Too Good to Be True?? | Author Conservatory Review

It was March, less than twelve hours before the deadline for applications. I’d had a heart to heart with my mum over the phone that evening about a new writing program I’d heard about. It offered practical training to help you become an author, covering the writing craft and business skills needed to establish a lasting career as a writer — something I’d wanted for a long time without really knowing it. And yet I found myself going backwards and forwards about it as I talked to her. The conversation had ended in her summarising her position not just on the program, but on my whole attitude towards writing as a career:

I don’t know what your problem is.

She didn’t understand why I wasn’t diving in head first and her confidence in my potential felt unfounded. Wanting to be a writer for as long as I can remember surely wasn’t enough. What about being grown up? What about responsibility? What about putting away childish things?

I picked at a corner of the wallpaper. I didn’t know what my problem was either. Except I sort of did. Grown-ups were supposed to have grown-up careers…right?

I spent the next two hours stripping back the walls of my room (surprisingly stress-relieving) while I worked through the questions and doubts in my mind.

When I made it to the bare wall, I had found my way to the root of the problem.

What if this is too good to be true?

And my mum’s final question tipped the balance:

What have you got to lose?

Mere hours before the deadline, I threw together a writing sample and submitted my application. 

Today, my bedroom is in a far better state. So is my writing life and you need to hear about the program that made it all happen: The Author Conservatory.

Inside the Conservatory

Joining the Author Conservatory was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It offers practical training and feedback from industry professionals to help you learn the craft and business of building a sustainable career as an author. For years I had been fumbling about trying to find my way, and it wasn’t until I came across the Author Conservatory that I realised this was what I had been looking for all that time. After a shocking number of youtube hours and miles and miles of writing advice blog posts, this was the very thing I had been searching for without realising it.

The Conservatory exceeded its promises for me. Over the first year, we were taught the fundamentals of storytelling and put through our paces by the instructors. Prior to joining, it had taken me four years to complete a novel, and a year to make it halfway through the next one. I’d had no idea what I was doing or how these story things worked, despite being an avid reader. Now, I’m a couple of months into my second year and have completed two solid, coherent novels (Sons of Clay and The Lovely Virtue) and I’m halfway through writing a novella (The Girl Who Spoke Silence). Those projects are stronger than anything I’ve ever written before because of the professional training and feedback we’re given as part of the Conservatory. 

Not only do I find myself writing better and deeper stories, but this training is helping me to understand where I was going wrong before and to learn from my previous mistakes. Although the training is rigorous, and it is sometimes hard to take critique on stories that are close to your heart, it is worth every moment of the hard work it takes.

Community Matters

On top of that, the student community is the most supportive community I’ve ever belonged to. I love to brainstorm our stories together on calls or over messages, share snippets of our writing with one another, and celebrate our various achievements (big or small) together. We also study books together and sometimes arrange fun calls just to hang out or watch movies.

Before, I had always seen writing as something of a solitary occupation, but that’s just not true — in fact, thinking that way can hinder rather than help you. A supportive community and constructive feedback right from the start of the process completely changes the game.

It turns out, it can take a village to write a book, and that’s not a bad thing.

Having a community that helps you brainstorm, sprints with you, holds you accountable, and even just believes in your story when you’re struggling to is such an important thing as a writer, and I couldn’t be more thankful that the Author Conservatory has been that to me.

Business is More Important (and Less Daunting) Than You Think

But there’s more to being an author than just writing books, and the business track of the Conservatory has been my steepest learning curve. The instructors have taught me so much about the biblical way to understand money, and how it is good stewardship not to undervalue our own work or the work of others. Although I was unable to continue my first business idea due to scrappy health, the instructors were very supportive and helped me to come up with another idea that would better fit my circumstances. This loving care is shown by all our instructors, across the board. It’s a joy to be a part of a program where our instructors care about us as individuals, and the skills I’ve learned and confidence I’ve gained through their support have flowed over into other areas of my life too.

Being one of the older students, balancing work, chronic illness, and all of my other commitments with the work required for the Author Conservatory has been challenging at times. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from the instructors and students and I couldn’t have managed without them. I’ve learned a lot about how to set priorities well and how to use my limited time and energy in the most productive ways while still valuing rest as the gift it is. 

The Big Questions

To sum up, here are a few of the questions I had before joining the Author Program, questions you may have too:

Is being an author just a childish dream, or is it really possible (like really)?

