Full course description
What you'll learn:
This course is offered through the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.
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.
- Understand the major elements of the publishing industry, including the importance of market research and author platforms.
- Learn how to create a book jacket.
- Draft necessary publishing tools such as an agent list, query letter, and other professional correspondences.
- Learn the basics of author rights, contracts, royalties, and self-publishing.
- Demonstrate how to incorporate the basics of copy editing into your manuscript, and to think like an editor, publisher, and agent.
- Design your own book cover or reading poster
- Create a research project that synthesizes your interests and resources in publishing to present and post to the rest of the class.
What you'll do:
Week 1: Market Research, Platform, and Jacket Copy
Week 2: Agent List, Professional Correspondence, and Query Letter
Week 3: Some Logistics--Rights, Contracts, Royalties, and Self-Publishing Week
Week 4: The Editing Process
Week 5: Book Design Basics Week
Week 6: Research Projects and Presentations
Who this course is for:
Fiction and creative nonfiction writers, authors, novelists, or individuals looking to work in the publishing industry.
What you'll receive:
Students will receive intricate knowledge of the publishing industry and how to best navigate it in regards to their personal and professional goals. Students will also receive a "Certificate in Publishing Opportunities for Fiction and Nonfiction Writers" from the Piper Writers Studio at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.
Meet the instructor
Beth Staples is an assistant professor of English and editor of the literary magazine Shenandoah at Washington & Lee University. She has worked as an editor and publishing professional in a variety of jobs: as the assistant director of The Publishing Laboratory at UNC Wilmington, as editor of Lookout Books, as senior editor of Ecotone, and as the managing editor of Hayden's Ferry Review. (In her early professional life, she also dipped her toe into medical publishing at Elsevier and the print-on-demand publishing world at Xlibris.) In addition to teaching creative writing classes at W&L, she has taught classes in fiction writing, editing, and publishing at UNCW, Mesa Community College, and Arizona State University, where she earned her MFA in fiction writing.