You have questions? We have answers.

As always, email us at the5thsemester (at) with any additional inquires and we’ll fill you in!

Is this only for people who have an MFA?

No! Not at all. It’s really for anyone who has a book idea, a few chapters or manuscript that they have always wanted to work on but don’t know where to go next.  It’s for dreamers and do-ers and writers who are serious about giving writing a real go…And for people who appreciate a well-organized program that doesn’t waste their time or money.

Do I need to have a manuscript in hand when I do this, or can I write one in the four months?

The program adapts to wherever a writer is on the path to publishing. If you come to us with an idea, we’ll talk about how to make that idea a book and then put you in front of publsihing professionals to get their take on it. If you come with a full manuscript, we will help you put the finishing polish on it, set it up for the query and pitch, and then give you time with editors and agents to hear their honest thoughts. Fifth Semester instructors have already successfully navigated this landscape and are doing it themselves, every day, as they continue to publish.

Will you coddle me all the way?

Ann was given a great compliment about her teaching recently by a former student who said, “You don’t pamper but you’re not a bitch either. You support and encourage and then step in when needed.” This is exactly how we teach at The Fifth Semester.

We’re writers, so we know how personal writing can be. But we’re writers, so we also know what it takes to win over agents, editors, and readers. We’ll walk this very fine line with your project, and in doing so, give you the best value for your money and best shot at publication.

That’s a lot of money. Can you guarantee someone will publish my book?

What is it that Clint Eastwood once said — If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster? All kidding aside, some students will find agents and editors interested in their work (check out the Feathers in Our Cap for a few examples). But publishing is a wild and fickle business, and we can’t guarantee representation.  What we can guarantee is this: we will work our absolute hardest to help make your manuscript as attractive as possible to agents and editors, and when it’s all over, you’ll have information, understanding, and the inside track on publishing. You will meet publishing professionals and have real conversations with them that are not limited to pitching your work in a 5-minute “speed dating” set-up. That’s a combination you can’t get from a book editor or conference alone.

What kind of ‘workshops’ are you talking about?

We will have writing workshops that focus on the craft of prose, plot, and point of view presented in such a way that even authors who come in strong on these aspects will become stronger writers. We love talking about description, conflict, emotion, and even, at times, humor. At the second residency we will discuss platform, promotion, social media, and the business of writing. And, some of the best fun comes when we help authors craft their query, build their agent list and practice pitching.

How many students are at each residency?

Student numbers will vary. Depending on lodging and instructor availability we may have as few as eight or  as many as twenty.

Is there a payment plan available? Scholarships? Financial aid?

Students can put a (non-refundable) $500 down to hold a spot, with the balance due on the first of the month BEFORE their chosen semester begins (for example: if a particular semester begins on August 4th, payment in full is due by July  1st). We are working to find a source of scholarships. That is our next plan!

Is food included in the residency fee?

It’s probably easier to talk about what isn’t included in the $3,980. Residency fees include all lodging for both the Chicago and NYC long weekends, as well as a light breakfast, catered lunch, and a hor d’overes and wine reception each night at both residencies. We want people to have free time at night to eat together or apart from the group, and if they’d like, to try out the local dining scene. There are restrauants near both residency locations for easy take-out or eating in, and public transportation abounds.

What genre/genres do you work with? Or prefer?

Our instructors have taught and published across genres. If you have a project in a genre or sub-genre that we aren’t as familiar with, we’ll get an instructor on board who is.

I want to self publish. Is this still for me?

Yes! Self-publishing requires all of the same things as traditional publishing: a great story, flawlessly-told, and the ability to both understand book publicity and execute a marketing plan.

Coffee or tea?

What, no wine? What do you have against wine? Seriously, though, we’ll provide all of the glass-worthy things a writer might need to write. And snacks, to boot.

Can I bring my wife? kid? dog?

No. We’re sure they’re lovely, but no. This is your time for you to focus on writing. Your time. Out there is their time. (Goonies reference, anyone?)