Writing the Non-Fiction Book Proposal...not just talking about it

Writing the Non-Fiction Book Proposal...not just talking about it

Writing the Non-Fiction Book Proposal...
not just talking about it, July 14-16

led by Glenn Stout

You've already got the idea, but if you want to write a book, the next step is writing a book proposal that will attract the attention of an agent and publisher.  A hands-on workshop on the practice and purpose of a nonfiction trade book proposal, designed for both the experienced or emerging writer finally ready to write that book, and for published authors who simply want to write a better proposal.

Over the course of three days I’ll provide hands-on instruction and feedback supplemented by Skype interactions with other authors, agents and editors.  Mornings will unfold in a seminar setting as we discuss and analyze different aspects of the entire proposal writing process, from idea and query letter through a complete proposal, discuss samples and do brief exercises to illustrate proposal elements. The instructor will provide a basic descriptive proposal template, successful samples, discuss elements needed in a proposal, the goal of each element and provide a realistic hands-on guide to how to shape that rough idea into something that might make a reader turn the pages. Attendees will spend afternoons on working on drafts of proposal components and then receive supportive and instructive feedback, both from the instructor in private and in a workshop setting with other attendees. Evenings are open, but there will be plenty of opportunity to interact with the instructor and other attendees informally at the hotel in a supportive and respectful setting.

By the end of the workshop, attendees will have a clear notion of the steps required to create a successful proposal, and an outline and a plan going forward, beginning with a query letter to an agent.  All attendees should bring multiple book ideas and/or a draft proposal – or part of a proposal - to discuss. Subsequent to the workshop each attendee will have the opportunity for limited additional consultation and remote feedback from the instructor as part of the program at no extra cost.

For those who have a proposal already in process or are prepared to begin writing, an additional three-four day working residency is available immediately following the three-day workshop, with the instructor on hand to provide immediate feedback and further instruction as needed. For those planning to attend the Mayborn Narrative Nonfiction Conference the following weekend, agent consultations are available (registration through the Mayborn).

The workshop is designed for non-fiction proposals of narrative journalism, history and/or memoir – not “how to” or DIY titles.  Admission is open, authors should provide a brief paragraph loosely describing the idea they intend to pursue. Attendees may be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect the confidentiality of book ideas discussed.

DATES:  Attendees should prepare to arrive in Archer City by noon on Friday, July 14.  Formal workshop to take place Friday 1:00 pm – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday, 9 am -12 and 1:30 -5 p.m. Coffee provided, access to refrigerator and microwave. Dining options include several small area restaurants, more options available 30-45 minutes distant in Wichita Falls.

COSTS, including accommodation at the Spur Hotel, home of the Archer City Story Center $595 by May 1, $695 thereafter.

APPLY: glennstout(at)fairpoint(dot)net

ADDITIONAL WORKING RESIDENCY, Monday July 17 through Wednesday July 19  $450

Instructor Glenn Stout is the author, editor or ghostwriter of more than ninety books for both the adult and juvenile audience, including biographies, current events and history, as-told-to third person narratives, and oral histories.  He has written dozens of (mostly successful!) book proposals for himself and consulted on many others. His books include “The Selling of the Babe,” “Nine Months at Ground Zero” and “Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Changed the World,” currently under development at Paramount Pictures. Glenn teaches at the narrative writing workshop at the Archer City Story Center and has given workshops on book proposals and other aspects of writing for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, the Brattleboro Literary Festival, Midwest Literary Festival, the Get Lit Literary Festival and others.  In his 30-year career as a professional writer and author, Glenn has also worked as a narrative non-fiction editor, and has consulted privately with dozens of authors on longform narrative journalism, book proposals and book manuscripts.  For more see www.glennstout.net 

Here’s what others have said about working with Glenn

As a well-known and well-respected agent recently wrote a previously unpublished client after accepting a book proposal written under Glenn’s direction: “…You’ve written a first-rate proposal that needs very little work. This puts you in a notable minority among my stable, as I typically get closely involved in helping clients revise. You don’t need much, not at all.”

