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Old 05-12-2010, 03:01 PM   #1
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Brit Writers' Awards / Muslim Writers' Awards / America Writers' Awards

Anyone know anything about these guys?

http://www.britwriters.co.uk/about_us.html

I'm a member on another writer's forum and seemingly everyone that entered has made it on to a longlist. This makes me suspicious.

Guys?
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Old 05-12-2010, 03:21 PM   #2
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Well, I recognise the names of some of the judges for the competition (and that is the longest list of judges I've ever seen for a competition), but I wouldn't say that any of them are high-profile.

I'm confused about the prizes as well. They're dangling one 10,000 prize, but published novelists don't seem to be eligible for it and while there are apparently prizes for the winner of each category (and there are a lot of categories) there's no information on what those prizes are (and there really should be).

Entry fee is 10.95 unless you're part of a school that's signed up the scheme (which will have paid between 150 and 250 for the privilege).

To be honest, I'd question to what extent it's worth winning this competition. Obviously the money is nice, but I've never heard of it before now and I certainly haven't seen it referred to in book shops (and let's face it, the whole point of awards is to get sales).

It might be something you can point to in a query letter, but 10.95 seems like a lot to pay for that.

As for being on a long list, it doesn't really mean anything at the end of the day. Yes, it's a nice buzz but given that there's no information on how many people get long-listed or what the criteria for long-listing is, I wouldn't bother mentioning it unless you maybe make the short list (and incidentally, there's no information on when or if they announce a shortlist either).

Tickets to the gala awards ceremony are between 25 and 60, which is really bloody steep. No information at all on which producers, agents and publishers are attending either.

There are some big names associated with the group, but there's little there that makes me think this is a good competition to enter.

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Old 05-12-2010, 03:38 PM   #3
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The deadline passed in February, though, so I'm not sure why you're asking now. I wouldn't worry about the competition until it announces for sure if it's running again next year.

Edit - sorry, overlooked your second sentence about the longlist. Obviously you know the deadline's past.

It looks legit, and 5-10 seems about average for UK competitions. It seems to be in its first year - personally, I'd wait until you had a chance to see what this year's winners are like before you worry about submitting for next year. See what kind of media attention they get, whether there's any bookshop placement, what the quality of the winners' writing is, and so on. It could be everyone on your other forum are just darned good writers! Or not.
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:42 PM   #4
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I'm not intending on entering.

I'm deeply concerned that a large group of friends had all moved into the next stage. Now I know they can write, but there have been times when a large group of us have entered into a competition, the average to get long/short listed is one.

Something isn't right. I think MM has answered it.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:19 PM   #5
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The other competition they mention, the Muslim Writer's Award, only had 400 entrants in its first year. I wonder if perhaps they over-estimated the number of entrants they were going to get, and with so many adult categories have found themselves with a lot of space on the longlists. The site keeps mentioning how many schools entered, but I can't see that they even did much advertising towards adults.

The partner list is interesting. All three main political parties, with endorsements scattered across the site from Brown, Cameron and Clegg. All bases covered, at least! It also says the York Festival of Writing is a partner, but I live here and I managed to miss the festival for lack of advertising (worse, a friend of mine was involved with it!*). I wonder if this isn't the same for some of their other partners, who they perhaps hoped to help push the competition.

Anyway, if the shortlists don't massively narrow it down then there's a problem. As it stands, I wouldn't worry too much about the longlist; the free gala invitations are only extended to shortlisted authors, which makes a lot more sense.

Overall, I still think this looks legit, if a little over-ambitious.


*Oh jeez, I've just spotted that amongst the judges is someone I know too. That might explain the York connection. I won't say who, but I will say I trust her not to be knowlingly involved in something shady.
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:49 PM   #6
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I remember having a look at this when it was first announced and the whole thing seemed muddled and lacking in concrete information. I wouldn't exactly accuse it of being scammy, but more ill-conceived, maybe. Like they got some Arts Council funding to run the thing and now they're kind of making it up as they go along.
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Old 05-12-2010, 06:46 PM   #7
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Yeah, I don't think it's a scam but I do think that the organisation could be improved and those terms and conditions of entry should be a hell of a lot clearer.

