I love reading all the entries to our Student of the Year. It’s fantastic to see how our students, past and present, are getting on. And it’s wonderful to know that the work we do here at WB is having a transforming effect on people’s lives.
This year the candidates to The Award have been excellent and consequently it has been one of the hardest we’ve ever had to select the winners. Because people come to us for a variety of reasons we’ve not picked the winners on financial achievement alone. We’ve also considered their circumstances and other benefits they’ve gained from their course. As you’ll see we have an eclectic mix of people, living very different lives and writing for very different reasons.
So without further ado I’m delighted to announce that this year’s winner is …
Sarah was a runner-up in this award two years ago. But she has continued to go from strength to strength, developing her writing career to a point where she is now earning half her income from writing and hopes to be full time in the next year or so. She has been creative and dynamic by building on her successes. Read her full story here.
All the stories of our winners are inspirational. And, you’ll see, no matter why you want to write we can help you. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading all the stories and be inspired to give your writing dreams a chance to become reality. If you do, it could be you picking up the £250 first prize next year!
Walter Dinjos - Nigeria
Here’s another dynamic entry this time from an ambitious young Nigerian man. Walter enrolled on the Creative Writing Course to build his confidence as a writer and end his cycle of publishing failures. He certainly achieved that this year earning around £3,500 from his writing and winning a trip to USA.
Gillian Atack - UK
Never having written before, Gillian enrolled on our How to Write Biographies, Memoirs and Family Histories Course to help write her first book – memoirs that give an insight into Alzheimer’s. Her self-published book was the Book of the Month on the Alzheimer’s Society’s website in December 2016.
Elise Jones - UK
Elise enrolled because she wanted to be published on a regular basis. She managed to keep up with her course even though she was caring for her late husband. Her tutor gave her the confidence to send out her work and five out of the seven pieces dispatched have been published. A great start to her writing career. Read more…
Carrie Duxbury - UK
Despite being in prison Carrie has managed to have several pieces published and been invited to write blogs by TheProse.com. She’s also been offered a publishing deal by TheProse.com as well as the opportunity to do voluntary work with them upon her release.
“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.
“My most recent published book is Mastering Portrait Photography which has been in the top ten of its section since November 2015 and has an overall 5-star rating from over 30 reviews. The publisher, Ammonite Press, have sold out of the initial 5,000 print run and have just ordered another 5,000 to be printed for the start of 2017.
“My co-author from that book is one of the UK’s most prominent portrait photographers, Paul Wilkinson. We are working on a series of video tutorials to supplement the book.
“This is typical, in my experience: I’ve found that each bit of success opens up another opportunity – a new book, an article, or even a partnership with someone I would otherwise have never met.
“I launched my first ever Kickstarter campaign (a funding platform for creative projects) for another non-fiction book idea, Go To Sleep. Competition for funding is particularly intense in the publishing section with only 36% ever achieving their funding target. Happily mine was not only successful, but achieved 120% of its funding target. I quickly opened an online store to take additional pre-orders and have started receiving orders already.
“I’ve been interviewed for a how-to-piece on crowd funding books for Writing Magazine and I was commissioned by the same magazine to write about getting a reference book published. This shows that The Writers Bureau course has not only given me the confidence to get published, it’s given me the skills to become good enough to teach others.
“I also spend half my working week researching, writing and editing content for Business to Business (B2B) companies.
“The success with my writing led me to set up a company, Mr and Ms Creative, in April 2016. I have a forecast turnover of £40,000 for my first year of trading (based on actual turnover of £20,000 in the first six months).
“I’ve learned from my recent experiences that – with determination, effort and investment in improving your skills – anything really is possible”
“I enrolled in The Writers Bureau’s Creative Writing course in the hope of building my confidence as a writer and ending my cycle of publishing failures.
“Since starting, my confidence has improved. I have many pro and semi pro sales. I currently work as a content writer with a UK writing agency. I have made lots of writer friends. I even won a writing competition. I earnestly doubt I would have achieved all this without The Writers Bureau’s course.
