Topics For Writer’s Groups

Asking the Right Questions

What do you do when you’ve never done an interview? You need just the right quote to finish your article. Or you’ve been assigned to do a profile but you’ve never interviewed anyone. Maybe you’ve been hired to tell someone else’s story, but you’re not sure how to begin.

In this session we’ll answer questions like: How do you prepare before the interview? What tools do you need? How do you structure an interview to get the best results from your subject? How do you keep them on track when they want to sidetrack the conversation? And what do you do with the material after the interview? Learning the answers to these interviewing questions could be the answer to selling your manuscript.

Before You Go: Everything You Need to Know about Writers’ Conferences

How do you know which writers’ conference is best for you? What should you know about a conference before registering? What should you take with you? How should you dress? And most importantly, how can you practice your pitch to maximize your interactions with editors? In this session, we’ll answer all of your questions and prepare you for success at your next conference.

Beyond the Book: Advanced Proposal Writing

This session begins with a very brief overview of the parts of a book proposal and tells you the best resources to use when writing yours. But what do you do when you have questions? How do you find information on competitive books? What if there aren’t any competitive books? What goes into the marketing section that doesn’t go into the promotion section? How can a bio make or break your proposal? Bring your proposal related questions and a copy of your current work to this interactive session. As a class, we will work together to transform proposals that tell about the book, into proposals that sell the book.

A Professional Writer’s Toolkit

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been writing for decades, there are tools that can help you write better, faster, and more creatively than you can on our own. In this session, I will introduce you to some of my best writing-related resources including two books that never leave my side, software that makes me a better writer, things I use to stay focused, research techniques, and how to know when you need help. This session can be interactive if students come prepared to share their best writing resources. (Computer projection or large TV with HDMI connection needed for this class.)

Collaborating for Fun and Profit

Sometimes it makes sense to work with someone else, but when is it helpful and when is it just hell? In this session we’ll talk about different ways to work with a partner including, ghostwriting and co-authoring. We’ll explore what collaborating is, what it’s not and also discuss practical tips such as what to look for in a collaborator, and how to structure your working and personal relationships. Finally, we’ll look at how to prepare yourself mentally, legally, and financially before you co-sign with a collaborator.

Getting Paid to Tell Someone Else’s Story

Ghostwriters and collaborators are in high demand so how can you establish a place in the market? In this session I’ll teach you enough lingo to sound professional on your first job, teach you what you need to know to get the story, structure it, how to handle collaboration problems, and how to tell whether or not your story is marketable.

Relationships Every Writer Should Have and How to Get Them

Writing may be a solitary activity but the writing life shouldn’t be. To have a career in writing there are some relationships you will need. In this session we’ll tell you what they are (everything from a critique partner to an agent), how to get them, and how to maintain them.

How to Pitch to a Publisher in Under Five Minutes

Condensing your pitch to less than five minutes will allow you to make more pitches to more editors and find one who is right for your project. In this session, you’ll learn why you should limit your pitch, what you should include (and what you shouldn’t), how to make the pitch, how to make a pitch on the run, and what you want to happen when the pitch is over.

I Wish Someone Had Told Me That When I Started Out

Information on the craft of writing is available from an unlimited number of sources, but what do you do when you need information on how to live a writing life? In this class, the instructor will share her mistakes and her successes to help you make choices that will sustain your careers as a writer, to teach you what to do now to maximize your future success, and to discover how the right reason to write influences how you should write.

The Point of Punctuation

Have punctuation, grammar, or spelling rules pushed you over the edge? Do you refer to the red ink on your manuscripts as blood? Can’t tell the difference between serial commas and serial killers? Well put your Chicago Manual of Style away and join us for a humorous look at the point of punctuation. Nothing is better than learning from the mistakes of others so we’ll spend this session laughing at dozens of examples of how they got it wrong, (but you can get it right). Actual editor types not welcome.

Maximize Your Strengths, Minimize Your Weaknesses

So you’re not perfect. So what? Self-knowledge is the first step to getting better. How can you make the most out of your writing and non-writing strengths? How can you minimize your perceived weaknesses? And how can you package yourself to get the kind of writing projects you desire? (Interactive Session)

Non-Fiction Writing: Four Part Beginners Class

Part 1: Pre-Writing
Before you put your hands on the keyboard, there are things you can do to increase your odds of getting published. In this class, we will talk about finding topics to write about, narrowing down your ideas, matching your material to a market, researching, and setting up good writing habits.

Part 2: Writing
The number one thing that sells (or doesn’t sell) your manuscript is the quality of your writing. In this class we will talk about elements of every good article or book chapter including lead, transition, body, and conclusion. We’ll discuss ideas for starting and ending your piece, adhering to word counts, and how to make your writing sing.

Part 3: Selling Your Writing
You may be a great writer but if you’re not a great salesperson your work will never get published. In this class we’ll talk about how to submit your writing for publication including how to format your manuscript and the documents you will need to submit it (query letters, cover letters, and book proposals).

Part 4: When the Unexpected Happens
So you’ve sold your first article and now the editor wants you to do more but you’re not sure you can. Or . . . you thought you had the article nailed but all you got was a rejection, or worse, no response at all. What do you do when the unexpected happens? In this class we’ll talk about dissecting and dealing with critiques and rejections, how to overcome the obstacles that keep you from being published, and how to take your writing career to the next level.

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