As usual we had a crop of really good stories to choose from for The Writer of the Year Award.
This year’s winner, Cindy-Lou Dale, came runner up in our 2006 competition and back then she said, “Since childhood I’ve had a secret dream of writing an article about grizzly bears for National Geographic”. Four years on her writing career is stronger than ever and this year she has achieved her National Geographic dream.
To celebrate the success and achievements of our students we are pleased to run our annual Writer of the Year Award. First prize is £250 and there are four equal runners-up prizes of £50 each.
If you are a student of The Writers Bureau and would like to enter this competition for 2011 please click here.
You could walk away with the first prize of
Kinoti Gatobu - Kenya
Kinoti has found writing success with trade publications. Plus, he is fulfilling his spiritual side as Editor of The Vine magazine.
Lucy Pearce - Eire
Within three months of enrolling Lucy had earned back her course fees from published writing. She fits her writing around her young family's needs and is gaining confidence with every piece she writes.
Alison Sadler - UK
Not only has Alison had publishing success but her writing has also helped boost her brother’s fledgling business.
Chris Green - UK
Within eighteen months of enrolling Chris had 30 pieces of work accepted by a variety of publications. A great achievement as he only has, at most, three hours a week to spare for his writing.
“In class my English teacher handed out pages he’d torn from a National Geographic magazine; the task, he said, was to write an essay about the image presented. Unbeknown to me he submitted my essay to a national school writing contest, which I won. That’s when I decided I would be a writer. But life happened and my future took me down a very different road.
"Seven years ago I was afforded the opportunity to again follow my dream – and I enrolled with The Writers Bureau. I completed my course in less than a year by which time I was already being published around the world. Since then I’ve written for numerous international magazines covering trade and industry, motoring, tobacco, wine and travel. Today, following an assignment in Namibia, I received confirmation from my editor at National Geographic that I would be published in spring 2010.
“In a few months I’ll be giving my first ‘Secrets of a Freelance Travel Writer’ lecture and will publish an accompanying book of the same name. Early next year my novel will follow, on the back of which will be a coffee table photo-book depicting unpublished images of recent assignments.
“My WB tutor, David Kinchin, was a hard task master but prefers to play down his part in my success. However I know that had he not been such a tyrant I would not have achieved the success I’m enjoying today. So this one’s for you David!”
“I joined The Writers Bureau with the aim of improving my writing skills. The course was really challenging but from the gains I have made in writing, I’m happy that the effort I put into my studies at The Writers Bureau was worth it.
“I liked the entire course but my best parts were Module 12 (Writing for the Trade Press) and Module 15 (Religious and Inspirational Writing). I have made really good progress in areas around these two modules.
“All through the year I have been writing for the Marketing Africa magazine, which is one of the best trade press across the continent. Upon completion of my studies at The Writers Bureau, the Marketing Africa magazine gave me a chance to do one of the lead stories in the magazine's June 2009 issue. This June feature was a great piece, making the company give me many more contracts.
"Other than magazines, I have done business features for newspapers that include the Financial Post. I have also done social and business features for the People newspaper and had a chance to do the lead business story for the paper in December. The Writers Bureau training has assisted me in making nice progress at the People newspaper.
"My writing skills for trade press have been further improved by a Bachelor of Commerce degree I took at the University of Nairobi. My articles have been published in several publications for the university that include The Smart Accountant and The Student Accountant, a publication of the Accounting Students Association. I have also had the chance to sit in the editorial board of the Accounting Students Association as the Associate Editor.
“Amid all this prosperity, I have found deep joy in service to GOD. At the University of Nairobi we have launched a Christian publication known as The Vine. I am the Editor of The Vine and we have been able to achieve great success at the magazine; with GOD’S help of course. Using part of the finances we get from The Vine, we have bought gifts for children at the Nairobi Children’s Home and at the Kabete Rehabilitation School. On December 5th 2009, we held The Vine Breakfast. The breakfast was a celebration for the street families in Nairobi city, where we gave them clothes, food, danced with them, encouraged them, read them The Scripture and shared lots of love with them.The Vine experience and the whole writing venture has been a great success.”
“I decided that this was the year to take myself seriously as a writer. I have been getting bits and pieces published for the past three years, but felt I’d hit an invisible wall. I wanted to start to earn properly from my writing and widen my readership, but didn’t know how to approach bigger publications professionally – I was at sea.
“Enter The Writers Bureau. I’d seen them advertised for years in the Sunday supplements. When I looked into the course last January I thought – “money-back guarantee – there’s nothing to lose.” £274 was the same as I’d earned from five years worth of getting my work published on my own! Well, I earned back my course fee in less than three months! The information in The Writers Bureau course booklets has been my pilot ship, and the feedback from my tutor, my lighthouse, showing up rocky spots I had not seen myself.
