A college-alternative focused on advanced writing craft and entrepreneurship.

Learn The Writing & Business Skills You Need To Get Published And Support Yourself Financially

All From The Comfort Of Your Own Home

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FROM THE CREATORS OF OTHER FAMILY RESOURCES LIKE:

Should Writers Go To College?

If you want to make writing your career, you've probably wondered, "Should I go to college?"

Or maybe you've attended college for writing, but worry that you're not gaining the skills you need to succeed after college.

After all, publishers aren’t looking for a degree in Creative Writing or English (nor do they care about your GPA).

Publishers are looking for someone who can write amazing novels, build genuine connections with readers, and actually sell books.

Unfortunately, even the best college writing programs are not designed to teach you these things.

Problem #1: College doesn't teach the skills you need to become a successful author.

Take a look at these curriculums from some of the top college writing programs in the country (you've probably seen similar curriculums in your research):


You'll notice most curriculums are quite similar. Many focus on things like literary history, screenplays, poetry and other forms of writing (i.e. not writing genre fiction).

Even looking through the full program curriculums, there's a lot more 'learning about writing' than actual writing.  It's unlikely every teacher is a published author actively earning money through their books.

You'll probably also notice that no class will get you to write an entire novel.

Unfortunately, although it might be interesting to learn, it will be difficult to become a successful author knowing more about Shakespeare's soliloquies than about how to actually finish a full-length novel.

Here's What You Can Expect In College

  • You’ll spend a ton of time on classes completely unrelated to writing (even though you're a writing major).
  • Your creative writing classes will be focused on short stories instead of full-length novels, which means you won’t be practicing the skills you really need to practice.
  • If you spend time on your personal writing it will be at the expense of your grades. Most likely, you simply won’t have the mental energy to work on your own projects.
  • You’ll receive very little business training or none at all, which means even if your writing improves you won’t be any closer to actually supporting yourself as a writer.
  • Most of what you’ll learn about the publishing industry will be things you can learn for free on YouTube (e.g. what is a literary agent, indie vs. traditional publishing, etc.)

Problem #2: College degrees are expensive.

It's no secret that college is expensive. If you're not lucky enough to land one of those limited scholarships, you're stuck paying a lot of money.


These fees are often listed by term, semester or year, so be prepared to multiply any figure you see by at least three or four, depending on the degree. 

That's about $180,000 on average, rounded down.

Don't forget all the little school fees they add. And if you have to move away or stay on campus, maybe double the total fee for student housing and food. Plus equipment, excursions and books.

It's no wonder some students end up in debt for life.

It's not a viable solution for many people. And yet, becoming an author may be the only thing you are truly passionate about…

That's why we created The Author Conservatory.

The Author Conservatory is an affordable three-year program that launches Christian students into sustainable writing careers.

Our founders, Brett Harris and Kara Swanson, are on a mission to provide young Christian writers with an unparalleled educational experience where they can master the writing craft, develop practical business skills, and have access to top industry professionals — all within a supportive Christian environment.

The Author Conservatory is perfect for:

  • Motivated high school students who already know that writing is their passion and want a head start on turning it into a viable career path.
  • College-age students looking for an alternative to the traditional college route that allows them to focus on their passion for writing, stay home, and save money.
  • College students or graduates who are ready to focus more seriously on crafting amazing novels and gaining the practical business skills they need to get published and support themselves financially.

The conservatory model dates back to the 16th century. Today many of the top art schools in the world are conservatories — with The Juilliard School in New York City being the most famous.

Conservatory, noun: "a school specializing in one of the fine arts."


Why a Conservatory?

"Picture spending all day every day doing only what you love, all while working closely with and learning from people who are experts in what you want to do.

That’s a conservatory: intensive artistic training in a creative environment designed to push aspiring artists to develop their skills to the highest level.

A conservatory program is a little bit different than traditional college. Rather than requiring classes in a core curriculum of all subjects, a conservatory allows students to focus exclusively on their subject.

The intensive focus allows conservatory students to develop a unique depth of understanding for their craft and receive specific training relevant to their specialty in the arts."

“A conservatory might appeal to you if you are very focused on professional skills and don’t care whether a school offers lots of extracurriculars that have nothing to do with your craft. 

