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Class series will help writers get published, market themselves

Central Minnesota is stepping up its game when it comes to the literary arts. Former poet laureates have visited the area, literary events abound and literary arts groups are popping up one after another. To bolster the community's writers, the F...

Rebecca Flansburg (left) and Krista Soukup, two of three teachers in an upcoming class series for writers. The series, which covers publishing, marketing for authors and more, is made possible by the Five Wings Arts Council and the Crossing Arts Alliance. (Photo by Mary Aalgaard)
Rebecca Flansburg (left) and Krista Soukup, two of three teachers in an upcoming class series for writers. The series, which covers publishing, marketing for authors and more, is made possible by the Five Wings Arts Council and the Crossing Arts Alliance. (Photo by Mary Aalgaard)

Central Minnesota is stepping up its game when it comes to the literary arts. Former poet laureates have visited the area, literary events abound and literary arts groups are popping up one after another. To bolster the community's writers, the Five Wings Arts Council and the Crossing Arts Alliance have teamed up to offer a series of four classes to the public to help authors market themselves and find their path to being published.

The classes will take place Sept. 19 and Sept. 26 at the Brainerd Public Library. On Sept. 19, "Getting your Dream on Paper: Book Publishing in Today's World" will take place from 9-11 a.m., followed by "Find the Buzz: Social Media" from 12-2 p.m. the same day.

On Sept. 26, "Keeping the Buzz: Publicity for Writers" will be from 9-11 a.m., and a WordPress website building class will follow from 12-2 p.m.

Vicki Chepulis, of the Five Wings Arts Council, said she's watched central Minnesota, and more specifically the Brainerd lakes area, blossom in the realm of literary arts.

"What I've really seen develop over the last three years is the Brainerd lakes area becoming the hub of literary arts for this part of Minnesota," Chepulis said. "There's so much activity going on in comparison to other rural parts of the state."

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Verse Like Water, a program of Central Lakes College, brought several well-known poets to Brainerd, where they not only read their poems but had conversation with attendees.

"To hear them read and sit in conversation with them afterward is something that I don't think people would have dreamt would happen in small town Minnesota," Chepulis said. "It's inspiring people to pull out poetry and start writing again. And if not poetry, than other types of writing."

Aside from Verse Like Water, other literary events have proven to be big successes in the area, including Poetry on the Wall, the Beyond the Bricks project, and the Wine and Words fundraiser for the library, among others.

Chepulis said she's watched numerous literary groups form in the area, and the groups know no bounds when it comes to age- both teenagers and senior citizens are members. It's for that reason, Chepulis said, the Five Wings Arts Council was happy to award a grant that will make the four-part class series possible.

Krista Soukup is organizing the class series and wrote the grant request to Five Wings. Soukup is the owner of Blue Cottage Agency, a marketing company specifically for authors. She helps all kinds of authors, from New York Times' Bestseller List authors to those publishing their first book.

"Because of my agency, I come across all sorts of situations, writers and publishing journeys, and there's so many options out there now. Publishing has become a harder path to find and yet there's more opportunity for authors than ever before," Soukup said.

It's for that reason Soukup and the Crossing Arts Alliance put together the class series, taught by Soukup and members of her team at Blue Cottage Agency.

"Getting your Dreams on Paper: Book Publishing in Today's World" will be taught by Soukup and will cover the information new authors need to know about the book industry today, publishing options, the first steps to publication and what to expect when your book hits the shelves.

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Rebecca Flansburg will teach "Find the Buzz: Social Media." Flansburg, a social media expert, plans to dig deeply into the mysteries of Facebook, Twitter and blogging to discover how authors can build an audience and gain visibility. Authors also will learn how to harness the power of social media to gain readers, drive traffic to their website and promote their work.

Soukup will teach "Keeping the Buzz: Publicity for Writers," a class that will include what strategies writers can use to showcase their work to potential publishers, agents and readers. It will also discuss how marketing can fit into a writer's daily schedule and cover the basics of publicity and marketing in today's literary arts world: including author branding, websites, social media, book promotions, press releases and more.

The WordPress website building class will be taught by Corey Kretsinger, a professional web designer. The class will explain the basics of WordPress and other internet terms, like SEO, posts, tags, categories, media and website security.

Soukup said the class series is aimed toward helping authors find their path not only to publishing but continued marketing success in their writing career.

"Each author is unique, and each manuscript is unique, so guiding them to find the path they need is why I found the class series necessary," Soukup said. "There's a need for guided information and knowledge."

For more information on the classes or to register go to www.CrossingArts.org or call the Crossing Arts office at 218-833-0416. Classes are $25 each, or $20 for Crossing Arts Alliance members.

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