Leaving aside the political endorsements (should any arts organisation be seeking endorsement from a political party?), it's one of those things where the heart seems to be in the right place but the actual benefits to an unpublished writer are questionable.

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Old 05-24-2010, 04:27 PM   #8
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There was a piece on this competition in the Sunday Times yesterday, with someone having sent a query in to the paper's 'scam buster/consumer rights champion' querying the competition's legitimacy for reasons set out on this thread.

The newspaper came to the conclusion that the competition was not a scam based on a detailed response given to it by the competition's organisers and pointed to the fact that there were plenty of legitimate authors and companies associated with it. They also indicated that the reason for delays in selecting long lists, announcing shortlists etc was due to internal problems with the company finding that the O2 arena dates clashed with another event.

I still have a number of concerns about the organisation of this competition. The fact that there's still not been a published shortlist this close to the awards date points at poor organisation. I also dislike the fact that while the company pointed out to the Sunday Times that schools can enter the competition, no mention was made in the newspaper that the competition organisers charge for school participation.

In short, while I agree that this is not a scam competition, I still do not see the benefit to authors of entering it - not least because competition terms are so vaguely drafted and the benefits not clearly set out.

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Old 12-08-2010, 10:57 PM   #9
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The results are in, and the other shoe drops: http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=3682
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:03 PM   #10
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Thanks Cao.

A friend was shortlisted, so I was thinking about entering this time around. I'll stay well away!
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:16 AM   #11
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Geez, publishing someone without their knowledge? So no contract has been signed whatsoever (beyond, I guess, the competition Terms and Conditions). They could do whatever they liked with her book. 10k is lovely, but at what cost?
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:24 AM   #12
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At minimum, it demonstrates that the organizers know nothing about publishing.
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:52 AM   #13
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Thanks for posting that link to my blog, Cao. I did my best to write a reasoned commentary, but apparently I'm just envious that I wasn't shortlisted (read the comments).

David Hewson (who writes books that sell for serious money) has blogged about the BWA too. Twice. His whole blog is worth reading, as are his books.
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:19 PM   #14
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The Brit Writers Award has got into the news again, this time for its newly-formed Agents Division.

It sent out a mass email:
Quote:
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
Some writers who submitted have been told their work isn't quite up to scratch and they could do with some marketing advice:

Quote:
from what you have submitted, the assessors could not refer your work to agents immediately, but they see great potential here. The issues highlighted above can be rectified easily, so before you go any further with this, we suggest that you need a consultancy to advice on your synopsis, positioning the book for an agent/publisher, highlighting USPs and ensuring that the main plots are woven into the synopsis which also needs some basic formatting. We believe this will encourage the agent/publisher to read on to see its true potential.

You need to find an experienced literary consultant/marketing expert that can help you with this. There are many providers out there and it shouldn’t cost very much but it’s important to find the right person that knows what agents/publishers are looking for. Please do not have it edited at this stage, as this is not required. If you would like us to arrange this for you, please let me know immediately.
I've heard reports that writers who have responded to this offer are being directed to a paid-for service. Fees seem to be in the low to mid hundreds.

I've blogged about this in more detail, and have two more BWA-related blog posts planned for the coming days. I'd be grateful if people could post links to good online resources for synopses and proposals in the comments to my blog post, as I suspect some of the writers affected are reading my blog and I'd like to give them some good, free help. Thank you.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:05 AM   #15
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The Brit Writers Awards has sent a solicitor's letter to a UK-based writers' website, The Word Cloud, demanding that it delete all references to the BWA. The Word Cloud has now done so.

A UK writer, Claire King, asked the BWA a few questions today and in reply they told her that their solicitors would now be contacting her. You can read that email exchange here.

Last edited by Old Hack; 11-08-2011 at 12:08 AM. Reason: tidying the links
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:21 AM   #16
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That's scummy behaviour and it doesn't reflect well on Brit Writers IMO.

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Old 11-09-2011, 09:49 PM   #17
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The Word Cloud has published an update, and many of us are hoping that the BWA gives a positive and thoughtful response.
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Old 11-10-2011, 03:27 AM   #18
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I incline strongly to the view that when the response to legitimate questions is the threat of legal action, it is because there are no legitimate answers to those questions.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:00 PM   #19
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What Waylander said.

