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Old 11-15-2011, 03:08 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post
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.
I too find this really odd. It reminds me of agents who claim their sales records are confidential because they don't want to expose their clients to nuisance emails (or some other excuse). The stated reason for non-disclosure is usually not the actual reason.

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Old 11-15-2011, 08:52 AM   #27
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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.
So BMW/MWA passes one's work on to TOE (who, based on the YA fantasy definition to which Victoria linked, are editors who don't apparently know the difference between 'that' and 'which'), who then pass one's work on to an agent, which is something a writer can do for him- or herself? Why not just sub to agents directly? Why go through two layers of middlemen with no track record of success?
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:47 AM   #28
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What Terie said!
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:06 AM   #29
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Brit Writers has lots of plans.

Brit Writers University Creative Writing Groups Launched
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Old 11-15-2011, 01:59 PM   #30
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Hi, Since I've intervened pretty heavily in this debate already - see my blog here - I thought I should comment directly here too. (My name, btw, is Harry Bingham. I'm an author myself but - full disclosure - I also run the Writers' Workshop, an editorial agency which offers a variety of services to first time writers. We are therefore in competition, in some segments, with the BWA. Obviously you'll need to bear that in mind as you read on.)

I think it is now clear that the BWA awards were (at least in the first year) shambolically administered. That's not to take away from the winners, who deserved their victory, but the process of getting there was chaotic.

I think there are also real doubts about the "Agent Division". When asked to name their partner agents, the BWA have refused to do so. That's hardly inspiring. No literary agent that I know of has come forward to claim partnership with the BWA.

The operation of the "Publishing Programme" is equally obscure. It's not clear what value-added mentoring is genuinely provided; nor is it clear the literary qualifications of the mentors; nor (even at this late stage) are some Publishing Programme participants aware of who their publisher will be. Those are all strong reasons for scepticism about the (expensive) package offered.

In short, until the BWA clears up some of the questions surrounding its activities, prudent writers will stay a long way clear. I should also add that the BWA seems very, very free with its legal threats, using them both against independent bloggers, commercial competitors and (get this!) their own clients.

My verdict: AVOID.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:10 PM   #31
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Welcome Harry! Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:18 PM   #32
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Hello, Harry. It's good to see you here (check out my signature: you might know me).

If the BWA were to answer the questions you and Claire King asked of them, we might well be able to recommend their services. But without those answers, and with these lawyers' letters flying about--for those of you who don't know, I'm in receipt of one too--it's somewhat difficult to be able to advise writers to get involved with them.
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Old 11-15-2011, 04:24 PM   #33
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When they have paid their solicitors fees there probably won't be any money left to give out a financial prize.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:18 PM   #34
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BWA feedback...

1. I entered the BWA competition and received written feedback for £50. I was happy with this, in line with other feedback I received. The submission didn't get anywhere in the competition, but I wouldn't recommend against entering it!

2. BWA have highlighted an editorial agency they are using. www.theoxfordeditors.co.uk They have details of their staff and fee rates, and appear reasonable.

3. BWA are recruiting for area co-ordinators.

http://www.britwriters.com/what_woul...dinator_do.pdf

Specifically, this requires a personal contribution of £500 to their schools sponsorship programme, and promises a return of between 10% and 50% of all income generated in an area.

This I am not happy with. It seems like a franchise scheme for writing and that is plain wrong. I can see how it would work in fairly cynical business terms, as there are a lot of writers out there who seek outlets for their creativity, and I'm sure BWA could encourage more than a few to sign up if they thought they would get their money back. It rings alarm bells in my mind.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:16 PM   #35
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Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
You will apply to Brit Writers by 12 noon BST, Thursday 17 November 2011 by sending your current CV and an expression of interest. This will be in the form of one page describing;
a) how you would promote creative writing and support writers locally.
b) why you should be selected for this opportunity. Sent to
nathalie@britwriters.co.uk.

2.
Alongside your application you will have sponsored 5 schools in your area at £100 per school
(either now or at any point during the last 2 years). This will;
a) show us that you are someone that is willing to invest in your community and that you are absolutely committed to our vision.
b) help you get started as a coordinator in your area.


I have never heard of anyone effectively requiring a £500 donation to be considered for a job before. It simply isn't done and it shouldn't be a requirement by any means. At the absolute minimum that £500 should be refunded in the event that any applicant is not allocated a role.

Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
Our schools team will then get in touch with the schools, tell
them they have been sponsored by you and get them started on their Creative Writing Programme, so they can start benefitting straight away from our fantastic range of resources, project support, free entry to the Brit Writers’ Awards for all pupils, parents, staff,
and much more.
So schools can effectively be signed up and sent BW material without ever having signed up for themselves? How can that possibly be right?

Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
Interviews will take place week commencing 21 November 2011 (we will email and call you to arrange venue and time). International candidate interviews will be by Skype or telephone.

Quote:


I'm confused as I thought the schools scheme was aimed at UK schools, so I don't understand why there would be international candidates. Does this mean people currently overseas who will be returning to the UK?

Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
Quote:


Your website will promote you, your work or company and Brit Writers services
, encouraging locals to a) Enter the Brit Writers’ Awards b) Sign up local schools c) use Brit Writers Services for Writers.

So companies can become area co-ordinators, using BW as a means of getting into schools and promoting both it and BW's activities?

If I was a parent of a child using a site co-ordinated for BW by a private company or trading entity, I would want to have details on what the school is doing with material being provided to my child and who takes responsibility for that material - i.e. BW or the co-ordinator. At present there seem to be two companies who have taken up co-ordinator roles:

- http://www.britwriters.com/books-press/ - Books@Press is the co-ordinator for Gloucestershire and itself provides RE services for schools;

- Empowering Confidence Limited (http://www.britwriters.com/empowering-confidence-ltd/) is a site that seems to be involved in phonics for the teaching of reading.

Both seem to be perfectly legitimate companies and I make no criticism or cast any opinion on their involvement.

Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
Quote:


You will earn between 10% - 50% of all income generated through your Brit Writers activities in your area
:
10% of any entries to Brit Writers’ Awards from your area website,
20% of all referrals to writing services (you retain 90% of all services you provide yourself if you are a qualified and experienced provider),
50% of all Schools signed up and 75% for local businesses advertising on your website). Please remember, ALL special needs schools and those schools who cannot afford the annual fee must be

allowed to become FREE members.


To put this in perspective:

- if a BW co-ordinator encourages you or your writing group to submit to the BW contest (at a fee of £10.95), then they should disclose to you that it's because they will get 10% of your entry fee, i.e. £1.09).

- if a BW area co-ordinator comes to you and offers to sign up your school, then you should be aware that they will get 50% (i.e. £50 of that £100 registration fee).

Regarding the 20% on all referrals to writing services, I'd want to know how that is calculated - i.e. is it 20% of the amount paid to that service by the writer or is there a set commission payment per referral of which they get 20%?

The 90% retention on fees paid for services provided by the area co-ordinator suggests that BW gets 10% but I would definitely want that clarified. (It could be that BW gets nothing but this isn't clear because the advert is so badly drafted).

I'd also want to clarify what that 75% on adverts for local businesses on the website means and what it's calculated against.

Quote:
Brit Writers Area Co-ordinator Application:
A formal agreement will be issued after you have successfully completed your training. This
agreement will be renewable annually.
So you've paid £500 for the privilege of a one year position. It is entirely possible that you will not make that money back and if you make a financial success out of your area, it could potentially be the case that someone else takes the benefit of it in the next year.

All in all, I see a lot about this that I strongly dislike and an awful lot of potential for it to operate in practice as a mill for BW's writers' contest and school sign up (notwithstanding the fact that special needs and low income schools don't need to pay a fee). By way of clarification - I don't have an issue with companies making a profit from offering creative writing services whether to schools or to the wider public but particularly in the case of schools where public money may well be at stake, I do think that there needs to be complete transparency as to what is being done in return for the fee and what benefits the service provider may obtain.

All in all, I'm left with more questions than answers.

MM

Last edited by Momento Mori; 11-15-2011 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:12 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terie View Post
So BMW/MWA passes one's work on to TOE (who, based on the YA fantasy definition to which Victoria linked, are editors who don't apparently know the difference between 'that' and 'which'), who then pass one's work on to an agent, which is something a writer can do for him- or herself?
It's more like a personal referral. And it doesn't happen as a matter of course. Good literary consultancies (and freelance editors, who also do this on occasion) are very sparing with the mss. they pass on to their agent connections--just as are writers who refer mss to their agents--because the agents will stop heeding them if they pass on substandard fare or inappropriate material.

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Old 11-15-2011, 09:18 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
It's more like a personal referral. And it doesn't happen as a matter of course. Good literary consultancies (and freelance editors, who also do this on occasion) are very sparing with the mss. they pass on to their agent connections--just as are writers who refer mss to their agents--because the agents will stop heeding them if they pass on substandard fare or inappropriate material.
Indeed. Which is why the referrer(s) would need to have a track record for the referral to be of any use. That doesn't seem to be the case here. Middlemen are only worthwhile if they improve one's chances.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:35 PM   #38
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Momento Mori thank you for such an interesting post. It is the educational aspect of BWA that concerns me. http://www.britwriters.com/sign-up-your-school-today/ I emailed the education people at the site last week for information and am still waiting for a response. They do prioritize though - they have forms online for donations.

