Advantages Current resources, frequently updated, quick to load, easy to navigate, courses and critique available
Disadvantages Rather basic layout, no actual articles, not much for newcomers to writing
Jacqui Bennett's Writers' Bureau website (http://www.jbwb.co.uk) is in my view one of the most useful sites for British writers that I have come across. It's not flashy; it doesn't even look slick or professionally designed, but it's easy to navigate, it's frequently updated, and it's full of current information about writing markets and competitions.The aim of the site is to help people become published writers. With that in mind, there are two main types of resource here: free ones, available to all, and paid resources. Jacqui Bennett (whose real name is Jenny Hewitt) is a writer and writing instructor of significant experience; she and her team aim to provide links for everything that a writer might want.
• Layout •The main page (and indeed all pages) has simple text on a white background, with a blue bar of links down the left-hand-side, and a search-box below the main text. No frames - so the bar scrolls with the page - no graphics, and no gimmicks.
• Markets •The blue bar at the side shows two main sections of the site: at the top are links to various types of writing market - ie the places where articles, short stories etc are welcomed. Most magazines nowadays employ most of their writers, or commission work directly. However there are still some which are happy to receive unsolicited work, and will consider it for publication.
If you're going to write an article, or a short story, there's no point sending it somewhere that will not even look at it. It's also important to meet the writers' guidelines - these may be about length, or may be more complicated. Jacqui Bennett's site gives full details of many of these, with addresses, phone and fax numbers of the relevant editors, and places to write to for official writers' guidelines, if they exist.She covers markets for short stories (mostly in magazines), novels, articles, non-fiction and poetry. She also has a page about agents, although she doesn't generally recommend agents for new writers, and the small press. In addition there are sections about America, Australia and New Zealand as markets for British writers.
• Critique and editing •The lower section of the blue bar gives links to Jacqui Bennett's courses, critique service, and competitions. She offers mini-courses in, for instance, short-story writing, at about £50, or a full novel critique and editing service for £225. In addition she will critique short stories, for £12 - £25, depending on lengthy, and runs various competitions, with small entry fees.
• Other services •Further down still, are many more links, including a page of current UK writing competitions, winners of previous competitions on the site, recommended books for writers, other useful sites for writers, and even an offer to edit and critique web-sites. There's also a link for downloading Jacqui's e-book about writing in general and winning competitions - at only £3 this is very good value.
• My experience •I've used this site extensively for market research for writing articles for magazines.
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