Monday, October 24, 2011

Readings and Supplementary Materials for Seminar 4

For this seminar, you'll be writing both a query letter (to either an agent or a press) and an anthology proposal. You will receive a template for an anthology proposal in email, but for the sample agent query, I want you to visit the site I've linked to below this paragraph. It's an excellent site full of resources to the publishing industry. Their instructions for how to write an agent query are industry standard: paragraph by paragraph. The only thing I'd like to caution you about is that I think a good query letter is a short query letter. Try not to linger on in any of the paragraphs you have to write based on this formula. When I wrote my first query letter, it was actually one paragraph long, not like the template presented on this site, and it got my first agent's attention immediately. That said, that one paragraph I wrote did include all of the points this template advises must be covered. Instead of giving all of those points fully fleshed out paragraphs, I gave each of them a couple of sentences. Three, tops. My reasoning for this was that agents are receiving numerous queries every single day, and on top of that, they're reading not only their clients' manuscripts but also potential clients' manuscripts. And then, also, going round to meetings with editors, attempting to sell their stock. Take all that into account when you envision your audience in this letter. They are busy, somewhat bedraggled, and want you to get to the point.

Agent Query: How to Write a Query

Remember to read the entire page, and follow some of the links its provides to successful query letters. Familiarize yourself with others that worked in the same way you've familiarized yourself with your chosen genres for writing.

Again, expect an email with a template for an anthology proposal. Study it, then create your own. Anthologies are wonderful things. As an anthology editor, you get to play at being a DJ: "You've got to hear this song or this band," translates into, "You've got to read this story, or this writer." You get to be the tastemaker, you get to set the tone. It's like creating a menu for the evening at a fancy restaurant. What stories will work in compliment to one another? What order should they be read in? You'll need palette cleansers to avoid the dulling of the senses. But above all, you need a theme or a concept that collects these stories or poems or articles in a way that makes a reader think, "That sounds interesting." It shouldn't just be an anthology of stuff you like. It has to have definition. You can sell an anthology to a publisher on the idea alone, but it's even better if you can ask writers you know (preferably those with some reputation) if they would contribute to your anthology prior to having made the sale. You can include their names in the proposal as writers who will write for the book, and that can bolster your ability to sell an anthology if you've got several "big names" to agree to write for it.

Bring any questions about the publishing industry and the process of selling, editing, and publishing books to this seminar.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Readings and Supplementary Materials for Seminar 3

For this seminar, I want you to take a look first at the sites listed in the Forbes posting about literary blogs below. Visit each of the lit blogs they recommend as the Best of the Web lit blogs and get a feel for how each of those bloggers (and their connected sites, in the case of Bookslut) go about their business. Literary blogging provides many services that the book reviews section of newspapers used to supply: well written critical reviews, interviews with authors, publishers and editors, and links to articles of literary interest. When thinking about creating your own hypothetical literary blog, try to imagine what sort of services you'll want to supply to your readers. Make sure your sample postings on your lit blog display the variety of types of posts your lit blog would provide.

Forbes posting on Literary Blogs

Also, take a look at Nin Andrews' lit blog. Nin is a national and internationally acclaimed poet from Poland, Ohio. She'll be visiting with us on the day of the seminar to talk about her blog, which is quite unique and has lead her to other writing opportunities outside of writing poetry. Familiarize yourself with her lit blog so you can discuss it with her.

For a look at a highly specialized lit blog, visit Gwenda Bond's site "Shaken and Stirred" which revolves mainly around the YA publishing world.

Now, take a look at two different literary nonprofit organizations' websites. The first is The Loft, located in Minneapolis, where there's a great literary community, and much of it is centralized around this particular place and the services it offers. The second is a project headed up by the well known writer and publisher David Eggers, called 826 Valencia, which attempts to bring literacy and literary endeavors to underprivileged communities. Sort through these sites and try to see how each is structured (not necessarily the site, but the organizations themselves). If you choose to write a business plan for a literary nonprofit or private endeavor, these might provide you with some inspiration.

The Loft

826 Valencia

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seminars in Brief

Internship Seminars

Seminar One: September 3

Discussion of Internship expectations
Questions and Concerns
Summary of Future Seminar Subjects and Assignments
Supplementary Materials

Seminar Two: September 24

Discussion and updates regarding internship experiences

Lecture: Creative Writing Pedagogy


*Write a sample syllabus for an Intro to Fiction/Poetry/CN
*Select a text to teach, and justify your selection
*Write a Teaching Philosophy
*Conduct a ten-minute lesson

Materials: Samples of Syllabi and Teaching Philosophies

Seminar Three: October 22

Discussion and updates regarding internship experiences

Lecture: Building Literary Community Online and On the Ground


*Create a Literary Blog with several sample posts to define it
*Create a proposal for a literary nonprofit or business venture
*Present either your literary blog or literary venture proposal to the class.

Materials: Links to various literary blogs and literary nonprofit/business ventures
Articles on Social Media and the Modern Writer

Seminar Four: November 19

Summing up of internship experiences

Lecture: The Business of Writing (agents, editors, the publishing industry)


*Research agents, choose one and write a query letter for a writing project, explain your search process, how you determined who to contact, and how to approach them.
*Write an anthology proposal and present your proposal to class

Sample query and submission letters, articles on editing, anthology proposal