Claire King


Posts Tagged ‘No scams here’

America Writers

Posted on: May 17th, 2012 by Claire - 18 Comments

Every day a few people land on this blog looking for information about Brit Writers. It’s easy to find my posts, as well as the comments made by many readers on the posts and links to other discussions on the internet.

However, since the last post, things have evolved. So here’s a summary (please let me know if any of this is factually incorrect, obviously):

The Brit Writers’ offers include (or have included):

  • An annual writing competition, with a fee and a prize.
  • A scheme to help people get published, with a fee.
  • A scheme to help people set up ‘lucrative’ consultancies to help people get published. For a fee.
  • A publishing service, with a fee.
  • I am not yet aware of a scheme to help people set up ‘lucrative’ publishing services, for a fee or otherwise.
  • An agents and publishers referral service. Initially free, thereafter for a fee.
  • A schools programme, with a fee (in some cases – some schools join for free).
  • A scheme to help people take part in running the schools programme, for a fee and a percentage of the revenue from the schools.

And in latest news, these things are now all available in the new (bigger) USA market. For a fee.

This has been a public service announcement. You can find more information on the Brit Writers and America Writers websites.





Bloggers beware – “Top Blog Award Nominations”

Posted on: January 7th, 2012 by Claire - 14 Comments


This week I received an email congratulating me on my nomination for a ‘Top Writing Blog Award’.

Woo-hoo, eh? Great. I’d never heard of the organisation that nominated me though, so I Googled them. They seem to be a broker for online education. So far they have a dozen different categories of these “awards”

Top 115 parenting blogs!

Top 70 foodie blogs!

Top 75 music and arts enthusiasts!

Top 50 Wellness Guru!

In total 735 blogs have won their awards…and that’s 735 blogs who have put this website’s award badge and *link* to their site on their blog. Can you imagine how that boosts their search engine rankings?

This feels like an opportunity to take up space on my own blog with a badge that means nothing to most people and provides a link to a site I don’t endorse.

Right then…


£1000 to spend at Writers Mart today! Kerching!

Posted on: December 4th, 2011 by Claire - 25 Comments

Here’s how it works. Imagine you have £1000 / €1000 (US $1500 or thereabouts), and you have to spend it on your book. The aim is to get your book to market, and make as much money as you can out of it. Here’s a selection of products available to you in Writers Mart:


Money tunnel


1. Make your Writing Better! Is your work even ready to be presented to agents and publishers?

– Get a professional critique of your work. For a full length novel expect to spend between £500 and the whole £1000. Here’s a good article on critiques. You could spend less than that of course, but is a critique of the first three chapters going to help you if something is broken in your plotting or character arc, for example?

– Go on creative writing courses, such as Arvon Courses. Most people have heard of these. A week working on your novel will cost you around £625 plus travel. For me That’s £750, for you maybe £650.

– Try a Writing Festival. Get workshops on writing and sessions with agents and publishers. Expect to spend about £350 -500 for a weekend, including your accommodation, meals, talks etc.

Writing Mentors  – pay for the services of a published and experienced author to coach you and help edit your work. You could easily spend the whole £1000 here, buying around 4 hours of mentoring from top authors through to quite a lot more time with cheaper outfits.

– Take out  a subscription to a writing magazine, such as Writers’ Forum or Writing Magazine, for a steady flow of hints and tips. Or  else literary journals such as Mslexia, Granta etc. £30 a pop.

– Read more contemporary books. Learn from other successful writers in your genre. Buy a big pile of books to read. £100 for enough to keep you going.

– Try something like the Faber & Faber Academy. A three day course on bringing your book to market –  like this one with Ben Johncock and Catherine Ryan Howard costs £425 plus travel and accommodation.

– Practice writing. This costs nothing. But if you’re struggling for time, treat yourself to a weekend writing retreat for £250/£400 plus travel like the one I did in September. Or a week long retreat somewhere like Anam Cara, with or without workshops.