It really comes down to how serious you are about your craft,” said Abby Siegel, a college counselor based in New York City. “If this is something that you really want to pursue as your career then maybe a conservatory is going to be the right thing.”

"The greatest strengths of a conservatory program is the laser focus on skills — the regimented and tested tracking of young artists. Additionally, conservatories tend to offer access to professionals and professional experiences."

"I'm so honored to be part of something that feels groundbreaking." — Nadine Brandes

Award-winning author of Fawkes, Romanov, and the Out of Time Series

What You'll Do In This Program

  • Complete 2-4 full-length novels that are your best work so far.
  • Indie publish a professional novella to launch your publishing career.
  • Create all the pieces you need to pitch agents and publishers (e.g. query letter, book proposal, one-sheet, etc.).
  • Receive professional feedback on your writing from published authors, literary agents, and professional editors.
  • Develop a professional writing process for completing new projects on deadline for a publisher.
  • Launch a "pop-up" business venture and earn your first dollar as an entrepreneur.
  • Build additional revenue streams around your writing in order to double or triple your income as an author.

"One of the most comprehensive writing programs you'll find anywhere." — Steve Laube

President of The Steve Laube Agency, Enclave Publishing,
and The Christian Writers Institute

By the end of Year One, students will be able to:

  • Develop a high-concept story premise on demand
  • Craft a compelling story synopsis
  • Outline a full-length novel using Three-Act Story Structure
  • Draft a 50K - 100K word novel from a comprehensive outline
  • Receive and incorporate professional critique on their projects
  • Understand the value of entrepreneurship within the author business model and develop a solid career strategy
  • Brainstorm viable business ideas, pick the right pricing strategy, and develop compelling key distinctions and an elevator pitch
  • Perform professional market research and confirm market-demand for a product/service before launching a business
  • Start a pop up business and actually get paid for their products and services
  • Develop a marketing strategy and generate positive customer reviews/testimonials

“I can say without reservation that this is one of the best things that ever happened to my writing and to me as a person. If your goal is to be an author, I can’t recommend The Author Conservatory highly enough.”

— Sarah Pagel

By the end of Year Two, students will be able to:

  • Develop their unique writing voice and style
  • Build compelling and memorable characters that stick with readers long after they finish
  • A deep understanding of pacing and building narrative stakes
  • Learn how to reverse outline their novel to hone in on the problems
  • How to do a comprehensive content and line edit on their novel, as well as receive and incorporate feedback from professionals
  • Grow their pop-up business, implement good practices and manage both their money and customers with ease
  • Demystify the indie publishing process and get ready to publish their novella
  • Translate their business skills to book marketing skills and start building their author platform
  • Build out a street team and prep for their indie book launch

I cannot stress enough how much stronger of a storyteller I am after just one year in The Author Conservatory than after four years of attending college for writing.

— Bailey Gaines

By the end of Year Three, students will be able to:

  • Query literary agents and stand out from the crowd
  • Develop a compelling one-sheet to show interested professionals their novels
  • Write a killer book proposal and practice pitching to agents
  • The ins-and-outs of working with an agent, editor, and publisher
  • Navigate book contracts and learn the key elements of a fair deal
  • Understand key business models that can support a long term writing career
  • Double, triple, even quadruple the revenue each book produces
  • Build out low and high ticket offers and services to compliment their author business
  • Implement non-fiction strategies to grow their author platform exponentially
  • Grow their business into a full time income and take on a team to free up their time
  • Build a kingdom business through generosity and a heart-centered vision

“I’ve seen my storytelling skills begin to sharpen, and myself beginning to become the writer I’ve always known I could be. My stories are starting to take shape, in all the complexity and depth that I always wanted but could never find.”

— James Noller

This is the mentorship you've been looking for.

Our founders, Brett Harris and Kara Swanson, are bestselling and award-winning authors with a proven track record of helping young people accomplish their writing goals.

They understand the unique challenges facing young writers and have first-hand experience navigating the complex world of writing and publishing as young people.

They are committed to providing the best writing mentorship you'll find anywhere — all from a distinctly Christian worldview that won't ever compromise your convictions.

APPLY TODAY

Get Clarity & Confidence to Move Forward

"Brett and Kara have given me lot of direction. I feel like I finally have a map and am able to work toward my goals confidently."

