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Faber Academy course

(28 Posts)
INeedABiggerBoat Tue 31-May-16 22:20:42

I'm writing my application for the Faber Academy online course on writing first 15,000 words. It's bloomin' expensive I know but I need extra impetus to find time in a very busy schedule to write and feel as though I've taught myself as much as I can and really need help on finding my way through a tricky plot and character arc...

But now I'm getting nervous because I'm writing a YA urban fantasy - are they going to turn their noses up at this genre even if I'm not a totally dreadful writer? Has anyone else focused on YA/ fantasy and done one of these courses??

Notonthestairs Thu 09-Jun-16 11:51:57

I've been on the course and no they really wont turn their nose up at YA urban fantasy. There were a couple of people on my course which were writing YA. Its a growth market for one thing. They are just interested in helping you improve. Providing peer reviews of other peoples work was extremely useful. The tutors are careful to allow you to get on writing what you want to write but giving you structured help with plotting, character developement and just giving you permission to take your work seriously.
I found it very supportive, if occasionally hard work and a big commitment. A couple of members of my class of 12 have been published and more waiting on agents to get back to them.
On the other hand I still havent finished my novel - shouldnt spend so much time on Mumsnet for one thing smile.

INeedABiggerBoat Fri 15-Jul-16 19:34:22

Thanks NotontheStairs. That's really good to know. My job involves working with writers (not novelists - don't want to out myself so won't go into more detail!) so feel I could give good constructive, respectful feedback. I sent my application in about 3 weeks ago and am now basically torturing myself over whether they've taken one look and chucked it in the bin. I don't know how I'm going to wait until end of August to hear if I've got a place!

INeedABiggerBoat Fri 15-Jul-16 19:36:08

Should say - I ended up applying for the full 'writing a novel' course instead.

ishallconquerthat Tue 19-Jul-16 09:20:27

The courses sound very interesting, if you have the money and the time, go for it!

I have one question, though, for people doing these courses. Please don't think I'm having a dig, because I'm not.

Writing is a job known for paying little (if at all). It looks like these courses are aimed at people who want to make a living from publishing books - not as a hobby.

The course costs 4k. So, the author needs to earn more than 4k from the book, just to get even (not to mention all the time and effort put in the book). As a hobby, it sounds perfectly fine, but as a professional plan, does it make sense?

I understand people paying 100k for an MBA, because they expect to earn much more than that in years following graduation. But do people really expect to make several thousand pounds writing books after doing these courses?

(it's a real question, I don't want to offend anyone...)

ImperialBlether Sat 06-Aug-16 11:59:08

I met a woman recently who got a huge agent and lots of deals after being on the Faber course - her friend did, too. I think the people running the course recommend authors to agents while they're there.

schmalex Sat 06-Aug-16 21:41:13

I don't think it's quite the same as an MBA though - 4k is the sort of amount many people would spend on a holiday (with no expectation of a financial return on their 'investment'). 100k, plus two years not working, is entirely different.
Saying that, the cost of an MFA in the US is pretty eye-watering and people obviously still do them.
If every would-be novelist decided to proceed based on economic arguments we probably wouldn't have many novels!

ImperialBlether Sun 07-Aug-16 13:56:58

I think it's worth investing in yourself as a writer if you can afford to. I did an MA when I was working full time and the focus on writing and the workshops every week and the speakers and the advice given by experienced writers was invaluable. It's not that you couldn't gain that any other way, but it's condensed into a short period (two years in my case) and at the end of it I thought of myself as a writer, rather than as someone who wanted to be a writer. I tried for a few years to get published traditionally and ended up self-publishing two novels, but now I have an agent and really good book deals and now I'm earning more than I earned in my job.

There are other ways. There are freelance editors who'll critique your work and recommend you to agents/publishers if they think you're good enough. That will cost several hundred pounds if your novel is around the 90,000 word length. Most literary festivals have sessions for writers to hone their craft. Of course then you have those costs and maybe hotels and transport, too.

INeedABiggerBoat Thu 18-Aug-16 12:22:25

Just a quick update - I got on the course! DH is taking on extra work to fund it, because he is The Best.

ImperialBlether Thu 18-Aug-16 14:38:07

Congratulations! That's great news. And what a lovely husband you have!

Phoeba Sun 18-Sep-16 21:11:28

I can't believe Faber Academy is 4K! You could practically have an MA in Creative Writing for that.

RidingRossPoldark Thu 06-Oct-16 17:27:24


ineedabiggerboat Is it difficult to get onto the course? Do people actually get rejected? Some courses seem to just want the money from whoever but with this academy, it seems like they assess the quality of writing before offering a place-is this true? If you've started, please let us know how you're getting along. I'm having a think about applying but also having a crisis of confidence wondering if I'm 'good enough'!


IsabellaArcher Thu 06-Oct-16 18:37:53

Yes, ineedabiggerboat, tell us what it is like!

RidingRossPoldark Fri 07-Oct-16 09:53:20

Oh, and if anyone else can help ref: do people actually get rejected so I can steel myself, please let us know grin

Looking at the website, it seems they are able to point you in the direction of an agent if the work has merit plus you'd get a chance to improve your work under guidance. Tempted a bit...

nottinghillyummymummy Tue 11-Oct-16 14:01:52

Just finished the course! It's good but don't get your hopes about getting an agent/representation..... it's a tough world...