The services on offer to schools are not or, imo, worth paying £100 for as some of them are already available free online and others can be easily obtained via agencies or networking.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:38 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momento Mori View Post


So schools can effectively be signed up and sent BW material without ever having signed up for themselves? How can that possibly be right?

Signed up, sent material and assigned to a total stranger. Do BW even check to see if the area co-ordinator is allowed to be around children?
What does the area co-ordinator do, if the assigned school refuses to have anything to do with them? That's the big cash cow, isn't it? Signing up students by the classful?



I'm confused as I thought the schools scheme was aimed at UK schools, so I don't understand why there would be international candidates. Does this mean people currently overseas who will be returning to the UK?
Possibly, or maybe it just acknowledges that you could do most of this on-line. 'Distance education' I believe is the term.
You could be anywhere, 'encouraging' and 'developing' and, certainly 'selling' over the 'net.






So companies can become area co-ordinators, using BW as a means of getting into schools and promoting both it and BW's activities?


If I was a parent of a child using a site co-ordinated for BW by a private company or trading entity, I would want to have details on what the school is doing with material being provided to my child and who takes responsibility for that material - i.e. BW or the co-ordinator. At present there seem to be two companies who have taken up co-ordinator roles:



- http://www.britwriters.com/books-press/ - Books@Press is the co-ordinator for Gloucestershire and itself provides RE services for schools;



- Empowering Confidence Limited (http://www.britwriters.com/empowering-confidence-ltd/) is a site that seems to be involved in phonics for the teaching of reading.



Both seem to be perfectly legitimate companies and I make no criticism or cast any opinion on their involvement.






To put this in perspective:

- if a BW co-ordinator encourages you or your writing group to submit to the BW contest (at a fee of £10.95), then they should disclose to you that it's because they will get 10% of your entry fee, i.e. £1.09).

- if a BW area co-ordinator comes to you and offers to sign up your school, then you should be aware that they will get 50% (i.e. £50 of that £100 registration fee).

Regarding the 20% on all referrals to writing services, I'd want to know how that is calculated - i.e. is it 20% of the amount paid to that service by the writer or is there a set commission payment per referral of which they get 20%?

The 90% retention on fees paid for services provided by the area co-ordinator suggests that BW gets 10% but I would definitely want that clarified. (It could be that BW gets nothing but this isn't clear because the advert is so badly drafted).

I'd also want to clarify what that 75% on adverts for local businesses on the website means and what it's calculated against.



So you've paid £500 for the privilege of a one year position. It is entirely possible that you will not make that money back and if you make a financial success out of your area, it could potentially be the case that someone else takes the benefit of it in the next year.

All in all, I see a lot about this that I strongly dislike and an awful lot of potential for it to operate in practice as a mill for BW's writers' contest and school sign up (notwithstanding the fact that special needs and low income schools don't need to pay a fee). By way of clarification - I don't have an issue with companies making a profit from offering creative writing services whether to schools or to the wider public but particularly in the case of schools where public money may well be at stake, I do think that there needs to be complete transparency as to what is being done in return for the fee and what benefits the service provider may obtain.

All in all, I'm left with more questions than answers.

MM
[/LEFT]
Bless their little hearts, BW seems to have thought of every way of making money short of multi-level marketing. And even that, really, if you can get money for 'referrals' to BW's other services.

In fact, I didn't notice anything in the rules that said you couldn't be 'area co-ordinator' for several areas. With the one-year term, you could conceivably cherry-pick the more financially rewarding schools, and dump the ones that needed a lot of work for little return. Why would BW object, as long as they're getting their cut? It's in their best interests to have co-ordinators who can provide the best return.

Last edited by frimble3; 11-16-2011 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 11-16-2011, 02:16 PM   #40
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Quote:
frimble3:
Do BW even check to see if the area co-ordinator is allowed to be around children?
To be fair, yes they do. Brit Writers require co-ordinators to be prepared to go through a CRB check, which they'd have to do anyway because schools require it as a condition to having regular visitors.

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Old 11-16-2011, 08:29 PM   #41
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Brit Writers Limited has withdrawn its legal action against Harry Bingham, Claire King and me. It has issued a statement which you can read here, at Harry's Writers Workshop.

