The news item below, which appeared on The Bookseller's web site, has caused quite stir (and that's putting it mildly). I have added my response to it at the end of this article. You can see all the comments by clicking on the link below or at the end of the article. You can also see Curtis Brown's response to the criticism and further comments.
"The Curtis Brown Literary Agency is launching a creative writing school. Curtis Brown Creative will run courses in the Curtis Brown offices for three months, from 5th May to July 21st. Fifteen students will be selected in March on the basis of a synopsis and 3,000 words of a novel in progress.
Anna Davis, five-times novelist and course director, said: "We really want to be taking quite a practical industry-led approach to this. We want to give the students an insider's view of things. This will not be about qualifications, it's about the experience."
Successful applicants will pay £1,600, for which they will receive a weekly evening class and a number of extra sessions that will be conducted by "leading writers and other publishing professionals," according to Davis. Each of the students will also receive a critique from a Curtis Brown literary agent at the completion of the course, with stand-out fledgling novelists being offered representation.
Details of the course and how to apply can be found at http://www.thebookseller.com/news/www.curtisbrowncreative.co.uk and it will be advertised more broadly in January.
Jonny Geller, m.d. of Curtis Brown's book department, said: "With the challenging market for debut fiction tougher than ever before, we have decided to take a more direct role in seeking out great new writers. We want to guide novelists at the earliest stages to help produce the talent of tomorrow."
Author's note: This is a substantial amount of money and because of that will rule out many aspiring authors but then that's probably why it has been set so high, that, and of course the fact that it will generate a sizeable income stream for the agency. Fifteen students paying £1,600 - work it out for yourself. Wonder what they're paying the authors who are running the courses? Still some applicants might consider it worthwhile if they manage to get Curtis Brown to represent them. However representation does not automatically mean they will find you a publisher and if they do then the agency will also be gaining commission. I'll leave it up to you to decide what you think but the comments on both the original article and Curtis Brown's response to it make interesting reading.
All those interested in attending a crime writing course, with insider knowledge of the publishing and bookselling world, knowledge of selling rights, and with access to publishers and agents leave your name on the comments. I'd be interested to hear from you. And I promise it won't cost you anywhere near that much!
Curtis Brown launches creative writing school: