Answer a couple questions, and win all six Wilderness novels in e-format

EDITED to add:

The initial responses to this post made me wonder if people would be interested in more intense, short-term workshops if they were held in their own hometowns.  The arrangements for this kind of thing would be less complicated in some ways, and way more complicated in others. So I’m adding a second question, which you’ll find at the bottom of the post. You can post another answer in response to this second question, in which case you’ll be entered into the drawing twice.

ORIGINAL QUESTION: I could use some feedback on an issue I’ve been trying to sort out for a while, and so this post and at the same time, a drawing.  One name will be drawn at random, and that person will get all six Wilderness novels in either kindle/mobi or epub format, which ever they prefer. I’m going to keep this open for a couple weeks in the hope it will get more than a few responses.

Rules:

  • One response per person
  • You must check back to find out if you’ve won; I won’t go chasing you. If I don’t hear from you within two weeks of announcing the winner, I’ll draw another name.
  • All I’m looking for is a thoughtful reply; no need to write a dissertation.

So here’s the situation:

For a couple years now I’ve been wondering how I could best organize teaching an independent fiction-writing class. A real face-to-face, in person class.

I have done some research. For example, England’s Guardian newspaper is currently sponsoring a class in writing historical fiction. Spots for twelve students, taught by an author who has won an award for her fiction; the course meets for one three-hour session a week for twelve weeks. The cost of this is a whopping £1,500, or about $2,500 at current conversion rates, which works out to about $200 a session.

Now, the class sponsored by the Guardian is being offered in London, which means the pool of prospective students is very deep. Even so, I find it hard to imagine that people would pay this much. On the other extreme there is one local in-person class that was offered last year. The course is more of a series of lectures/discussions by local authors, each of whom (it seems from the announcement) took one session. In this case there is one three-hour meeting a month for six months at $399, which works out to about $66 a session. The information about the course doesn’t indicate how many spots were available.

This is, of course, less than the London course, but for a very different format. And $66 each session still feels like a lot to me.

My pool of prospective students is way, way smaller than London. I live about two hours away from Seattle, and one hour away from Victoria BC.

Using a twelve-week, once-a-week, three-hours-a-week model, the pricing might fall out somewhere in this range:

Per HourTotalAdditional
Materials
Supplied
$30$360  $15
$40$480  $10
$50$600 —

 

If I were offering the following:

  • an introductory class that meets twelve times over three months
  • ten students
  • three-hour sessions each meeting
  • materials for readings and exercises supplied
  • taught by me, based on materials I’ve developed while teaching creative writing at the university level.

If you were in the market for such a class and lived in the area, what would feel fair to you in terms of price, and (equally important) how much could you comfortably pay?

————–

ADDITIONAL QUESTION:

How would you feel about a one-weekend (two day) course close to your home, with something like the following structure:

  • Two three-hour sessions each day (12 hours total), broken up by breaks/lunch
  • Ten students
  • Materials supplied
  • Taught by me, using a combination of lecture, short writing exercises, and discussion that would be carefully structured. This could be designed so it would be of interest to both less and more-experienced writers.

Questions:

(1) If something like this were to be offered, what would you be comfortable paying for the seminar itself, with materials (but without meals or anything of that kind)?

(2) If an individual wanted to (a) recruit participants and (b) find a reasonable venue, then the seminar fee would be waived for that person. Thoughts?

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53 Replies to “Answer a couple questions, and win all six Wilderness novels in e-format”

  1. Love this idea! I “could” comfortably pay the $50/hr price but I like the $30/hr price Much better & think it would be more reasonable for the masses.
    Love your books, btw!

  2. Hi, If it were me looking for a class and I have taken a few courses in writing. I would be more interested if the price were around the 30-40 dollars , along with the additional for materials. It seems to me like a more reasonable and attractive price. I love the idea of keeping the class small, you will definitely be able to give a lot of time for questions, the more people the longer that would take.

  3. As an indie writer myself…we’re pretty tight on money. And from what I’ve seen, the majority of indies do no type of self-study before delving into writing. Based on Indie books I’ve read, it’s very much needed however. That being said, the $30 option would appeal most to me and be the most doable.

  4. I think $40 would be pretty reasonable. Of course the bargain hunter in me thinks $360 is something I would go for the total cost. I am not a writer though so this is kind of tough for me to really entertain. However I have gone to retreats and paid as much as $700 for a long weekend so if someone loved writing, and knew who you were, I believe you could easily get $50/session. Good luck and I think it is cool you want opinions on this. Keep writing please.

