Former Brit Writers Award judge, Debi Alper, has spoken up about her own dealings with the Brit Writers Award. Those of us who know Debi, and her fellow judge, Tania Hershmann have no doubts about their sincerity during the proceedings.
And now for some good news. The BWA has lifted the threat of legal action from Jane Smith (of How Publishing Really Works), Claire King and Harry Bingham. They have also furnished Harry with a statement on his blog.
I addressed some concerns about the statement in the comments on Harry’s blog but I also want to share them here. As I said on Harry’s blog, when I first listed the BWA comp on my comps calendar, I was under the impression that they were a non-profit organisation. What gave me this impression was their mention of funding from the Arts council and endorsement from several other quarters. So I was surprised to read in the statement on Harry’s blog that they consider themselves a private company. There is nothing at all wrong with anyone operating as a private company, but to me there seems something rather disingenuous about the way the BWA presented themselves at the beginning. Even calling themselves The Brit Writers Awards, rather than (for example) Smith & Jones Editorial Services, is suggestive of an organisation that is altruistic in its pursuits. It makes it sound government backed, even if that was not their intention.
So will I be listing the comp on my page and listings in the future? No, I haven’t changed my mind at all. If anything I feel even less inclined to do so now, especially now I know that past entrants have gone on to receive offers of editorial services on their entries for £50. I’ve said in the past that there is nothing intrinsically wrong in using a writing comp to advertise writing services, but that no one should feel obliged to take up those writing services just because they enter the comp. However, when that comp appears to be altruistic, and only afterwards asks writers to spend even more money on editorial services (with no hint of wanting to sell editorial services on their website at the time as far as I can remember), I consider it is not a comp I wish to support.