Childish? No. Dream? Yes. But all great things begin somewhere, and usually that’s with a dream. It is possible to have a sustainable career as an author, and it’s as respectable a career as a doctor, lawyer, gardener, or taxi-driver. One of the great things about the Conservatory is that our instructors are people who have already taken that path and succeeded and want to help us do the same.

Is it really college level?

Having studied at university, I can tell you that it is — in fact the standard of the Author Conservatory is much higher than some college-level courses I know of. And much like university, you will get out of this program what you put into it. It’s for people who are serious about being a writer and willing to put in the work to make it happen.

What if I’m not good enough to be a real author?

You may not be. Now. But with the training you receive at the Author Conservatory, you’ll not only get there, but you’ll come on in leaps and bounds, much faster than if you try to go it alone, like I did for years. I’ve grown more in my writing in this last year of the Conservatory than I have in the five years before it (and probably longer even than that).

It sounds too good to be true.

Doesn’t it?? I thought the same thing and I was wrong. As time goes by and the program grows and develops, it has only gotten better and better. And just look at our instructors and experts in residence — what a line-up!

Is the Author Conservatory what I need right now?

I don’t know, because I don’t know you. But one way to find out is to apply or even just talk to our admissions officer or to the instructors and students. If you’re really serious about being an author and making it your career, what have you got to lose in having a conversation? I tentatively emailed Brett way back last March and here we are, a world away from where I began all that time ago.

If you’re an aspiring author and are looking for a program that helps you develop the kind of good character, excellent craft, and sustainable career that is needed to make it as an author today, I highly recommend exploring the Author Conservatory as a practical, comprehensive, and downright enjoyable way to learn. I don’t know of any other author training program like it.

Wrap Up

I will never regret taking the chance and joining the Author Conservatory. The incredible growth I’ve seen in my own writing and business skills as well as those of other students (I’m so proud of you guys!!) and the wonderfully loving and supportive community make it worth every penny and all of the hard work (yes, sometimes there are tears too and occasionally someone fictional loses a limb). I’m dreading the day I have to graduate.

Are you interested in joining the Conservatory, or at least exploring the option? You can always send me an email and ask any questions you may have. I’ll take any chance you give me to encourage other young writers in their craft (and tell them all about this great program). You can also contact our admissions officer (she’s a gem, you should talk to her just because she’s such a wonderful person).

But don’t take my word for it. My fellow student (and incredible writer), Hope, will be sharing all about her experiences with the Author Conservatory tomorrow on her own blog. You can read her review here.

Don’t forget, the Conservatory is also running a giveaway, including several products from students’ businesses — details of which you can find HERE at the first stop on this tour.

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78 replies to “Too Good to Be True?? | Author Conservatory Review”

  1. Thank you so much for writing up this review, and addressing those questions so specifically, Cara! Author has and continues to sound ‘too good to be true’ 😀 I must say your writing projects all sound amazing, especially The Girl Who Spoke Silence (love that title!)

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Thanks <3 I'll most likely be indie publishing Girl Who Spoke Silence, so stay tuned!!

  2. Lorelei Angelino says:

    Incredible review, Cara! So inspirational that I almost started crying. <3 Your story and the things you said about growing tremendously as a writer really hit home, if you know what I mean.
    I have been really confused and stressed out about college vs. Author, and you have been soooo sooo soooo helpful! 🙂
    Thanks again so much!!!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Oh no! Please don’t cry XD I’m glad it was helpful. If you want to talk about it at all or have any questions, feel free to reach out!

  3. Vella says:

    This review is amazing, Cara. Thank you for being honest about your doubts before joining! I loved what you had to say to people wondering if they’re good enough to be a real author. That’s exactly what I needed to hear today. 🙂

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Aw, I’m so glad to have encouraged you. You can do this, you have it in you!

  4. Kayleigh says:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Cara! Author sounds absolutely amazing, so I can’t wait to join!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Looking forward to having you with us!

  5. E. C. Colton says:

    Wow, awesome post, Cara! I love how you answered those questions and concerns readers might have!

  6. Em says:

    Wow, this is so good. Thanks so much Cara for this, I love the way you gave how tentative you were about it, but how God used it in amazing way. Thank you so much for your honesty!

  7. Lydia Lobb says:

    Thank you so much for sharing and being so open with your story. You answered a lot of questions I had.