  5. I think that 40 per hour is a reasonable price for the classes. People who who want to take these classes know they are worth the cost. Also, compared to a university course, it’s a bargin.

  6. I like the middle answer in a Goldilocks way. $500 for a series of well-planned, thoughtful instruction would be a big attraction for those wanting to improve their writing skills. As to class size, I’m uncertain as to what would work better. Initially, why don’t you consider something “in the middle” as well and adjust future classes to improve on that initial plan? Maybe 20 or so? Good luck! That would be fun to do if I had the means and lived closer!

  7. I would definitely go for the $360. I would think twice about the $480. It’s a reasonable price, but I would start thinking about other factors–the time committment, the length of the drive, whether I could get similar training for less somewhere else. The $600? My knee-jerk reaction is that it’s not unreasonable, but I probably wouldn’t attend a series that cost that much. If I did, it would be the most expensive series of classes I’ve ever taken.

  8. 1) I have no talent for writing, and so would only take such a course IF it was sponsored by a well konwn author like you. 2) As far as pricing, i took a logical approach. Seattle Community College tuition for a 3 hour course is $320 (not including supplies, etc). 3) YOU add value to the course because of your experience and prior teaching.
    With that said, The $480 price is not at all unreasonable.

    I look forward to hearing what you choose.

  9. I would love a class like this if I was in the area. I’d say for all of the materials, and the attention given, being that there would be small classes, I like $500.00. That being said, I feel that low income persons would find a way to take this class for the amount, and higher income brackets wouldn’t see this as being an outrageous price.

  10. I think all are quite reasonable, as the teacher would be someone with an extensive background in teaching, linguistics and writing fiction. You are worth the $50 most definitely, and would be able to bring in that amount. Though if you are comfortable with less, it would be more accessible to writers who aren’t able to raise the funds for the higher amount.

  11. It seems to me that a new offering would fill faster at the lowest rate. $360 for 30 hours with a published author/educator in a small class setting is a bargain. Since I have read the Wilderness Series multiple times, I would be comfortable paying $480.00 to participate. $600.00 might put it out of reach for me. My husband is not willing to move to Washington state so it’s a moot point for me. Too bad. If you ever offer the course in central California, I will sign up the minute I hear about it no matter the cost.

  12. I would prefer the $360 total BUT would be willing to pay the $600.My answer is based on your writings and how the Wilderness series spoke to me. I was transported each time I picked up one of the books into a time and era gone by. I would Love a chance to take a course such as this one.I`d even plan for an extended time back in BC. I don`t think the cost unreasonable at all.

  13. Well if I could afford to stay out there, I would happily pay 600 bucks to take your class. I want do badly to tell my story but I’ve been a magazine writer for do long, the prospect of what _you do is daunting. I could use this class (and want it). But I can’t see how is be able to finance the lodging. I do not think 600 dollars is too much money but I would encourage you to set up a skype program so others like me could attend. You would make so much more money and many more people would benefit. Good luck and please keep me posted. Kerrin

  14. $40-50 per session seems reasonable to me. But ultimately you are the only one can make this decision. Your time (including preparation), materials, facilities, advertising etc must be taken into account first, which is something most prospective customers don’t consider when judging the costs.
    Make sure you don’t undervalue yourself! :)

    1. Cori — The only real challenges on this end would be (1) finding the right place to hold the classes and (2) advertising. But you’re right, those things need to be taken into consideration.

  15. I would definitely pay the $360 and would think it was a steal! I also would do the $480 and probably have to think hard on the $600…

  16. I am not a writer, but my daughter seems to have a talent for it. So, speaking from the perspective from a mom knowing that my kid might change her mind on what she wants to do at any moment, I’d prefer to pay the $30/hr rate. If I knew she was older and serious about writing, I’d be more willing to pay more.

  17. I think the $30-$40 is a more practical amount to expect people to manage/afford…that being said, the higher amount may ensure a more committed, engaged group as they would want to get their money’s worth…there’s also often a natural drop off of participants in courses so maybe starting with an inital pool of 12 may mean you get your desired 10 in the end.

  18. I would say $30 per hour but even that would be stretching it a little. I was also wondering a little about the 3 hours a week. Presumably some students might have other commitments during the day and it might be held at night – within this context, a 2 hour session might be more reasonable. Though I realise that this might mean not as much gets covered – perhaps a longer lasting course (ie. same number of hours spread over a longer period). Within this context $30 per hour would feel less of a burden because then it would be only $60 a week even though the total amount is the same. Anyway, sounds like a good idea. I know you want to do it face to face but maybe online via Adobe Connect or something might also be something to think about (it would have to be all online or all face to face though, I imagine). Wish I were living closer so I could take it if you got it up and running!

