and ask you to do the work of thinking about your book from the perspective of an agent, editor, and publisher.

Through video lectures, activities, discussions, video conferences, and direct feedback from your instructor and from other students in the course, you will learn an overview of the publishing process, the importance of market research, how to create a book jacket, how to draft an agent list, query letters and other professional correspondence, basics of contracts and royalties, self-publishing as an option, the editing process, book design basics, and end the course with a research project.

Meet Your Instructor

Beth Staples is an assistant professor of English and editor of the literary magazine Shenandoah at Washington & Lee University.