Publishing giants Penguin Random House have launched a nationwide search to find and develop talented writers from under-represented communities.
Following a successful launch last year, the WriteNow mentoring programme, which is running in conjunction with regional writer development charities Spread the Word, Literature Works and New Writing North, will work to bring undiscovered writers to the nation’s book shelves – and help ensure books better reflect UK society.
The WriteNow talent search aims to find, mentor and publish writers from under-represented communities, including writers with disabilities.
The programme looks for writers across all genres, including fiction, non-fiction and children’s. Penguin Random House are keen to hear from writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds, LGBTQ or BAME writers, or writers with a disability.
Through the programme, 150 aspiring writers will get access to free regional events and in London, Bristol and Newcastle, where they’ll get access to one-to-one time with editors to receive expert, personalised feedback, as well as gaining access to literary agents and authors like Francesca Martinez, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and Fox Fisher.
Out of the 150 writers, 10 will be chose to work with Penguin Random House editors to make their manuscripts the best they can be.
Last year, 2,000 writers applied for the programme, and 150 were invited to attend regional events. A huge 98% of participants said that the programme had boosted their confidence as a writer.
“Through conversations with my editor I’ve learnt that the relationship between writer and editor is more of a ‘partnership’ than I envisaged,” says Christine Broughman was one of the 12 writers chosen to be part of the first mentoring programme. “The most reassuring aspect of my WriteNow experience so far has been to see the publishing industry showing more interest in social diversity. If the industry continues in this direction, it could provide an important platform from which writers like the mentees can demonstrate the validity of lives less ordinary.”
Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, commented: “We are determined to publish a wider range of voices and books to more fully reflect the diverse society we live in.
“Books and reading can make an enormous difference to people’s lives, expanding our imaginations and empathy and helping us make sense of different perspectives.
“As the UK’s number one publisher, our job is to tell the stories which aren’t often told. That’s why with WriteNow we are taking our teams outside of London and into communities to meet and mentor aspiring authors. We want to find and bring to life writing that connects with all readers, bringing the best new under-represented voices to bookshelves.”
Alongside WriteNow, Penguin Random House has set a company-wide goal to improve its diversity, ensuring that all new hires and books reflect UK society by 2025 in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability and sexuality. To measure progress, the publisher will ask new employers and authors to complete a voluntary Inclusion Tracker, and Penguin Random House will publish the results online each year.
WriteNow 2017 is open for applications now. You can find out more about how to enter at www.write-now.live