CLASS UPDATE: This course description has been updated from the print catalog.
This full-day class offers an introductory overview of the publishing business and is geared toward writers of literary fiction and nonfiction. The class features guests from small and large presses:
– Ethan Nosowsky, Editorial Director for Graywolf Press
– Lisa Lucas, senior vice president at Knopf Doubleday
– Michelle Brower, literary agent who has frequently been ranked in the top ten dealmakers for debut fiction on Publisher’s Marketplace. Formerly of Aevitas, she opened her own agency Trellis Literary Management last year.
– Special guest Natalie Baszile, author of QUEEN SUGAR (inspiration for the series, Queen Sugar), her new book is WE ARE EACH OTHER’S HARVEST
Students will be broken into small groups to pitch their books to one another and offer feedback on those pitches. All students will receive an extensive packet with resources.
Lisa Lucas is a senior vice president at Penguin Random House, overseeing Pantheon and Schocken. From 2016-2020, she was the executive director of the National Book Foundation, the organization that runs the National Book Awards and promotes reading and writing. Prior to that, Lucas was the publisher of the beloved literary magazine Guernica.
Peter Mountford is the author of the novels A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism (2012 Washington State Book Award in fiction), and The Dismal Science (a NYT editor's choice). His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Southern Review, The Atlantic, The Sun, Granta, and The Missouri Review. He is currently on faculty at Sierra Nevada University's MFA program, teaches at Creative Nonfiction, Hugo House, and is a writing coach and developmental editor.
Peter's former students and clients have gone on to publish numerous books and stories and articles, and include two NYT best-selling novelists (Tara Conklin and Rachel Griffin).
Teaching Style and Philosophy:
I believe the best I can do for students is help free them from the tyranny of talent and the whims of inspiration, which are fair-weather friends. Instead, I want you to hone your personal aesthetic, and to develop an authorial voice, and most importantly develop fluency with the elements of craft. One you can control what's happening on the page with ease, producing publishable work is no longer a mysterious fluke, but a familiar and non-scary process.
Feedback from students:
I took Peter’s yearlong course at Hugo House in 2019-2020, and I found him to be an invaluable instructor. His instincts for how good prose works, from craft elements to the realm of publishing, were instrumental in my writing career. He is an honest critic but an encouraging mentor, and I saw him provide acute feedback to short fiction, novels, essays, and memoirs alike. He helped me figure out how to risk sentimentality in my work, to push toward intensity when possible, and how to think about readership when it comes to where I want to publish. I cannot recommend him enough to anyone looking to get more serious about their writing.”
“Peter has helped me elevate the quality and power of my work through his exceptional craft courses as well as one-on-one coaching. He has an unerring sense of a story’s center of gravity and the structure that best suits the material. He’s the kind of merciless editor that any serious writer would value. Since working with him, I’ve had a story and two essays accepted by prestigious literary magazines and highly regarded essay columns. In a star rating, he’d get a full 5 from me.”
Michelle Brower has spent over fifteen years as an agent, first at Wendy Sherman Associates and most recently as a partner at Aevitas Creative Management. She co-founded Trellis Literary Management in 2021 in order to better serve and support her authors and create an agency with a lasting positive impact in the world of publishing.
Her list spans the spectrum of literary and commercial fiction, from thought-provoking story collections to page-turning thrillers. She is primarily interested in work that focuses on storytelling and emotional connection, rather than formal experimentation, and believes that the best reading experience engages both the heart and the head. She is looking for book club novels (a commercial idea with a literary execution), literary fiction, literary suspense, genre fiction for a non-genre audience, and upmarket women’s fiction. In non-fiction, she is looking for a personal story that illuminates a greater subject. Michelle also very selectively represents literary Young Adult fiction. In all of these areas, she is looking to support underrepresented voices.
Michelle is honored to work with books that have received a variety of accolades, including NY Times Bestsellers, National Book Award finalists, and Read with Jenna, Target, and Barnes and Noble book club selections. Her authors have received recognition from the Whiting Awards, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, MacDowell, the Steinbeck Fellow Program, the Sewanee Writers Conference as well as from many other organizations.
Michelle received her Masters degree in British and American Literature from New York University. Originally from New Jersey, she now lives in Seattle with her family.
Michelle’s favorite non-client authors (if your work is similar, feel free to get in touch!): Maggie Shipstead, Lily King, Louise Erdrich, Deesha Philyaw, Kiley Reid, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Kazuo Ishiguro, Yaa Gyasi, Celeste Ng, Jennifer Egan, Shirley Jackson, Ann Patchett, Sarah Waters.
Ethan Nosowsky is Editorial Director at Graywolf Press, where he, is responsible for shaping Graywolf’s prose lists; he acquires fiction and nonfiction titles. He began his career at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and was most recently editorial director at McSweeney’s. He has edited books by Jeffery Renard Allen, Hilton Als, Deborah Baker, David Byrne, Geoff Dyer, Dave Eggers, Stephen Elliott, J. Robert Lennon and Jenny Offill, among many others. He has taught in the creative writing program at Columbia University and contributed to Bookforum, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, and Threepenny Review.