The search begins

<p>The National Academy of Writing has set up its first stand-alone course, to take place at London's Free Word Centre and starting in April 2011. For 10 years, in various guises, the academy has pioneered innovative techniques to make writers better at writing. Now 12 selected writers, published or unpublished, have the chance to join an intensive eight-month course combining editorial analysis, masterclasses, workshops and writer-led seminars. </p>
<p>As always with the academy, the NAW writer-patrons will be fully involved, sharing their hard-won insights about craft and technique. Among next year's contributors are long-term patrons including Iain Banks, Minette Walters and David Almond. They will be joined by, among others, newly recruited patrons like Jennie Rooney and Kapka Kassabova.</p>
<p>What kind of recruit is the academy looking for? We have no MA to offer, no diploma or PhD. We're interested in writers who are single-minded about wanting to sell and publish a book-length work of narrative prose, in either non-fiction or fiction, of any genre. We share that single-minded aim, and the academy is more closely aligned to the publishing industry than it is to any institutional notion of Creative Writing. </p>
<p>As an example, the London course is launched with the &shy;support of honorary president Ion Trewin, and under the &shy;guidance of recently-elected chairman Francis Bennett, the founder of BookData and currently deputy chairman of Yale University Press in the UK. This grounding in the ever-&shy;changing world of book publishing makes the academy more likely to achieve its objective: to bridge the gap always ready to &shy;swallow aspiring writers&mdash;that between talent and a fully-realised, &shy;marketable book. </p>
<p>It is no secret that editors and agents are working in an increasingly pressurised environment. The academy can help. We aim to develop writers with potential by honing their near-miss manuscripts, and at the end of the eight-month course they will have a better idea of their strengths, weaknesses and effective strategies for future projects. <br />
To identify those writers most likely to benefit, the NAW has enlisted the help of top agencies including A&nbsp;M Heath, A&nbsp;P Watt, David Higham Associates, United Agents and &shy;Rogers Coleridge &amp; White. These agencies will refer writers whose submissions contain a definite something, but which may need a significant rethink before pleasing the exacting eye of a commissioning editor.</p>
<p>Along the way, the course will introduce writers to the &shy;reality of how books are produced, marketed, publicised and sold. &shy;Writers will also examine the professional challenge of surviving as a writer, including the opportunities offered by digital technologies. However, the academy is principally about writing, and the central message is always likely to be that there's no replacement for concentration on the writing itself.</p>
<p>The course finishes with a reading and anthology launch at Foyle's bookshop on 9th November 2011, where the first generation of new NAW authors will showcase their work where it most matters, still, even today&mdash;in a bookshop.</p>