Book now for November’s LWC Live with agent Laura Longrigg

November’s speaker is booked and we are looking forward to welcoming Laura Longrigg of MBA Literary Agents.Book now to get an early seat (£15 in advance). Free for members but do let us know you are coming.
Laura worked as an editor, mainly in the genre of popular fiction, for HarperCollins, Heinemann and Penguin. She became an agent in 1994, working first with Jennifer Kavanagh and joined MBA just before the millennium.   Her clients’ work covers the whole fiction spectrum, from genre, including romantic comedy and saga, through crime and thrillers, to ‘reading group’ and literary writing.  She also agents some non fiction, but would not be the right agent for science fiction, children’s, poetry or illustrated books.   She founded and administered the Harry Bowling prize for unpublished fiction for many years, and her clients have appeared on the Booker shortlist among many other prestigious prizes, Sunday Times bestseller lists and been made into TV, film and radio.
All best,
Kirsty & Jacq.

Going Live! with LWC member, Sadie Nott

Going Live!

London Writer’s Club member, Sadie Nott, was shortlisted in the York Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live Competition. This meant she was one of seven writers selected to read 500 words of their work to an audience of around 200 writers, agents and editors and an expert panel.

Public readings are a core part of a writing life, however Sadie had previously only read her work aloud to members of her writing group. Fortunately Arachne Press  held a workshop on ‘Performance for Writers’, led by Liars’ League’s Katy Darby , just two days before Sadie spoke at the conference.  ‘Whist I already had experience of presenting at academic conferences, the workshop taught me several strategies specific to reading fiction out loud,’ says Sadie, ‘For example how to mark up your text to indicate emphasis and emotion and moving your head slightly as if you’re watching Wimbledon during dialogue to help the audience follow who is speaking.’

Sadie read the opening of her recently completed novel, A Ton of Feathers, the coming-of-age story of Zoe who lives in her head where she feels safe, and her bereft, hippy mum who tries to pull her out.

The winner is decided by the loudness of the audience’s claps and the two joint-winners had both written darkly comic novels about murdered spouses. In 2014 the winner of this event wasJoanna Cannon , a writer who went on to publish the bestselling novel The Problem with Goats and Sheep

Sadie says ‘The panel gave constructive comments, the conference itself was a very friendly affair, and, like London Writer’s Club, it provides a great opportunity to meet agents, to find out what they are like in person, and which types of book they are looking for.’


Notes from LWC Live with Catherine Cho of Curtis Brown

Following are some brief – and to the point – notes from Tuesday’s LWC Live with agent Catherine Cho of Curtis Brown.


3 top tips for getting your work read by Curtis Brown

1/Referral – via a festival/event such as London Writers’ Club

2/Do research on the agent – identify the elements in your book which will appeal to the agent.

3/Submit directly to the agent – not via the portal.

What percentage of submissions gets a ‘call back’?

80% is an immediate no

10% is an ‘almost there’ – great writing but the concept is not quite right.

Of the 10% remaining, 1% of that will have the magical formula of great writing and great concept.

What are the HOT TRENDS?

·         Psychological thrillers – lots of sex and violence with a female lead character

·         Unique concepts – with an unreliable narrator

·         Female driven fiction

·         Cosy novels – crime or comforting to read

·         Ghost stories and love stories are also seen a resurgence

·         BUT no twins or sisters

What’s Reverse Engineering?


In computer speak it is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object.  With books, it’s all about deconstructing a concept to see why it is so successful.


How to get your concept across quickly and successfully?


1/Describe it in a sentence.

2/Identify the story immediately


4/Log line? Ensure it works.


What is Pitch CB on Twitter?  Check out the hashtag on Twitter – this is your chance to pitch your concept in 140 characters to agents at Curtis Brown.


What is Jonny Geller looking for? A love story!


What does Catherine Cho bring to agenting?

·         She has worked in law and lobbying so knows there are other ways to do things – this means she can be innovative and constantly improve and look for the new.

·         Legal eye – she has an eye for detail in all agreements.

·         Business mind.

·         Works closely with authors on their novels.


 If you’d like to see the full film of the event, do let us know and join the Club here. 

Release the Bats!

You can be insecure and be a writer
You can be unsuccessful and be a writer
You can be a bad person and be a writer. 
You can be a drinker, a procrastinator, a freak.
You can be compulsive, dependent, delusional, manic.
You can be under house arrest.
You can be on medication.
You can be wrong.
And be a writer.
You just have to write.
That’s where it gets tricky.
DBC Pierre
The Booker Prize-winning author of Vernon God Little returns with a book about writing fiction:  Release the Bats: Writing Your Way Out of It.
‘Release the Bats is the most honest and exhilarating account of the writing life – the how-to, the why, the pitfalls, and how to avoid them – as I have read. Everyone who aspires to write fiction should read this book; every writer who does, will come away enlightened and inspired.’ – Lee Brackstone, Editor
‘When you first sit down to write, a hundred thousand decisions glare up from blank pages . . . But a curious thing can also happen: as you ponder how dumb it is to risk getting that many decisions right, you can end up feeling that alone and from scratch is where writing wants you. Where it wants every writer. That the risk is the whole job. That hauling you naked to a place where nobody can help you is how writing wrings out art. That the management of passion counts as much as the words, and that every new book should make its author a novice again.
Which as a novice, makes you a writer.
The only matter then is to keep writing.’

