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Children's Lit Fellows

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a free or subsidized Fellowship?
No. The Children’s Lit Fellows is a tuition-based, one year course of training designed to support participants in completing a submission-ready manuscript, and to make introductions to agents and editors to assist in the journey toward publication. 
What is the cost of the Program?

The cost depends upon whether you are taking the program for graduate credit or are participating on a non-credit basis. For non-credit participants, as well as NY State residents seeking graduate credit, the cost is approximately $9,500 for the full year.

Out-of-State and international applicants seeking the for-credit option pay approximately $17,000. The cost covers the 16 credits at the graduate level plus ancillary fees and housing during the two residencies.

Is there any financial aid or tuition assistance available?
Unfortunately this program is not eligible for scholarships or tuition assistance from the University itself. The fee cannot be waived or reduced. However, some of our participants have secured grants from outside funding organizations, such as Scholarship America, or by running a crowdsourcing campaign, via sites like Gofundme.com. The financial aid office can better advise you as to what if any other opportunities for support, such as grants or other resources, may be available to you. 
I understand that there is no funding directly available for this program and the suggestion is to look for more general scholarships or grants, or to try crowdsourcing. Would I need to have funding secured BEFORE applying, or is this something that I would do if and when accepted onto the program?
When and where to apply for funding is really a decision best made by the applicant, but admission to the program is not binding. If accepted, you are offered an invitation to accept our offer of admission or to decline. The only consideration to bear in mind is that there is a narrow window of opportunity to accept the offer of admission - about 2-3 weeks, as the deadline for application is November 15 and enrollment for the first semester begins in early January. With this in mind, we recommend you research your options for financing so that you're ready to hit the ground running should you be admitted to the program.
May I use a UUP tuition waiver if I work for a SUNY faculty?

Unfortunately, this program is no longer eligible for UUP waivers.

Must I pay the tuition fees in full up front, or are there payment plan options?
There are definitely payment plan options. The Bursar’s office can assist you in setting one up.
How many Fellows participate each year?
The program accepts a maximum of twelve Fellows per year, in order to maintain the highest quality, individualized mentorship and workshop experiences for all participants.
Is the program open to international students?

Yes. Because the program is accomplished primarily in distance-learning format, it is ideally suited to international students. Our Fellows alumnae have come from as far away as Australia. However, there are a few requirements for international Fellows to qualify for admission:

1) You must have a high school diploma or the international equivalent for the non-credit option. (For-credit applicants require a bachelor's degree or the international equivalent.)

2) You must speak and write in fluent English. 

3) You must be available to travel to the US for both the 5-day July and 3-day January conferences.

4) As with our national applicants, admission is selective, and based on the strength of writing samples and letters of recommendation.

How does the year work?
Upon admission to the program, each Fellow is paired with an initial faculty mentor - typically an esteemed author in their chosen discipline, i.e. picture book, middle grade or young adult. During the spring semester (from February – May), they work remotely from home, from anywhere in the world, emailing their mentors their manuscripts in progress once a month, and receiving written feedback via email within a week of submission. In June, Fellows polish their manuscripts in progress and prepare for the Summer Conference. In July, Fellows travel to the Stony Brook Southampton campus to attend one of the 5-day workshops in the Southampton Children's Lit Conference. In August, they continue to revise, and in the Fall term – September through December – they are paired with new mentors, with whom they work in the same capacity as in the spring. In January, Fellows return to campus for a final, Fellows-only 3-day Publishing Conference, at the end of which they travel into NYC for a day of introductions to and pitch sessions with agents and editors.  
What does the schedule look like?

The general schedule is as follows:

November 15 - Application deadline.

December 1-10 - Admission announcements

January 1 - 31 - Admissions and enrollment processing; registration for first semester. Assignment of and introduction to first mentor.

Feb. 1 - First submission due to mentor. Begin first Reading Assignment.
Feb. 7 - Response from mentor.

March 1 - Second submission due to mentor.
March 7 - Response from mentor.

April 1 - Third submission due to mentor. First Reading Response due. Begin second reading assignment.
April 7 - Response from mentor.

May 1 - Fourth submission due to mentor.
May 7 - Response from mentor.

May, June - Continue writing/revising independently

June 1 - Second Reading Response due. Begin 3rd Reading Assignment.

3rd week of July - 5-day Southampton Childrens Lit Conference, Stony Brook Southampton, NY.

August 1 - Conference reflection and 3rd Reading Response due. Begin 4th Reading Assignment.

August - Continue writing/revising independently.

September 1 - First submission to Fall mentor.
September 7 - Response from mentor.

