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This class is closed. Check out Literary Agent Sally Apokedak's current course, Narrative Voice for Novelists.

NaNo Prep—Planning the High Concept Novel by Literary Agent Sally Apokedak

START DATE:  This class is currently closed.

DURATION:  2 weeks

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  The rejection I get most often from editors is, “Great work, but it just doesn’t seem fresh enough.” Whether your plan is to break into traditional publishing or to self-publish, a high-concept novel will give you the best chance of catching and keeping readers.

In this short course you’ll get two videotaped lectures—Plot and High Concept—to help you plan your NaNo novel. I’ll also give you my lecture on Character because character and plot are so closely intertwined. In the first week, you’ll listen to the lectures and write three short synopses: a two-sentence hook, a three-paragraph back-cover copy piece, and a 750 word synopses. I’ll critique those and then you’ll have one more week to refine them and submit them for a second critique.

Students will work one-on-one with me, via email.

Hi Sally,

Thank you for your incredible class. It was a valuable, valuable learning experience. I’m glad I took it early in my creative writing. It sharpened my writing skills in a short time and will help set the course for [my novel] and additional works.

Thank you also for your insightful critique. All great, enlightening recommended changes. I will definitely implement these . . ..

Do you plan to offer a next-level course for folks who have taken the “Four Essentials”? Please consider it. I’ll sign up!

~ Kimberly



Thank you so much. I got a lot out of the class and it gave me a lot to think about. I’m grateful for all the feedback.

~ Christie


Hi Sally,

Thank you so much for your feedback on my chapter. Your suggestions make so much sense . . ..

Again, thank you for your feedback on this final chapter and throughout the course. I appreciated how much you know about this field and your willingness to share your expertise.

~ Sandy


Sally’s Four First-Chapter Essentials class made me work hard to get a first chapter that I can be proud of. In Sally’s video lectures, she made me think about writing like I hadn’t before, especially the weeks about voice and theme. I also enjoyed working with my classmates and the freedom we had to interact in the forum. The great thing about this class is that you work on the first chapter of your novel, but you can take the skills you learn and apply them to the rest of your manuscript.

~ Margo L. Dill


Dear Sally,

I really wanted to thank you again for a fabulous weekend. I left encouraged and energized, as well as satisfied that I’d been very productive. Your help was exactly what I needed, and . . . the group only added to the successful weekend. I enjoyed learning from them as well!

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the time you gave me to help me become a better writer.

Conferences are invaluable, and I’ll continue to attend them, but you can’t get the one-on-one time like you can at a Writer’s Retreat with a skilled professional. That's why I was willing to invest the money. It was a wise investment and fun.

~ Jean Wilund


Hello Sally,

I hope you realize how much wisdom and knowledge you imparted during your time at the wik13 conference in Birmingham. I was just processing the evaluations and thought you might like to see some of the comments that were specifically about your sessions. These were in response to the questions that asked what their favorite session was or what session they benefitted from the most: 

  • The one-on-one session with Sally Apokedak.
  • Sally Apokedak, Part I and II were incredibly valuable with wonderful insights.

Thanks for sharing that with our attendees and helping us to create better books for kids!

~ Heather L. Montgomery
Assistant Regional Advisor
Southern Breeze SCBWI


Week One: High Concept, Plot, and Character

To launch a career all three of these (high concept, plot, and character) must be executed with skill. The lectures you listen to this week will help you hone your concept to ensure that it’s fresh and intriguing and able to grab the editors. They will also help you find the plot and characters you need to keep the readers turning pages to the end.

Assignment: Using what your learned in the lectures, write a two-sentence hook, a three-paragraph back cover copy piece, and a 750-word synopsis and email them to me. I'll critique them and return it.

Week Two: Revise

In NaNo you’ll be moving fast. If you have a solid plan beforehand it will help you to write faster. So use this week to revise your synopses. You want to make sure you have a commercially viable idea with a workable plot and likeable characters, before you start the November madness.

Assignment: Using my first critique revise your two-sentence hook, three-paragraph back cover copy piece, and 750-word synopsis and email them to me. I’ll critique them and return it.

Materials needed:  Email capabilities

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:  Sally Apokedak ( is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She’s been studying, reviewing, and marketing children’s books, as well as giving writing instruction for a dozen years. As the manager of the Kidz Book Buzz blog tour she was privileged to work with best-selling and award-winning authors such as Jeanne DuPrau, Ingrid Law, and Shannon Hale. She is a frequent and popular instructor at general market and Christian Writers’ conferences across the country.

COST:  $79, which includes one-on-one instruction via email, videotaped lectures, and weekly critique.

BUY NOW:  NaNo Prep—Planning the High Concept Novel by Literary Agent Sally Apokedak (2 weeks, starting 9/28/15) Limit: 20 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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