I would not be as competent a writer as I feel I am today, without the lessons learnt from Chapter One Promotions professional critiques. I'm learning the art of writing organically, on the fly - I've had no formal education in the subject. And whilst feedback from peers on the various writers' websites can be useful, the value of these critiques is of a different order. From sentence structure, flow, pace of the unfolding story and characterization, the reader/reviewer analyses your work from multiple angles, and strips it bare. And sometimes the dissection can be pretty hard to look at initially, but on reflection I've rarely disagreed with the negative feedback I've sometimes received. And it's this more than anything that's propelled me forward. I've used the service five times and I can honestly say that some of the comments/criticisms have induced moments of epiphany. And if you care about being a better writer, that's priceless.
Tamim Sadikali, Middlesex
It was in June 2008 that I made the trip to London to attend a workshop run by Chapter One Promotions. As I nervously read the first chapter of my new novel, after listening to other participants who I considered more talented, I immediately felt 'at home'. Both Preetha and Johanna actually liked my writing! Since signing on with the agency, the helpful advice and critiques have been most encouraging and I look forward with hope, to completing our combined efforts with a publisher. I can thoroughly recommend Chapter One Promotions.
Patricia Rantisi, Shrewsbury
'My Name is Musa'
Just thought I'd grab a minute and respond to your request regarding your critiquing service. Although this is only the second time I have used your service I have found it extremely beneficial and well worth the money. The critique of 'Corey' helped me enormously and my work was returned well within the time frame suggested. I will continue to use this service for all my work.
Tracey Wheller, Derbyshire
Chapter One Promotions were recommended to me by a writing colleague who had heard very positive things about the company in helping to seek out opportunities for new writers wanting to reach a wider audience with their work.
As I had nearly completed my themed collection of contemporary poems of love, titled 'Kiss Me with Words' and was looking for someone to help me achieve publishing the book, I submitted a selection of poems from the themed collection.
To date, Chapter One have been very helpful in their experience of the market and I'm certainly looking forward to continue working with them on this and other projects in the future.
Chip Rimmer, Dorset
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my stories and offer me your thoughts. It is encouraging to know that you consider me to be talented, and at the same time very interesting for me to read your comments, particularly about the weaknesses of my third-person narrative. As you no doubt appreciate, it can be difficult to get considered, constructive opinion, and which, when it comes from another writer, is particularly useful in analyzing how a piece works, or whether it does work or not.
I am therefore heartened to know that you have found certain strengths in my stories, particularly, I think, 'Café Popular,' and I am also now able to reread the other stories with a more critical eye and make changes.
Adam, via e-mail
I've been on a road trip in South Africa with little e-mail access. Please can you thank Sharon Zink for me. Her critique was most constructive, and I appreciate the amount of time and thought she gave to her comments.
Karen, via e-mail
Thank you very much for your reply. It was lovely to receive such a thorough response and feedback. If this is the level of care you give to someone who is not yet one of your clients I think your agency is certainly one worth being with.
I will take all your advice and pointers on board and have a look over the poems in this collection. When I have exhausted my skills at editing I shall most probably seek professional assistance.
Thank you for your help and I look forward to submitting a higher quality of work in the future.
James Wallace, London
Many thanks for your welcome comments on the three chapters of my novel 'To Have Loved and Lied'. It was thrilling to have found a literary agent who actually took time to read the chapters. An extra bonus was your notes. I'm acutely aware those notes would have cost me if I'd received them from a manuscript appraisal service. Thank you for your generosity.
David G. Aldus, Buckinghamshire
Congratulations on organizing a highly successful workshop. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear what literary agents are looking for and to receive personal feedback. Many thanks for encouraging me to make a pitch.
I enjoyed every minute of the event and am sure all the delegates attending also found the day both very useful and highly encouraging.
Marilyn Donovan, Kent
An excellent event and good value for money. I thought the little notebooks in the information pack were a nice touch. I picked up useful contacts and received encouraging feedback on my brief ‘pitch’. The feedback from the agents and the opportunity to network with fellow writers was useful.
Helen Barbour, London
Well organised, a great learning opportunity. I picked up as much from listening to critique/feedback, about other writers, as I did for my own piece.
Beatrice Sudsbury, South Croydon
Excellent, informative, thorough, fantastic to tap into considerable knowledge and experience of the tutor. Exceeded my every expectation.
Richard Bardwell, London
I thought the feedback was extremely helpful and particularly Lorella's which was fair and candid. I was really pleased she'd been able to read mine [manuscript] beforehand, it made a real difference to the quality of the feedback she could give.
Jenny Robottom, London
Very helpful and good to hear from an agent what is really expected in a submission. It was realistic - I am much clearer about how much work I need to do to make sure my writing has a chance of being taken seriously.
Carol Griffin, Shropshire
Excellent, wide ranging and informative. Practical information of considerable value.
David Smith, London
Very informative. The people attending had various experiences so offered many recommendations. It was really great to hear from Lorella what she looks for and an honest picture of the industry.
Nicola Cross, Surrey
Hard to get a word in sometimes but Lorella was good at giving us a reality check on the publisher/agents business models and sales based focus.
Paul J R Webb, London
I attended one of your courses last November - the one about writing for children, ran by the lovely Kelly McKain.
After the course, Kelly was kind enough to look over some of my work and give me detailed notes and advice, before mentioning me to her agent, Joanna Devereux at Pollinger Ltd. Since then, I've been sending work to Joanna and having e-mail conversations with her and despite her having reservations about the content of my first book, she has just last week taken me on as her client, hooray!
I'm not sure if my first book will ever get published due to its controversial nature, but I'm presently working on my second, so I'm hopeful about that. It's all very exciting and I'd like to thank you so much for putting on the course that day - I found the whole experience of meeting Kelly and yourself and mixing with other new writers, truly inspiring.