I also have some concerns about their schools programme - mainly because I cannot find any information about the Word Academy. Though they do have a standing order form and a paypal donation form online.
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:37 PM   #20
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:28 PM   #21
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Brit Writers gave a response to Writers On-Line (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/inf...n/britwriters/) in respect of queries about its new Agents Division (one of the matters that led to the latest round of nastiness):

Quote:
Brit Writers: (BOLDING MINE)
Regarding your specific questions, the Agent’s Division is a trial service that we are piloting in partnership with a number of Agents and Commissioning Editors who have become our friends over the last few years. As you know from last year’s awards ceremony Jonathan you could see the wide range of partners, sponsors and publishing industry insiders who were there for all to see and meet and everyone took away an awards magazine which clearly promoted some of our partners. In the same way, people that attended this year’s awards would have met many of our partners, and again were given an awards magazine to take away. Brit Writers is not growing on its own, it is only growing because of our relationships and the trust that individuals, agents, publishers and partners have in us and the mutually beneficial ways in which we work with them. Any business, and indeed all agents and publishers are businesses and therefore compete in the market place. Thus we have signed non-disclosure agreements preventing us from disclosing our agents and publishers as they too are competing with one another to find the next best thing. I can’t make myself any clearer on this matter.


I've got to say (and it's purely a matter of opinion based on my personal experience) that I don't understand why legally, a NDA would be needed in this respect. If a website such as Brit Writers is seeking to operate a new service of benefit to the public, then it makes sense that Brit Writers be able to disclose to the public who it is dealing with. Likewise, if an agent or commissioning editor is keen to partner with Brit Writers and be seen to partner with Brit Writers for the purposes of bringing new work to its attention, then it should have no issue with that fact being publicised.

The fact that agents and publishers are competing with each other is neither here nor there because it should not have any bearing on their relationship with Brit Writers.

Indeed, given that certain agents and publishers were proud to publicise their partnership arrangements and support of Brit Writers for the purposes of the awards, it is difficult to see what could be so commercially different as to warrant secrecy when it comes to the specific agenting services (which, in any event, no acquiring editor should have an interest in).

Quote:
Brit Writers:
It is entirely up to the author to act upon the recommendations, and no fee is charged for this feedback. We ask the author to find their own literary consultant/service provider and if they cannot, only then do we assist and refer to one of our partners. Again, some of our partners are promoted in our awards magazine, and again, they too compete in the open market to provide the best quality service and we feel that they should only be known to the client that they’re providing a service to.
Given that Brit Writers are in partnership with some of these consultants/service providers, as a writer I would want to know whether Brit Writers receives any remuneration for referrals it makes to the same. In this case, I could see why the relevant parties would want such arrangements to be confidential because they may go to a commercial arrangement but as a writer, I'd be interested in knowing how they deal with Data Protection law with regard to the sale/transfer of personal details to third party organisations.

Quote:
Brit Writers:
I have spoken to a couple of our consultants about whether they would be willing to allow us to say who they were, but unsurprisingly, given the current situation whereby my personal details are being shared on public forums, and with accusations of us forging the Prime Ministers letters etc., they do not agree to this and believe that their relationship should be with their client/author and it is no one else’s business, especially a competing editing company’s. And I agree with them entirely as it would be wrong for us to risk their privacy to be exploited in the same way as mine has and it would be detrimental to the authors they are currently working with.
It is a client's business to know whether the person referring them to a third party has received any kind of consideration for that referral. This may be a confidentiality issue, but I find it interesting that the reason here is couched in terms of privacy, which is an entirely separate head of claim under English law. Possibly this reflects the fact that the person making the response for Brit Writers is not a lawyer, but I would repeat that as a writer I should have the right to know whether money is being made from a referral of me or my work to someone else. This is certainly not uncommon and I don't think it's unreasonable to want to know.

