Huh? A writing course that sells for thousands of pounds / dollars / euros? One that doesn’t give you a Masters degree, or other academic qualification. And one that doesn’t in any way promise publication. Who’d want that? What’s a course like that for?
Well, OK, those are fair questions. And the very shortest answer to them is simply: this course won’t be right for everyone. In fact, it is probably not right for you. If in doubt, don’t take it. Save yourself the cash.
(If you want to remind yourself of what I’m talking about, then you can find a brief overview of the course here. If you’re even half interested, you should also check out the prospectus here.)
But let’s assume you’re in that narrow sliver of writers for whom this course might be right. What then? Who’s it for? What’s it all about?
Start off with the who.
Who is this course for?
This course is aimed at people who want to write a novel and get it published or properly self-published; the course caters equally to both avenues.
The course is aimed at writers in pretty much every genre, from full-blown literary through to crime, women’s fiction and other properly commercial genres. If you’re writing YA, the course will look after you nicely. If you’re writing for younger children, the course may not be quite right for you. (But feel free to ask more.)
We’re also pretty relaxed about your level of experience. If you are totally new to the writing game, that’s fine. If you’ve written quite extensively prior to the course, but want to take a really disciplined and structured approach to your latest project, then we welcome you too.
The one thing I would say is that if you have already written a manuscript and are now in the process of editing it, this course is probably not what you need right now.
I’d also point out that this is a course on writing a novel and getting it published. That means we will, from the very start, be thinking about the market for your work, with all the restrictions that marketability brings. So if what you want is simply to write creatively – for the pure joy of self-expression – then again, this course is probably not right for you. There are plenty of pure creative writing options out there; it’s not something that Jericho Writers itself much caters to.
What is this course?
Our aim in creating this course was to bring together everything that a writer needs to learn the craft, write a book, get it shipshape and get it published. Not just that, but we wanted the whole process to be overseen and mentored soup-to-nuts, head-to-tail, A-to-Z.
Specifically, we want the course to:
Help you plan Too often, our editors encounter a manuscript which is quite well written but whose fundamental concept is basically unpublishable. That’s such an easy mistake to make: you get seized by an idea and don’t stop to properly assess whether the idea is marketable. We won’t let that happen. We want to honour your idea and build something that’s fit for market.
Teach you the craft Want to know a secret? Good writing is mostly a matter of craft. Yes, genius helps. Yes, inspiration matters. But – honest truth – good writing, even great writing, is mostly a matter of technique, diligence and passion, And technique is teachable. There are secrets to great characterisation. There are techniques for developing terrific plot twists. Writing strong prose is mostly a question of knowing what you are seeking to achieve and then working hard to achieve it. So our course will teach the elements of writing in a disciplined, structured, leave-nothing-out kind of way.
Mentor you During the course, students will be asked to write a complete novel. (If you’ve already started yours, that’s fine. We can work with that too.) But no matter how much you plan, no matter how strong your writing technique is, it’s still easy for a first novel to veer off in the wrong direction. And we won’t let that happen. We’ll mentor you, one-to-one, every month, checking on your work as you write it. If you have questions or doubts or worries, you’ll always have someone you can check in with.
Learn self-editing skills Yes, yes: our course is great. You’ll plan like crazy, you’ll learn the craft, you’ll get mentoring as you go. But you know what? Your first draft still won’t be good enough. First drafts never are. So we’ll teach the art of self-editing too – a skill that you will use (and develop) over every single year of your future career.
Get complete, detailed, editorial feedback Once you’ve written your first draft, we’ll read it from beginning to end and give you a complete rundown on what is and isn’t working, with detailed suggestions for what to do next. That kind of feedback is the gold-standard way to improve a book. That’s why we make it central to our course.
Understand how to get published – and meet the people who can make it happen One of our biggest criticisms of university-style creative writing courses is that they’re too cut off from the market. They don’t always foster the kind of books that publishers want to buy and they don’t teach, in a disciplined way, how to secure literary agents or how to work with publishers. Our course won’t just teach you those skills; it’ll also bring you face to face with literary agents and the other industry specialists on whom your career may depend. By the time you complete the course, you’ll know what publishing entails and you’ll already have your first contacts in the industry.
Understand self-publishing, and author-led marketing in general The world has changed. Self-publishing isn’t just an alternative route to publication; it is arguably now the pre-eminent way for new novelists to come to market. And whether or not you intend to self-publish, you need to know the tools and tricks that self-publishers use to market their work. We’ll teach all that, and give you a ton of additional resources for further exploration after the course ends.
Build friendships and give you writing buddies Writing can be hard, but there’s no reason it should be lonely. Our course will aim to foster a real little community, with writers offering each other advice, support and mutual critiques. We very much hope that many of those friendships will long outlast the course itself.
Provide aftercare. Forever. Once you’ve signed up for the course, many of its assets will never end. You’ll have permanent membership of Jericho Writers. You’ll have permanent access to Jericho Townhouse. You’ll have permanent access to our agent-finding service. If we think your work is strong enough to be published, we’ll help you find an agent. This year, next year, or in ten years’ time.
What’s exciting for us about this course is that it brings together everything we do: editing, events, mentoring, our video courses and much more.
Our ambition, frankly, is to see people graduate from this course and get published. We don’t care if that’s a chunky deal with a Big 5 house. Or a tiny deal with a brilliant literary micro-publisher. Or just one of those storming self-pub careers that transforms lives and household incomes. What we want to see is students writing work they love, then finding a pool of readers who share that passion.
That’s the aim. That’s why we’re excited. You can get more of a course overview here. You can get the course prospectus here. If you think the course could be right for you, but want to talk it over with someone before making the booking, then feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help.