Penguin Random House has selected 150 budding authors for its WriteNow 2017 scheme as the publisher aims to “bring new perspectives to bookshelves across the UK”.
The programme, which launched after the UK’s decision to leave the European Union last summer, will see 150 writers from under-represented backgrounds including BAME and LGBTQ meet one-on-one with its editors at free regional events in London, Bristol and Newcastle to get personalised feedback on their books and how to better get their voices heard. Following these discussions, 10 “exceptional” writers will be given one-on-one mentoring with the goal of having their book published.
Authors including as Elif Shafak, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and trans campaigner and artist, Fox Fisher will speak at the regional events.
Tom Weldon, c.e.o. 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.”
The creatives were selected from 1,700 applicants with over a third from BAME backgrounds, 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.
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.”
The WriteNow scheme coincides with Penguin Random House’s 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.