Claire King


A new layer of bureaucracy?

Posted on: October 22nd, 2011 by Claire - 42 Comments

I received this email today. What is it? Can any literary agents out there tell me if this is a filtering process they are looking into?

“Friday 20 October 2011

Dear Writer

Brit Writers was born with one aim… to make the publishing world accessible to everyone, regardless of age or background. As you know, Brit Writers is the UK’s largest writing project and awards for new and unpublished writers.  With our network of literary experts, agents, publishers and industry insiders growing by the day and 2 million children, their parents and teachers involved in our schools programmes, we are recognised as the champions of change. 

We are still the new kids on the block, but two years on and amidst bookshops closing down and publishers resorting to celebrity deals in order to stay afloat, Brit Writers continues to scale new heights in the world of publishing and has seen our authors successfully published and even become best selling and award winning literary stars.

During the last year, a number of partner agents have asked us to help them identify potential literary gems to save them ploughing through their slush pile. Therefore we have been asked to find potential ‘sign-ups’ for agents in the following genres:

  • ·        Novels: commercial and literary fiction
  • ·        Books for Children
  • ·        Short stories and Poetry for anthologies

How to apply:

If you feel your work is of a high enough standard and you would like to be considered for referral to an agent, please apply by emailing the following information

1.     A covering letter attached as a word document (not in an email) including: A short biography (no more than 300 words) – stating who you are, your writing genre, how long you have been writing, your aspirations and targets for getting published. Below your biography, please tell us if your work has been professionally appraised or critiqued in the past and by whom (please attach any reports etc.). Also whether you have had an agent in the past, or which agents have already seen your work, and if so who they were.

2.     A synopsis of your work (as a separate attachment) – maximum one page

3.     Depending on what you are submitting, please attach as follows:

  • ·        Novels: 3 chapters of your novel in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Books for children: up to 5000 words in length, please send the entire story in addition to the synopsis (if you have illustrations then you should include them).
  • ·        Books for children: over 5000 words, attach 3 chapters in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Short stories: the complete work in addition to the synopsis
  • ·        Poetry: between 3 and 5 poems of no more than 40 lines per poem in addition to the synopsis  

Format for all of the above:

Arial font, 11pt, 1.5 line spacing.

The title page should state your name, address, telephone/mobile number, email address and target audience for your book.

Please only apply if you feel your work is of a high standard.

Deadline for submissions for this initiative: 6pm Tuesday 25th October 2011


By making an application for referral to an agent you give consent to Brit Writers to share your work and contact details with our partner agents. Brit Writers does not guarantee referral of your work to agents. Brit Writers decision is final as to whether your work is referred or not. If your work is referred you are aware that agents may charge a commission of between 7% and 15% if your work is successfully published through them. A maximum of 3 submissions may be sent. Each submission must be clearly labelled and submitted in separate documents.

We look forward to receiving your submissions.

Kind regards


Hari Kumar

Brit Writers Agents Division”


Please note I do not endorse this intiative. I am simply interested in who actually does.

For previous thread on the same organisation please see Too Good to be True (about their publishing scheme)

42 Responses

  1. Fiona Joseph says:

    Ha, I received the same email this morning. I ignored it at first but on reading it closely I began to feel a little cross at what seems like a breach of data protection rules on email marketing lists. I don’t recall opting in to one of their lists and there is no opt-out/unsubscribe link in the email. That constitutes spam in my book. Here is the response I wrote:

    “Hi Hari (if I may)

    I was a little bemused to receive your email as I can’t recall signing up to receive information from Brit Writers. This could well be a lapse of memory on my part so would you be kind enough to check your records and let me know when I signed up (and to what list)?

    Much appreciated,
    Fiona Joseph”

    It will be interesting to see if I get a response!

    • claire says:

      It will. I have written several times asking to be removed. On the one hand it’s annoying, but on the other hand perhaps it is useful that some of us who are not susceptible to these kinds of things are included in the loop?

    • June says:

      I received the same email. Can’t imagine good agents sending out begging lists for authors…surely the exercise is the other way around? Looking forward to seeing the response you get.

  2. Fiona Joseph says:

    It’s disappointing that they’ve ignored your request and continued to send you spam messages. But perhaps not surprising?

    I’ll let you know when (if) I get a reply. Fiona

  3. martha says:

    Dear Writer, please prepare a submission package that is the industry norm for most agents, and send it to us. We can’t promise to pass it on, but we might.

    So in comparison to submitting to the agent directly, what they are offering is, in fact, a postal delay?

  4. Mike Clarke says:

    Damn, I’m prevented from submitting to them anyway as I feel my writing is of a low standard. Oh well, perhaps people like me better send it straight to an agent then?

    There’s an interesting question about fonts. I’ve done some courses on user-interface design that suggest that sans serif fonts, like Arial, are better on screen whereas serif fonts like Times New Roman are easier to read on the page. Wherever I’ve seen guidance at this level it tends to suggest double spacing and Times New Roman. Guess it’s a minor point but specifying font and 1.5 spacing seems a bit odd.

  5. Interestingly, ‘Writing Magazine’ and ‘Writers’ News’ said in their February 2011 issue that they had decided to withdraw any association with the Brit Writers’ Awards since they had become “increasingly concerned at Brit Writers’ development into a financial operation” and had concerns about criticisms of their organisation.

  6. Eeleen Lee says:

    Hmm what sort of service are they actually offering? A filter of filters?

  7. The lovely Jane Smith blogged about this lot on her marvellous ‘How Publishing Really Works’ blog last winter … here

    Not exactly what one would advise writers to get caught up in – and it certainly is unprofessional. But perhaps its too early to call them a scam, not quite yet anyway!

  8. Debi Alper says:

    As one of the judges last year, I had some serious concerns about the process. Apparently, my name was still used this year though I was no longer involved.