– Get your book copy edited before you submit. Expect to pay in the region of £750.

– Get writing advice free online. If you don’t know where to look, network with writers and publishing professionals on Twitter. Also free.


1b. Blame your Tools!

– Scrivener £30 ish

– A new computer, or an old classic typewriter £500

– A better printer £200

– Moleskine notebooks, for the authentic author longhand experience. £7-10 each


2. Is your book astonishingly good? Make your Submissions Better!

– Writers & Artists Yearbook, for the tailoring of submissions. £16.99

– Pay for help with your synopsis. £150 – 200

– Use fancy stationery and include chocolates personalised with the literary agent’s initials and date of birth. £250.

Just kidding


3. Is your book excellent and your submissions splendid? Raise your profile as a credible writer, boost your CV. 

– Raise your profile by winning competitions or submitting to radio programmes like BBC Radio 4 . Competition entry fees in the £5-£15 range.  Consider The Bristol Short Story Prize, Fish, Sean O’Faolain, Bridport, Willesden Herald, Manchester…there are so many! And if you win, they actually give YOU money!


4. Self Publishing!

– Design the cover £200 – £700

– Interior design & layout £750

– Also see costs of editing, above.


5. Your book is with a publisher, or self-published. Get those sales up! Marketing!

– Get a blog up and running. £75 for your domain name and hosting, then it’s just your time.

– Get people who have read it to review it on Amazon. Very valuable. Costs nothing.

– Look the part. Get an author photo professionally done. £500

– Advertise. Facebook lets you pay per click. Meet the Author charges £400

– I also heard recently of an offer where you could have your work featured somewhere on a writing competition’s website, with claims that it will provide ‘visibility’ to agents and publishers (though no footfall data, or qualitative data about the site readership was available at the time of writing). Cost £995 for a year.



The above are all just ways in which you could spend your money. I’m not endorsing them, just showing you the opportunities to spend your cash! Also all prices are approximate. I’d be interested in which ones you would endorse though, and any feedback on costs. Please tell us in the comments.

I would also like to apologise for the profusion of exclamation marks. It’s not really my style, it’s more a nod to the “Get Published Now!” sales pitches we see so often, offering to take our £1000 in return for a few months of deliciously raised hopes and then an opportunity to spend the same amount again, and more, on what is essentially vanity publishing. Look at some of the cheaper – and free – options above and weigh up the relative benefits before spending lots of money, I suggest.

Remember Yog’s law – “Money should always flow towards the writer.”


Brit Writers’ legal action against writers – update

Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by Claire - 26 Comments

If you have been following this blog the last couple of weeks you’ll have seen that Brit Writers Limited contacted me via their solicitors, threatening legal action for comments (unspecified) which they deemed to be potentially defamatory.

I was one of three writers to be threatened in this way.

They requested that I removed all references to and mentions of Brit Writers from my blog.

I politely declined, having taken legal advice, on the grounds that I do not believe I have made any defamatory statements.

After several days with no news, today the Brit Writers have issued a public statement, the first paragraphs of which follow (my bolds):

“Brit Writers has decided to withdraw its legal action against Writers’ Workshop, Claire King and Jane Smith. We felt compelled into this course of action because of the accusation that the Prime Minister’s letter of support to Brit Writers was fraudulent. Subsequently, this accusation has now been withdrawn for which we are grateful. We would further request that the accusation that Brit Writers is a ‘scam’ organisation also should be withdrawn.

In keeping with the spirit of generosity and good will Brit Writers are more than happy to answer any questions from anyone; however we refuse to indulge in internet mudslinging particularly since we are sensitive to the interests of our partners and writers.”

Since nowhere on my site or elsewhere have I claimed that they forged a letter from the Prime Minister, nor have I called them a scam organisation, I was still no clearer as to why I was threatened with legal action. I contacted Zareen at BWA, asking for some clarification. Also, welcoming their comment that they are willing to answer questions, I asked again for responses to my initial questions.