 “Glenn treats the words that make it into print like an inheritance, like objects that are being passed down. And I believe he wants, more than anything, for those words to be good—to be worthy—and for them to continue to be good. I don’t know anyone who’s done more to seek out and highlight bright new talent… - Chris Jones, National Magazine Award winner in Feature Writing

“Conversations with Glenn Stout rival any writing workshop in the country…I get LOTS of credit for my work on race, sport, society. Who have I conceptualized EVERY idea with for the past 20 years? Glenn Stout” – Howard Bryant, ESPN, author of The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, and 2016 finalist National Magazine Award in Commentary

“I’ve written 47 books and hundreds of articles. I’ve never – and I mean never – had an editor who challenged me in a more positive way than Glenn Stout did. – Thomas Hauser – Author of “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times” and “Missing” (Academy-Award-winning film starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek)

“Glenn Stout is, hands down, the best editor I have worked with in my nearly 20 years as a reporter. When you work with Glenn, you work with an editor who cares more about the story you’re telling, and how you’re telling it, than anything else. He gives his reporters wide latitude to explore the possibilities, while also gently pulling you along a path that leads to great stories.”– Matt Tullis, assistant professor, Fairfield University author of the forthcoming “The Ghosts I Run With”


Literary Non-Fiction Workshop

Literary Non-Fiction Workshop

Literary Non-Fiction Workshop, July 23-30

Led by: Glenn Stout, Brett Popplewell, and Kim Cross

This invitation-only workshop provides professional writers and journalists a unique opportunity to practice the craft of literary nonfiction in Archer City Texas, a one-stoplight town with a rich literary history. Unlike other writing workshops that offer group feedback on existing stories, this immersive program requires active, hands-on practice in a real-world environment. Think of it as Spring Training for the sport of storytelling.

For one intense, immersive, life-changing week, a group of 10 professionals from the U.S. and Canada will work to elevate their craft with a small staff of published writers, among the top practitioners in the field. This year’s staff includes a a New York Times best-selling author of literary nonfiction, an accomplished author and editor of one of our country’s best storytelling anthologies, and a freelance writer, university instructor and author consistently included on best-of lists for his long-form narratives.

At the Archer City Story Center, we aim to break open old concepts of storytelling and push you out of your comfort zone, into the realm where transformative growth occurs. We will do so through an immersive real-time curriculum unlike any other. Each day begins with a discussion on a specific element of the craft. By mid-morning, you will be dispatched into the “living laboratory” of Archer City, a one-stoplight town and setting for the classic film “The Last Picture Show, to gather timeless stories from the same sort of vivid denizens Larry McMurtry discovered and drew upon for his many novels of western Americana.

You will report and write stories, in real time, in an environment where you are challenged to stretch and experiment. By evening, you will reconvene with the group to share your work over dinner and critiques from peers and staff. If you’re not sated, the evening may linger indeterminately with storytelling somewhere off the paved road between men and women of letters, swirling beer in bottles held by the necks under the inky sky and only-in-Texas stars.

The point of this workshop is not necessarily to publish. It's to learn and grow as storytellers. We aim to give working writers a chance to practice the craft and experiment without the pressure of publishing or the fear of failure. If individuals desire to create a publishable piece through the exercises, we support that. But it is not an expectation. In fact, we want to liberate our writers for one full week from the burden of expectations.

Here’s what some attendees from last year had to say:

“What an amazing week! I really can’t thank you all enough for this experience. My heart will always hold a place for Archer City and the friends I made there. I needed this experience right now so much, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”

“I thought the workshop’s pace and structure was nearly perfect and allowed me to keep busy without feeling overwhelmed by the workload I loved the classes. I loved The Spur.  I loved being pushed to share my work. I loved listening to other people’s work. I loved the diversity of the writers. Right now it’s all still magic.”

“EVERYTHING WORKED. Seriously. It was a brilliant concept to split the days dissecting a part of the craft, then practicing it. I learn by doing, not by talking, so personally, it was really helpful to learn new tactics and concepts, then immediately put them to use. You…created a safe and trusting environment to experiment in. That's huge. I also loved how diverse the group was… I was really looking forward to this, and all expectations were exceeded. The days were long but the week flew by. That's the mark of a true experience.”

“I will never forget my time in Archer City.”

