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Is Institute of Children's Lit worth the money?

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balletluvr

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Hi.

I've visited many writers' websites, and have heard some mention the ICL (Institute of Children's Literature). I am on the e-newsletter's mailing list, so I get the notices about upcoming classes, etc.

What I can't find anywhere is how much the classes cost, and are they worth the money you pay for them.

Has anyone here taken any? What do you think about them?

I consider myself a moderately advanced writer, but unpublished in fiction. Would these classes help someone at my level?

Thanks for any comments.
#1 - June 23, 2010, 10:37 PM

There are several threads on this board about ICL, including one that's very recent.  Maybe you could do a search (at the top of the screen).  I always use "Advanced Search"--works better for me. :)
#2 - June 24, 2010, 04:35 AM

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Did you visit ICL's website? http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/ Or call the school?

There's also a lot of discussion on the blueboards. Here's one of the latest ones:
http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=44109.0

Hope that helps to get you started!  :bicycle
#3 - June 24, 2010, 04:37 AM
CHRISTMAS EVE BLIZZARD, Arbordale Publishing

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Worth the money?  Well, I thought I was too advanced for the class but took it "to motivate myself," having taught writing at both the high school and college level.  I still learned a ton about writing fiction for children, which is completely different from the kind of writing I was doing and teaching. 

I've sold several of the stories I wrote for the course--not all--and for several years, the only things I sold were things that I wrote for the course and had gotten my instructor's feedback on.  The nonfiction assignment, I sold to Highlights; Highlights has sold the rights almost every year so that assignment alone has probably paid for the course.

Yes, it is expensive.  But here's the thing about ICL:  it's like any course.  The information available in the course IS available elsewhere.  You can do it on your own.  You can read lots of writing books and read lots of websites like this one and read blogs and do writing exercises and pay for professional critiques at conferences or hire book doctors or whatever.  And if you are that motivated and talented enough, you can get what you need without paying for ICL.  You can also teach yourself how to fix computers, read Shakespeare and lots of Shakespeare commentary, and teach yourself a foreign language.  But if you would like a system that covers a lot of content, already organized in a logical fashion so that you don't put the cart before the horse, and have the input of a paid professional on a regular basis, ICL is a good value.

I can look this up quickly--be right back.  Hum while you wait.

Okay, I'm back. At the time I took the course, I think it cost about $650.  I have made $1015 directly from selling ICL assignments.  For me, the coursework kept me writing when my kids were really little and I've made more money from selling the assignments than it cost me to take it.  So yes, for me it was worth it. Your mileage may vary.   

#4 - June 24, 2010, 05:40 AM
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

I think I also paid $650 for the basic course and $700 for the advanced (novel writing course). They let you make monthly payments of $50 with no penalties. For me, it was absolutely worth it. Not only did they have comprehensive course materials, but my instructor felt like a mentor guiding me along the way. Their instructors are experienced, published authors and editors and both of my instructors have been extremely helpful. PM me if you have any more questions.
#5 - June 24, 2010, 06:27 AM
Twitter: @ KarenBlyToo

It all depends on how you learn. There is nothing in the course that you cannot learn for much less money from writing books. But some people really do well with personal instruction, cheerleading, and feedback. Decide what your learning style is, and then pursue your dream using those tools that will be most likely to get you there.  ICL might be one of them.

eab
#6 - June 24, 2010, 07:48 AM

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This is the only thread I found, though I know there've been several discussions about it. So I don't know where they are.

http://www.verlakay.com/boards/index.php?topic=4061.0

I find that I grow faster when I take a course than when I study on my own. And ICL has got to be the best investment I made because it fit my lifestyle. I had babies at home, it was self-paced, but throughout, I had valuable feedback from a pro. I earned back the money in triple by the time I finished the course -- it took me two years.

Vijaya

Disclaimer: now I teach for them.
#7 - June 24, 2010, 10:11 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

I was a COMPLETE novice when I took the course. By the second assignment I'd learned so much that with a few edits I had a "saleable" story. I also had a fabulous instructor. You certainly can learn what you need to know on your own, but I loved the experience and felt it "rocketed" me forward, rather than me crawling along on my own.

Well worth the $$ for me.

Best wishes!
#8 - June 24, 2010, 10:21 AM

MarchHare

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I am another person who thought it was definitely worth the money. I took the
first course and the advanced course.

I didn't count up the money but I am quite sure I have made it back  :dollar

Lynne Marie  :hedgehog
#9 - July 03, 2010, 06:58 PM

Instructors (such as myself) are trained to be encouraging, as is any teacher in any classroom, virtual or otherwise (and yes, I do have a teaching degree), but that doesn't mean that you're going to be told that your writing is great when it's not, or that there's nothing to fix. It's much easier as a student to absorb criticism if you're also told what you do that works well in your writing, and knowing what you are doing right is also part of learning. So please don't imply that we're just telling people what they want to hear.

