Thursday, December 16, 2010

In The News

Curtis Brown UK Launches Paid Writing Classes for Fiction Writers
The latest news item driving online commentary is the launch of a three-month novel-writing course by Curtis Brown UK, "the first and only new writing school to be run by a literary agency."

They charge 1,600 pounds, and promise to "consider" students' for representation: "We don't guarantee that we'll offer representation but we do guarantee that every student's work will be read by a Curtis Brown book agent and every student will receive a detailed critique on their work at the end of the course." They also require that students give the agency an exclusive opportunity to consider their completed novel for representation: "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."

What think you, dear readers, of this sort of writing class?  Good?  Bad?  Great opportunity?  Waste of money (nearly $2,500 US)?

If you were given the same opportunity, in a city near you, would you jump on the chance?  Would you for $2,500?  Or would it have to be less than that?  Remember, it's for three months, a (very prestigious) Literary Agency is telling you what they like to see, what the publishers like to see, you are revising your manuscript to those standards, and getting an agent to look at your work for possible representation. 

Here is just another example of how the industry is changing.  Literary Agencies are changing the way they do business.  The question is, is it to your benefit?  Should we see more of this?  Would you like to see more of this?  I'm very interested in the perspective of a writer.

Happy writing! 


Anonymous said...

My biggest concern is the people that sign up for the class may be getting robbed. That may sound harsh, but how many people will get taken in with an assumption that they will get an agent. I understand that people would be promised representation. In this economy, it seems dubious to present this idea in such a manner. Plus, if the writer pays for the class, and decides that they don't connect with any of the agents at the agency, they are still required to give the agency an exclusive...Yes, they can then turn down any offers of representation, BUT they will be that much farther behind in reaching their goal.
There are too many factors that would make me say no. Plus it's way too expensive for my tastes.

Amy Tripp said...

I'm trying to process this. Almost any wanna-be writer would love an opportunity like this, but it would be affordable to so few.

And then on second thought, it feels a little sleezy - like the agency is charging a reading fee. I know there are classes involved - but what are those classes? Are they worth the cost of admission, or is that cost really just having the agency read the author's work?

Ugh. Now I'm even more confused about how I feel about this. LOL

As for me, I love taking writing courses, but between my schedule and the cost, I take very few. So, no, I probably wouldn't be in line for something like this.

Unknown said...

I guess the answer is really in a question. I know that agents like to hear that writers have taken classes and/or gone to conferences. So if a writer puts these classes at the bottom of their query letter-- would you consider it a bonus?

Shannon Heather said...

I'd take the class, even if I had to rip the braces off my son to afford them (ok, so I'm being a scosh dramatic.)

Here's the thing, as a never-been-published writer, I would LOVE to get a chance to get an honest opinion about my writing that isn't from my husband or my Mastiff, Gracie.

Also, I love to learn new things and then try to apply them to real life. I've taken cake decorating classes, sign language, stock trading classes - none cheap, but all have been wonderful learning experiences.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I think I'll just stick to tucking hundred dollar bills in with my queries.

I don't begrudge the agency for looking for new business, but this doesn't seem far removed from agencies charging for critiques or referring to editors or vanity presses that offer kickbacks.

If enough agencies follow suit or set up side publishing businesses, the AAR will need to rethink its guidelines. Maybe this is the way of evolution. Maybe avenues that cross the old ethics line are the way to survive. A lot of traditional models are being rethought in more industries than just publishing. If the progression is prevalent and insidious enough, it will be accepted practice in a handful of years and the early adopters will see the profits faster.

And maybe -- maybe -- that will be OK in the future, but right now -- today -- not so much.

ChristaCarol Jones said...

Here's the me, a writer can get similar experience without paying the money, promising an exclusive, and traveling to wherever the class may be. There are some really great writing communities both virtual and in most major cities. Belonging to both, I get experience with published authors reading my work, critiquing, betaing, as well as with writers not yet published but at all different levels. There is a benefit reading work below and above your level of writing. I won't go into that right now, as this is a long reply as is! Sure, you're not learning from an actual agent, but you are learning from people who are agented, who understand the writing business inside and out, etc.

As well, conferences. Yes, you have to pay, but not 2500K plus more with travel. Some conferences are much less in cost and you get the opportunity to speak with agents, editors, take classes, and network! We have an annual conference here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area around $250 (maybe a little more for those who are not members of the workshop--- DFWcon) and you get pitch sessions, classes, workshops, free lunch, agent parties....hey, Vickie, we should extend an invitation for 2012 if you like to go to conferences!

Anyway, I'm really going on and on aren't I? Thing is, while I can see how some might see this as a great opportunity to get their foot in the door, there is no real guarantee, and everything they're including in the package can be found through other resources at a much, much lower cost.

Found your blog through Guide to Literary Agents. Love it!

Elizabeth Prats said...

I second Christa Carol--I like your blog :) And found it the same way.

Now, thing is. Based on what I've read here about what Curtis Brown UK is doing I can't help but to agree with Christa Carol again. You can probably get this service in other ways...of course some of these ways may be a bit harder to find.

I'm a Creative Writing major at my college and honestly, I get some critiques but even then sometimes it feels like the professors aren't very familiar with the publishing industry (I'm from FL..only a handful of agencies--not counting the like 2 or 3 fake money-making schemers). Even the students seem so piled with work that they only give half hearted critiques. So the thought of getting feedback from someone who actually knows the business inside and out is tempting...but that's really way expensive. AND through this 3 month period how much attention and info are you getting about your ms? The say that you get a full crit at the what else is going on during these three months? Specifically, what kind of classes.

If I had the money (poor college students usually don't ;) lol) I would wait and see. Let others flock to it and wait. See what kind of feedback they've gotten. If other writers like me LOVE it. There may be some merit in it. Who knows.

Just my two cents.. :)