More on Brit Writers

Sorry but, yes, here’s more. Following my recent post, I received the following email from another participant in the Brit Writers’ horrible publishing scheme.

I’m another one of the group who paid out a substantial sum of money to be part of the publishing programme and who so far has had nothing in return. …I’ve been looking at my original contract and thought you might be interested in what it said and what has actually happened. It stated that the programme would include:

A guarantee to get your work published with a top publisher within twelve months or your money back.
So far I haven’t heard anything at all about a possible publisher. However, apparently Imran is now telling some people that top publishers are out because  they take too long to publish novels. The publishers he seems to be offering are not much better than self-publishing outfits or they are e book publishers. [HB comment: yes, but anyone who knew anything about publishing would understand publishing timelines from the start. So why offer ‘top publishers’ if you know you can’t deliver? And publishers have long lead times, not because they’re lazy but because of retail requirements and because those timelines are needed to guarantee proper editorial & production quality and to build marketing momentum. That’s why top publishers are top.]

A senior personal consultant with you throughout the process, who will act as your agent, mentor and will be on call for you to provide support and guidance until you are published.
For the first few months this seemed to be happening -more or less. Then we were told the first group must take priority and we should be patient. Imran would concentrate on us in 2012. Nothing happened in the first few months of this year. Then Imran’s business partner, Zareen dropped out of the enterprise and, to be fair to Imran, he was ill in the summer, allthough I only learnt this from another participant. Imran didn’t contact the group. He never contacts me unless I email him and sometimes he doesn’t bother to reply.

Formal fortnightly planning and review meetings with you until you are published.

Facilitation of meetings and advice from a range of top experts from the publishing arena for you.
We had one meeting in London where some publishers of children’s fiction talked to us. But I don’t write children’ fiction. There should have been another publisher there but they cancelled.

Developing the author as ‘The Brand’.
Oh God! This is the area Imran is most keen on and I had two long meetings with him when this was thoroughly discussed. I absolutely loathe this kind of thing – I would like to be judged by my writing but I gather that nowadays this won’t do. Imran did work very hard to try to make me seem interesting but we didn’t seem able to agree about what interesting meant. He wanted me to emphasise that I’d been married to the same person for a long time. I suppose this indicates a certain stamina but it doesn’t sound like something that would  thrill the media.[HB comment: this is just bizarre. Writers need to care about their writing. Publishers will take care of the marketing. And someone’s marital status …? I mean, huh?]

Critiquing and developing your concept.
I didn’t have a ‘concept.’I had a finished novel which had been short listed for the unpublished novel prize in the Britwriters’ 2010 competition. I would have welcomed critical comment but none was offered and Imran admitted he didn’t really know much about writing. [HB comment: er … so what qualifies him to work with writers?]

Editing (prior to publishing)
I was told the first three chapters of my novel would be professionally edited a year ago. It still hasn’t happened although I gather some people have been edited and found it helpful.

Production of the bookincluding cover design.
A remote prospect. [HB comment: and why is the ‘top publisher’ not being allowed to do their job? The book cover is emphatically NOT the author’s area of expertise or responsibility.]

Sales and marketing strategy.
Ditto. [HB:  and ditto from me!]

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  • Whisks

    Terribly sad for the participants who went into this in good faith and who must have become horribly disillusioned.
    It might be worth pointing out that this promise of super publication is now a WHOLE YEAR out of date.
    To quote from the original BWA email: ‘We are looking to work with 15 unpublished authors over the next 12 months on an intensive one-to-one basis, who we guarantee will be published with a top publisher before Christmas 2011.’
    So that’s by last Christmas then.

    It strikes me that Imran (and why is it only Imran who seems to be doing all the jobs in this ‘professional’ organisation?) thought it’d be easy peasy, you didn’t need to worry about improving the quality (of both writing and publishing) and that you could flog anything to the gullible public with a bit of clever marketing.
    Well, it’s turned out not to be so easy peasy, quality always shines through, the public isn’t so gullible, and the marketing hasn’t been that clever.
    BWA’s behaviour seems intensely cynical to me. We all know that our books contain little quivering parts of our souls and to trample all over the hopes of their creators, is cruel beyond belief. I could cry for those who’ve been stung.
    If BWA were to apologise at least, this would be an honourable thing to do.

  • Skylark

    Well said, Whisks. It’s nothing to celebrate to be proved right about something like this. For the authors involved, I would have loved to have been proved wrong. But it seemed inevitable as there are no easy routes to publication – whether you go the traditional or self-publishing route. An apology, yes, and also a refund!

  • Julie-Ann Corrigan

    As they say, and sorry for the cliche, but there is absolutely no such thing as a free lunch. Writing for many is a dream, and people and their dreams are prone to dire manipulation by people who know what they’re doing. I hope the writers involved can smile wryly in the future when they sign up with a proper publisher or agent.

  • Pete

    Sad for the writers but it always had a bad smell to it.