Marcia
#10 - July 04, 2010, 07:04 AM
Author of over 100 nonfiction books and 500 magazine articles for young readers

Thanks, Lillian...I just get a little touchy because I know that I try really hard to make sure that I'm both encouraging and critical...and I know from experience that some students don't handle "critical" well, even when they claim that's what they want!


Marcia
#11 - July 04, 2010, 08:27 AM
Author of over 100 nonfiction books and 500 magazine articles for young readers

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I've found that with ICL you can set your own bar. For one of my short stories, I did months of research. I think it's up to the student as well as the instructor to challenge themselves. Just sayin. I've made the course what I need it to be with the full support of my wonderful instructor.

You get out of it what you put in. Totally worth it if you are willing to put the effort in.
#12 - July 04, 2010, 08:59 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

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I've found that with ICL you can set your own bar. For one of my short stories, I did months of research. I think it's up to the student as well as the instructor to challenge themselves. Just sayin. I've made the course what I need it to be with the full support of my wonderful instructor.

You get out of it what you put in. Totally worth it if you are willing to put the effort in.

Well said.

That is the beauty of the course -- you can begin at any level and improve. I was a decent writer when I took the course -- I'd already taken a couple of classes at the community college so I'd already gotten out of that *adult* writing mode. I put 200% into ICL and many of my stories didn't need much critique per se, but still my instructor helped me to make them richer and deeper and publishable. There is always room for improvement. I do the same for my students. But I tailor my critiques to what the student needs to learn and master.

Let us know what you decide BalletLuv.
Vijaya
#13 - July 04, 2010, 12:22 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
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Oh, yes, I've heard wonderful things about Anastasia's classes. And let me also put in a plug for Laura Salas' classes if you are interested in doing more educational, work-for-hire writing.

Consider the needs of your family as well. Many online classes are for the duration of 8 weeks. My in-person classes were also like this. It can be tough to absorb and allocate the time each week when it is at that rate. One of the benefits of ICL is that it is at a slower pace, giving the student the time to read and write, in the midst of a busy life. Should a family emergency occur, you can take a leave of absence and continue ... I found the sustained hand-holding invaluable. Most students complete the course over 1-2 years. You grow so much in that time.

Best, Vijaya
#14 - July 04, 2010, 01:02 PM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

ShannonH

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I took all three ICL courses. The first two were definitely worth the money. On the third one, I was matched with an instructor who was doing a lot of international travel. She was disorganized and nonresponsive. I should have complained earlier, but I'd had such a positive experience with the first two classes that I kept ignoring my gut and giving the instructor the benefit of the doubt. Here's my advice: read the bios of the instructors, and ask for the instructor that you feel best matches your career aspirations. If you're not happy after a couple of assignments request a change.
#15 - July 06, 2010, 02:17 PM

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Okay let me try this again, because apparently my original posts were not coming across the way I meant them to. I took the ICL course around ten years ago, and my memory is a bit fuzzy about it all.

To answer your question, yes, it is worth the money, but there are many other classes and programs out there .. Anastasia Suen ... Chautauqua ... local conferences ... etc.

If I were you, I'd explore other options before signing up for ICL. Several people here have posted about how great it was, but to balance things out .. it was just "meh" for me. Part of the "mehness" was due to circumstances out of anyone's control ... and part of it was just because I don't think it was the best fit for me. And geez, I don't know how to gauge the effort I put into it  ... 100-200-300%-1099% ... but I put all my time, effort, and energy into every assignment ... and those who know me well know I'm a perfectionist on speed ... so I don't think lack of satisfaction was due to lack of effort on my part. I did have an instructor switch due my first instructor having to take a prolonged leave of absence, and I don't think there was enough time left in the course for me to connect with the second instructor. And yes, we did vary and adjust the assignments to make the course work for me.

I think some of the others mentioned that the support and encouragement was really important to them, but those things were not so important to me. I didn't find the feedback critical enough. But again, that's a "just me" thing. That's what I meant by "push" and "challenge" in my original posts. I probably function better in a more "boot camp" type atmosphere.  :lol2 There, now I'm letting my quirks and neuroses show.

I did enjoy Anastasia's classes more. They were more focused and more intense. I also have learned tons attending local/regional SCBWI workshops and retreats. You can do maybe 4-6 of those for the cost of ICL.

But as Vijaya mentioned, a lot depends on your circumstances and time schedule, as to what sort of classes are best for you.
So, in conclusion ... yes, it's worth the money. But not everybody who takes it likes it, and it's not necessarily because they didn't put a lot of effort into it. It just might not have been a good fit for a number of reasons.  So again, my advice to you is to look into several different courses, etc. talk to people who both liked and disliked it, and then based on your personality and circumstances, choose the best fit for you. But you won't go wrong with ICL, if that's what you choose.
#16 - July 07, 2010, 05:45 AM
« Last Edit: July 07, 2010, 06:05 AM by lillian »
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.

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