Spread the Word launches London Writers Awards 2021

Spread the Word launches London Writers Awards 2021

Submissions are now open for Spread the Word's 2021 London Writers Awards, which this year focus on developing authors of literary fiction, commercial fiction, YA/children’s fiction and narrative non-fiction.

The literary charity launched its annual writing development programme to support and "nurture writers from communities currently under-represented and marginalised in UK publishing". 

Spread the Word invites applications from London-based writers of colour, working class, LGBTQIA+ and writers with disabilities, with 30 successful applicants to be offered a place on an intensive programme of development taking place over 10 months (January 2021 – October 2021) alongside networking with agents and publishers. The programme is free to participate in and offers bursaries and an access fund. Participants are selected through a free and open application process.

Ruth Harrison, director of Spread the Word, said: “The Rethinking Diversity in Publishing research shows that if the industry wants to move beyond its white, middle-class audience, it needs to be acquiring and investing in UK-based writers. The London Writers Awards is the only programme in the UK that has equity at its heart, is committed to building at scale a cohort of talented writers and is already having an impact on the stories we will get to hear and read.  We look forward to receiving applications from talented writers from across London’s communities for the third year of the awards, and to continuing to make change for writers and readers.” 

This year's Awards will focus on Literary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, YA/Children’s Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction. They are judged by a panel of authors and publishing industry professionals, including writers Michael Donkor, Season Butle, Ayisha Malik, Samantha Baines and Luke Turner. Industry judges are editor Ellah P Wakatama; Ludo Cinelli, literary agent at Eve White agency; Katherine Armstrong, editor at Bonnier Zaffre; Lauren Gardner, agent at Bell Lomax Moreton; and Angelique Tran Van Sang, non-fiction editor at Bloomsbury.

Editor and judge Wakatama said: “The London Writers Awards promise to take us beyond mere 'conversation' about increasing the range of writers from outside the mainstream who make it to publication. With a focus on identifying, developing and rewarding excellence, the long-view taken by the awards is an approach the entire industry could learn from. From the open application process to the inspired range across literary and genre fiction, it’s a scheme that will enrich us all— agents, publishers and, most importantly, readers.” 

The London Writers Awards launched in 2018 in response to Spread the Word’s 2015 report Writing the Future. Since launch, 15 awardees now have agents, and five book deals have been confirmed. The annual event is supported by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with sponsorship from the ALCS.

“Initiatives like the London Writers Awards are essential to the evolution of the literary world," said Butler, one of the judges of this year's awards. "The recognition that awards like this one offers can make all the difference in helping writers and projects find their readers and reach their full potential. London Writers Awards’ package of mentoring, creative and career support shows a real understanding of what it means to emerge and thrive as a writer. For writers from underserved communities and marginalised identities, and readers wishing to encounter the full richness of the world in literature, we all have something to win through this award.” 

The submissions deadline is Wednesday 30th September.