Before I joined The Author Conservatory I was actively pursuing my writing dreams but I didn’t have a lot of clarity about how to do that effectively. It would be similar to taking a road trip without a GPS or map. I knew what I was shooting for but I didn’t know how to get there. During my time in this program, Brett and Kara have given me a lot of direction. I feel like I finally have a map and am able to work toward my goals confidently. 

Kaitlyn Donihue Non-Fiction Student  

"Brett Harris and Kara Swanson's Author Conservatory is ahead of the curve in comparison to every other writing course for authors-to-be that I’ve ever participated in or researched." 

Before I joined the conservatory, I was doing everything at once, and I wasn't at all sure how to create effective goals and make them happen with all the conflicting and over-abundant advice I was receiving from many channels. I just didn't know where I was going! Brett and Kara swept in and gave me the help I needed to make a clear path. If you’re serious about writing as a career, you should definitely enroll in The Author Conservatory!"

Kellyn Roth Fiction Student 

"Now I am working through a solid, personalized, and specific plan. I know where I’m going and what I need to work on."

Before I joined The Author Conservatory, I didn’t have a clear plan. I wasn’t confident about my direction and questioned where my focus should be. Brett and Kara changed that. Now I am working through a solid, personalized, and specific plan. I know where I’m going and what I need to work on. I’ve received personal feedback and guidance and have reached major milestones in my writing. This program is a worthwhile investment for those seriously pursuing writing as a career. 

Hope D. Fiction Student 

We're in the publishing trenches with you.

Our world-class team of instructors and experts includes award-winning authors, professional editors, and literary agents. That means you are learning from true professionals who are publishing books, keeping their fingers on the pulse of market trends, and teaching from experience, not theory.

Brett Harris
Co-Founder

Bestselling author of Do Hard Things and Start Here

Kara Swanson
Co-Founder

Award-winning author of Dust and Shadow

Nadine Brandes
Expert in Residence

Author of Fawkes, Romanov, and the Out of Time Series

Steve Laube
Expert in Residence

Literary agent and president of Enclave Publishing

Joanne Bischof
Instructor

Christy and Carol award-winning author

Sara Ella
Instructor

Author of Coral and the Unblemished trilogy

Katie Phillips
Instructor

Professional editor and author branding coach

Gregg Harris
Instructor

Bestselling author and business coach.

Mary Weber
Instructor

Bestselling author, branding coach, and career consultant

Andrew Peterson
Visiting Expert

Author of Adorning The Dark and The Wingfeather Saga

Make Real Progress Towards Your Goals

"I've launched an Instagram account, found a content editor for my novel, and have taken the first steps toward indie publishing a novella."

Before I joined the conservatory, I was standing at a metaphorical fork in the road, not certain which route to take with my publishing goals and feeling frustrated because of that. Now, I feel motivated once again, I have a clear path with each of my goals, and I am seeing significant rewards in my writing journey. Based on the assistance and ideas I've received in this program, I have launched an Instagram account, found a content editor for my novel and restructured it accordingly, and have taken the first steps toward indie publishing a novella. Brett and Kara's guidance has been instrumental to me, and the support of the other students is so encouraging.  

A. Johnson Fiction Student 

"I now have a marketing schedule I know how to follow, guidance for the next steps, and ongoing support as I continue my writing journey." 

I didn't have a clue how to market a book before I joined The Author Conservatory. I knew how to write a book and the basics of platform building, but when it came to the world of publishing and marketing, I didn't know where to begin. After joining this program, Brett and Kara came alongside me and helped me untangle the mysteries of publishing, giving me the confidence to move forward. They are experts at equipping and encouraging young writers at every stage of their journey and go above and beyond to serve, teach, and pray for each of their students. I'm beyond blessed to know them -- not simply as instructors, but also as cheerleaders and friends.

Sara Barratt Non-Fiction Student 

"I've learned a lot more about what my writing process looks like and what steps I need to take to complete a novel."

Before I joined the conservatory, I had no idea what my writing process was. I didn't know what the next step for me should be after coming up with a story idea, or even how I came up with story ideas. But now, I've learned a lot more about what my writing process looks like and what steps I need to take to complete a novel. I also didn't know what an email list was or why I would ever need one. Now, I have sent out three emails to my email list and have almost 100 subscribers. The Author Conservatory has grown and stretched me in so many amazing ways, I can hardly wait to see what the next few months bring.

