150 writers from communities under-represented on bookshelves are given the chance to be published by Penguin Random House UK

Write Now

As part of a nationwide campaign to seek out and publish new and under-represented voices, Penguin Random House UK is bringing together 150 aspiring authors at three special events across the country in September.

  • Penguin Random House has invited 150 talented writers from BAME, LGBTQ and other under-represented communities to meet 1:1 with its editors at free regional events
  • Writers have the chance to receive year-long mentoring and a publishing deal as part of a major campaign to ensure books reflect the whole of UK society
  • Penguin Random House has set itself a company-wide goal to ensure its new hires and the books it acquires reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality.

The WriteNow days in London, Bristol and Newcastle will give these writers the exclusive opportunity to get one-to-one feedback from editors and hear from leading authors and literary agents to help them better understand the industry and how to get published.

Penguin Random House editors reviewed over 1,700 manuscript extracts submitted by new UK writers to select attendees for the WriteNow insight days. These editors will give all 150 participants a one-on-one personalised feedback session at the events to discuss their book and how to better get their story heard. As part of the company’s aim to bring new perspectives to bookshelves, ten exceptional writers from this group will go on to benefit from a year of one-on-one mentoring, with the ultimate goal of having their book published. 

Speakers at the regional events include Penguin Random House authors, such as Elif Shafak, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and trans campaigner and artist, Fox Fisher.

Penguin Random House editors read over 1700 manuscript extracts
Penguin Random House editors read over 1700 manuscript extracts submitted by new UK writers
Penguin Random House editors assessing this year's WriteNow application
Penguin Random House editors assessing this year's WriteNow application

Commenting on this year’s WriteNow programme, Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK, said: “As the UK’s number one publisher, our job is to publish writers that start or change the conversation, and bring new perspectives to bookshelves across the UK when they are needed most.

“That’s why with WriteNow we’re going out into local communities to find, nurture and, I hope, publish talented new voices from communities that we know are not well represented in books and publishing today. I, and the many editors involved, have been very impressed by the originality, quality and creativity of this year’s WriteNow applicants and I can’t wait to meet them in September.”

Fox Fisher, author of Are You A Girl, Or Are You A Boy, added: “I got involved with WriteNow to encourage other members of under-represented groups to step up and gain confidence in writing by having the support of a mentor. This is such a fantastic scheme, one I would have pounced on if it was available when I was growing up. Seeing yourself represented in literature is such an important thing, to better understand ourselves and to feel a sense of belonging in the world.”

Applicants for this year’s programme spanned a wide range of different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Over a third of applicants were BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, and over a third were LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer). Writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds and writers with a disability also made up a significant proportion of submissions.

Writers attending last year’s events in London, Birmingham and Manchester found them invaluable in helping them further develop their writing skills and understanding of how to get published.

Emma-Jane Smith Barton, who is eight months into her mentoring programme after being selected as part of last year’s WriteNow initiative, said about her experience: “There was an amazing buzz at the insight day I attended last year. I met writers who have now become friends and the discussions were immensely stimulating. Most importantly, I came away absolutely enthused after my one-to-one session with a Penguin Random House editor. It was amazing to get such high quality feedback on my writing from an experienced industry professional. The day was a crucial moment for me in my journey as a writer: energising, inspiring, motivating.”

Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon, said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in WriteNow. This programme reaches out beyond the usual channels and has already discovered some exciting new voices. Penguin Random House has extended an invitation to under-represented writers and it’s never been more important to be open-armed.”

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