  19. Also – was a bit confused by your numbers – $360 total would be $10 an hour. That seems way too low for me. Nice for the student I guess but even then I think I would expect to pay more for someone with your experience. So yes, the $30 per hour, preferably spread out a bit more would be good.

    1. Jacqui — you are absolutely correct. It would be $30 (or $40, or $50) for a session, not an hour. Then, on the other hand, $10 (or whatever) dollars would be multiplied by the number of students.

  20. I think, given who you are and the success you have had, you could definitely go for the $50 per hour option. As an attendee, of course you would prefer a cheaper option, but you have to remember that you get what you pay for (normally). I’m in Australia, so definitely don’t qualify for this, but if I wanted to become a writer, then $600 overall for a course is not unreasonable at all.

  21. Most people looking to study don’t have great amounts of cash. I’m thinking you’d get more interest at $30 sessions. People expect to have to buy additional materials so this wouldn’t be an issue. Love your books…your characters are like old friends I get to visit with sometimes ;)

  22. It would be a fantastic opportunity! I would look at the total cost over 3 months of $480 and consider that to be value for money. Locally run writing courses held weekly over a 3 month period by an unknown teacher cost on average $450-$500 per course but we should probably pay more for a top author.

  23. I would pay $480 to take such a course with you, Rosina, but I’m inclined to agree with Kerrin. You should investigate teaching online classes. I’m sure you could limit the number of students per session, and you’d never have to step from the comfort of your home office! (Plus people like me, way up in Nova Scotia, could benefit from your expertise as well)

  24. I’ve been to MasterClasses at The Brisbane Writers Festival and paid $100 for 3 hour workshops and I have to say very few were worth it… I’m sure with your qualifications, writing ability and teaching experience they will be much better – so the gist is I think $600 would be acceptable but it might not be the sweet spot. Personally I would rather do courses in a more concentrated block rather than 3 hours every week for 12 weeks. These might be some other options for you to consider as well: http://thewriteworkshops.com/writingmentor/
    And: http://www.writerscentre.com.au/courses/creative-writing/#cat-item-85
    Victoria would be a beautiful spot to go to for a writers retreat :-)

  25. I think the $40 per hour/$480 total plus materials cost is VERY reasonable and within reach for most people. Perhaps there would be a way to break the payment up into 2 payments, which would make it easier for prospective students to manage. Your time and experience is worth that and much more, but you are right, you need to balance it out with what your target audience is able to pay. I think this is a lovely idea! I wish I lived in Seattle.

  26. I would definitely take the $30 class and pay extra for materials. At my age I am more of a City College or Adult School type person and take classes for enjoyment. I am a reader and if in Seattle would enjoy such a class as a reader I have always dreamed I could write a book.

  27. I live on Salt Spring Island and travel off island often. Since my work is internet based, I love face to face. A fair on-island rate would be $40 per hour. However if I was the commuter, I would only want to pay $30 to compensate for the travel cost. Come to Salt Spring!

  28. Hi Rosina – member me? It’s been a long time! OK, to start with, you should absolutely charge the higher price. You are worth it and you need to feel that it’s worth it to you. That being said, this assumes that you offer the class in Seattle. You would have no problem quickly attracting a following and wait list if it was here. Have you checked out Hugo House and the offerings and pricing? If you choose to offer this in Seattle, count me in. I just can’t do the trek up unless it was over a more concentrated schedule. Hope this input is helpful. Keep us posted on what you decide to do. Can’t wait for The Gilded Age! Best!

  29. I think the $360 and $480 options are the most appealing. However, it depends who the intended “audience” is. If it’s for beginners, the lower cost would be more popular. But if it was for people who are already writing, but not published, I believe they would have no problem paying $600 for a series given by a known author like you, who on top of that has lots of experience in Academia.

    I wonder, would an online class be doable or is the in-person factor essential? I’m of course asking because I live in Montreal :)

  30. In the case of a weekend workshop close to home, then $600 at least. And it would open it up to an even wider audience – not just those local to the course, but others further afield who could easily manage a weekend trip to attend.
    I like the sound of offering a “free” spot to someone who can organise and recruit. I would take a lot of the burden off your shoulders and would provide an opportunity for someone who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend…you wouldn’t like to do one in Australia, by any chance, would you? ;)

  31. As a beginning writer, I would feel better about the lower rate. I believe an experienced writer could expect to pay the higher rate. Both classes would be structured differently given the experience level of the participants. I also think the price could be staggered with the lower rate for the first classes, progressing to the higher rate for the latter. With your credentials, you could certainly and reasonable command the higher prices. There is that old adage, that you “get what you pay for”! Finally, I think that if the content and structure of the sessions is available in detail, participants will feel more committed to whatever price they pay. And there could be an option that if after half of the classes the participant did not feel it was for them, there could an option to bow out gracefully.