Sally Siner, Derby
Pilgrim State is my first book. It follows the story of my family’s migration from Jamaica to Britain via the USA and contains original documentation as well as personal photographs.
I began writing Pilgrim State after being made redundant when my last child went to university. I wrote it for family and friends, it was not intended for publication, my concern was with authenticity, with finding a narrative tone and a structure that would convey the uniqueness as well as the universality of my mother’s story; something that would make people want to keep reading.
I attended the Chapter One Promotions Pitch Your Novel Event well before I finished the manuscript. I have to admit, it wasn’t my idea to go. A friend had seen the advert and encouraged me to attend. I remember the night before, I was so nervous I considered cancelling, it was only at his insistence that I turned up on the day. I think it was the first time the event had been run. There were two agents and a group of us writers, some more confident than others, but the good thing that helped me relax straight away was that everyone was friendly and supportive and the day had been well thought out and professionally organised. It was fascinating to see the variety of writing produced and to listen to the response from the agents and to have that response fed back so immediately. That face-to-face experience, and the follow up from it, gave me the confidence to carry on writing and to start sending what there was of Pilgrim State out to agents. In the end the manuscript was sold at auction to Hodder in 2007 and was published this April. I still remember that session pitching my novel as one of the milestones on the way to Pilgrim State’s success.
Jacqueline Walker, London
Author of 'Pilgrim State'
Thank you so very much for coming into the school and participating in our 'Book It' event. Your performance and story writing discussion with the children were both stimulating and informative, and as a consequence the children learned a great deal (even if the boys were a tad over exuberant!). They have been raving about your visit with much energy ever since!
Teacher, Amesbury School, Surrey
Very well organized and structured. Very clear presentation from speakers [Shelley Instone & Rachel Williams]. Very useful and friendly!
Scarlett Blackwell, Surrey
It was absolutely fantastic. The interaction and level of information shared [was what I liked best about the event]. The connections and feeling that I was on the right path to having an agent or publisher be interested in my novel. The number of people participating was just right. Everyone had a chance to pitch and be able to discuss their ideas.
Anni Domingo, Cambridgeshire
It was fun and not as intimidating as I expected!
Polis Loizou, London
It was a great opportunity to meet an agent, learn what they like and how they operate, and to get a lot of tips about how to rework my novel.
[I liked] the one-to-one feedback on my novel, and the opportunity to rework my novel and submit it to the agent, who also kindly gave me contact details of another agent.
Carol Repton, London
Thank you so much for visiting St Aubyns on Monday. It was very good of you to make the journey and your words and the gift of books to the school were much appreciated. The trophy now stands in pride of place and the books have been allocated to the relevant age sections of the library. I hope that in the future years our children's entries can be equally successful.
Headmaster, St Aubyns School, Rottingdean
Thank you so much for this wonderful experience. Emma-Marie (and her brothers) have already finished their contributions for this year's competition. Emma has written a story too! They are very excited. We are looking forward to September's publication and thank you again.
Nicole Sabga, Trinidad
I would also like to thank you all - and special thanks to Steve Tasane - I can't emphasise enough how amazed and thrilled I was to be in the top 20 of such a prestigious competition. It has given me an enormous boost of incentive to continue writing, when I was at a point where I was beginning to think no one but me would ever read anything I had written. Having it there on your website for the past few weeks has been amazing.
Julie Tese, via e-mail
Oh lovely! Oh wonderful! Thank you so much, we have received the 2009 book with Emma-Marie's illustrations on the cover. She is very pleased as I am proud. The expression on her face is something you missed when she opened the package and recognised her drawing on the cover. Thank you for brightening her childhood and helping us make memorable moments of happiness!
Nicole Sagba, Trinidad
Just thought it was about time I got in touch to tell you how delighted I am with Baden and the work he has been doing with me.
The feedback is extremely detailed and always to the point. He's not afraid to tell me when he disagrees with something I'm doing but is so positive and encouraging in his comments that it's impossible to take umbrage. With his help I've been able to push ahead with greater confidence, knowing that I have someone watching my back, so to speak, and that he will always have something of interest to contribute. I'm sure every writer likes praise but I want to be challenged as well. I need someone to make sure I can justify anything I've included and Baden offers just the right mix of encouragement and stick.
Graham Minett, via e-mail
Winner of the Novel Competition 2010
Just to say how immensely pleased I was to find myself coming 3rd in the 2011 Self Published Book Award. I appreciate what a task it must have been for Wendy O'Brien to read all the entries and decide the top three. As they say, writing can be a lonely business, so to get some recognition is tremendously encouraging.
Barbara Fagan Speake, via e-mail
Third placed winner of the Self Published Book Award 2011
Thank you for the letter which arrived Saturday morning informing us that Teigan had won first prize in the competition, we were absolutely delighted. Teigan wrote this story when she was 9 years old in a writing assessment for her new teacher. Her piece of work ‘Rain on the Window’ was read out to her class and her teacher told her that she had a wonderful imagination and that she was very proud of her. When I read it I thought it was so lovely too that I decided to enter it in to your Children’s Story Competition.
Teigan had forgotten all about it and I didn’t want to raise her hopes by mentioning it again so you can imagine our absolute delight when she was handed a letter from the postman saying she had won 1st Prize.
Teigan enjoys reading and writing so much that I hope she will use her prize money wisely and continue to develop the skill she has and her wonderful imagination. We are all so very proud of this achievement, and once again thank you.
Fiona White, East Sussex
Just to say a HUGE thank you for the anthology! It arrived today and I am really excited, it was amazing (and very humbling) to see my little story on print, more importantly I can't wait to read all the other stories in the book. I'm really looking forward to this.
Makhosazana Mguni, via e-mail