AUTHORS LAB: The best way to get your book written, once and for all

Attend an Authors Lab info session! November 9 and 14, 3pm and 6pm both days.

You know that book you have inside you? Let a coach, a cohort, and craft classes help you get it on the outside.

What is Authors Lab?

Charlotte Lit’s Authors Lab program helps you to get that book out of your head and onto paper.

Our model: Craft Classes + Cohort Community + Customized Coaching = Creative Success. Here’s what that means:

Craft Classes

Over 12 months, you’ll take 16 classes to help you develop your craft, from some of the area’s most respected writers and writing teachers. These include 12 monthly workshops with your cohort, and four electives from the Charlotte Lit catalog. (There’s more info on this below.)

Customized Coaching

You will work with a writing coach selected to fit you and your genre, approximately two hours each month as your work through your draft.

When you’re ready (that is, once you’ve reached a certain stage in your writing—often at the completion of the first draft), you’ll advance to a second-level coaching/editing process tailored entirely to where you are and what you need to advance your work.

Cohort Community

A cornerstone of Authors Lab is making the journey with a cohort of writers who support and encourage each other, teach and learn from each other, and help keep everyone on track toward their goals. You will attend classes and socials together, create accountability and critique groups, and participate in a private online forum.

While a member of Authors Lab, you will:

  • Write your book, helped along by regular editorial support, and deadlines to keep you on track.
  • Belong to a cohort that will travel with you, providing you with support and getting your support in return.
  • Learn to be a better writer through monthly classes, facilitated workshopping, individual coaching, and from your coaches and cohort.

What makes Authors Lab different than other book-in-a-year programs?

  • It’s live. Authors Lab happens in person, right here in Charlotte. Most programs are online virtual communities. Your cohort and coaches will all be here, in person, face-to-face.
  • It’s customized for you. New cohorts begin in January, and you stay in for as long as you need. When you join, you will meet with your lead coach to create a plan and decide your target time frame, usually from 9 to 24 months.
  • It evolves with you. Authors Lab provides the right coach and the right coaching at the right time. What you need, and who you need, depends on where you are at any given time. (Some examples are shown in the FAQs, below.)

At the end of your chosen time frame…

If you follow the plan, you will have either a completed first draft, or, if you began with a completed first draft, a final draft that is ready for submission or self-publication.

Benefits: Why should you join Authors Lab?

Writing can be a solitary process, but Authors Lab is a community. During the year, you will make the writing journey alongside your cohort companions: learning together, writing together at scheduled write-ins, socializing and talking writing, and forming accountability and critique groups. You will also work closely with Charlotte Lit’s staff and with your assigned coach. During your time in the Lab, all the following will happen:

  • You will imagine and then clarify your book’s purpose and target audience, with the help of your coach and cohort.
  • You will create an outline of the book that is solid, achievable, and editorially-sound.
  • You will write, and you will have deadlines to meet. (And you will learn how to make time for your writing.)
  • You will have regular one-on-one editorial meetings with your book coach..
  • You will attend monthly writing workshops designed especially for Authors Lab writers, and have discounted access to all of Charlotte Lit’s workshops. (See below for a list of planned workshops.)
  • You will belong to a vibrant cohort community, which will include both informal and formal support. Formal support includes weekly writing socials, workshopping groups, and accountability partners.
  • By the end date you choose, if you follow the program and do the work, you will have a completed draft of your manuscript.

Craft Classes

Monthly Authors Lab Workshops

Authors Lab includes monthly writing workshops created especially for the cohort. Here’s the current year’s schedule; 2018’s will be similar.

Workshop List (2017)
  • Jan: Planning Your Project
  • Feb: Scene Study
  • Mar: Creating Time to Write
  • Apr: The Art of Dialogue
  • May: Vision and Revision
  • Jun: The Shape of Stories
  • Jul: Show and Tell
  • Aug: Putting Poetry in Your Prose
  • Sep: Creating and Strengthening Characters
  • Oct: Finding Your Voice
  • Nov: Effective Use of Symbolic Language
  • Dec: How to Read Your Work

Elective Classes

Included in the Authors Lab fee, cohort members may also select 12 hours from Charlotte Lit’s extensive course calendar. (Additional classes are 25 percent off regular rates.)

Authors Lab Faculty

We have a great lineup of coaches and teachers to work with you. While we’re still making our selections for Authors Lab 2018, you can read the bios of the entire Charlotte Lit faculty here.