    As I do not live near Seattle, more like across the country, I like the idea of a weekend workshop. However I would like a three day conference, with 2, 2 hour sessions per day. I would offer the options of an individual organizing a workshop and getting their fee paid for those in an area where that could be done. Otherwise, paying my costs to attend including the class fees, travel, meals and accommodation would be okay. Perhaps provide the materials. The hotel location could provide an inclusive cost for accommodation and meals. Thank you! I will be watching for a workshop near me…………

  32. I work in ICT and a similar training course (in terms of contact hours, class sizes and instructor knowledge) would easily be upwards of $1500 – which is about average for most quality courses in Project Management as well. To that end, $600 seems very reasonable to me for both the weekend format and the other.

    Personally, I lean towards courses that include an online community area (a forum, Google+ etc). The content and teaching components are obviously the most important part of the equation but the ability to network and establish a support group/enduring group (with or without the instructor) can play a significant role in my adult learning.

    Of course, I’m in Australia so I have no idea how this relates to the average cost of training or value for money in the US!

  33. Yes to both questions! I might be able to help pull together a partial group and/or potentially host for a Seattle site? We can talk. Thanks.

  34. I’ve taken writing classes over teh years and the cost has varied but price is definitely a driver, along with the content and who is teaching it. I think your pricing is fair and the Guardian unbelievable, but London is the place where the money is rather than the rest of England. As an American expat who visits regularly it seems the your mid range $40 per class would work best. Second question: I think you should offer some benefits to those who would get some support. As for weekend vs. once a week, if you can provide the place for them to stay I think that is the best way since you are more likely to have people coming from distances and thereby increase your pool of students. I would recommend giving a clear picture of what students will get from the workshops so there is no confusion or incorrect expectations.
    Kristin

  35. 1). “comfortable” = $30
    Would definitely pay $60!

    2) my sister & I hav a lot of questions about this series & you! We’d be able to come up with $500 for one of
    Then try to talk you into letting us split the classes between us. We would share the info with each
    Other after each class $ forevermore! Seriously!

    Addional Questions:

    3) this is my preference, because it decreases travel time & limits the chances of having to miss any of the
    classes. And I wouldn’t hav to spend the time warming up to & settling down for the instructor, of whom
    I’m in awe! $200-300

    4). You’d hav a run on this opportunity!! I would accept this task in a flash & smile every minute I worked on it!
    But, I think you’d hav to screen pretty closely to assure you didn’t get a very impressive candidate used
    to getting by on charm & excuses. You’d love my nephew, choose him & still love him when he
    gave you some very original & interesting excuses. But you’d still end up with a lousy venue (his garage)
    and maybe 3 people who saw the ad online. :(

  36. I love the idea of Seminars. I would pay between $150-200 for something like this. I’m not a person with a lot of money to spend on extra things, even if it does help advance my writing skills. I’m just beginning to start a writing career (yet to get anything out there) and I’m sure there are a lot like me with not a ton of money, but would absorb every moment of a seminar taught by you.
    I would also think about having a discounted price for couples…My husband and I are both writers and usually attend anything about writing together. For example, 150 per person, 225 per couple.

    I like the idea of having someone find you a reasonable venue….I’m assuming the person would contact you telling you they would be interested in you coming to a town close to them and if you were available you would have them find you a venue? If that is the case, you could probably get a lot of interest with that, I know that Our public library holds seminars every once in awhile.

  37. Ooooh a weekend seminar thing would be awesome! Personally, because I’m a beginner and never took such a class before, I would be comfortable paying around $300 for the weekend, if it was in my hometown. But I’m speaking from the point of view of a recent grad who doesn’t have a permanent job yet :P

  38. I’m agreeing with the $30-$40 pricing range with perhaps the higher one ($50) for experienced writers (an advanced class or perhaps a second course with a different focus.) I know you will have an extensive wait list if offered near an urban area. I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and there would be a big market for a weekend seminar. That said, folks like to have them where there are reasonably priced accommodations available. A local person organizing the venue would be essential, and would work for free tuition. $400 sounds reasonable for a weekend. As a Librarian, I know it will sell anywhere! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for writing! I enjoy following your thoughts as well as your books.

