A 14-week online course, open to MFA students anywhere 

An offering unique to Carlow University, The Entrepreneurial Writer combines best practices with personalized mentorship. It is open to current MFA students at any institution, as well as people who have completed an MA, MFA or PhD in fields connected to writing. Others are welcome by permission. 

This course prepares you for post-MFA life by developing the skills necessary to work within a professional literary community—whether as a writer, editor, publisher, or organizer of literary projects and programs.

You will learn:

  • multiple forms of writing related to publishing (query letters for literary, trade, and commercial magazines)
  • how to secure an agent (book proposals, query letters, treatments)
  • how to apply for grants and fellowships (narrative statements, writing samples, project plans)
  • how to seek employment (biographical statements, cv, teaching statements). 

In fourteen weeks, students will gain the basic exposure necessary to feel confident in their professional goals and literary citizenship. But, in an effort to provide more than just the basics, each student will work with their mentor to develop a personalized contract reflecting their personal goals, narrow or broad, including three major submissions.

Talk to your MFA Director about taking this course and get in touch with Carlow's MFA director, Kevin Haworth, with any questions you have: 412.578.6597,


Current Carlow MFA Students: The program's goals for current students in this required* course are to gain exposure to the basic business practices of the post-MFA life (across all three genres with both professional paths and literary citizenship in mind). This means absorbing a lot of new information while also dabbling in new professional writing forms. The contract for current students requires that your packets reflect genre-specific writing (1), a secondary goal of your choice (2), and personal goal-setting/planning for your post-MFA life. This course is also required for all students who enter Carlow's comprehensive MFA in Creative Writing program in January 2016 and after. 

Post-MFA students: Our decision to offer this course to students who've already graduated from MFA programs is to assist creative writers of all genres in deepening their understanding around publishing, teaching, and literary citizenship, as well as the non-creative forms of writing necessary to thrive in today's literary world. Our two-pronged approach (1. exposing you to the basic business practices of a literary life through discussions, audio lectures, guest interviews, & readings; and 2. offering you an opportunity to identify your personal goals and work one-on-one with a mentor to get you started, and in some cases complete) allows students to make this course work for them.

Are you desperate to work on a book proposal or start that agent search, but wish you had a mentor to guide you? Have you always wanted to start a literary magazine, but you don't know where to start? Do you aspire to start your own alternative creative writing program or reading series, but require guidance in writing funding proposals or begin to plan and organize? Or, do you know you want a freelance writing and/or editing life, but you don't know where to start. These are just a few possible areas you could focus your personalized mentorship.

Current MFA Students from other programs: While we recommend you follow the course aims/contracts for Carlow students, you're welcome to narrowly focus your contract (like post-MFA students) if you choose. 


About Your Mentor

MAGGIE MESSITT is author of The Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa-a work of narrative and immersion journalism set in post-Apartheid South Africa, long-listed for the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Her essays and reportage have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Memoir Journal, Mother Jones, River Teeth, and the Southern Poverty Law

Center's Teaching Tolerance magazine, among others. Messitt has a BA in Journalism and Faith, Peace, & Justice from Boston College, an MFA from Goucher College, and (is one dissertation defense away from) a PhD in Creative Nonfiction at Ohio University. A 2015 Kenyon Review Peter Taylor Fellow and 2016 Clayton B. Ofstad Endowed Writer-in-Residence at Truman State University, she's working to complete her next book, a hybrid of investigation and memoir.

Messitt has largely worked for herself and managed projects, supported by grants and fellowships, since 2003. She piloted, developed curriculum for, and founded a writing school in rural South Africa (with grants from the Lonely Planet Foundation, South Africa's Media Development & Diversity Agency, and the International Academy of Film & Television); launched and edited one digital and two print publications; partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to manage the expansion of a prison creative writing program; developed an ongoing campaign to match authors and their books with prison classrooms; and continues to work as a book proposal and developmental manuscript editor. She has managed editorial projects-funded through grants she wrote-for Wisconsin Public Television (WPT), Point of View Documentary Films, and Wisconsin Historical Society Press, among others. Understanding the business of writing and its unique genres-query letters, book proposals, grant writing, business plans -has been critical to her career and literary citizenship.