As of the 5th of October the applications for the Manchester segment of the Penguin Random House writers scheme Write Now are open.
Designed to help, mentor, and inspire writers from under-represented backgrounds, Write Now recognises Penguin’s current market and the difficulties that under-represented writers often have when applying through the conventional agent-to-publisher method.
The scheme leaves the details of what ‘under-represented’ means to each applicant, but suggests that they are looking for disabled, BAME, and LGBT writers, as well as writers from underprivileged backgrounds. As part of the process the applicant is asked to self-define what this means for them.
So what does the scheme entail? The first step is an online application where you will talk about why you are interested in the scheme and a bit about your manuscript. You will then be on the list to be invited to an insight day—the London insight day is now closed but the Manchester and Birmingham days have just opened for application.
The Manchester insight day is on the 4th of February. These insight days will offer you a chance to hear more about the scheme, ask questions of the mentors, writers, and publishers who will be running the day, and meet 150 other applicants. After that ten writers are chosen for the twelve-month mentoring programme, where you will work alongside a mentor in every step of the publishing process, if all goes to plan you could end up with your novel on the bookshelves by the end of it.
Manchester’s insight day is run in co-operation with CommonWord, a locally-based writer development organisation who do fantastic work, and already play a part in representing under-represented writers in Manchester; they are currently hosting the Black and Asian Writers conference at Contact Theatre.
So what do you need to take part? This is the slightly daunting part, as Write Now asks that you have a finished manuscript, or at least nearly finished manuscript, in order to enter the scheme. This is not an opportunity to be mentored through the writing process, but rather the complicated process of editing, publishing, getting an agent—all of the areas of getting that book on the shelves that can seem unfamiliar, scary, and very off-putting.
The scheme, at its heart, concerns itself with outreach and diversity, in its team of writers as well as the content of the books they publish. However, you will only need to send off around a thousand words with your first application. You will also need to be able to attend the insight day, and be available to put some real time into the project after the February mentoring programme starts.
So, why should you apply? There is a real deficiency of diverse literature in the current mainstream media. If you have ever struggled to find yourself in a book, or have ever written your way into a narrative because you felt there was a missing voice, this scheme is about finding a place for those voices.
Penguin Random House is one of the most recognisable names in the publishing world; they publish the most mammoth texts and have done for centuries, and if you apply for this scheme your work could be up there alongside the major writers of the canon. For more information visit write-now.live and follow the hashtag #writenowlive for the live details of their events around the country. The deadline for applications is the 28th of October.
If you would like support in this process please contact Manchester Creative Writing Society; if there is interest, they may run a session for help with the application.
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