“My short story, ‘The Woodcutter’s Deity’ won second place in Writers of the Future contest 2016’s second quarter. My prize includes $750, an all expenses paid trip to the USA to attend the award event and a one week workshop with famous writers, editors and judges. I currently work with Daily Posts (a UK agency with an office in Nigeria) with a monthly payment.
“Total earnings for 2016 is £3,500”
“Two years ago my mum died as a result of Alzheimer’s and writing about my experience was something I felt compelled to do. So I enrolled on The Writers Bureau’s Biographies, Memoirs and Family Histories Course to help write my first book which, as well as being a memoir, gives a valuable insight into the world of Alzheimer’s.
“The course has helped me write a story that evokes strong emotions; the constructive but motivational feedback I received from The Writers Bureau has helped me knock down the barriers to self-doubt.
“I used a self-publishing company to publish my book ‘The Storm Within The Rose: My Family And Alzheimer’s’, formatting it and designing the cover myself. After deducting printing costs, I have earned around £360 from sales generated locally and on Amazon and also raised £95 so far for the Alzheimer’s Society. But my success is perhaps best measured by what I achieved coming from a non-writing background. The best payment has been the reaction of family, friends and people I don’t know.
“Recently, I held my first book launch where I talked about how and why I wrote my story. Being a quiet, thoughtful person, I had to well and truly leave my comfort zone to do this but knowing that people actually thought my writing was good gave me the confidence to do this. I have also inspired a lady who attended my launch to write about her own experiences.
“The Alzheimer’s Society bought two books to put in their knowledge centre library and my book became their Book of the Month for December 2016. It is such an honour that healthcare professionals hold it in such high regard.
“I was recently asked to write a blog for the Reading Well Books On Prescription website and it will be published shortly. My own website with blog, which I built myself, is almost ready to be revealed to the world!
“Already my readers are asking when my next book will be ready; I have some ideas brewing. I hope my story shows others with no experience of writing what is possible.”
“Having attended various writing groups, my fictional stories had all been well received but I wanted more than praise – lovely as that was – I wanted to be published on a regular basis and that is where The Writers Bureau came to my aid.
“The Writers Bureau Creative Writing course was a wonderful vehicle to get me on track and my tutor was always there to give that extra confidence and critical response.
“During the last three years I have been caring for my dear late husband, David, who is sadly missed. However during this time of caring and multi-tasking with commode duties and filling oral syringes I kept up with my Writers Bureau course. I was writing fictional work and articles on the backs of envelopes and scraps of notebook paper, all of which were scattered around the house and finally marshalled up to be typed on my laptop.
“I was being encouraged by The Writers Bureau to send out my work. This I did. Having sent out seven pieces five of them have been published.
“My style of writing has become quite eclectic – from writing nostalgia articles for Yours magazine to sizzling erotica. All of which has given me immense pleasure and confidence.
“A piece I wrote for Spirit and Destiny magazine brought me my first cheque. When he saw it, my late husband smiled and squeezed my hand and said, ‘Now you’re a published writer.’ It was a heart-warming moment for us.
“This is not the end of the story. Thanks to The Writers Bureau I do not have to chew the end of my pen these days.”
“I’ve always dreamed of being a writer and wanted to be a part of the world of literacy. I wasn’t sure what direction to follow so thought that Freelance Journalism was a good place to start. There are so many skills and areas to improve upon and with this course I knew I could build upon my own skills and learn new things.
“With my tutor's comments and feedback I found the courage to approach various news markets and internet blogging sites. I’ve been able to get my work noticed and in a few instances had some work published – mainly within the prison system.
“My book reviews and blogs have been published by ThePros.com and HMP Peterborough’s Prisoner magazine. Many people around the world read my reviews on ‘Books To Read Before You Die’. All work published so far has only been voluntary. I have been offered a book deal by ThePros.com who has waived the commission so when it’s published I will receive 100% of royalties minus the cost of printing. They’ve also offered me some voluntary work upon my release. What better payment could I ask for whilst in prison?”
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.
We hope you enjoy reading about all of this year's winners. They each have a unique experience of developing their writing through the course, proving that The Writers Bureau home-study methods really are tailor-made to meet each individual's own ambitions.
If you are a student of The Writers Bureau and would like to enter this competition for 2018 please click here.
You could walk away with the first prize of