Penguin Random House opens applications for WriteNow 2018; seeking out new, under-represented writers and illustrators

Applications are open for WriteNow 2018: our flagship nationwide campaign looking for new writers and illustrators from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.

  • Applications for writers are open until midnight on Monday 9th July 2018; applications for illustrators are open until midnight on Monday 23rd July 2018
  • All details on how to apply to the programme are available at
  • From those who have applied, 140 talented writers will be invited to one of three free workshops in London (8 September), Liverpool (15 September) and Nottingham (29 September) to learn more about how to get their book published and receive one-on-one feedback from an editor
  • We will also invite ten aspiring illustrators to attend the workshop in Nottingham on 29 September, to hear more about how to become a children's picture book illustrator and receive feedback from one of our designers in the Penguin Random House Children's team
  • Ten exceptional writers/illustrators from across the three events will then be invited to join our year-long mentoring programme

WriteNow is Penguin Random House’s flagship campaign which aims to seek out, mentor and publish new and under-represented voices on the UK’s bookshelves.

This includes writers and children's picture book illustrators from BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) communities, those who have a disability, or come from a socio-economically marginalised background. This is also the first year that we have opened entries to children's picture book illustrators, in partnership with BookTrust; an area of publishing which has historically seen less representation.

We are calling for applications from for unpublished writers in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s/Young Adult genres, as well as illustrators of children’s picture books, who consider themselves under-represented in publishing; with 150 of the most talented and promising applicants invited to attend one of the three free workshops in September.

Further information about the programme and how to apply is available at

WriteNow 2017
Some of the WriteNow events in 2017

WriteNow is already achieving real change: since the programme’s launch, five WriteNow mentees have been offered publishing contracts by Penguin Random House, with more acquisitions expected to follow. The first book by a WriteNow mentee – The Reinvention of Martha Ross by Charlene Allcott – will be published at the end of July.

Speaking of her experiences of the WriteNow programme, current mentee Emma Morgan – whose book A Love Story for Bewildered Girls will be published by Penguin in February 2019 – said: "WriteNow has been a great introduction to a publishing industry that seemed incredibly remote to me, and a year-long writing class with a top-notch editor. If, instead of calling myself 'someone who likes to write', I can now call myself 'a writer', it's really all down to this fantastic opportunity."

Christine Brougham added: “Not only does the Write Now program provide talented writers with a unique opportunity to improve their skills and confidence, it is also an important platform in terms of social diversity which affords writers like me an opportunity to demonstrate the validity of lives less ordinary.”

Mohsin Zaidi, another current mentee, said: “Books are self-contained lives and worlds and times. The stories within them should be as rich, colourful and varied as the people they are read by. WriteNow is a programme that doesn’t just talk the talk. Penguin Random House is genuinely committed to widening access to the world of publishing to more underrepresented voices and in a meaningful way.”

About WriteNow

WriteNow was created by Penguin Random House in 2016 to help ensure books and publishing better reflect UK society. It aims to find unpublished voices that are currently under-represented in books across all genres, including Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability.

To date the programme has welcomed 300 writers to six regional events across the UK, from Newcastle to Bristol, and received nearly 5,000 applications from writers around the country. Last year 98% of writers who came to one of our events said that WriteNow made them feel more confident and positive about their future as a writer.

Below are just some previous attendees had to say about how inspirational, informative and supportive they found the day:

 “I really felt that we were being spoken to as writers not just as participants. Even if I don't get through I've finally got the confidence to pursue my writing and the discipline to see it through.” (London)

I feel empowered to continue to rewriting the novel I submitted but also to continue sharing my own authentic experiences and worldview. I feel like so many doors are open to me in the literary world where I wouldn't see them before.” (Bristol)

I loved being in a room full of diverse people and knowing that there are people out there in the publishing industry working hard and opening doors for under-represented new writers.” (Writer attending the London event)

Before WriteNow, I had never considered applying to a big publisher - I didn't see work like mine or enough people like me represented there. WriteNow opened doors that simply hadn't been there before. As a result of the programme I have a publishing deal with Penguin and a supportive agent.” – WriteNow Mentee

Before I started the programme I would not even have dared to call myself 'a writer'. Even getting on the Insight Day boosted my confidence…I count myself incredibly privileged to have gone through this experience. It has completely changed my life.” – WriteNow mentee

So far 23 writers have been invited to take part in the year-long mentoring programme, with five of these writers already having been offered a publishing deal.

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