Zareen responded to me with this:

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: 

What Zareen was referring to (I do not have a scams section on my website) is that a post was tagged with the tag ‘Scams’.

Why do we tag our blog posts? So that people searching for the content of the post, even if it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the post, can find the post. So, for example, in this instance, anyone searching for “Is Brit Writers a scam?” Would have found my post. And they would have seen in the comments, several comments from myself and others saying that we do not believe it to be a scam.

Whatever. On Zareen’s request, and so as to avoid any confusion, I have removed the tag ‘Scams’ from that post. However I am disappointed that I have not had any kind of apology for the accusations and legal threats levelled against me and the attempts to push me, through fear of litigation, into removing perfectly legitimate blog posts.

Zareen went on to say “We feel your questions have been answered in the statement and within the further response which has been sent to Harry this afternoon.”

I disagree. I found the statement mostly rhetorical and vague, and what I and others were after were some specific answers that showed transparency, competency and credentials.

I replied, inviting Zareen and BWA therefore to either respond to my questions, or decline to respond. I am writing this in the assumption that they will decline to respond. But if they do respond with more specifics I will post them here, of course.

In the meantime, I think Harry Bingham has had the most in depth response to these and other questions, so I shall hand you over to his blog for his summary of what we’ve got.

Finally, I should add that Zareen said:

“Brit Writers and the people who work in this organisation would like to extend an invitation to you and any other interested parties to come and participate in dialogue that involves advice and support for one another so that we may mutually benefit from each other’s experience and thereby add value to the writing community at large. We hope that you will accept the hand of cooperation offered as a fellow colleague and reciprocate in kind.”

I’m going to have to decline that invitation. Just because a dog that has bared its teeth at you is now wagging its tail doesn’t mean you should give it a bone.

And now I’m going to get on with what my blog is actually supposed to be about – writing.

Brit Writers 3 – The plot thickens

Posted on: November 7th, 2011 by Claire - 247 Comments

As you know, I’ve been active in discussions about the Brit Writers recent ventures into a ‘publishing programme’ and their ‘agents division.’ But so far we have been unable to get any information straight from the horses mouth.

I thought perhaps that was going to change this weekend – Brit Writers started following me on Twitter – so I asked them if they would be willing to answer some questions I had about their organisation. They said of course, and asked me to email them.

So I did.

Please read the questions and their response, and if you have any thoughts, add a comment or email me if you would prefer.

Here are the questions I sent:

Dear Brit Writers,

I’m emailing you as you suggested on Twitter, to get your answers to some questions that are bothering many of us. I am sure that it is simply a lack of information, rather than anything to be worried about, so I look forward to your responses.
1) BWA in general
a) Who are you? Do people in your organisation come from the writing and publishing world? Could we have more transparency on this?
b) What is the status of BWA? Besides the competition and the community work there seem to be a number of ‘for profit’ spin-offs. Do you publish accounts?
2) Legal action.*
I understand that Harry Bingham has had to take down a blog post and a forum discussion on his WordCloud site after you threatened him with legal action. I’d seen both of those postings before they were removed, and whilst I saw plenty of people voicing concerns about BWA, I had not picked up on any defamatory statements. Could you please say what your concerns were in this matter? As you know there are also discussions on my own blog, which as far as I’m concerned are healthy internet debates about something we are unable to get clear information on, but if you are being libelled then of course we need to know.