RidingRossPoldark Tue 11-Oct-16 17:17:01

Thanks nottinghill, I have had a taste of the 'tough world' already sadly so am fully prepared 😃 What was good about the course? I would love to get better at writing but wondering about the £1200 price tag and whether I could just improve organically by keeping at it, without being formally taught...any thoughts? Cheers

nottinghillyummymummy Tue 11-Oct-16 18:06:40

Ah so you know all about the form rejections! ;) so.... it's good but I don't know how good it is. I did the writing a novel course and I think I've learned some important structural rules, about setting etc
but it's not a place to improve prose. It was good to get other people's feedback and you get 1 to 1 tutorials which are also good. It's so hard either way even with the course! But it was good at keeping me motivated. That's kind of gone since I stopped the course! Hope that helps. X

RidingRossPoldark Tue 11-Oct-16 21:24:33

Oh yes, the form rejections sent by an assistant grin

thanks-that's interesting to hear. As Hanif Quereshi(I think) once said, you can't teach someone to write. I sometimes agree but at other times I think it's helpful to have others' critique so that you see things in your blind spot. But, in a group of fellow students-it's not professional advice, just their opinion as a reader so how seriously could you take it? The one I'm looking at is online and has 5 Skype tutorials and tutor critiques of writing from time to time but no invidual tutor attention otherwise over a year. Is that enough to sort out a second draft-no ones reading the whole thing and telling you if it works so am a bit confused but thanks for your advice 😃

INeedABiggerBoat Mon 17-Oct-16 21:57:37

Sorry for the late reply! Well I've only done a few weeks on the course but so far I'm finding it incredibly useful. I'm doing the 6 month one so it doesn't sound like the one you're looking at RidingRoss.

It's quite a small, supportive group but a few are published authors already who want to improve their writing, quite a lot of journalists too. My tutor is very good at just getting us writing, making sure we hit our own word count deadlines each week and chairing group feedback. The writing ranges from very commercial through to high literature but all so far feel like quite publishable ideas, albeit some need quite a lot of work. The academy did mention that they'd had a lot of applicants but obviously they could be exaggerating to make the course feel more competitive than it really is.

Nattyb78 Sun 07-Jan-18 14:50:22

Hello, reading this thread I’m wondering Ineedabiggerboat how the course went and how is your writing progressing?

ChattieHattie Mon 08-Jan-18 17:50:04

Hi, I'm also really interested to read this. I have done loads of research looking into doing a writing course while on mat leave (2nd time round - due in 3 weeks eek!), and am worried that the feedback from fellow students on a group course like Faber might not be that useful (plus I'm not sure how much time I'll have to read their stuff!). I really just want professional advice and feedback, and a chance to focus on my writing and not just my baby (I went a bit mad last time!). I'm thinking of applying to the Ink Academy course that a friend of mine did (though she doesn't have a baby), as it's one-to-one and so more flexible and dedicated. I really like the sound of it being all one-to-one, but I'd love to hear if anyone with a child has done it, and found it manageable?

Nattyb78 Mon 08-Jan-18 18:03:17

Hi ChattieHattie smile I think the last thread about this topic was a few years ago now so it may just be you and I chatting smile
What are you worried about regarding the feedback?

ChattieHattie Mon 08-Jan-18 19:53:24

Oh oops! blush I'm wary about blaming things on "baby brain" but... wink Tbh I'm not exactly worried about the feedback - it's just I've done a few group workshops and found that in general group work is nice but hit and miss when it comes to usefulness. I would really like direct feedback from someone professional - like you get on a masters but without having to commit to all that time and money. My friend is very positive about the Ink course - but I was just wondering how likely I would be to write 5,000 words every three/four weeks with a baby and a toddler...

INeedABiggerBoat Mon 15-Jan-18 13:32:31

Hi @Nattyb78 and @*ChattieHattie*. Course finished last June but I still meet up with my coursemates every month to discuss progress, and we occassionally have group write ins around London too.

The agents' reading day was a bit of an anti-climax for most people as most of the agents had to run back to their offices straight after the reading so we didn't get to talk to many, but the anthology is absolutely invaluable. I had quite a lot of interest from agents off the back of my anthology entry (in fact, I think most of the people in my class did). Signed with an agent in October and my book went out to publishers on Friday (it's going to be a long week of waiting on responses!).

For me, the course was worth every penny as without it I a. don't think I'd have written my novel to the standard I have. B. written it so quickly - having that support network is invaluable. C. got an agent so quickly - three agent offers within 24 hours, and the only reason I went to the top of their reading piles was because they remembered me from the anthology and know that Faber graduates do tend to get snapped up a bit more quickly.

A friend of mine from the course also got a really good book deal last year on the novel she wrote on the course.

Hope that helps. Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions - don't want to go into too much detail here as what I've written is fairly outing already!

INeedABiggerBoat Mon 15-Jan-18 13:35:02

I will add that it is quite time consuming to read others' work each week, but what you put in you get out - often you can see problems in other people's writing that you hadn't, until then, clocked in your own.

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