WHY IS IT INVITATION ONLY? We try to select a diverse, non-competitive group of 10 strangers from 10 states who can all learn from each other’s unique background. We continue the invitation-only tradition used by George Getschow, founder of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Workshop, and founder of the graduate-level workshop that has evolved into a professional workshop. Now redesigned for working professionals, the workshop mixes people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. The common factor is a desire to learn and a need for something that we feel we can uniquely offer. We do not accept applications, but if you have an interest, we’re happy to talk with you. We have, in some cases, accepted self-nominated candidates based on their desire, needs, and strong professional/personal references.

FEES: The workshop fee is $1,000, which includes tuition and 7 nights’ lodging (a modest room with a private bath) at The Spur Hotel, an 88-year-old historic inn, our classroom and the headquarters of the Archer City Story Center.

FOOD: Coffee and continental breakfast will be provided, but lunch and dinner are up to you. Food in Archer City is limited: Murn’s Café is across the street (breakfast and lunch), a small grocery store in town sells modest supplies, and the hotel kitchen will be available for use. And there’s always the famous Dairy Queen where Larry McMurtry penned Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen.

TRANSPORTATION: Getting to Archer City is half the adventure. It’s a 2-hour drive northwest of Dallas. (We recommend flying into DFW, which is closer to the Mayborn Conference location and our meet-up spot). We encourage participants to share a rental car (we can connect you ahead of time), and instructors may be able to offer a limited number of rides, based on first-come basis.

OPTIONAL ADD-ONS: We highly recommend attending the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, the biggest gathering of its kind in the nation. Held in Grapevine, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), it is held the weekend before the workshop. (We generally meet up after the conference and carpool to Archer City.) Not only are the speakers first-rate (this year’s keynote speakers include Sebastian Junger, Kathereine Boo, and Charles Johnson), the after-hours gatherings are an incredible networking event. Though we have no formal affiliation with the conference, we plan our workshop the following week so we can put what we learn immediately to practice.

CANCELLATION POLICY: We have a strict cancellation policy that allows us to keep our fees below cost: 100% refund before May 1; 75% by June 1; 50% by July 1; no refund after July 2, 2017.

Questions? Email Kim Cross at kimHcross (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Podcasting Workshop

Podcasting Workshop

Podcasting Workshop, August 11-13, 2017

led by Matt Tullis

The reach and influence of podcasts as a storytelling genre is expanding rapidly. In 2016, 21 percent of Americans said they had listened to a podcast within the last month, up from 12 percent three years earlier. And every year, the number of podcast episodes is increasing on podcast web hosting sites like Libsyn, who in 2015, had more than 28,000 shows that were downloaded a combined 3.3 billion times. Hosting a podcast can serve as a great way to establish your expertise in a particular field, raise your own profile, and connect to a target audience. They offer amazing networking opportunities and add a valuable skill set valued in today’s multimedia world.

In this two-day, hands-on workshop, you’ll learn everything you need to produce a top-notch podcast, from concept to distribution. You will record, edit, and produce a short segment and learn how to interview and connect with subjects, whether over the phone or in person. No fancy equipment necessary—all you need is a smart phone, a laptop, and some free audio editing software. We will, however, bring and demonstrate professional-grade recording equipment and software that you can add at any time to enhance your working audio production studio.

Learn how to…

• Develop and refine great podcast idea

• Turn that concept into something people want to listen to

• Record, edit and produce audio

• Find a host for your podcast

• Hook up with iTunes and other podcast distribution systems


Instructor Matt Tullis, host and producer of Gangrey: The Podcast, has interviewed noted journalists including New York Times best-seller Chuck Klosterman, Pulitzer Prize winner Lane DeGregory, and National Magazine Award winner Tom Junod in a series of more than 50 podcasts. He is an assistant professor of digital journalism at Fairfield University.

Cost: The $500 fee covers tuition and two nights’ lodging at The Spur, a historic hotel in Archer City that serves as headquarters for the Archer City Story Center. You may purchase additional nights for $85 per night, paid to The Spur. A $100 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot in the class. Refunds for cancellations will decrease as the date of the workshop nears. Cancel 3+ months prior to workshop: 3+ months or more before workshop ($400 refund); 2+ months before workshop ($300 refund); 1+ month before workshop ($200 refund); less than one month ($100 refund).

Questions? Contact Matt at MattTullisWriter (at) gmail (dot) com.