  8. Faith Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this post! The more I hear about the Conservatory, the better it sounds… I’m going to be prayerfully considering joining when I graduate!

  9. Bethany says:

    Thanks for the review! It’s nice to hear from someone who’s further into the program–and an older student. I plan to do TAC no later than my last year of college, and I plan on taking a gap year after high school as well so I’d be older too when I join.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I actually left school at sixteen and took a year out to do other things before going to university. I recommend it whatever you decide to do afterwards because it can be helpful in your personal growth to have a break from the education system. It doesn’t have to be spent backpacking the world or anything fancy.

  10. Pearl Fretz says:

    This interview was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing, Cara!

  11. Naomi says:

    Wow!! I love your story about how you entered the Author Conservatory!!!

  12. Hannah Grace says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Conservatory!

  13. Bethani Theresa says:

    I loved seeing your thoughts on Author! I’m working through Academic at the moment, and it has already been so helpful. I can’t wait to graduate to Author someday!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Academic is sooooo helpful! I’m glad you’re enjoying it and I’d love to see you join Author some day 🙂

  14. I’m grateful for the backstory you put in before joining the Author Conservatory! I love also how you make the communit sound like just what it is: a community of young adults and teens. Also, several of those questions you answered at the end were very helpful. Thank you!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad it was helpful for you! I figured if I was asking those questions, other people probably are too 🙂

  15. Naomi says:

    I love the little part about the wallpaper!! XD

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Haha! I love painting and decorating. It helps me think 🙂

  16. Kristianne says:

    I love this, Cara!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

  17. Lydia Lobb says:

    You you for sharing, and especially for being so open. You covered a lot of questions I had.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I’m so glad 🙂

  18. Rebecca says:

    I love what you said about the community! I keep forgetting that when I get to join I’ll not only get to learn, but have a like-minded community. Thank you for sharing!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I wrote on my own for a long, long time. I think a lot of us just don’t realise how important community is until we have it 🙂

  19. Eliana Duran says:

    Cara, your post is so inspiring!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Aww, thanks Eliana!

  20. Abigail Ellison says:

    Wow…that story of how you struggled sounds remarkably like how I feel about it.
    That it feels to good to be true…

    and also this is random, but I love the faint lines in the background of your blog. It makes it look like i’m reading it straight of notebook paper, and it’s very homey.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Aww, thanks! I write by hand, so I liked the notebook background 🙂

  21. Rebekah says:

    Wow, cool!!! 😀

  22. Alexa says:

    I love your blog title and picture!

    The Author Conservatory sounds so exciting! It really does seem too good to be true, but I’m glad I’m reading all these reviews that say it’s exactly as wonderful as it promises to be!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I have no regrets 🙂

  23. Ashley D. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your review! I love how you opened it with a story—your story. That and how well it was written testifies about the effectiveness of the program and your own talent.
    I love how you addressed common questions/inhibitions about the program—the “what if I’m not good enough” question was especially impactful for me. Even though I’m starting the program in under two months, I still doubt myself. But I’ve been learning—and it’s helpful to see you discuss it here—that not being great *now* doesn’t mean I’ll *never* be better or “good enough.” And, as Brett so helpfully shared in one of his lessons on YDubs, our inner critic telling us we’re not good enough is actually a blessing—telling us what we need to improve, and that we *will* get better.
    Thank you so much for sharing your review! I look forward to meeting you & the rest of the community in a little under two months, when I join the program myself!!!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I’m so looking forward to you joining us, Ashley! We’ll probably have to explain a bunch of times that we’re not actually related XD

  24. Em says:

    Thanks so much for this Cara! ~Em

    1. paperstrider says:Author


  25. Rachel L. says:

    Thanks for sharing! The FAQS at the end we’re really helpful. If you have any tips about completing those drafts, I would love to hear them!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      What kind of tips would be helpful specifically?

  26. Classy says:

    Thank you so much for posting!
    This helped a lot.

  27. Kellyn Roth says:

    Thank you for posting this review, Cara! Your perspective is definitely one I really value, seeing as you’ve done some traditional college-y stuff as well. And I love that “what’s your problem!?” question. That’s kind of how I feel about a lot of my hesitations!