  39. The weekend course would appeal to me much more than something spread out over three months. I can see the value of the longer course, with time for writing assignments between sessions, but life would get in the way of completing the course. With the weekend course, you commit to set aside two days. Done. With no lodging or meals included, something around $480 might seems reasonable. It might be nice to utilize a conference center, like the Seabeck Conference Center, that would provide a room and meals, and charge a bit more. That way students would be away from home, and small group evening sessions could be added. That way, maybe more students could be accommodated.
    (no need to enter me in the drawing, I have all of the Wilderness novels on my kindle.).

  40. A weekend seminar would be wonderful, especially if it was nearby! as a visual artist, I have taken several weekend and weeklong painting seminars so that is my basis for comparison. The workshops I have attended have had around 10-15 attendees. These smaller numbers make it possible for the instructor to give both group and individual instruction. One additional thing I like about attending a workshop (albeit an art workshop) is that there is always a mix of experience among the students. The hobbyists are working along side the professionals. As to pricing, I think $480 is very reasonable!
    I am an avid reader and would love to attend one of your writing workshops as a beginner. I live in Tulsa, Oklahoma which is admittedly not very metropolitan. However, If you are looking for a place that is charming, quirky and artistic with a unique history you may consider Tulsa. The arts and Humanities council of Tulsa (www.ahha.org) would be a good host for said workshop. I realize you may not have thought of traveling quite so far but a girl can hope!

  41. Rosina:
    I think you’ve got a wonderful idea here and are drastically underselling yourself. You’ve priced yourself along the lines of Community Ed programs, and you are so much more.
    That being said, here’s what I think has real value in your proposition
    1. Your presence and active participation
    2. The materials you distribute and the exercised you facilitate
    3. The series, rather that a one-off event, so it is real content versus a celebrity sighting/meet and greet.

    Package this well and you should charge $500 for a series of 3 seminars. You can always offer preferred pricing at a discount to enrolled writing students or another segment.

    More thought needs to be articulated about who you want to attract for these classes. At what level do you want to teach? Do you want serious writing students or historical fiction readers who want an insight into your world? What works best in a class — strangers who meet for the first time here, or a pre-existing cohort?

    And, finally, I think expectations will need to be managed. You’re going to teach skills here, not read manuscripts and offer the name of your agent.

    Best of luck with this, and please keep us posted via social media about how it all shapes up.

  42. I find this an intriguing idea. As I live in a fairly isolated (globally, but not locally) part of the world if I were seriously looking at writing as either a profession or a leisure activity, I would jump at the opportunity to work with a successful published author. I think you have priced this very reasonably, indeed I wonder if you should have 2 sorts of classes. One for those who wish to “dabble” ( for want of a better phrase) or have a real interest in writing but are constrained by time or finances, and those who are wishing to build a career or have the resources , fiscally and time wise to devote to writing full time. Good luck. I think it’s a great opportunity for budding writers.

  43. I think that anything up to $600 is very reasonable for such rare and exclusive access to your tacit knowledge Rosina. I also think that the idea of a weekend retreat is wonderful. I wished I lived closer. I would love to help you organise it ????

  44. I’m not ever going to turn into a writer, but if I were in the market for something like this I would prefer a more intensive two-day type deal. $500 sounds reasonable if I didn’t have to pay a lot for travel expenses.

  45. Question 1: $30-$40/Hour plus materials seems reasonable to me.
    Question 2-1: Between $400-$500 for the weekend.
    Question 2-2: Sounds reasonable, but I would assume most would be willing to do it for a heavy discount, maybe half-off the seminar?

  46. Q1. A local class would be an amazing opportunity for most writers. Pricing between 450 and 600 would seem reasonable.
    Q2. Free admittance in exchange recruiting and arranging the workshop seems llike more than a fair exchange.

  47. I really like your second option and think the free pass for the organiser is a great idea. I think in terms of what I would pay – I am in the situation where I don’t have dependents so possibly can afford more than some. I think the range that has been quoted of between $500 to $750 would be suitable. Maybe, $500 for the 2 day course, $100 for meals, $150 for accommodation…some mix like that would fly. The $150 for a 3 hour session is in line with prices they charge in Brisbane for a 3 hour Masterclass at the Brisbane Writers Festival…and not all those taking these classes have your experience nor I imagine quality of materials. I hope this helps :-)

  48. In answer to question # 2: I think a weekend seminar held locally would be wonderful and it would open up your market to just about ANYWHERE, rather than being restricted to Seattle/Vancouver. I would be comfortable paying $500 for something with that kind of format, and would also be willing to travel to a few hours away to attend. I think it is a great idea for the organizer to be given free “tuition.” Organizing something like that can be a lot of work, and I think that would be a great incentive.

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