October 1 - Second submission to Fall mentor.
October 7 - Response from mentor.

November 1 - Third submission to Fall mentor. Fourth Reading Response due. Begin 5th Reading Assignment.
November 7 - Response from mentor.

December 1 - Fourth and final submission to mentor.
December 7 - Response from mentor.
December 15 - Final reading response due.

December 15 - January 15 - Final revisions, draft query letter and prospectus.

3rd week of January - Publishing Conference, Stony Brook Southampton, NY.

I work a full time job. What are the hours I would need to commit, and are there specific times I would need to be available?
The Children's Lit Fellows program was designed for people who work full-time. You are completely free to structure your time however you choose - as long as you make your submissions each month when due. There are no specific times you would need to be available, with the only exceptions being the five-day summer conference in July, and the three day publishing conference in January, which require full-time attendance. The amount of hours you can expect to commit to the program will depend on the nature of your project and your goals, but you should anticipate that you will be doing a good deal of writing and re-writing after-hours and on weekends.
Does the program encompass non-fiction?

All forms of writing for children and young adults are eligible for the Fellows program, including non-fiction.

Who are the mentors, and how are they assigned?

We are fortunate to have a team of accomplished and gifted faculty mentors – established and esteemed children’s lit authors who are well‐versed in all forms of picture book, middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as nonfiction.

Some of our mentors are full-time faculty members, but most rotate in and out of the program and participate on an as-needed basis, subject to their own availability. Among the faculty mentors who have participated in this program to date are:

Chris Barton

Samantha Berger

Libba Bray

Rachel Cohn

Gayle Forman

Donna Freitas

Lorie Ann Grover

Cindy (Trumbore) Kane

Peter Lerangis

Grace Lin

Megan McCafferty

Patricia McCormick

James McMullan

Kate McMullan

Andrea Davis Pinkney

Tricia Rayburn

Peter H. Reynolds

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Tor Seidler

Amy Sklansky

Heidi Stemple

Ann Whitford Paul

Maryrose Wood

Dan Yaccarino

Mentors are assigned after careful assessment of each Fellow’s stated goals and any works in progress, and change from one semester to the next to provide a wide range of learning opportunities and perspectives. Our faculty is outstanding, and we have a deep bench.

How many pages or how much material may I submit each month? And are the assignments any more specific than writing/submitting pages from a novel or a draft of a picture book?

In general, the monthly submission is either one draft of a picture book (1000 words or less) or up to 20 pages of a novel (5000 words.) Some mentors are willing to read and offer feedback on more than 20 pages, or more than one picture book draft, per submission - each mentor works individually – but that is subject to the mentor's availability and cannot be guaranteed.

Each mentor is also in charge of making their own additional assignments, which are specific to each mentee. Assignments may target developing plot or characters, revising for clarity, prompting for generation or something else entirely. There are also reading assignments – some that are globally assigned as part of the Fellowship by the Program Director, and others that the mentor provides. These are mostly craft-oriented books, with separate lists for novelists and picture book authors. Mentors tend to add their own reading recommendations, relative to the type of manuscript their mentee is developing.

Will any of my mentors read my entire manuscript from start to finish?

Picture book authors have their manuscripts read from start to finish; novelists typically do not. The Fellows program is not designed to provide feedback on every single page or word of your manuscript - that is the job of a freelance or acquiring editor. Our goal is to provide you with the following over-arching types of support:

1) Professional feedback: editorial guidance as you work - identifying strengths and weaknesses in your writing, addressing big picture questions, providing a sounding board for your ideas, etc.

2) Accountability: deadlines to meet, goals to achieve

3) Community - connection with other writers and the writing community for insight, inspiration and professional networking, which continues well beyond the year in the program.

4) Preparation for the professional world – training in the specific standards and guidelines of children’s publishing, the nuances of pitching a manuscript, and introductions to agents and editors.

Our experience is that focusing on the detailed aspects of craft each month (as opposed to the big picture) allows for both the writer and his/her mentor to think more carefully and specifically about the work. By being challenged to work on just one or two chapters each month, Fellows are able to sink deeply into their stories, and to include all the essential moments that a chapter or scene requires. Our view is that learning to work this way best prepares writers for the rigors of the professional writing world – and that they gain lessons in craft that extend beyond the one manuscript.

