Some of the writers previously at a WriteNow workshop

Some of the writers previously at a WriteNow workshop

It starts with just 1,000 words...

Today we've opened applications for WriteNow 2020, our nationwide campaign to find, nurture and ultimately publish talented new writers from under-represented communities on the nation's bookshelves. 

We're calling for all aspiring authors in the UK and Republic of Ireland who feel that their voice has been under-represented in books and publishing to apply by submitting just 1,000 words of their manuscript. This includes (but is not limited to) BAME writers, LGBTQ writers, writers with a disability and writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds.  

Of those who have applied, 150 talented writers will be invited to one of four free workshops in London (6 June), Belfast (13 June), Glasgow (27 June) and Cardiff (4 July). With panel sessions from our publishing experts and some of our very own authors, those attending the workshops will learn more about how to get published, including: how a publisher works with an author, how to write a covering letter and synopsis for a literary agent, our authors' approach to writing and editing, and much much more...

Every writer attending the workshops will also receive bespoke one-on-one feedback from one of our editors on their manuscript.

Of those attending the workshops, the ten most promising writers will be invited to join the WriteNow programme, which will see them work directly with a Penguin editor (with a specialism in their genre) for a year to develop their manuscript. 

Applications are open from Thursday 12 March to midnight on Sunday 26 April. You can find all information about the programme and how to apply here.

Two writers at a previous workshop

WriteNow alumni hit the nation’s bookshelves

Since we launched WriteNow in 2016, we've already published books from six WriteNow writers, with a further seven to come in 2020. From literary fiction to Young Adult and memoir, find out more about some of these incredible books:

A further four WriteNow writers have been signed by other publishers since taking part in the programme, whilst eight additional writers from the workshops have also signed with literary agents. Since launching in 2016 WriteNow has welcomed 450 writers to nine regional events, from Newcastle to Bristol, and received over 5,000 applications from writers across the United Kingdom.

Redefining what it means to be an author

We want to challenge the traditional perception of what it means to be an author and celebrate the different – and sometimes unexpected – places in which stories and writing are found. This year, to accompany WriteNow 2020, we've published the ‘Expanded Dictionary of Authors’, with an A-Z of some of the different people who make up our family of authors: from activists to optimists, nurses to shepherds, and romantics to wordsmiths.

Siena Parker, our Head of Creative Responsibility, says: ‘The word author can sometimes conjure up a certain image, but we want to show that stories and writing can come from anywhere. There should be no one single definition of an author – everyone should be able to define what it means to them, and every talented writer should have the opportunity to get their voice heard.

‘We know that the journey to getting published can be complex and that our industry remains a bit shrouded in mystery – and that unfortunately some writers face more barriers in the journey to getting published than others. WriteNow aims to break down those barriers and, most importantly, discover talented new writers who we want to publish one day.’

We spoke to some of our current and past WriteNow mentees about what being an author means to them.

Rashmi Sirdeshpande

Rashmi Sirdeshpande, author of How to be Extraordinary

‘I grew up thinking people like me didn’t belong in books or on the bookshelves. The WriteNow programme was the invitation I needed to believe that voices like mine matter. Having an editor mentor and champion me has made such a difference. I've grown so much as a writer and it's given me a confidence I never thought I'd have. That confidence is everything. Amazingly, today, thanks to WriteNow, I feel at home here in publishing and I'm excited about what the future holds.’ 

Emmett de Monterey

Emmett de Monterey is currently working on a memoir about growing up gay and with a disability in London

‘I applied for the first round of WriteNow in April 2018, never imagining I’d get selected. I still remember the excitement of getting the email, confirming I’d been put through to the London selection day. It’s no exaggeration to say that the event changed my life. I met some brilliant people; editors, other writers, and got a much better understanding of how publishing works. Perhaps most importantly, I left that day knowing that, whatever else happened, I could call myself a writer.

‘To be selected for final ten was extraordinary. WriteNow is unique in that it gives writers the invaluable experience of working with some of publishing’s most respected and creative editors. If you’re lucky enough to get selected, you really couldn’t ask for a better start to a writing career. It’s hard work, but one of the best things I’ve ever done.’

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