Nonfiction | Master Class

Nonfiction & Publishing Master Class: Build Your Author Platform

If you want to be a writer, you’ve probably heard that you need to “build your platform.” What does this even mean? Should you follow 10,000 people on Twitter and hope that 5,000 follow you back? Should you finally get around to starting a blog? Do you need a professional headshot? A content strategy? Not necessarily. An author platform is basically a combination of visibility and expertise: what are you known for and who is your audience?

This 2-day master class takes the fear and anxiety out of building a platform by starting small: one great essay at a time. Building a strong portfolio of published essays is one of the fastest ways to attract the attention of a literary agent, and increase your chances of landing a book deal, and we'll teach you how and where to pitch your best ideas. This class is perfect for emerging writers who are just starting to think about their platform, as well as writers with books coming out this summer or fall who want to start pitching essays for publicity.

Through in-class writing exercises, engaging discussion, and non-boring homework assignments, we'll teach you how to:

- discover your unique expertise

- master the art of the personal essay

- generate and pitch ideas beyond the personal

- find your audience and capture their attention

- deal with the business side of freelance writing

At the end of two sessions, you'll have:

- a bundle of new essay ideas

- a 1500-word draft of a personal essay, critiqued by Leigh

- two complete pitches, vetted by Laura

- new insight into online media and the path to publishing 

Laura Feinstein

Laura Feinstein is a writer and editor covering the intersection where art, technology, and global culture meet. Currently Senior Web Editor at Departures Magazine, she's previously held staff editor positions at Fusion, GOOD Magazine, and VICE, and has contributed to such diverse publications as The Guardian, T/The New York Times, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Salon, Vogue, Paper Magazine, BOMB Magazine, and CityLab at The Atlantic (among others). Based in BK, she's always on the look-out for the new and unboring.

Leigh Stein

Leigh Stein is the author of four books, including the satirical novel Self Care, forthcoming from Penguin in 2020, and the memoir Land of Enchantment. She has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, ELLE, Allure, BuzzFeed, Slate, and Poets & Writers


"Although I had a few publications before taking the class, I didn't know why some pitches worked and others didn't. I was throwing darts at a board, blindfolded. This class explained the process, from both a writer's and editor's viewpoints, and offered support and motivation. I appreciate the critique, helpful notes and handouts, the assignments that pushed me but were not overwhelming, and the synergy the class provided. Leigh and Laura were very generous with their 'tools of the trade.'"

Karen Alea Ford

"I got so so much out of this class. Leigh and Laura completely demystified the art of pitching essays, writing them, and working with editors. I'm already having more success with getting pitches accepted. This class helped me to be a stronger writer all around."

Naomi Extra