“Fast forward nine months. Despite being a full time stay-at-home mum to two lively kiddies, with a third on the way, I have earned £1500 from my (very part-time) writing in 2009. On top of this I've got free press passes to conferences and summer festivals and lots of free books. This year I have been published in the Guardian, Take a Break, Juno, Modern Mum, the Irish Examiner, E-zee Writer and Families News. I have regular writing slots with three of these publications, and editors know they can rely on me.
“I’ve also talked to a number of my personal heroes, which has been a privilege. I had always been nervous about interviewing before doing the course, so much so that I never used quotes in my work. It was my tutor who pointed this out! So, after reading the interview booklet for the course, I emailed Dr Michel Odent, the doctor who introduced water birth in the 1970s, asking for an interview. He responded positively within 24 hours. Since then I have interviewed food and behaviour expert Dr Alex Richardson, sleep expert Elizabeth Pantley and chat show hostess Ricki Lake. I'm getting even more ambitious and am lining up interviews with the internationally revered Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Next stop the Dalai Lama!
“Another major achievement this year was being made co-editor at Juno magazine. Thanks to my confidence being built up through my Writers Bureau course, I pitched to my co-editor, and as a result, I was the first person to be paid market rates for a commissioned research article. From this December, my editing job is paid too. So my earnings next year will have doubled again at the very least.
“I currently have another five pieces out with different markets being considered, worth nearly £700. Things are really on a roll. I’m making money, getting my writing published and am able to fit it around being a full-time mum.
“Future dreams: I hope to gain a weekly column in one of my regular publications in the next twelve months. I also intend to move into writing books when the kids are a little older and I have a bit more time on my hands!
“The advice from The Writers Bureau has boosted my professional knowledge immensely: familiarising me with the jargon of journalism; knowing what editors are looking for and how to pitch ideas; knowing how to analyse markets; broadening where I consider getting published and what I can write. The practical advice on how to organise my writing life and where to source information have been invaluable. I only wish I had more writing time to capitalise on all the opportunities out there which The Writers Bureau has exposed me to.”
“My dream is to retire early and travel to faraway places, and how wonderful if I could write about my adventures as I go. Retirement might still be a few years away but I needed to know whether I could write well enough to be published. So last year I decided to find out and signed up for The Writers Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course.
“Writing has taken over my life and I love it. The encouragement I received from my tutor really helped build my confidence and to be told my second assignment was good enough to submit for publication was so exciting. It was accepted by a family history magazine and there I was in print.
“I had not expected success so soon but before long a second article was published in a professional journal. A few days later an editor phoned to say he had read the article and invited me to write a chapter for a text book. I was so proud to be writing alongside some very well-respected people and can’t wait for the publication of the book in January.
“My writing has also let me help my family. My brother started a gas fitting business this year and I wrote an article about his experience for a local paper. We hoped it might generate some work and get his fledgling business known in the area, but the response was incredible and the phone never stopped ringing. I had obviously hit the right note at the right time and it kept him in work for weeks. He has now asked me to do a follow-up piece and this time I’m expecting to be on commission!
“The Writers Bureau course has taught me how to target markets and sell my work. At the moment writing is a hobby and whilst I enjoy making money, it is not a priority. My first year’s income is very modest but I am able to progress at my own pace and have a profitable pastime that I can develop in the future. I have the knowledge and the ability to significantly increase my income when the time is right for me.
“Writing gives me an immense amount of pleasure and I am improving with every piece I write. I love shaping and crafting an idea and even routine report writing in my day job has become another opportunity to produce a well-written document.
“I am getting close to the end of my non-fiction assignments and can feel a growing eagerness to start the fiction part of the course. I am curious to discover whether I can write short stories and to have one published would be another fantastic achievement for me."
"I’ve had 30 pieces of work accepted by various publications since I started my Writers Bureau course – a mere 18 months ago.
"I contemplate that fact and I am amazed to have come so far in such a short time, especially when I consider the severe restrictions on the time I have available for writing. I usually manage about three hours per week, if I’m lucky.
"My excitement reached a new level this year when my work began to appear in print. Best of British, Evergreen, This England, Cumbria, The Dalesman, Lincolnshire Poacher, Countryman’s Weekly and Natural Health all ran articles under my by-line.
"During one heady week three publications featuring my efforts were on sale simultaneously. Standing in a newsagents, gazing at the array of magazines and mulling this over gave me one hell of a buzz.
"My writing C.V. has grown from a wretched, anaemic runt into a healthy toddler. There’s a huge amount of room for development but I’ve already achieved more than I would have imagined possible in these early days.
"That’s the wonderful thing about writing. The writer never stops growing, and thanks to the careful and patient tutoring provided by The Writers Bureau and the boundless confidence this has given me, I can continue to explore my potential and see where it takes me."
“I’m currently working on my fourth book, have been paid for my writing by at least 15 different magazines, and now earn half my income from writing – all thanks to The Writers Bureau’s course."
Sarah Plater - Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2017