Creative Frontiers caught up with Richard Barnard, Pam Fudge’s business partner in their new writing course company, Writefor.
CF: Tell us a bit about yourself, Richard?
Born in Dartford, Kent in a drift of heavy snow in January 1968, I moved to Bournemouth at the age of 1. Growing up, I fell in love with the town and its surrounding areas, still residing in a quiet cul-de-sac in one of its suburbs, along with my wife, three children and Pickle the black Labrador retriever.
My passion for writing really started in 2002. By 2006 I realised I needed some direction and enrolled on a creative writing course where I met Pamela Fudge. We remain very close friends to this day. The course was brilliant and led me to my first published success. Since then, I have worked alongside Pam and we collectively brought Writefor to the UK public in Autumn 2014.
Around a very busy schedule which includes being a Father, I hold down a full time job in Legal Finance, a treasurer for a local Scout unit, assist my wife in running her cleaning business and of course administrate the writefor website. Somehow, I still manage to find enough hours in the week to write and hope to complete a children’s novel this year with a view to publication and more!
CF: What is Writefor?
RB: Writefor is a doorway to the creative writing world, which offers would be writers a unique opportunity to work with the popular and established author Pamela Fudge.
CF: What audience does it try to reach?
RB: Focussing on the UK publishing market, we are trying to reach the widest audience possible. It certainly suits those individuals who are new to writing or considering a creative writing course. It would also be relevant to those who have been writing for some time, but perhaps need a little direction with their work or would welcome some positive feedback.
CF: What courses does it offer?
RB: There is currently one course on offer which contains 6 modules. Starting simply and not with a novel, Module 1 eases the student into the curriculum, defining how an ordered approach to your work can pay dividends long term. Assignment one is positively critiqued and you may even see your first piece of work in print if you follow Pam’s expert advice. Subsequent modules cover topics such as drawing on personal experience for your work, layout, short fiction or stories, the all-important viewpoint and writers block along with nine top tips to beat it! Each module finishes with an assignment for completion and submission to Pam, who positively critiques each one.
CF: How does it work?
RB: Once a student has signed up and paid for the course, the first module is sent electronically in pdf format. Don’t worry if you don’t have Adobe, we also give you a link to download a free reader. Once the student has worked through the module at their own pace, there is an assignment to complete and return. Pam will then read the work and return a positive critique to the student, together with the next module. We never give negative feedback as we want the whole experience to be as enjoyable as possible.
CF: Who do you see as your competition?
RB: Essentially, there is no other online creative writing provider offering an opportunity as unique as ours. With published author Pamela Fudge supporting our students positively in their development as a writer, we certainly set ourselves apart from the competition. If I had to highlight a competitor, perhaps Writers-Online would be a good example.
CF: What kind of response have you had?
RB: The response has been overwhelming and we have welcomed a steady stream of students since we went live in September.
CF: What examples can you give (names withheld) of actual customers: what kind of writers, where in their writing career, etc ?
RB: We have attracted a wide range of interest, from a Radio DJ to retired people who are keen to write and have the spare time to apply to this particular passion. One student has actually told Pam that the course has changed her life, which is an accolade to Pam, our course and how it is geared to all ages and abilities.
CF: What feedback have you had from any customers?
RB: Here are two examples:
Just to say thank you for the creative writing course, which I have so enjoyed and got so much out of, and which has been very good value for money. I think my dialogue, punctuation and so on needs work, but I have sort of got to grips with how to present a manuscript, which is a lot of progress. Your feedback has been very good and invaluable and I can’t thank you enough for your support, which has been over and above the call of duty. Thanks to Richard also for all his administration work on the course. Susan H.
I have always wanted to write, so the course run by Writefor was a perfect way for me to get started. I received really great advice and feedback throughout and it gave me the confidence to send something I’d written to a magazine. What a thrill it was to see it in print and with the added bonus of receiving a cheque in the post. This is a fantastic way of pointing budding authors in the right direction. Thank you so much. Kate H.
CF: What marketing activities have you used to support the site?
RB: mostly social media, Facebook and Twitter, as well as articles. For example, we have a mention in the May 2015 issue of Writing Magazine.
CF: Is there anything you would have done differently?
RB: No. Writefor was a coming together of two people with a passion for writing and a desire to encourage others to write. When we receive such positive feedback from our students, we are proud to have realised something special and we believe we have achieved just the right balance from the outset.
CF: What do you plan for the second year of the business?
RB: A bigger push in advertising and an increase in student numbers. We want to develop our website a lot more and offer additional follow on learning material for our students. It would be amazing to see a student publish a novel and that would certainly be a milestone to celebrate.
Read Pam’s monthly column (Ask Pam) in Creative Frontiers where she addresses readers’ enquiries.