  28. Faith Elizabeth says:

    Okay, I thought I commented *glares at computer screen*, but I loved this review so much! The business side of things is almost as intriguing as the writing part. Thanks for your post!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      You’re welcome! Glad is was helpful *smiles back at computer screen*

  29. Lydia Lobb says:

    Thanks for sharing and being so open. You answered a lot of questions.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad to be helpful 🙂 If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch 🙂

  30. Valari says:

    Awesome review, Cara! You’re so right–the Author Conservatory DOES sound too good to be true. That may be the main barrier I have when telling people about it…I’m worried they won’t believe me! XD

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Haha! Yes!

  31. Bethany says:

    Thanks for the review Cara! It was great to hear how supportive the instructors were when you needed to change your business idea!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I can’t speak highly enough of them!

  32. Jen says:

    Your review was amazing!!! I believe God has called me to join this program, now I’m just waiting for Him to tell me when and make the way clear. ^_^

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      That’s so exciting! I can’t wat for you to join us!!

  33. Karissa says:

    I love this review so much. . . I love how you talked about whether or not it’s actually college-level, which is really good to know.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Thanks! I know it’s a genuine concern for people (and fair enough). But I figure since I’ve done a degree, it might be helpful to others to compare 🙂

  34. Coralie says:

    Oh wow. This is so beautiful. Girl, you had me hooked IN from the very start! You really drew me into your experience! That conversation with your mother made me downright emotional! Thank you so so so much for sharing this beautiful story and your experience so far <3

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      It’s a little different from the kind of conversations other people have with their parents, I know. But bless her, she believes in me when I don’t even believe in me XD

  35. Gretchen says:

    I love your thoughts in this review, and it’s definitely brought a lot of questions to mind for me – thank you! I’ll definitely be coming back to this post later to think about it more 😉

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      If you have more questions, feel free to email me about it, I’ll happily talk to you. I had a lot of doubts before I signed up, but I’ve had absolutely no regrets about joining.

  36. Anna Grace says:

    It’s helpful to me to see your breakdown of this, and it’s even more convincing to make me want to apply in a few years!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I mean, I would say you DEFINITELY should, but maybe I’m biased XD

  37. Hannah Grace says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Cara!

  38. Christine Hicks says:

    Thank you for your helpful review! Your experience with university courses is helpful information for us. THANK YOU for your willingness to share!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad to be of help!

  39. Sarah Grace says:

    Happy Tuesday, Cara!

    Thank you so much for your perspective and review. It’s lovely to hear that the Author Conservatory is at or above college level classes, since that’s been one concern of my family. I’ve taken some college level writing this year, so if—hopefully when!—I join the Conservatory, I’ll be able to say the same thing. Again, thank you, and I hope you have a lovely rest of your day.

    In Christ,
    Sarah Grace

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad to be of help Sarah! I know it’s a concern for a lot of people, so I figured it helps that I went to university and can confirm 😛

  40. […] Review 5: Cara’s blog […]

  41. Bee says:

    Thank you, Cara! May I ask what was the process of coming up with a business idea like for you?

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      It wasn’t as bad as I expected haha! You basically look at all the skills you already have (honestly *everything* from washing dishes to… idk… figure skating or something), then you work out what time you have available, then you look at how the skills you have could be a business that fits with the hours you can give. So we have some people that have product-based businesses like Biblio Birch Designs, and others that have service-based business like the Life Stories or like house-sitting, dog-walking, gardening etc. It’s not difficult. I worked mine out by something I can do from home as and when. Unfortunately, my first idea had to be put on hold. It’s a good one, but I was struggling with burnout. Brett and Mr Harris helped me to find an idea that would utilise the things I was already doing to create a business instead of starting yet another new thing that demanded my time and energy. All in all, it’s a lot easier, simpler, and less daunting than you would expect. Business is supposed to be simple.

  42. Gracie says:

    Thank you Cara!

  43. Emma says:

    Thank you for sharing! All of this is so helpful in helping me with my decision on whether I should join the conservatory.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad to help! I hope you’re able to join one day if it’s the right path for you 🙂

  44. Olivia says:

    I appreciated the point about the program exceeds university courses in some ways! That is good to know!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I know it’s something people often ask about, and since I’ve been through university, I figured I might be able to help 🙂

  45. Emma says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been really debating, and all of this is so helpful with making my decision on whether or not to apply to the conservatory.

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      Glad to help! If you have any other questions, I’m happy to help. My email is on the contact page 🙂

  46. Isabella says:

    I loved reading this review! Your story about the conservatory was encouraging and makes me want to join!

    1. paperstrider says:Author

      I recommend at least exploring the option!

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