    I just want to make it clear that I was not involved this year and won’t be in the future.

    • claire says:

      Thank you, Debi. They still had Gordon Brown in 10 Downing Street last summer too. He would probably have happy to keep the illusion going though.

  9. […] OCTOBER 2011: Brit Writers now apparently has an ‘agents division’. Please see this post for the discussions. Tweet This […]

  10. Debi Alper says:

    You may be interested in this thread on WordCloud which quotes the responses rec’d by people who responded to the BWA email.

    • claire says:

      That link is definitely worth a read for anyone tempted by the proposal. I don’t know a single agent who would advise people to pay a consultancy to work on their synopsis and/or pitch. What counts is The Writing, The Writing, The Writing!

  11. Janet O'Kane says:

    I kave followed the BWA situation with interest since reading Jane Smith’s blog about it, and as a result of one of the comments above went on to WordCloud. Interesting, I found, that the one defender of BWA (and who looks to have started the thread) is ‘Claire’ who only seems to post about BWA. Also, there appear to be distressing similarities between the responses writers have received about their submissions. There are still so many unanswered questions about BWA. I wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial barge pole.

    • claire says:

      Hello Janet,
      There are some lovely writers who have ended up on the BWA publishing scheme.
      Claire may be the Claire that I tweet with, and if so she’s a really nice person and definitely not a BWA ‘spy’. WordCloud members are vetted I think. It’s possible that BWA advise those they are working with on marketing themselves and BWA on blogs, forums etc. That’s just me speculating, because it’s hard to find much news on the web about how everyone is faring. As always, I just hope that people are getting their money’s worth and the right advice and support.

  12. Debi Alper says:

    Just to clarify – WordCloud members are not vetted. It’s a free and largely self-policing community set up by Writers’ Workshop and offering support to all writers. There’s a mix of published and unpublished people there (inc me!) and members tend to pretty savvy and astute. Full disclosure: I do freelance editing for WW and also run courses for them.

  13. Debi Alper says:

    Really? You’d be an asset! Maybe drop them an email. Or let me know if you’d like me to give them a nudge.

    The approval thingy is just to try to scoop up unscrupulous vanity publishers and prevent them from joining and posting about their services. That has happened in the past and they’ve slipped through but have been quickly identified and booted out.

  14. […] writer Claire King has highlighted an email sent out by the Brit Writers Awards to various published and unpublished authors. The BWA is a […]

  15. Late to this and most has been said already, but interestingly I did not receive this email from BWA and yet I was a finalist in the 2010 novels category. I wouod have thought that I might be a prime ‘candidate’? I have written about the shambles that was the 2010 award ceremony at the o2 so won’t repeat that here, but would stress/reiterate that writers should tread with extreme caution. The judges of the 2010 award were certainly professionals and experts (I was sat at a table with one in the non-fiction/memoir section who also expressed concerns about the confusing judging procedures btw), but I could not say the same about the organisers.

  16. Debi Alper says:

    Laura – is there a link to what you wrote re the 2010 awards? I Googled but couldn’t find one. I wonder if it might be the reason you were not sent this email.

    • Hi Debi,

      I’ve googled it just now too, and cannot find it. The website I wrote it on is defunkt so that might explain it… I will check through the archives of my old blog (I think I cross-posted but not 100%) when I get a moment, but my debut novel was published a couple of weeks ago so I’m up to my neck in promotional work. Plus I do freelance editing for Cornerstones and have a couple of jobs on for them too! Also, I have since realised that my email address has altered in the past year, though I still get Twitter feeds from BWA and Facebook messages, so perhaps they have only partly updated their database? Regardless, I would not go near them again (just realised I can’t now anyway) – in truth I was cynical at the time and I only entered because it was free with my Writing Magazine subscription. Sadly, my worse suspicions were confirmed. Good intentions to begin with perhaps from BWA team, but horribly naive even then.

  17. Debi Alper says:

    Congrats on your launch, Laura, and apologies for hijacking your thread, Claire!

  18. claire says:

    Update – on Harry Bingham’s WordCloud site:
    “A short note to state that I have received a letter from Brit Writers’ solicitors requesting that I remove all references to the BWA from this website. I have therefore done so. I request that all Word Clouders refrain from mentioning the BWA in any way on this site. Any new posts or comments will be removed.

    I reget having to take this step, but I am being threatened with legal action so have no sensible alternative. We continue to wish all writers entering the BWA Awards the best of luck with their submissions.”

    Discussions continue on Jane Smith’s blog.

  19. […] ‘A new layer of bureaucracy?’ […]

  20. […] Claire King has provided the whole text of that email in her blog post here. […]

  21. […] Your ‘partner literary agents’ In one of your communications (full text here) you state that ‘a number of partner agents have asked us to help them identify potential […]

  22. […] tell you that the markets for short stories are shrinking fast. The full text of the BWA email can be found on Claire King’s blog here. Claire King has also discussed the BWA again recently, in this blog post. She asked the BWA a […]

  23. […] The matter that was being investigated was in respect of you falsely accusing and promoting Brit Writers as being a scam – i.e. Brit Writers is filed under the ‘scam’ heading of your website:  […]

  24. […] messages about their competition, their mentoring system for new authors, and their new liaison service to help authors find agents. Some of their methods were a touch unorthodox, e.g. guaranteeing publication in the current […]

  25. Rebu says:

    Can a writer, who publishes work on Smashwords, and then wins something or other on BWA, suddenly become a consultant, commanding a not insubstantial fee for the same writerly company?
    Of course they can. You could, I could. It’s like a co-operative….
    Or I am such an eejit.

  26. claire says:

    I think we have all seen now that anyone can charge anyone for anything (or indeed nothing) as long as someone is willing to pay…

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