Applications are now open for WriteNow, the Penguin Random House UK’s programme to find, mentor and publish new writers currently under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves.

At the heart of the campaign are three insight days in London (9 September), Bristol (16 September) and Newcastle (23 September) where 150 writers will have the opportunity to get one-to-one feedback on their work from an editor, and meet literary agents and published authors.

10 of those writers will then be invited to join a year-long mentoring programme, working with a Penguin Random House editor to develop their manuscript. Ultimately, with the hope to publish these 10 writers.

A number of arts organisations and authors are supporting WriteNow this year, including authors Nikesh Shukla, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch, Elif Shafak and Fox Fisher, as well as regional partners Spread the Word, New Writing North and Literature Works.

How to apply?

  • As part of your application we’ll ask you to tell us about your book –  What’s it called? What’s it about? What makes it special?
  • Send us up to 1,000 words – it could be the opening chapter, or a later section of your book which you’re particularly proud of. It’s up to you.
  • In 250 words, we will also ask you to tell us how you meet our criteria.

Editors from across Penguin Random House will assess your application, considering your talent and ability as a writer as well as the originality of your story or idea. We’ll invite 50 writers to each of our insight days.

Important Dates

  • Sunday 16 July – applications close at midnight
  • Wednesday 16 August – We’ll let you know if you’ve been accepted. We’ll also ask you to send us a further 5,000 words for your one-to-one session with an editor
  • Wednesday 30 August – Last day to send us 5,000 words
  • Saturday 9 September – WriteNow London | Saturday 16 September – WriteNow Bristol | Saturday 23 September – WriteNow Newcastle

Shortlisting for the WriteNow mentoring programme

  • Monday 2 October: We’ll be in touch to let you know if you’ve been shortlisted for the mentoring programme. At this point, we’ll ask you to send us your full manuscript
  • Monday 16 October: Deadline to send us your full manuscript
  • November: We’ll arrange a short phone call with each of the writers who have been shortlisted for mentoring during November, while giving our editors time to read your full manuscripts
  • Monday 4 December: We’ll announce the 10 writers who’ve made it onto our mentoring programme

What’s on offer?

You’ll be one of 50 writers joining us for the day, which will include:

Publishing, de-mystified – We know that the publishing industry can sometimes seem like a ‘closed shop’ and that it can be confusing to understand how the word document saved on your laptop could top the bestseller list. To help give you an insight into what it’s like to be a Penguin Random House author, we’ll follow the journey of a book from manuscript to bookshelf

    • The Author: it all starts with you and your book. You’ll hear from a debut novelist.
    • The Agent: a literary agent will explain the role they play as the key link between authors and publishers, as well as working with writers to develop their manuscripts.
    • The Editor: a commissioning editor will describe their role, from the acquisitions process (deciding which books to buy) to working together with an author to get a finished manuscript ready for publication.

You’ll also hear a little more about how a publisher works with an author after their book has been acquired, including how we design a book’s cover, how we create a ‘buzz’ around our books by connecting authors with their readers, and how we work with customers – from small independent bookshops to the likes of Asda and Tesco.

    • One-to-one feedback from an editor: We have a team of Penguin Random House editors excited to meet you and to read your work (scroll down to see who they are and what they do). Each writer coming along to our workshops will spend 20 minutes talking with an editor about your book and your writing style. We’ll ask you to send us up to 5,000 words two weeks before the workshop so that our editors can come ready with suggestions and constructive feedback.
    • Writing an author’s perspective – Join authors in conversation with one of our editors. Discussion will focus on authors’ experiences of getting published, their own writing style and approach to their own craft, and the advice they would give to writers starting out. (You can read more about the authors coming to WriteNow London below)
    • Putting yourself in the shoes of a literary agent – We know that often pitching your book to a literary agent can be a real challenge. This session aims to put you in the shoes of a literary agent, giving you practical tips on how to write the best possible covering letter to capture the attention of the agent receiving it. This interactive session will be hosted by two literary agents. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to ask questions.
    • How to edit your work – Our partners, Spread the Word, will facilitate an interactive writing workshop which will focus on how to hone your work, giving you practical hints and tips.
    • Networking – We’ll make sure you get the chance to speak to our editors, agents and authors – as well as one another – more informally throughout the day. After the event has taken place, we’ll also invite you to join our WriteNow Facebook group which will act as a permanent place for you to network with other new writers.

Find out more and apply for the WriteNow here.

Dates for the Penguin Random House, WriteNow event are as follows:

    • London Insight Day: Saturday 9 September 2017 – 10.00-17.00 – Penguin Random House, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL – Writers in attendance include: Afua Hirsch, Elif Shafak, Mahsuda Snaith
    • Bristol Insight Day: Saturday 16 September 2017, 10.00-17.00 – Watershed, 1 Canon’s Rd, Bristol BS1 5TX – Writers in attendance include: Bernardine Evaristo, Kit De Waal, Lola Jaye
    • Newcastle Insight Day: Saturday 23 September 2017, 10.00-17.00 – The Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA – Writers in attendance include: Nikesh Shukla