  • So glad I never got involved.
    PS: Don’t mistake me for ‘that’ Imran

  • I’m one of the people shortlisted for the 2012 award, and I’m currently wondering whether to go to the awards ceremony. The BWA is getting so much bad press. On the other hand, they’d surely be facing criminal charges if they didn’t at least give the £10,000 prize to someone. So on the face of it I have a 1/50 chance of getting the prize, providing I show up in a penguin suit and am prepared to bat off offers of paid mentoring. Anyone got any comments?

  • Harry

    Hi Steve, They have as far as I know always paid that prize money – though not always fast, it has to be said. I also can’t be sure that their shortlists are actually as short as they claim them to be: that’s another area where people have raised concerns. But I kind of agree with you. Someone’s going to get that £10K, and it could well be you. Just be aware that it’s not a company to trust and that the prize isn’t an automatic launch to real publication. But go for it. Why not? Good luck.

  • Cherry Mosteshar

    Oh dear, a year ago I stood up for them because I felt they were being bullied. Then I realised that these were people who did not have the same standards and they certainly did not want the level of editing and feedback that we provided. Now, we are picking up the pieces as more and more writers come to us with stories of promises that never came to anything.

    Today we had yet another writer who told us:

    ‘They have had about £1000 of me as well as part of their School Partnership scheme which had initially promised me paid work, working in local school on a literary initiative program. can’t believe how gullible I’ve been! I was desperate, I used all my savings for the promise of paid work ( poor studen couldn’t find a job act). Imran said he would estimate £300 per session with the school if I wanted it.

    Sad really.

  • ‘Imran admitted he didn’t really know much about writing.’

    Good grief. Says it all, really.

  • Good lord. This is awful. It doesn’t sound malicious in any way – as long as folks do eventually get their £2K back – just wildly naive, incompetent and unprofessional.

  • how to write a book

    what a sad experienced to those who participated that event..
    i think this is a very alarming situation.
    so in attending events like this, we should first make sure it is not just for the money.we should take a look about the background of the organizers as well.
    hope this will be an eye- opener to everybody who wants to publish their books.
    they can do it in another way without the help of those unprofessional, incompetent people.
    how to write a book

  • Annette Gordon

    I submitted to BRit Writers and never heard a thing. Fair enough perhaps they thought my stuff was rubbish. I imagine they had loads of entries but I also never heard about who won either. As in no email. I’m very glad I wasn’t approached to get more involved as it sounds like a money making scam. After all loads of people want to be writers so imagine how many entered and how much money Imran got. I won’t bother to submit again. The whole thing felt amateurish. And I’m dismayed to hear that Imran knows nothing about writing!!!!! Definitely a scam.
    Did he get some sort of grant funding to set this up?

  • Robert

    So sorry to hear that Cherry. If it is any compensation, I got ripped off double.

  • Robert

    I am a former member of the BWA’s Publishing Programme. Also, I worked for a short time as a Publishing Consultant for them. Having waited ten months to receive payment for work done in January 2012, I am now struggling to get a refund. Regarding the Publishing Programme I long gave up and found my own deal. Promises upon promises have been made but not substantiated. I will be taking the BWA to court, as will, a whole bunch of others. Strongly recommend that everyone avoids any dealings with the BWA. In my eyes they have proven themselves incompetent and although not intentionally a scam, may as well be regarded as such. I wish I had never heard of them. Imran Akram is a man of many an empty word.

  • Recently I have decided that self publication is not the way forward for me so I started looking for an agent. I came across BritWritersAwards website, sent them my work and received a positive response, however, something didn’t feel right so I started digging and found your blog about them. The feedback I received from BWA was so similar to what was described in you blog and subsequent thread, in November 2011, that I will not be proceeding with them. Thanks for the heads up. The questions you asked so eloquently put and have saved me a great deal of time and money. However, that leaves me still looking for an agent for my book, The Greatest Gift and its sequel, Drifting Sands. With few connections in the literary world, it’s difficult out there.

  • Skylark

    Ken, you don’t need connections in the literary world to get an agent. You need a stonkingly good book, a solid covering letter/synopsis, oodles of patience and perserverence, perhaps a smidge of luck (ie right desk at the right time) and a thick skin to deflect all those rejections. I know plenty of people who have secured an agent who are ‘nobodies’ in the literary world. But they have submitted to a large number of agents in the process. So my advice would be to buy a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, handpick a bunch of agents who represent your genre and submit, submit and submit…..and good luck! 🙂

  • steven scorer

    I am sorry that it hasn’t worked out for so many people. However I don’t think BWA were dishonest or a scam. I think it has been a valiant attempt to help people get their books published. No doubt some people have found it helpful. And the people who were shortlisted / won prizes have had a small bit of glory (I would have thought it couldn’t do any harm when approaching agents and publishers). My daughter entered the young people’s category in 2010 and was so thrilled to get through to the 3rd round. Perhaps they should have stuck to just organising the awards and not been so ambitious with all the other stuff

  • Harry

    Well we can help, of course! Either submit direct to agents (using the help on our website) or use our editorial feedback to polish your work and better understand your next steps.

  • So what happened to Brit Writers? Anyone know anything?