Writing Grants for Writers

A Q&A with Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, creator of the Grantwriting Roundup

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: March 6, 2015

Writing Grants for Writers

Numerous organizations exist solely to give artists like writers money. Yet, many writers don't apply for grants. Some have never heard of grants, others don't want to take precious time away from their manuscripts, and a few refuse to apply again after a single rejection. Regardless of your reason, if you aren't actively pursuing grants, you are leaving cash on the table.

Winning grants, however, isn't just about dollars. The process of writing successful grants requires you to forge connections in the literary community that can help you promote your work once you are published. Agents and editors are more likely to be impressed by writers who have won grants than writers who have won nothing. Plus, writers who can figure out how to persuade grantmakers to give them money can use the same skill set to persuade strangers to buy their books. To learn more, read the Q&A below with Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, creator of the Grantwriting Roundup.

Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer is a grantmaker by profession, a writer by confession. She is the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts and the creator of the Grantwriting Roundup, an on line grantwriting course to help artists create a rich life by making art, making a difference, and making money.

For more information, visit http://hoongyee.com and:


Q: Clearly you love what you do. How did you become a grantmaker?

A: Never underestimate the power of rejection, beating yourself up and contemplating a career in the post office as I did after the very first grant I wrote got rejected. ?íNunca!

And by whom? Yes, the Queens Council on the Arts.

This was a defining moment when the universe revealed the many meanings of "no" to me, a lesson I believe to be the key to my success. I was willing to accept rejection, I was willing to acknowledge the possibility I wasn't meant to be a writer, an artist, a creative person worthy of a grant.

But not until I knew why. So I asked.

Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do, coming fast upon the heels of a no-nonsense rejection letter?

"OK, so you think I'm not worth funding. Just kick me again and tell me why?" No wonder the post office looked so good.

However, to my surprise, a very nice grants officer named Alice told me exactly why I didn't get the grant. It had nothing to do with being the best artist and everything to do with being the best candidate for the grant.

I sat on the grant panel for Alice the next year and saw the world from the grantmaker side. It showed me how a grant panel thinks and, most important of all, what they will fund.

Foundations give away over 4 billion dollars a year. Don't you think you deserve some of that?

I do. That is why I became a grantmaker, grantwriter, and the one who will pull the curtain back and show writers how to be the best candidate for the grant. You see, I believe the more artists we fund, the more beautiful the world will be for all of us.

Q: I encounter many writers who don't apply for grants because they don't know how to begin or are convinced they won't win. What advice would you give them?

A: I have good news for any writer who does not know how to begin going for grants. I have a question for the ones who are convinced they will not win:

??Cu?índo decidiste tu opini??n no val?¡a la pena un mont??n de frijoles, mi amor?

I can help you to get started. But only you can convince yourself you can win a grant.

Do what I did. Start small, look locally. Check in with your friendly neighborhood arts council for some advice. Be memorable and give of yourself: donate a reading, volunteer for a workshop, be the one who makes things happen. Get out and see what other writers are doing and support them. Believe me, people will notice.

Start small. Stay confident. Here's a story about a newbie first time grant writer who got her first literary grant in three weeks by doing all of the above:


Q: What three mistakes should newbie grant writers avoid?

A: 1 The budget does not match the narrative.
2 The narrative is not crystal clear. Many beginners have plans that are vague and broad in scope.
3 Artist work samples do not reflect the proposed project.

Q: Alternatively, what are three signs of a top-notch grant writer?

A: 1 The missions, audiences, and goals of the funder and the grant writer are perfectly aligned.
2 The grant writer has other sources of support and funding secured.
3 The grant writer will build a relationship with the funder before and after writing the grant.

Q: Aside from your http://hoongyee.com blog, what resources would you recommend to folks who want to learn more about grant writing?

A: Here is a helpful nugget of information by The Grant Lady courtesy of the New York Foundation for the Arts:


The Nonprofit Academy has a rock star list of contributing consultants you can follow in addition to their membership perks. I especially like reading Marc Pitman and Andrea Kihlstedt:


For a national snapshot of arts funding, my go to is Grantmakers in the Arts. I am at their national conference every year and come away inspired and informed by what I see. You can gain a lot of valuable insight through the writing on their site by some great voices across the country:


Q: Do you have upcoming projects that my readers should have on their radar?

A: Stay tuned! I have something fabuloso for my Grantwriting Roundup students. I am putting the finishing touches on a six pack of instructional videos packed with valuable insights and strategies about how to create winning proposals--from a grant reviewer's point of view. This new course is for artists, people with inner artists, creative thinkers and professionals who want to master grantwriting to boost their art career to the next level. There are one-on-one coaching sessions available and two must-have bonus videos which will be available in Spanish and Chinese.

Ready to get a grant? Get on my early bird list and I will send you my Free Master Grant Strategy Worksheet to get you started on creating your rich life now:


Excerpted from Latinidad?« ?® 2003 by Marcela Landres

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is the author of the e-book How Editors Think. She is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published and was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster.
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