Amanda Libby Fiction Student 

How Does This Work?

Fill Out An Application

Answer a few questions as part of our initial screening process.

Talk With Admissions

Work with our admissions team to see if the program is right for you.

Choose Your Start Date

If you are accepted, you will choose a start date that works best for you.

Apply For The Conservatory

Space is limited. Apply today to get started.

Get The Feedback You Need to Grow

"I’m a different writer because of the feedback I received in The Author Conservatory."

Brett carefully read my work and took time and thought to expose weaknesses I’d never seen. He asked thought-provoking questions and piloted me on a better path — one not ultimately focused on being published, but on writing clearly and accurately as a Christian. His critique led me to make changes in my blogging, my platforming, and my life. I’m a different writer because of the feedback I received in The Author Conservatory. I would urge any friend who’s serious about his writing, ready to be stretched, and searching for like-minded young people, to join me in this program.

Bethany Melton
Non-Fiction Student 

"My very first call with Brett and Kara got me more excited about writing than I’d been in months." 

Before I joined the conservatory, I wanted to move forward with writing but felt overwhelmed. Every author, website, or article I read had advice for writing better or getting published faster, but I had so many questions specific to my situation that no one could answer. At first, I was worried that this program would just add to my discouraging to-do list. But my very first call with Brett and Kara got me more excited about writing than I’d been in months. They haven’t given me a new to-do list, but a new perspective. They haven’t given me nit-picky editing advice, but foundational principles to help me build a strong story from the ground up. They haven’t promised shortcuts to publication, they’ve worked with me towards a whole, healthy writing life. Brett and Kara’s interaction with and care about me as a person have blown me away, and my fellow students are already my good friends.

Jenny Chasteen
Fiction Student 

"In the two months I have spent under Brett and Kara’s coaching, I feel my path towards a sustainable fiction career has been fast-tracked tenfold."

Brett and Kara are some of the wisest and most encouraging people I’ve met in the creative writing industry. They have an extraordinary, refreshing perspective on what it means to be an author in today’s age, and help set us up with the foundations of why we write and how to work towards a career that will enable us to stick to our individual goals without becoming burnt out and exhausted. They have been such a huge encouragement in my life, and I find myself every week growing more mature and confident as a storyteller and as a person under their coaching.

James Noller
Fiction Student 

FAQ

Do I have to join just because I filled out an application?

Absolutely not. Filling out an application is only the first step in the admissions process and there is no commitment. 

If you pass the application stage, you will have the opportunity to speak with our admissions team and ask any questions. There is also no commitment for doing an interview.

If you pass the interview stage and are invited to join the program, you will be encouraged to take the time you need to consider the opportunity, pray over your decision, and get back to us. We will never rush or pressure you to make a commitment before you are ready.

Is there an age/experience limit?

Our current students range in age from 14 to 30.  While there is no technical age or experience cut-off, we recommend that your young writer have at least one year of experience writing and is serious about pursuing authorship as a career.

We also have other programs, which are more suitable for beginner writers.  We will be happy to discuss your specific circumstances on the phone and point you towards the best option.

How much time does it take?

We recommend 10-15 hours per week on average, which is a few hours for the lessons and the rest for implementation and writing time.

However, this is flexible depending on student commitments. It is perfectly acceptable to spend less time on certain weeks and more time on others depending on things like exams, family vacations, and other life events.

We have students who are doing this program alongside high school, college, part-time and full-time jobs, and other commitments — so it is definitely doable!

Is this a multi-year commitment?

No, you pay for The Author Conservatory on a year-by-year basis so you aren't locked into the entire program.

However, since each year builds on the previous years' skills, we recommend completing the full program to gain the maximum benefits.  

Is this program accredited?

No. Our conservatory program is an alternative to college or a complement to college. Our students earn a certificate, not a degree.

What can I expect to accomplish?

