Pros Before Bros: My self-funded MFA publishing/art experiment

July 17 2018 | offbeatbride
Pros Before Bros cover art by Stasia Burrington

At the beginning of the year, I told y'all that I was working on two books: the second book (currently titled Offbeat Resilience) and my third book, Pros Before Bros.

In an interesting plot twist, I'm now also re-working on my first book (Seal Press wants to publish a third edition of Offbeat Bride!), and I gave a little update a couple months ago about where I'm at with the second book… but today I want to focus on that third book.

I did a little announcement video series on Offbeat Bride's Instagram Stories yesterday (which remains my favorite playground for rambling!), which I wanted to share here, too:

But wait. You want to know MORE, you say? Well, god forbid I ever let any opportunity to talk about a creative project go unexplored… here's more. So much more.

WTF is Pros Before Bros?

This is an self-publishing experiment. A proof of concept. A self-directed MFA project. A chance for me to take risks with my writing, after 12+ years of being a service writer who's made her living publishing stuff like "5 ways to bla your bla, to better bla bla your bla bla." An exercise in collaboration with other women-owned businesses. An exploration of the intimacy between readers and an author. A therapeutic exercise in worth. A business experiment. A playground for me to fiddle with concepts of tangibility, valuation, packaging, and artistic process.

It's A LOT, but pragmatically speaking it's…

  • 9k word erotic nonfiction novelette, printed as a premium limited edition art book in a small luxe format
  • The book will be 4"x6" 80 pages, a luxe hardback with gold embossed fabric cover 
  • The book will be sold in conjunction with exclusive custom jewelry designed in collaboration with a local artisan
  • The whole thing will be exquisitely packaged
  • First print run limited to 100 copies, signed and numbered


As a business endeavor, Pros Before Bros may be a disaster. If it breaks even, I'll consider it a shocking financial success… but my priorities are focused on giving myself some room to learn some new things, try some risky stuff, explore some publishing and business concepts that interest me, increase the visibility of my collaborators, and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Seriously, my strategy document for this project is waaaay over the top.)

By focusing on these larger priorities, I'm trying to set myself up for a project where even if it's a financial failure, it's an educational success.

I have to remind myself that some people pay tens of thousands of dollars to get an MFA, where as part of the process, they are encouraged to experiment with new formats, new ideas, and new styles. I'm doing the same thing, just in the context of my own autodidact process, where the education is done directly in the marketplace. (Eep! That's a little scary.)

I've decided that it feels worth it to invest a tiny fraction of that in allowing myself a little freedom to explore some edges. After 12 years of service writing and extremely safe business decisions (nothing like a small biz to make a socially liberal person act super fiscally conservative), it feels profoundly liberating to give myself a little container where I can play and experiment and learn some stuff, instead of just desperately chasing my bottom line. What a privilege. What an opportunity.

If Pros Before Bros sounds interesting to you (either the actual product, OR the creative process of behind the product), I invite you to sign up for the Beat-Off Empire Newsletter, where I'll be sharing much more about it. The process is pretty vulnerable and honestly I'm a little fragile about the whole endeavor, so I won't to be writing that much about it publicly. But if it's just between me and your inbox… maybe that feels safe.

Sign up for the Beat-Off Empire newsletter here.

  1. You know why you remain one of the women I most look up to in publishing? Because of stuff like this. <3 This is bold and exciting and I've not subscribed so fast to a newsletter in a while!

    5 agree
    • Thank you so much for saying this. This whole thing is a big risk on several levels, but it feels important to push myself out of my comfort zone! Eek / Whee / Ack / Yay

      I'll be sending out the first email to the newsletter tomorrow… I've written a LOT about this project behind the scenes, and it's exciting to get to share the ideas with folks who are interested in the concept.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.