 
How does the 5-day Summer Conference in July work?
The 5‐day Southampton Children’s Literature Conference is part of a broader Southampton Arts Writers’ Conference that includes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, filmmaking, acting and directing. In consultation with the Program Director, Fellows will be placed in writing workshops specific to their genre alongside other Fellows as well as Stony Brook Southampton MFA students and non‐matric children’s lit authors - but never more than 12 per workshop. Workshops meet daily, for 3 hour sessions, and are supplemented by guest lectures, panels, mini‐workshops and readings by authors of the first rank, along with a wide range of electives led by distinguished authors, editors, publishers and agents. After the conference, Fellows prepare conference assessments and a detailed prospectus of their final manuscript project from home, and submit these to the Director for use in pairing them with their advanced writing faculty mentor for the Fall term.
How does the January Publishing Conference work? Will I be meeting with people individually, or as a group with other fellows? Will I have the chance to meet agents, or editors who publish the same genre I am trying to publish in?

The final Publishing and Editing conference is an intimate, Fellows-only gathering, led by Program Director Emma Walton Hamilton and novelist/Fellows mentor Patricia McCormick. The Fellows spend two full days on campus polishing their manuscripts and query letters, and learning everything about the submissions, acquisition and publication process. On the third and final day, we head into New York City to meet, hear from and pitch to agents and editors. We begin with a panel discussion with acquiring children’s lit editors, followed by a panel discussion with literary agents who specialize in children’s lit across multiple formats. The Fellows then meet individually with each agent to pitch their work in a kind of “speed-dating” format. 

You will have plenty of time and support in the days and weeks leading up to the publishing conference ‐ from your faculty mentors and your colleagues in the program ‐ to prepare your queries and/or pitches. You and your manuscript will be ready to shine!

I already have a literary agent. Will the January Publishing Conference still be of value for me?
Several of our alumni were already represented by literary agents when they joined the program. It's important to note, however, that not all agents represent children's books, and if you write in other genres your agent may specialize in those rather than in children's literature. The children's publishing world is very different from that of adult or other forms of publishing, and if you wish to write for children or young adults it's essential that the person representing you have plenty of experience and industry connections within the world of children's lit. 
In addition, even if you already have an agent, the final three-day Publishing and Editing conference has enormous value. Participants learn about all aspects of the children's publishing industry, including the submission, acquisitions and publication process, as well as how to present themselves and their work. For the greater part of the final day, we hear from and ask questions of editors and agents who specialize in children's lit, getting their take on the current state of the industry and its unique demands, distinctions and opportunities. Previous participants who already had agents found tremendous value in all of these activities, and simply sat out the last two hours of pitch sessions on the final day.
What kind of writing sample should I include with my application?
Your writing sample should be reflective of the genre and format of children’s literature that you are interested in pursuing during your year, i.e. a draft of a picture book text for those interested in pursuing picture books, or an excerpt (up to 25 pages) from a middle grade or young adult novel in progress. You may also send a proposal or outline for a story you would like to develop, but this must still be accompanied by a writing sample. Essays, poetry and fiction unrelated to children’s lit are not recommended, but will be accepted if accompanied by a detailed proposal for a children’s or YA manuscript to be developed. Quality is more important than quantity, so when in doubt, send only your very best work.
What should I say in my statement of purpose?
Your statement of purpose should convey who you are, the specifics of your interest in and/or prior experience with writing for children, and what you hope to get out of the Fellowship. Help us understand a bit about you and why you want to participate in this program.
What would you like to see in my resume? For instance, I have extensive experience in a field not related to writing - should I include that?

Your resume should give us a clear idea of who you are. Knowing about your work background, even if not related to writing, helps to give us a full picture. We also want to know about your writing experience, of course.
If I apply for credit, will you accept copies of transcripts rather than official ones?
The graduate school requires official, sealed transcripts sent directly from your alma mater. One degree transcript is fine – whether a BA, masters or doctorate. There is no need to send them all. Transcripts do not need to arrive prior to the application deadline, but must arrive prior to official enrollment.
From whom should I seek recommendations, and what should they say?
Your recommendation letters should be from individuals who are familiar with your interest in, and aptitude for, writing children’s books or young adult novels. This would ideally be a professor or writing instructor, but can also be a critique group partner, or even a friend or colleague. It should be someone who can speak to your writing ability, and to your level of interest in and commitment to the craft. 
When are admissions announcements made?
Admissions announcements are made in the first week of December.
I see that the for-credit application portal is closed during July and part of August. Is there anything I can/should do during those months to begin the application process?

Non-credit applicants may apply any time of the year up until November 15 by emailing their materials directly to the program director.

For credit applicants may apply any time of year other than during the month of July and the first two weeks in August. During those months, there is no need to do anything with respect to your application other than to be organizing your materials, gathering your letters of recommendation, and polishing your writing sample and statement of purpose. Once the application portal re-opens in mid-August, you may upload and submit your application anytime up until November 15.

