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The Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing presents its biannual "Business of Writing Seminars"

Spalding University’s Sena Jeter Naslund-Karen Mann Graduate School of Writing is known nationally for its superb advanced instruction in creative writing, but we also have consistently offered instruction in the business of writing for our students and alumni because we know it’s important for writers to learn more about the world of professional writing, editing, and publishing.

Beginning in September 2022, we are delighted to shift those sessions from residency to “Spalding’s Business of Writing Seminars,” an innovative grouping of virtual sessions presented by expert writing professionals.

Offered on a Saturday in the spring and fall of each academic year, these sessions will provide flexibility and enrichment and, though not required, are available to all students. Students may come and go, attending the sessions of interest to them, or take advantage of all.

“Spalding’s Business of Writing Seminars” have two main goals:

  • To help Spalding writers learn more about working with agents, literary magazines, presses, and theaters and production companies. We also want to help students better understand how to market work once it’s published or produced.

  • To provide enriching instruction to Spalding writers interested in the business of writing in the professional workplace. Sessions will include advice on how to break into new freelance markets; work as copywriters, editors, speechwriters, writers of grants; and write for nonprofits or for-profit organizations.

Mark your calendars: The 2022-23 “Spalding’s Business of Writing Seminars” will be presented on Saturday, September 10, 2022, and Saturday, March 25, 2023.

We plan to continue these events twice a year as extra-curricular sessions for current students. The seminars are available to School of Writing alumni for $25 for the day. If you can’t attend or can’t attend every session, all sessions will be recorded for registered alums, and the recordings will be available for one-month after the event. To register, click HERE. The deadline for alumni to register is September 7.

To learn more, email

Here’s the program for the first event:

Saturday, September 10, 2022 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. CT / 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. MT / 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT

11:00 – 11:50 a.m. ET / 10:00 10:50 a.m. CT / 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. MT / 8:00 – 8:50 a.m. PT

“How to Pitch, Land, and Prepare for Interviews with Media Outlets for Authors, Filmmakers, and Playwrights” with Jill Cox-Cordova (’17)

Congratulations! You’ve recently published a book. Or you’re ready to premiere a new film or play. Now it’s time to get media exposure for it. Don’t know how? As a former TV producer at affiliates nationwide and networks such as, MSNBC, and NBC, I know firsthand what media decision makers are looking for in your pitches, and I will show you by utilizing your own real-life scenarios. You’ll develop a three-paragraph formula for the appropriate medium. We’ll discuss how one sheets and digital media kits give you an edge over competitors. Through role playing, we’ll demonstrate dos and don’ts about attire, camera-friendly colors, communication with the media outlet, and arrival times for in-person interviews. We’ll also discuss best practices for virtual interviews. We’ll role play a mock interview and talk about best practices after the interview ends. You’ll go away with a template for pitches and handouts on dos and don’ts.

12:00 – 12:50 p.m. ET/11:00 – 11:50 a.m. CT/10:00 – 10:50 a.m. MT/9:00 – 9:50 a.m. PT

“Tell, Don’t Show: How to Write an Effective Query and Synopsis” with Julia Watts (’05)

The kind of writing agents and publishers expect in a query letter and synopsis is radically different from writing fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction. Unlike creative writing itself, queries and synopses are straightforward and factual—they tell instead of show. And yet there is an art to writing queries and synopses so that they entice the audience to want to read your manuscript. In this talk, we'll look at dos and don’ts of query and synopsis writing and learn how to bait the hook so the fish (a.k.a. agents and publishers) will bite! I am the author of fourteen published novels and the co-editor of seven anthologies, so that means I’ve written a lot of query letters! In this workshop, I’ll provide you with a helpful query letter template, and we’ll spend some time getting started on crafting your pitch.

2:00 – 2:50 p.m. ET / 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. CT / 12:00 – 12:50 p.m. MT / 11:00 – 11:50 a.m. PT

“Crafting a Creative Nonfiction Book Proposal” with Elizabeth Felicetti (’20)

Do you need a full book-length manuscript to sell a piece of creative nonfiction? No: you need a marketable proposal that identifies your audience, demonstrates that you know how to reach them, and offers a marketing plan. Because I signed with an agent and sold a book on proposal less than a year after graduating from Spalding, I can lead you through these things, as well as show you how I learned from two earlier proposals that didn’t sell. You won’t be able to write a complete proposal in fifty minutes, but you will leave with a concrete structure enabling you to create your own proposal including choosing comps, building your bio, and naming a platform beyond Twitter followers.

3:00 – 3:50 p.m. ET / 2:00 – 2:50 p.m. CT / 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. MT / 12:00 – 12:50 p.m. PT

“Campus Content: A World of Storytelling for University Publications” with Michael Malone (’10)

College magazines around the country are hungry for content that celebrates their research, faculty, and accomplishments and so offer excellent opportunities for skilled freelance writers. Many have significant budgets that allow them to pay much better than the going “journalistic” rate. Many colleges have a range of magazines that they design and produce for general interest and also the individual departments or university. As with all writing, it’s important to research the magazines, appreciate their style, and to know the content they're looking for. You’ll gain a sense of how to navigate the world of university publications and how to pitch stories.


Jill Cox-Cordova earned her Spalding MFA in Fiction in 2017. She also holds a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University. She worked as a journalist for twenty-one years at such media outlets as, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, WSB-TV, and she freelanced for Essence magazine. The Atlanta Writers Club member also offers editing and sensitivity reader services. She co-hosts with her husband, “I’m Right. I’m Right,” a live, video show about relationships.

The Rev. Elizabeth Felicetti (’20) sold her book Blessed Are the Barren: The Fruits of Infertility on proposal to Eerdmans in fall 2021 for spring 2023 publication. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The Atlantic, Christian Century, Good River Review, Kirkus, Brevity, Little Patuxent Review and numerous other publications, and twice have been nominated for Pushcart prizes.

Michael Malone (’10) is currently the director of editorial services at the University of Miami. He is a primary writer for the biannual Miami Magazine and is familiar with a range of other publications (from UHealth to School of Nursing to College of Arts & Sciences). With a background of some twenty plus years as a professional journalist and writing teacher, he has written for a wide number of publications (in English and in Spanish) and is the author of two young adult nonfiction books, part of a series on political refugee families. Most importantly, he is a Spalding MFA graduate!

Julia Watts (’05) is the author of fourteen novels for adults and young adults set in Appalachia and often depicting the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the Bible Belt. Her novel Finding H.F. won the Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category, and several of her novels have been selected for the ALA Rainbow List. Her new novel, Needlework, is a finalist for Foreword’s Indie Book of the Year Award in the young adult category. Julia holds an MFA from Spalding and is currently working on a PhD in Children's and Young Adult Literature at The University of Tennessee.


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