Provided you give this program an honest effort, you can expect to: 

  • Complete 2-4 full-length novels that are your best work so far.
  • Indie publish a professional novella to launch your publishing career.
  • Create all the pieces you need to pitch agents and publishers (e.g. query letter, book proposal, one-sheet, etc.).
  • Receive professional feedback on your writing from published authors, literary agents, and professional editors.
  • Develop a professional writing process for completing new projects on deadline for a publisher.
  • Launch a "pop-up" business venture and earn your first dollar as an entrepreneur.
  • Build additional revenue streams around your writing in order to double or triple your income as an author.

Depending on where you are starting from and how long you stay in the program… that could take you to a book contract and beyond.   

Get The Support You Need to Succeed

"Working with Brett Harris is nothing less than a gift, and I can't recommend him highly enough." 

Brett is a master at equipping young writers with the skills they need to meet and exceed their writing goals. With a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the writing process — from brainstorming an idea, all the way to creating a marketing plan and handling media interviews — Brett's coaching will give young writers the confidence to jumpstart their writing journey and see their projects through to completion. I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Brett, and always come away from a mentoring session enlightened and encouraged.

Amanda Barratt Fiction Student 

"Brett saw value in the story I had to tell, and made a dream I never thought possible a reality."

The book publishing world was something I knew nothing about. It seemed like a foreign and almost impossible place to be part of. However, Brett did an amazing job stepping in and helping me better understand what it would take to be published. Being a successful author himself, and at a young age, he had many connections with publishing companies and knew what it would be like for a young author to go through the whole process. He becomes very passionate about the same cause as those he helps, which allows you both to have a much deeper connection. He isn’t just someone you work with, he will become a mentor and a friend.

Riley Banks-Snyder Non-Fiction Student 

"Getting this kind of personal, specific coaching from someone who’s done exactly what you want to do is invaluable."

Before working with Brett, I knew almost nothing about how to publish a book. I was a consistent and serious writer, but I lacked the knowledge of what I needed to do in what order and when to move on to the next step. Brett provided every missing piece, equipping me with the knowledge, tools, and resources I needed – going above and beyond what I ever expected! He answered every question I had, kept me motivated, gave me concrete action steps that resulted in massive progress, and was my biggest cheerleader along the way. Honestly, my book would not exist today if it weren’t for Brett Harris.

Jaquelle Crowe Ferris Non-Fiction Student 

Apply For The Conservatory

Space is limited. Apply today to get started.

Student Achievements

Conservatory students are "doers" not just "learners." They actually write books, launch business ventures, and make real money. Here are some of the major milestones our students have celebrated recently:


October 2021

  • Anna Rose announced a book deal with Holiday House, a New York City publisher. Her middle grade novel will release next year.
  • Ryan launched her custom funko pop business for authors and readers and made her first $1,000.
  • Charis is making over $40/hour on 19 new orders for custom Christmas products on her Etsy shop.
  • Sarina completed a 141,010 word novel (her second in the program).
  • Juliet hung 22 flyers for her cleaning business, received four contacts, and already landed her first customer from a flyer.
  • Alabama completed a 66,153 word novel.
  • Olivia completed a 81,904 word novel (her second in the program).
  • Sarina launched her long-term client care business for realtors, landed her first client, and made her first $366.60 as an entrepreneur.
  • Madison completed a 194,060 word novel (her second in the program).
  • Emeline landed her first logo design client and received a rave review.
  • Amie completed a 80,172 word novel (her second in the program).
  • Esther completed a 29,382 word novella.
  • Calissa launched her piano studio and already has five students and four more potential students in the pipeline.
  • Bailey completed a 60,288 word novel.
  • Cameron completed a 67,340 word novel.
  • Cassie landed her first client for her tutoring business.

September 2021

  • Ryan completed a 36,583 word novella.
  • Jenny landed two more clients for her life story book service and is booked through the end of the year.
  • Kara finaled for a Christy Award. (Okay, she's not a student, but still!)
  • Hannah hit her income goal of $500/month with her piano studio.
  • Kellyn completed a 25,883 word novella.
  • Emeline completed a 57,399 word novel.
  • Anna pitched two Bethany House editors and both offered their email addresses and would like to see her project again.
  • Cara completed a 70,000 word novel (her second in the program).

