Scroll down for answers to frequently asked questions under the following headings:

How has WriteNow changed this year?

About the editorial programme

About you and your writing

About the application process

How has WriteNow changed this year?

What genres are you accepting this year?

This year we are looking exclusively for "commercial fiction" for adults: books with a fast-moving plot, a page-turning narrative, and a gripping hook that will intrigue readers. Commercial fiction is generally genre-specific — in other words you need to think about what sort of story you are telling. This means we're looking for compelling crime novels, thrillers, family drama, comedy, and romance and love stories that will engross and captivate readers.

We will not be accepting applications of fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, young adult, or children's books this time round. If you are working on a book that is not eligible for WriteNow, you can find more support on our Getting Published hub.

Why are you only accepting commercial fiction applications this year?

By focusing the programme on specific genres we are hoping to engage more writers of commercial fiction, and to better support them with a tailored workshop and editorial programme.

What is BBC Studios?

BBC Studios is an unrivalled creator of, and investor in, the very best British programmes reaching audiences around the world. Their credits include Time (BBC Studios Productions for BBC One), Good Omens (BBC Studios Productions for Amazon), Killing Eve (Sid Gentle for BBC One), The End of the F***ing World (Clerkenwell for Channel 4/Netflix) and Wahala (Firebird Pictures for the BBC).

What does the BBC Studios partnership mean for me as a writer?

The partnership with BBC Studios is the first of its kind in the creative industry for a writing programme. We hope that by collaborating with leading content creator BBC Studios we can offer applicants a chance to explore and expand their understanding of both the publishing and film industries.

Shortlisted submissions will be shared with BBC Studios, with a view to the production company contacting the applicant through Penguin if they are interested in developing their work further.

For writers on the editorial programme who are acquired by a Penguin imprint, BBC Studios and its productions companies will have an exclusive first look at the book, offering the potential for the work to be developed for major international broadcasters and streaming platforms. See below "About the editorial programme" FAQs for more information on this.

I am writing a book in a genre that isn't accepted this year. When will I be able to apply?

We will continue to focus WriteNow on specific genres in order to provide the best support we can to writers. Unfortunately this means we are unable to say when we will focus on each genre.

About the editorial programme

Is a publishing contract guaranteed if I'm one of the writers selected for the year-long editorial programme?

No. We will work with you to prepare your manuscript towards publication but there is no guarantee you will receive a publishing deal from Penguin.

If I join the year-long editorial programme, will I have to publish my book with Penguin and work with BBC Studios on an adaption?

Penguin are investing time and resource in the writers we'll be supporting through our year-long programme, and so we will ask you to give us the first option (i.e. first refusal) of publishing your book. This means that you must afford us the opportunity to bid for the publishing rights (which will include media rights) to your manuscript before approaching other publishers.

If your book is published by a Penguin imprint, BBC Studios and its production companies will have an exclusive first look at the book, offering the potential for the work to be developed for major international broadcasters and streaming platforms.

If another publisher makes you an offer first, you'll still need to give Penguin a fair chance to bid for your manuscript and discuss this with us before accepting another offer.

In the event that we cannot reach an agreement after 30 days of good faith negotiations, you'll naturally be entitled to take your manuscript elsewhere or take up any other offers you may have been made.

This first look for both Penguin and BBC Studios only applies to writers who join the WriteNow editorial programme, and only on the book you're working on with us. You can view the terms and conditions here.

Will you cover my travel expenses?

For writers who join our year-long programme, we will cover all related travel from any part of the UK and Ireland to our London offices, and accommodation where required.

About you and your writing

How do I know if I'm from an under-represented community?

If you feel that your community, or your background, needs a stronger voice and a platform in publishing we would love to hear from you. This could include:

• If you identify as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer)

• If you identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic

• If you have a disabled or have a long-term condition

• If you come from a socio-economically marginalised background, for example if you ever received free school meals or if you or your family have ever been on income support, homeless, or at risk of homelessness

• If you have or have ever had refugee status

Does my book have to focus on "issues-based" narratives?

No, not unless you want it to. Providing your application is commercial fiction, it can be about whatever you want.

Do I need a finished manuscript to apply?

You don’t need to have a complete manuscript to apply, although if you are shortlisted for the year-long editorial programme we will ask for everything that you’ve written so far. For some that may be a complete manuscript, but for others it may be a few more thousand words.

Will I get any feedback on my application?

After applications have closed, we will publish a blog post giving an overview of common themes and general feedback from the editors involved in the assessment process. Unfortunately, we aren't able to give individual feedback to every applicant due to the volume of applications we receive.

If you are successful in your application and are shortlisted, you will receive personalised feedback on your work from one of our editors. Writers who make it to phase two of the shortlist will receive a second round of feedback.

What if I’m self-published, published in another format or genre, or published as part of an anthology?

We are happy to receive applications from writers who have self-published or been published as part of an anthology. We are also happy to receive applications from writers who have been published in another format altogether such as a magazine or newspaper.

We are unable to accept applications from writers who have already had a book published by a commercial, non-academic publisher.

About the application process

Is it free to take part?

Yes. The WriteNow application process, workshops, and editorial programme are all free to those taking part. 

How do I know that you've received my application?

Please use Google Chrome when submitting your application. You should be directed to a 'Thank You' page after submitting your application, confirming that we have received your application. Please note that you will not receive a confirmation email.

If you are not redirected to the 'Thank You' page, please email us at writenow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk to confirm we have received your application.

Do I need to be a UK or Republic of Ireland (ROI) resident to apply?

Yes. As WriteNow is being run by Penguin in the UK and ROI our programme is only open to UK and ROI residents. You don't need to have permanent citizenship — just a current and valid UK or ROI address.

If you are currently homeless or do not have a fixed address, but reside in the UK or ROI, please get in touch with the WriteNow team by emailing writenow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

What is the application timeline?

Initial applications

• Applications open at 11am on Monday 7 November

• Applications close at 11.59pm on Sunday 8 January 2023

Shortlisting phases:

Phase 1

• All shortlisted applicants will be contacted by Friday 27 January and asked to send a further 5,000 word submission from their book (the submission) by Sunday 27 February

• They will then be invited to a one-to-one feedback session with a Penguin editor in March

Phase 2

• Following these feedback sessions a number of applicants will be selected from the initial shortlisted group of writers and contacted by 10 April. These writers will be asked to send their full submission (up to and including a full manuscript) by 31 May

• These selected writers will be invited to a second one-to-one feedback session between 7 and 21 June

Editorial programme

• The winning applicants will be invited to join the editorial programme will be notified by the end of July

Can I apply if I’m already supported by Spread the Word?

Absolutely. We would love to work with writers supported by our partners.

How will you decide who is shortlisted?   

We will assess applications based on two factors:

Quality of writing and originality: assessed by a Penguin editor

Meeting our desired criteria: as part of your application we'll ask you to tell us, in your own words, why you feel your voice is under-represented in books and publishing. Your answer will be assessed by our partner Spread the Word, a writer development charity, together with members of our Human Resources team.   

Can I apply with more than one manuscript?

No, we will not accept multiple submissions from the same writer. If you submit multiple entries, we will take your latest entry forward for assessment.  

If I applied in the past, can I apply to WriteNow again?

We aren’t accepting applications from writers who have previously successfully applied and received personalised feedback from a WriteNow editor. This is to ensure that as many writers as possible have the opportunity to take part. If you have previously applied but were not shortlisted, longlisted, or joined the editorial programme, then you are welcome to apply again.

Contact us

Questions? Send us an email at WriteNow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

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