*Note – This question in direct response to this blog post on another website:
Brit Writers Limited
Published by: Harry on 4th Nov 2011 | View all blogs by Harry 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.Please DO NOT reply to this post. Sorry!
3) Brit Writers’ Publishing Scheme
This is something we are having trouble getting information on, which is unusual in the world of social media, blogs and so on. Could you please tell us, as your authors come to the end of their year, how this scheme is going? Are there any successes out there? Has it not worked out with others? Will you be doing it again in 2012?
4) Brit Writers’ Agents Division
a) Please could you name some of the agents who have asked to work with you on this?
b) It seems that many of those who submitted work to you for consideration have been told their synopsis needs work, and you have proposed consultancy services, at a fee, to fix that. Who, in your organisation is responsible for this advice? Do they have the relevant qualifications? Who/which organisations are then going to provide the (paid for) consultancy on those manuscripts and synopses?
5) Passing Off
Are you aware that someone has posted on Jane Smith’s blog defending BWA and attacking Jane using my name (Claire King)? Clearly this is a criminal offence as it it is an attempt to pass off as me in my professional capacity as an author. We are looking into contacting the person via their IP address, but in the meantime what advice would you give to this individual?
Thank you in advance for taking the time to respond to our questions. Are you happy for your responses to be posted on my blog?

And here is their response:

Dear Claire

I’m afraid that this matter is now  being investigated and dealt with by our solicitors and they will be contacting you.


Corporate & Legal

Brit Writers


10th November, update:

BWA’s solicitors have contacted me by email, requesting that I remove this post and all other references to BWA from my website. 

I have taken legal advice, and responded to them. Having reviewed all three of my posts which refer to BWA, I do not see any statement contained therein that would be regarded as defamatory.  Comments made by third parties on these posts seem to me to constitute fair comment or honest opinion. 

I am therefore not proposing to remove any of the posts at this time.
However I do take allegations of defamation seriously, and have therefore outlined a number of things I would be prepared to do, including consider posting a statement from Brit Writers Ltd. on my website.
Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. 

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)

Too Good to be True?

Posted on: December 3rd, 2010 by Claire - 49 Comments

I received an email today from the Brit Writers Awards, essentially inviting authors of completed fiction novels (sic) to apply for their Publishing Programme:

We are looking to work with 15 unpublished authors over the next 12 months on an intensive one-to-one basis, who we guarantee will be published with a top publisher before Christmas 2011.

These 15 writers will be sharing their progress on the BWA website, while at the same time, behind the scenes film footage will document their journey to getting published.

What will this programme include?

  • Guaranteed to get your work published with a top publisher within 12 months or your money back.
  • A senior personal consultant with you throughout the process, who will act as your agent, mentor and will be on-call for you to provide support and guidance until you are published.
  • Formal fortnightly planning and review meetings with you until you are published.
  • Facilitation of meetings and advice from a range of top experts from the publishing arena for you.
  • Developing you, the author as ‘The Brand’
  • Critiquing and developing your concept
  • Editing (prior to publishing)
  • Production of the book including cover design
  • Sales and marketing strategy
  • Promotion through our networks, partners and recognition at the next BWA gala awards event.
  • All legal, ISBN, copyright services as required

· All of the above for a one off fee of £1,795. This is fully guaranteed and fully refundable if you are not published within 12 months.

OK. This troubles me. How many aspiring novelists are there in the UK that would spend that kind of money for ‘guaranteed publication within a year’? I imagine there are thousands.

I have put my main questions to the Brit Writers. Thanks to Zareen for her replies which you can see below. See what you think:

Questions to the Brit Writers Awards:

1) What do you mean by a top publisher?

BWA:The BWA works with a number of traditional publishers and many imprints. This will not be a self-publishing route.”

2) It often takes more than 12 months for a novel to go from being contracted by a publisher to hitting the shelves. How can you bypass this length of time and still have an effective book/career launch?

BWA: “This is why we have specified that the draft needs to be complete or almost complete. We are working with some fantastic experts from the publishing industry who are all confident that this can be achieved and we will obviously only select/take on books that we think we can succeed with.”

3) Would the 15 chosen novelists have any further expenditure before their ‘guaranteed publication’?

BWA: “Only their travel to meetings, gatherings and phone bills.”

4) What kind of publication contract can they expect?

“A traditional type of publishing deal.

We believe that this will work and that’s why we’re offering a full refund if we fail. We have even committed to document the progress with a behind the scenes film – so everything will be completely transparent.”

UPDATE OCTOBER 2011: Brit Writers now apparently has an ‘agents division’. Please see this post for the discussions.