Your Investment

Your investment has four parts:

  • Your time and energy. To be successful in Authors Lab, you must be dedicated to your writing and to your cohort. This means: writing consistently; attending two monthly activities (one Saturday and one weekday evening); attending elective classes; meeting with your coach and cohort accountability partners; and participating in the online forum. See the FAQs for details of the time commitment.
  • Base fee. The base fee, which includes craft classes (Authors Lab-specific plus electives), the cohort community, and the first level of coaching (two hours per month), is $195 per month, usually from 9 to 24 months.
  • Advanced editorial fees. Most Lab participants will also select a higher-level, intensive editorial coaching relationship, with fees ranging widely (see the FAQs for examples.)
  • Charlotte Lit membership. All Authors Lab participants must be Charlotte Lit members; options begin at $75/year (or $7/month). After you complete your Authors Lab experience, you’ll be a part of an Authors Lab alumni group for as long as you maintain your Charlotte Lit membership.

Authors Lab FAQs

Click here to read the FAQs…

How do I know if I’m right for this program? Do you want to write a book, but don’t know where to start? Have you tried to write a book, and stalled? Do you want the support, encouragement, and accountability from other writers? Do you want to get it done, once and for all? Any of these are reasons to join the program.

Don’t most writers do this on their own? Many do, but that doesn’t mean that you have to. Writing a book is a difficult, nuanced, complex process. It can be immensely helpful to have professional guidance and peer support. And, our expectation is that you will write a far better book this way.

What if I’ve written and published books in the past? Authors Lab is designed to meet you where you are, taking advantage of your experience. What’s different about writing a book while in the Lab is that you’re not isolated, not going it alone. You will have teachers, coaches, and a cohort of writers to guide and support you. And, your prior experience will be very valuable to you and to the others in your cohort.

If I want in, am I’m automatically in? Spaces are limited, so there is an application process. We will evaluate your book idea and writing samples, and look for a fit with other members of the Authors Lab cohort and our coaching team.

What if I don’t live in Charlotte? Authors Lab is structured to accommodate those who have to travel a bit to get here. The monthly workshops are on a Saturday, and there will be an online component so that you’ll still be connected to the cohort.

What if I can’t attend some of the workshops? Because conflicts are inevitable, our expectation is for each participant to attend at least eight of the 12 weekend workshops. Workshop materials will be available to cohort members who cannot a session in person.

Who are the writing coaches and mentors? The coaching team will be selected based on the needs of the Authors Lab writers. You will be matched with a writer who has extensive experience in your genre or format.

What is provided in the base-level coaching? We will select a primary coach for each cohort member. This coach will provide you with two hours of individual coaching per month, providing you with the guidance, advice, and insight you need at the time. For example, the first meeting will focus on planning the book and planning the year. Later sessions might include assessment of your writing, helping you with plot or character problems, or helping you to establish and keep to deadlines.

What is advanced-level editorial coaching? Most books, to be successful, need the fresh eyes and perspective of an outside editor. Authors Lab will help you select an editor/coach who can provide you with the next level of support you and your book need. Fees vary widely, and are based on the editor, the length of the book, the stage of its development, and the type of editing needed. For example, the cost for a 100,000-word novel might be $1,000 for an editorial evaluation, and $2,500 for a detailed developmental edit. This is an optional component of Authors Lab, and if you decide to pursue it, we’ll provide you a menu of options and coaches to choose from.

Who is running the program? What are your credentials? Paul Reali, co-founder of Charlotte Lit, will be program lead and coordinator. In addition to his work here, Paul is the managing editor of ICSC Press, the imprint of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State, which publishes books and journals with a creativity focus. At ICSC Press, Paul runs a distance version of the Authors Lab program, which currently has eight authors working on their first books. Paul has a B.A. in Journalism and an M.S. in Creativity, both from Buffalo State. He has written and edited professionally for more than 25 years, with four books and dozens of magazine articles to his credit. Among other works, Paul is the co-author of Creativity Rising, and the co-editor of three editions of the annual Big Questions in Creativity collection (2013, 2016, 2017).

What if I have more questions? Contact Paul Reali at paul@charlottelit.org.

How to Apply

The application process allows us to assess whether the program is a good fit for you, and to help us manage the cohort size. During the application process, we will learn more about you and the book you want to write. In addition to the application form, we’ll also ask you to provide a writing sample and to attend an information session. To begin the application process, click here.

Thank you for your interest in Authors Lab. Questions? Email Paul Reali at paul@charlottelit.org.