I am a MASTER (of Arts in Publishing)

That’s right! I am now a MASTER: Master of Arts in Publishing anyway. Hey, it’s still impressive. I feel prepared to take Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing to the next level.

Thanks to Western Colorado University, I reaped the benefits of the vast knowledge and experience of Kevin J. Anderson who guided his first cohort through the publishing concentration. The program balances traditional and indie to paint a full picture of the publishing industry.

It’s a low residency program. As a student, you attend two weeks in gorgeous Gunnison, Colorado for an intensive residency, followed by two semesters remote, and completed with one more two week stint in person. For more information, check it out here.

Director of the Publishing Concentration

Kevin J. Anderson is the best mentor you could ask for as he guides you through this Master of Arts in Publishing. He’s published over 170 novels with 56 of those national or international bestsellers. He runs Wordfire press which has published hundreds of books from out-of-print novels of big name authors to first releases of brand new authors. As a co-founder of Superstars Writing Seminar, Kevin is well-versed in guiding writers to a positive and productive career in writing. At Western, he’s extended his compassionate guidance to successful publishing.

Publishing Faculty

Allyson Longueira is the publisher and CEO of WMG Publishing. She had years of experience as a newspaper editor at publications across the country until her talents as an editor and designer attracted Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch to tempt her away to run their publishing house. Since then, Allyson has dived head first into the budding indie publishing industry. She shares her experience, her organizational tools, design advice, and so much more as she guides the students to becoming successful publishers.

Summer Residency

I could spend the rest of the post describing how beautiful and serene Gunnison is. The Graduate Program in Creative Writing (GPCW) allows the students to stay on campus at a crazy reasonable rate. From there we walked everywhere: to class, to lunch, to the local pub, to the quaint downtown region, to the grocery store, to the most perfect coffee shop for writing. As a new cohort, we publishing students spent a lot of time getting to know each other by eating just about every dinner together with our instructor Kevin J. Anderson and other visiting professionals.

It’s amazing how much bonding happens in those two weeks. So when you get to the full year of classes remote, you know each other well enough to work together as a cohesive group. It’s a brilliant set up for a graduate program since most of us work full time and it’s too hard to get away for the ENTIRE set up. Two weeks for two summers is ideal.

NOTE: We missed the finishing summer in person–you all know why–and had to complete our last two weeks as a virtual residency. To fix this travesty, we’re planning on a writing retreat in Gunnison next summer. THAT’S how powerful those two weeks are.

Year of Virtual Classes

For the virtual classes, it was quite similar to any other remote college class, except we were doing so many hands-on activities, it felt more like trade school. Which, of course, is exactly what is needed for a publishing education. You can read about how stuff works all you want. But to get actual experience publishing a book? That’s worth the price of admission.

Indie Publishing Focus

Each student chose an out-of-copyright novel or collection to take from the dustbin to a glorious modern addition. We proofread ours and each other’s–one set of eyes is never sufficient for proofreading. We found cover art and worked with the marketing department to get those covers appealing to a modern buyer. The formatting was done through Vellum which we all bought copies of so our books looked professional. Back cover copy–a particular evil bit if you ask me–was written by us and tweaked by our fellow cohort. Each classic got a foreword by someone in the industry who was influenced by or admired the famous author.

Traditional Publishing Focus

For this section, we put together an anthology from concept to complete hardcover. After a panel of the full concentration directors, we decided on the title: Monsters, Movies & Mayhem. Draft2Digital–Thank you, Mark and Dan!–donated the money to enable us to offer professional rates for our stories. Jonathan Maberry, Rick Wilber, and Fran Wilde offered to send us stories as the anchors to the anthology. After that, we advertised a general call-out to the public, and received 435 submissions. Talk about jumping into the pool without checking the temperature! The slush pile is NO JOKE. We learned quickly to dismiss those that didn’t fit the theme or who outright didn’t follow the guidelines. After the painful process of choosing the top 23 stories, we designed a cover and back cover copy and worked with each author to edit their story to perfection. The only thing we didn’t do was write the checks.

We played with Amazon ads and Bookbub ads to raise awareness of this incredible collection.

Our hard work paid off, because we received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

The book trailer was assembled by a member of the new publishing cohort: Melissa Dalton Martinez of The Book Break. There’s a serious amount of talent in this program.

Guest Speakers

Not only did we get hands-on experience, we also got to meet top people in the industry. I’m just going to include a short list of some of them:

  • Dean Wesley Smith – author and publisher and retired professional poker player (I’m not joking about this bit)
  • Beth Meacham – editor at Tor Books
  • Jonathan Maberry – author, founder of Writers Coffeehouse, and co-creator of Three Men with Beards
  • Damon Courtney – author and founder of Bookfunnel
  • Mark Leslie Lefebvre – author, creator of the podcast Stark Reflections, and Draft2Digital Director of Business Development
  • Joanna Penn – author and creator of the podcast The Creative Penn.

This is just a sampling of the professional guests with experience in both the indie and the traditional world of publishing. I can’t guarantee that you will get these same guests or the others we were privileged to work with. I can guarantee you that Kevin J. Anderson will make sure to bring the best voices for each topic you cover. It’s a priceless resource I will carry with me as I grow Cursed Dragon Ship Publishing.

The First Cohort

Since we weren’t able to meet in person this year, Tracy Leonard Nakatani put together this composite photo of us with the Western campus in the background. We forged new roads with this program. We learned a firehose worth of material on a regular basis. We gained a rolodex full of contacts to continue our journey after this program. We garnered strong ties with each other and the faculty ensuring we’ll never be alone in our future endeavors.

If you are interested in a career in publishing or you simply want to successfully publish your own books, this program is right for you. Get more details here.

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3 Responses

  1. JoAnna Jordan says:

    This is so awesome! I’ve been wondering about a graduate program, I may have to start considering this! Thanks for all your hard work and sharing such an insightful blog.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Love this . Nice layout and well said.