Non-Fiction Career Lab: Your First Book And Beyond (Pilot Program)
In a NutshellA competitive, affordable, and one-of-a-kind year-long course, team-taught by two widely published authors, for ten non-fiction students seeking to (1) develop a book-length work of non-fiction and (2) build professional part-time or full-time careers as non-fiction writers. See more information about our submission guidelines, proposed curriculum, instructors , and students. Date of Course: June 2012 – May 2013
OverviewThis year-long MFA-level program is designed for writers with two specific goals in mind: to publish a book of narrative non-fiction and to build a career as a part-time or full-time non-fiction writer. To help students achieve these goals, the instructors will cover a wide range of necessary skills: how to identify, test and revise viable non-fiction book ideas; how to recognize which narrative non-fiction genres and niches are most relevant to the writers’ talents and interests; how to write an effective book proposal; how to pitch and submit articles, essays, and portions of manuscripts to magazines, newspapers, and online publications; how to establish expertise and credibility in the field; and how to build and increase a platform for book idea(s). The Non-Fiction Career Lab aims to create a supportive, rigorous, and non-competitive environment for students to realize their short-term and long-term professional goals while nurturing a book-length non-fiction project from initial idea to revised draft. As importantly, students will graduate from the Lab with a comprehensive and practical understanding of how to keep writing and publishing related non-fiction projects, short and long, and how to accurately assess the viability of ideas for their next non-fiction book(s).
Why We Started This ProgramMost MFA programs and journalism programs do an excellent job of giving students the tools and experience to write short essays of a literary nature and worthy investigative pieces, but it is often outside of their scope to help with the development of a book-length work of narrative non-fiction. Moreover, there are few, if any, programs where writers can work on their book-length projects while building career-specific skills beyond them. The Grub Street Non-Fiction Career Lab will offer an education that combines the best of an MFA program and journalism school.
Inspired by the great success of the Novel Incubator, we have broken out of the semester model to give students a practical, comprehensive, and artistically valuable experience. Only at Grub Street will students be personally guided--both by instructors and a supportive group of peers--as they craft a full manuscript or book proposal while exploring related opportunities for drafting and publishing shorter pieces relevant to their areas of interest. Students will learn how to make their non-fiction stories “bigger”--that is, to transform a potentially small-market manuscript into one that will be more relevant to a larger audience and therefore attract wider attention. The course also offers concrete strategies and plans for how to use research and interviews to bring unforgettable details to the projects. In addition, the course aims to teach students how to write in a variety of publishable forms (columns, op-eds, feature stories, and blog posts) related to their books, how to pitch these to publications, and how to create a platform.
During the year, students will read books that belong to a variety of non-fiction genres. These will include works of reportorial narrative non-fiction (i.e. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer), "pure memoirs" (i.e. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion) and “blended memoirs” (i.e. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich). Students will be also guided through a month-long research period, in which they will learn research and reporting skills. Students will be encouraged to step outside their immediate narrative and personal experience to incorporate other materials, interviews, documents, and first-person immersion reportage.