Publish date:

An Agency Offers Paid Services—With Strings Attached

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:

If
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Undoubtedly, any unpublished, unagented writer would be thrilled to be considered by Curtis Brown UK.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.

The Benefits of a Book Coach for Writers

The Benefits of Having a Book Coach for Writers

What is a book coach? How could they help authors? Award-winning author and writing instructor Mark Spencer answers these questions and more in this post about the benefits of having a book coach for writers.

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Clare Chambers: On Starting Fresh and Switching Gears

Award-winning author Clare Chambers discusses the fear and excitement of switching genre gears in her new historical fiction novel, Small Pleasures.

Poetic Forms

Exquisite Corpse: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the exquisite corpse (or exquisite cadaver), a collaborative poem that would make a fun poetic game.

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

How Opening Ourselves to Other People Can Make Us Better Writers

The writing process is both individual and communal, as receiving constructive feedback and outside encouragement helps our drafts become finished manuscripts. Author Peri Chickering discusses how opening ourselves up to others can make us better writers.

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

What Forensic Science’s Godmother Taught Me About Writing Mysteries

Stephanie Kane discusses the impact of Frances Glessner Lee, the godmother of forensic science, and her crime scene dioramas on writing mysteries.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Still Alive

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Still Alive

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, reveal that a character who was thought deceased is actually still among the living.

Mark Anthony: On Destigmatizing Paranormal Communication

Mark Anthony: On Destigmatizing Paranormal Communication

Author Mark Anthony hopes to educate and normalize paranormal communication with his new spirituality book, The Afterlife Frequency.

Ways Animals Have Interacted With Writers Through the Centuries

Ways Animals Have Interacted With Writers Through the Centuries

Across the globe and spanning lifetimes, animals have always operated as more than simply animals within the stories they reside. Author Richard Girling discusses how animals have interacted with writers throughout the centuries.

Margaret Verble: On Combining Facts and Imagination in Historical Fiction.

Margaret Verble: On Combining Facts and Imagination in Historical Fiction.

Pulitzer Prize-finalist Margaret Verble discusses the process of writing her new historical fiction novel, When Two Feathers Fell from the Sky.