Your chance for a Golden Ticket!

Would you like the chance to work closely with a literary agent and publishing consultant?
We have ONE golden ticket to do just that over the coming six months.
Jacq Burns has space to work intensively with one author.
This is for a writer who would like to develop their fiction or non-fiction project over six months. Covering:
* how to inject your idea with a strong commercial concept.
* advice and feedback as you write EITHER your 1st draft OR * edit and polish your 2nd draft.
* how to pitch your work.

Contact Jacq here to discuss how you can work together:

Join us for our October LWC Live event with Norah Perkins of Curtis Brown

Join us at our October event with Norah Perkins of Curtis Brown Agency.
Founded in 1899, the books department of Curtis Brownhas been at the forefront of international publishing and a leading literary agency for over one hundred years. Today they represent many of the world’s best-selling and award-winning authors.
When: October 18, doors open at 6.30pm and event ends at 8.30pm.
7-10 Adam Street, The Strand
Nearest tube is The Embankment, only 0.3miles away.
Members, let us know if you’d like to book a place

For non-members book an advance ticket here for £15
Or find out how to become a member here.

Join us for our September event with agent Rachel Mills

September’s event will be with agent, Rachel Mills of Furniss Lawton.
Who: Rachel Mills, formerly head of Peters, Fraser + Dunlop’s international rights department, joined Furniss Lawton in August in the newly created role of agent and international rights director.
In her new role she will continue to build her own list of authors and Mills will oversee the international publishing strategy for all Furniss Lawton authors, alongside rights manager Liane-Louise Smith.
Furniss Lawton’s clients span brand fiction and debut writers, non-fiction and children’s, including SK Tremayne, Lindsey Kelk, Tracy Rees, Alexandra Shulman, Kevin Brooks, Julian Clary, the Hairy Bikers, Clare Balding, Fearne Cotton, Holly Willoughby & Davina McCall.
When: Tuesday, September 20, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: The Cube, Studio 5,  155 Commercial Street,  London E1 6BJ (nearest station is Shoreditch High Street)
Members, let us know if you’d like to book a place here.
For non-members book an advance ticket here for £15

August with LWC

Hi all

London in August can be quiet but not at London Writers’ Club!

Join us on August 23 for our London Writers’ Club Live event all about Concept and how to inject it into your novel or non fiction work.
More info here.

Book an advance ticket here for August’s LWC Live for £15

Members come for free but
let us know if you’d like to book a place at

From August 1 we will be emailing a month of daily writing tips – with homework included.

Writing a bestseller – how to make it happen – what is the recipe for a bestseller? Read the full post here.

If you need to book in some Skype sessions during the summer months contact Laura at Address your writerly concerns before the ‘new term’.

If you are away during August and would to like to kickstart you writing in September book on to our Fiction Workshop here. One writer on our May workshop received multiple offers from agents within weeks of the workshop as a result of the advice she received during the day.

Writing a bestseller – how to make it happen

booksautumnLife. It’s a funny thing isn’t it? You never stop learning. With more than 20 years in publishing and with 7 books written, I thought I knew about writing books, so when approached by Hodder to write a book, enticingly titled Write a Bestseller, I was delighted.

What could be easier, I thought, than writing about novel writing, after all, I mentor writers’ every day, connect with agents and publishers most days of the week and run Britain’s biggest writers’ club. I also used to commission non-fiction so every box was ticked, or so I thought.

What I’d forgotten about is the pure and simple fact that knowing what I wanted to write and knowing how to write are not the same as actually getting the WRITING DONE. The deadline was tight from the outset but then I got to the point where I had just six months to write 90,000 words. I was in a panic, often to be found in Bushy park at 5am muttering about it to the trees and the deer. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t get the book written either.

All the years of writing, publishing and agenting expertise didn’t help because I was waiting for inspiration and the right mood to strike instead of just sitting down to it and treating it like a job.  I also realised that as most writing is done alone, you can waste a lot of time just mulling over what you’re writing, not sure whether it is any good. So I applied the mentoring advice I always give to clients to draw up a plan to get it done AND got some editorial feedback from trusted colleagues so that I knew I was on the right track. Within 4 months I had the book written!

What did this insight mean for how I could help writers?

Well firstly I wrote a recipe for a bestseller which in the writing phase looks like this:

Good hook or concept + great story + zeitgeisty or timeless in appeal

+ good-enough writing + fits genre conventions or creates a new one that works

+ plausible and interesting characters + good setting + universal themes = Bestseller.

Not every bestseller has all  of these but they do contain at least a handful of these. Tick all of these and you’ll be well on your way.  There’s loads more in the publishing and promoting phase which I will share in a another blog but this is enough to be going on with.

Then, in addition to the creative and industry stuff I help with, I realised that what writers are also desperate for industry advice, accountability and a place to write and receive feedback as they worked.

With my new-found awarness of writers’ pain I set up all sorts of ways to help writers get their books started, completed and published, including workshops and write with an agent sessions in London, skype sessions globally and writers’ retreats in Bali.

So how about you? Are you going to make the commitment to find out if the book you’re toying with can get written?

I’ve felt your pain and I am here to help so if you feel you can’t crack on alone, do arrange a chat with me to find out how I can help. Email now.

Here’s to productive writing.

Jacq Burns