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What business advice do you have for a student pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing?

I am a writer with little talent for business. The publishing industry is a tough one to find entry into and I'm open to advice. #writing #author #editor #creative-writing #agent #published

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Vernon’s Answer

If you don't have a mind for business, try to find a reliable and dependable literary agent. That is what they do.


Catch 22 is: You have to be a good enough writer to catch the eye of an agent and interest them in getting you published. The case of John Grisham is most illuminating.


Grisham's first novel was "A Time to Kill". It was rejected by over 150 agents and publishers. Then, he wrote "The Firm" and some agent picked him up and got it published. "The Firm", of course zoomed to the top of the best-sellers list and got made into a terrific movie with Tom Cruise. Then, someone found the manuscript for "A Time to Kill". It was a "holy ****" moment, because critics said it was better than "The Firm". That also became a movie with Matthew McConaghay (sp) and Sandra Bullock.


Getting your stuff published is a very subjective thing. Persistence and improving your skills are the keys.

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Mary’s Answer

Hello,
Thank you for your question. I am a current student working on my MFA in Creative Writing. I think that first of all, you need to do very well in your MFA classes. You have to write often and daily if you can, but mainly do your assigned written homework. You should engage other students in their own creative works and be a good critic (not putting them down - give good constructive criticism). I suggest that you keep a conversation going with the instructors, and if they have comments on your work, ask them about those. Just have a good and responsible profile and reputation. To get to publish, you need to have a good piece of creative fiction to sell. Working with your thesis advisor on your fiction piece or novel is a great way to get into finding out what works and what doesn't work. After all, thesis advisors/mentors have been through the publishing game already. So ask a lot of questions from them, take their advice, and if they question something really dig into it and make the revisions shine. Don't worry so much about getting published. Another good way to find publishable tips is to go to a writers conference. It is a great way to meet people in the business, people like published authors, teachers, literary agents and publishers. I highly stress that you should practice your craft of writing and read a lot of books of authors that you admire and wish to emulate in their genre. I also suggest that you should join some of the writers organizations, like Poets and Writers or AWP. They usually have a discounted membership for students. Take advantage of those. I wish you all the best!

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