An Agency Offers Paid Services—With Strings Attached - Writer's Digest

An Agency Offers Paid Services—With Strings Attached

Publish date:
Image placeholder title

I've written frequently on agents and innovation of their model, twice for Writer's Digest, and twice for Digital Book World:

Also, here's a Q&A with Jungle Red Writers, "How Literary Agents Are Adapting to Survive."

Point is, this is an issue I watch and talk to people about.

So it was with some enthusiasm that I initially read news of literary agency Curtis Brown UK offering a writing school, hosted at their offices. According to their site, they'll launch with a 3-month novel-writing course, open to 15 writers. Courses will be taught by published authors (one is a Curtis Brown agent).

They are charging 1,600 pounds, which in my mind is a fair and reasonable fee for the apparent quality of what they are offering.

But there are strings attached, which in my mind is unconscionable considering that this is a FEE-based service. The site says in the FAQ:

Students will be asked to sign a covenant covering the "ground-rules" of
the course which are crucial to the successful and happy operation of
Curtis Brown Creative.

Then, in the application itself:

I am offered and choose to accept a place on a CBC writing course, I
agree to submit my novel to Curtis Brown when it is ready for
submission, and will give Curtis Brown an exclusive six week opportunity
to read and consider before sending to any other agencies or publishers

Excuse me?

Undoubtedly, any unpublished, unagented writer would be thrilled to be considered by Curtis Brown UK. But an imperative to submit to them? An exclusive 6-week opportunity?

If you're going to charge someone, then charge them, and leave them obligation free. Why should writers be further beholden to Curtis Brown UK after the course is over? I hope this practice does not become widespread at agencies who start pay-based services for writers.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.

Grinnell_Literary Techniques

Using Literary Techniques in Narrative Journalism

In this article, author Dustin Grinnell examines Jon Franklin’s award-winning article Mrs. Kelly’s Monster to help writers master the use of literary techniques in narrative journalism.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 545

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a cleaning poem.


New Agent Alert: Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


5 Tips for Writing Scary Stories and Horror Novels

Bestselling and award-winning author Simone St. James shares five tips for writing scary stories and horror novels that readers will love to fear.