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NVL 33 — How to Sell Your Novel: Query Letters, Synopses, and Elevator Pitches

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 19—Jun 7
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 21
Units: 2
Tuition: $620
Instructor(s): Shirin Yim Leos
Limit: 24
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Apr 19—Jun 7
8 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 21
2 Units
Shirin Yim Leos
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
You may have spent months, or even years, working on your novel. But in today’s crowded market, to persuade an agent or publisher to take it on, you will need to complete three additional pieces of writing: a query letter, a synopsis, and an elevator pitch (a very brief verbal summation of your novel). These are notoriously difficult to craft, so most fiction writers put them off until the last minute. But having them written and in place can be a great resource when you're drafting or editing your novel. They’re like a flag in the hole—something to aim at. Some agents even advise writing your pitch pieces before writing your book. In this course, we will work together, step by step, through the crafting of each element of your pitching toolkit. We will workshop and critique each draft in small breakout groups and explore different strategies according to your genre and your individual strengths. Each student will end the course with a pitch practice that will be “judged” by an invited agent, published author, or editor. This is a highly interactive course, with both individual and group exercises that will give you a new way of looking at and discussing your work. Come ready to take lots of notes and be prepared for homework. Leave with pitching tools that will help focus and strengthen your novel and eventually, sell your work.

This course is designed primarily for writers of narrative work—any genre of novel, novel-in-stories, and narrative memoir. The information covered will be less applicable to anthologies of short fiction or poetry, and to most nonfiction. Participation requires a commitment to writing between classes (up to 1,000 words) and to reading closely and commenting carefully on the work of others (up to 5,000 words).

Author; Developmental Editor; Former Publisher

Shirin Yim Leos has coached writers who have secured multibook deals from Big Five publishers, and film and television options from major entertainment companies. She is the author of 21 children’s books and the founder of Goosebottom Books. Leos also leads writing retreats and teaches writing and publishing for universities and conferences internationally.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.