How are the credits distributed across the year?
The year consists of four semesters – spring, summer, fall and winter – each of which is comprised of four credits, for a total of 16 credits.
Are the credits transferable to a Master’s program?
The sixteen credits are specific to this Advanced Certificate in Children’s Literature only, and are not transferable to any other program.
What are the differences between the non-credit and for credit options?

There is no difference between the non-credit and for credit option at the academic and experiential level. Both options provide the same rigorous course of instruction, one-to-one mentorship and other benefits.

The for-credit option is simply for those who wish to add a graduate certificate specific to Children's Literature to their CV or resume. The chief differences are financial (for those who live out of state) and administrative. For-credit applicants must apply to the program through Stony Brook's official graduate school admissions portal, provide undergraduate transcripts and meet other enrollment requirements.

If the cost is the same for the for-credit and non-credit option in-state, is there an advantage to obtaining the credits?

The for-credit option gives you an official 16-credit graduate certificate from Stony Brook University in the field of Children's Literature. The non-credit option gives you exactly the same support, learning and connections throughout the year, but the 'certificate' at the end is unofficial - meaning you will be able to add to your resume that you were a Children's Lit Fellow for 2018, and you will even receive an unofficial "certificate" from our program that you can frame and hang on your wall, but you will not receive an official graduate certificate from the university itself. The for-credit option is only available for those with undergraduate degrees and your application to the for credit program requires obtaining copies of your official transcripts from any or all undergraduate insitutions.

For international and out-of-state students (the state being New York), the for-credit option costs more. See the question above about costs for details.

How can I tell if this program is right for me?

The Children's Literature Fellows program may be a good fit for you if:

  • You take your writing seriously and are ready to advance to the next level.
  • You have a clear idea of what you want to write and are seeking the structure and support to do so, OR you have a manuscript in progress and are seeking the structure and support to finish it.
  • You are open to feedback, even if it requires significant rewriting to make your work the best it can be.
  • You have the ability and initiative to manage your time and work independently between rounds of feedback.
  • You are able to travel to Southampton, NY for five days in July and 3 days in January.
  • You are seeking a community of fellow writers.
  • You would like to better understand and prepare for entering the world of publishing.

The Fellows program is probably NOT a good fit for you if:

  • You have limited time to devote to writing.
  • You are intrigued by the idea of writing for children or young adults, but have no specific experience or project in mind.
  • You are looking for an easy way to build your author resume, or to break into publishing.
  • You are resistant to feedback, or highly sensitive when it comes to discussing your work.
What are the main differences between this certificate program and an MFA, such as is offered by Vermont College of Fine Arts?

The essential differences between our 1 year Children's Lit Fellows certificate program and an MFA such as VCFA offers are as follows:

Financial - For any non-credit participant (or New York State resident seeking the for credit option) the Fellows program costs around $9,500 for the full year; Out-of-State and international applicants seeking the for-credit option pay approximately $17,000. This covers the 16 credits at the graduate level plus room and board during the two residencies. VCFA students pay 2-4 times that amount for the two year program.

Specialization - Our program requires you to specialize in a specific format - picture book, middle grade or YA novel, and to spend your year with us creating or refining a specific work or works in progress. An MFA such as VCFA tends to be broader in scope and to encourage you to experiment across formats.

Publishing Connections - Most MFA's focus primarily if not exclusively on the craft of writing, and don't offer much in the way of preparation for or connection to the publishing world. Our program culminates with a publishing/editing conference, in which we introduce participants to the ins and outs of the publishing industry and train them in crafting query letter, proposals, elevator speeches and pitches. We then travel into NYC for a full day of meeting, hearing from, and pitching to editors and agents.

Timing/Residency - Our program is 1 year, start to finish, and is accomplished primarily remotely... it requires a total of 8 days in residence on our campus - 5 in the summer, 3 in the winter. Most MFA's are 2-3 years, and require a good deal more time in residence (even if they are low-res programs.)

 
Roughly how many applications do you receive per year for this program?
The number of applications vary per year, but are currently in the vicinity of approximately 50 applicants for the 12 spots.
I have additional questions that are not answered here - what should I do?
Please feel free to email the Program Director, Emma Walton Hamilton at emma.waltonhamilton@stonybrook.edu with further questions.
In addition, if admitted to the program, applicants receive a detailed syllabus including all significant dates, instructions and reading assignments, plus a more comprehensive list of FAQ's to assist them in making the decision as to whether to accept our offer of admission.