Quote:
Brit Writers:
With regard to the Publishing Programme, again you ask us to talk about which publishers we’re working with in respect of our authors. I think it’s extremely naive of anyone to expect us to share the details of potential publishers of authors we’re working with. Once the contract is signed and book launch is arranged, that is the time for any author to go public about their book and publisher, however, even at that stage, no author would talk about the kind of deal they have with their publisher – that’s a private matter between the author and the publisher! In terms of who the partners are that we would recommend authors to, again I am not going to jeopardise our relationships with them by dragging them into this debate, but I will say that a number of them are regular contributors in your magazine Jonathan.
Again, this leaves me very confused. Book publishers in general don't leave it until the date of the launch to announce their deal with an author. Many publishers report their deals on sites like The Bookseller (sometimes before contracts have been signed), others may prefer authors not to say anything until contract signature has occurred but afterwards they are absolutely free to discuss who they have signed with, when their book is to come out and so forth.

In any event, the relationship between the publisher and an author is a completely matter to what is being asked for here, i.e. the relationship between the publisher and Brit Writers. Again, it goes to establishing that Brit Writers can put an author in touch with a publisher worth getting in touch with. That can only be in the interests of both the publisher, Brit Writers and the author.

Quote:
Brit Writers:
I’d like to add at this stage that many bloggers are speculating huge profits from entries and sponsorships, so I think it is important for them to know that although you were promoted as a sponsor at last year’s awards, given free promotion through our networks and promoted in our magazine with free entries for all your subscribers, no money was exchanged. In return you promoted us in your magazine. This arrangement worked for both of us for a period of time. This is what partnership working is about.
If that's the kind of partnership arrangement that Brit Writers are entering into, then it's absolutely the kind of thing that a writer would want to know about in the sense that it's positive that money isn't changing hands, but it still goes to establishing what the nature of that partnership arrangement is.

All in all, I personally found the response to raise more questions than answers. I can understand why this might bother them (and for the record, I still don't believe that they are a scam) but someone should have advised them just how counterproductive it would be to launch legal letters left, right and centre at people asking perfectly legitimate questions.

MM
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:44 PM   #22
waylander
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So in summary they are saying "we're not going to tell you, you'll just have to trust us".
Every writer can make up their own mind on this one. I formed my opinion a while back and see no reason to change it.

Last edited by waylander; 11-14-2011 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:56 PM   #23
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Brit Writers sent out a mailing yesterday announcing The Oxford Editors as their consulting partner for the Agency referrals. This is a new relationship (as of 10th November) and The Oxford Editors came over to my blog and posted the following:

"Just to explain our role a little. We are an independent Literary Consultancy offering a variety of services to writers and publishers. We are here to support and encourage good writing. You can see bio info on our regular editorial team on our website. When we get a manuscript that needs expert help we can call on a long list of published authors and academics.

We have a good relationship with many writers’ groups and organizations, to which we offer special deals and discount to encourage and help new writers. Our relationship with Brit Writers is no different. We offer a 10% discount on all our services to members of established writers’ groups, clubs, people on a creative writing course and our Twitter followers. This we would of course extend to any member of this forum. We made contact with Brit Writers online and are happy to help anyone who has been involved in their awards. Our relationship is with the writer and not any group or company.

However, we always appreciate it when others recommend us, and pass on information about our offers and services.

If anyone has any questions I would be more than happy to talk to them, just visit our website http://www.theoxfordeditors.co.uk for contact information."
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:06 AM   #24
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Quote:
ckigwriter:
Brit Writers sent out a mailing yesterday announcing The Oxford Editors as their consulting partner for the Agency referrals.
Maybe it's the late hour, but while I see that The Oxford Editors offer agenting services, I can't find details of any sales made on their site. Shouldn't that be a pre-requisite for a literary agency?

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Old 11-15-2011, 03:05 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
Maybe it's the late hour, but while I see that The Oxford Editors offer agenting services, I can't find details of any sales made on their site. Shouldn't that be a pre-requisite for a literary agency?
I don't think they are functioning as a literary agency per se, but rather passing on selected mss. on to agents and editors with whom they have connections. The Writers' Workshop and The Literary Consultancy do this also.

I do note that they have a perfectly terrible definition of YA Fantasy on their website, though.

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