I have not received any communication from the BWA about this withdrawal. An email would have been nice: I found it entirely by accident while looking at the WW site.
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Old 11-16-2011, 09:01 PM   #42
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There are about a dozen ways I could tear into BW's statement (not least of which is the continued refusal to answer reasonable questions about its activities in a public forum), but I will settle for wishing my sincere congratulations to Old Hack, Claire King and Harry Bingham for making BW see sense.

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Old 11-16-2011, 09:58 PM   #43
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From BW's statement posted at Harry Bingham's site:
"As far as agents and publishers giving a fair chance to unpublished and unsolicited manuscripts goes, our experience strongly suggests, and we think most writers would agree, that writers in this category are not taken seriously or even given fair consideration."

I call bullshit.
There are plenty of examples on AW, and other folk of my aquaintance who have caught the interest of agents.
For this statement alone, I'm content to leave my opinion of BW unmodified.
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:06 PM   #44
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Harry has just updated the post I linked to above, and has replaced his rather positive ending paragraph with this:

Quote:
Blog amended 18th Nov:
This article was originally written and posted on 17th Nov and relied in part on a number of written statements made by the BWA, who knew their statements would be scrutinised. Unfortunately, I now have incontrovertible evidence that the company lies, even in circumstances where its claims are likely to be closely examined. Nothing this company says can be taken on trust. Its financial promises are unreliable. The same is true of its literary promises. Writers should avoid having anything at all to do with this company. The whole thing is incredibly sad.
This paragraph replaces a previous, somewhat more upbeat, conclusion to this post.
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:34 PM   #45
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:53 PM   #46
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I see that Predators and Editors now list the BWA as Not Recommended.
http://pred-ed.com/pubctst.htm
Good stuff.
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Old 11-24-2011, 09:44 PM   #47
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I searched B&BCs for The Oxford Editors, with whom I'm currently at loggerheads over on Old Hack's 'How Publishing Really Works' blog and found this thread.

I actually feel mean for going after them so strongly over what seems like a minor issue, but I'm concerned that their client Simon Howard/William Alliss may not actually exist. I know that sounds odd.

This is Howard's site: http://www.simonhowardbooks.com/

If you look at the urls for the images that are on the site as his photographs, you'll find they're hosted at sitecontentbuilder.com. So the photos come from a content library? is that a reasonable interpretation?

Colour me confused.

ETA: or is that just a stock directory that the site builders set up for you to add your pictures to?
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Last edited by Buffysquirrel; 11-24-2011 at 10:10 PM. Reason: extra question
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:14 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buffysquirrel View Post
If you look at the urls for the images that are on the site as his photographs, you'll find they're hosted at sitecontentbuilder.com. So the photos come from a content library? is that a reasonable interpretation?

ETA: or is that just a stock directory that the site builders set up for you to add your pictures to?
Usually a http://www.tineye.com search will reveal stock images, but the photos on that page turn up nothing. It doesn't prove they're not from a content library, but it makes it less likely. (ETA: at the very least, they the makers of the site didn't just "grab them off the web somewhere", or the Tin Eye search would have revealed the originals.)

Edited: And yes, I just looked at the URL, and the images aren't even hosted off-site. It's just a folder on the server, they could have named it "LibraryOfCongress" and it wouldn't have meant anything . So, whatever else may be going on, nothing suspicious about the images, nor any reason I've seen to suspect the images are other than what they claim.


Edited Again:
I just read the thread that I suspect you're referring to. It's hard to take their reaction to questions of the gravatar as being anything other than intentionally obtuse and deflective, so I see where your suspicions are coming from.

This is probably why the gravatar account exists:
http://williamalliss.wordpress.com
But that doesn't answer the question of why it's linked to "The Oxford Editors".
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Last edited by LindaJeanne; 11-24-2011 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 11-25-2011, 04:40 PM   #49
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Thank you .
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Old 11-26-2011, 09:00 PM   #50
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Interesting article in The Times today about vanity publishers, which includes a reference to the debacle with Brit Writers, their competition and the fact that they're now offering publishing services. Interestingly the only publishers identified as being involved with them are Legend Press (who long term readers may remember from their association with YWO) and Infinite Ideas (who published the first competition winner).

You'd think that when faced with questions from a national newspaper, BW would do their utmost to reassure concerns, but no they did the same stonewalling that bloggers got when they asked reasonable questions. I particularly liked the following quote from Imran Akram, the chief executive of BWA who said that "To our recent critics, I would say: 'I am not answerable to you in any way.'"

You stay classy, Imran.

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