August 2021

  • Zach completed a 100,547 word novel.
  • Hannah launched her piano studio and sold out all six of her spots.
  • Jenny landed her first client for her life story book service with a $2,000 package.
  • Linnea completed a 54,484 word novel (her first one ever).
  • Alyssa had nine students sign up for her Chemistry Club, which will earn her thousands of dollars this semester at a high hourly rate.
  • Zoe completed a 43,813 word novella.
  • Kaylee completed a 33,009 word novella.
  • Charis landed another author partnership for her Etsy shop.
  • Zoe launched her book sleeve business and made 13 sales.
  • Hannah completed a 67,074 word novel (her first one ever).
  • Sarah completed a 51,349 word novel (her second in the program).

July 2021

  • Jenny received a manuscript request from Tyndale House.
  • Jasmine completed a 107,714 word novel.
  • Faith enrolled three new clients in her health/wellness business.
  • Grace completed a 75,356 word novel.
  • Sarah made $1,400 from her pet-sitting business in one month.
  • Ryan completed a 13,312 word novelette.
  • Rachel received a manuscript request from Uncommon Universes Press.
  • Livy landed a new pet sitting client that pays her $450 per month.
  • Elena completed a 56,370 word novel.
  • Valari landed two new writing jobs worth thousands of dollars.
  • Naomi completed a 35,067 word novella.
  • Rachel completed a 73,885 word novel.
  • James received manuscript requests from two different publishers.
  • Calissa completed a 66,411 word novel.
  • Abi Lyn completed a 60,043 word novel (her first one ever).

June 2021

  • Grace landed a major client for her art commission business.
  • Josiah completed a 111,784 word novel.
  • Charis landed two partnerships with authors for her Etsy shop.
  • Anna completed a 70,103 word novel (her second in the program).
  • Livy landed her first client for her pet-sitting business.
  • Elena landed her first customer for her thrift box business.
  • Cassie completed a 69,429 word novel.
  • Sarah landed her first four customers for her pet-sitting business.
  • Madi completed a 110,542 word novel.
  • Juliet made $700 from her house-cleaning business in one month while working only 20 hours (that’s 5 hours per week at $35 per hour).

May 2021

  • Alyssa completed a 134,639 word novel.
  • Rachel completed a 72,971 word novel.
  • Sequoyah landed six customers for her online course.
  • Amanda completed a 93, 748 word novel.

April 2021

  • Jenny completed a 125,201 word novel.
  • Charis landed her first two customers for her Etsy shop.
  • Juliet had her first $500 month with her cleaning business.
  • RuthAnna completed a 117,127 word novel.
  • Hope completed a 135,756 word novel.
  • Livy got her first article published on a major website.
  • Charis completed her middle-grade novel.
  • Alyssa launched her business and got her first four customers.
  • Jadyn completed a 61,226 word novel.
  • Hannah completed a 102,034 word novel (her first one ever).

March 2021

  • Grace completed a 60,608 word novel.
  • Kyla completed a 83,131 word novel.
  • Valari landed a major client for her proofreading business.
  • Esther completed a 52,766 word novel.
  • Valari completed a 76,353 word novel.
  • Bethany landed two more customers for her gardening business.
  • Sequoyah completed a 77,848 word novel.
  • Amie launched her read-aloud business and landed 21 customers.
  • Olivia completed a 60,068 word novel.
  • Anna completed a 36,000 word middle-grade novel.
  • Sam landed two customers for his tech support business.
  • Sarina completed a 115,039 word novel (her first one ever).
  • Livy completed a 76,586 word novel.
  • Hope completed a 61,143 word novel.

February 2021

  • Sequoyah landed her first paying customer (worth $2,000).
  • Rachel completed a 108,072 word novel.
  • Juliet launched her cleaning business and got her first two customers.
  • Sarah completed a full-length novel.
  • James completed a 81,437 word novel.
  • Bailey completed a 66,859 word novel (her first one ever).
  • Anna completed a 47,617 word middle-grade novel.
  • James ran his first online course and sold out all his spots.

January 2021

  • Juliet completed a 84,803 word novel.
  • Rhianna completed a 63,508 word novel (her first one ever).
  • Madison completed a 110,574 word novel.
  • Amie completed a full-length novel.
  • Sara launched her online conference and made $2,200.

Apply For The Conservatory

Space is limited. Apply today to get started.