Campaign to find, mentor and publish new authors from communities under-represented on bookshelves comes to Manchester and the West Midlands



A nationwide campaign to find, mentor and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves is being launched in Birmingham and Manchester by Penguin Random House, the UK’s biggest book publisher.

WriteNow is offering 150 marginalised writers one-to-one time with editors and access to literary agents, booksellers and published authors at regional events in Birmingham, Manchester and London, including Birmingham’s Kit de Waal, Jonathan Coe, and Lynsey Hanley, Manchester’s Nii Parkes and Oscar de Muriel, and John O’Farrell, Abir Mukherjee, Bernardine Evaristo and Sathnam Sanghera. Ten exceptional writers will go on to benefit from a year of mentoring with Penguin Random House, with the goal of having their book published.

WriteNow aims to find unpublished writers that are under-represented in books and publishing. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, and writers with a disability.

Penguin Random House has joined forces with writer development charities Writing West Midlands in Birmingham, Commonword in Manchester and Spread the Word in London to launch WriteNow.

Kit de Waal, author of the debut novel My Name Is Leon, said: “If you’re from a marginalised community, whatever you’re writing about, your writing will be informed by your experiences. Those experiences need to be out there. They need to be on the shelves so other people can read them. So other people can say: ‘Publishing is about my life. Publishing represents me. I have stake in this. And I have something to say’. That’s why I’m delighted to be involved with WriteNow.”

Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, said: “Books and publishing simply do not reflect the society we live in. Not only is that bad for the future of books, reading and culture, but it’s also a commercial imperative for us to change. If we don’t, we will become increasingly irrelevant.

“One of the many joys of reading is being able to make a personal connection with an author’s distinctive voice, but we know some voices aren’t yet being heard. Our job at Penguin Random House is to connect the world with the stories, ideas and writing that matter. So if you are sitting on a fantastic manuscript, we want to hear from you.”

Unpublished, marginalised writers in and around Manchester and the West Midlands can apply to attend WriteNow events by visiting and submitting a sample of their work by midnight on 28th October.

Jonathan Davidson, CEO, Writing West Midlands said: “This opportunity for marginalised writers in the West Midlands is of enormous importance. We have some wonderful local writers and the challenge has always been to give them the skills and confidence to present themselves to a largely London-based publishing industry. WriteNow effectively brings that industry to Birmingham and the West Midlands. The long-term benefits will be very significant.”

Pete Kalu, Artistic Director, Commonword in Manchester; Convenor, UK National Black Writers Conference, added: “The excitement of this initiative is that we’re hearing from the very top of the publishing world an acknowledgement that some radical reimagining work needs doing by publishers, and that an intrinsic part of that is reaching out to previously excluded writers.  The new thinking and creativity this may draw forth – from publishers, agents, writers and readers – has the potential to bring into being some wonderful new works."

A first WriteNow event took place on 1 October in London attracting more than 1,000 applications.


For more information:

For press enquiries:

Hannah Glenny, Senior Communications Manager, Penguin Random House UK
T: +44 (0)207 840 8827 M: +44 (0)7769 617 881 E:

Notes to Editors

  • WriteNow Birmingham is taking place on Saturday 26 November, 12.30-17.30 at The Insight Hub, Walker Building, 58 Oxford Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5NR

  • Authors taking part in the Birmingham Insight Day are Kit de Waal, Jonathan Coe, Oscar De Muriel, Bernardine Evaristo, Bali Rai and Nii Parkes; Waterstones Birmingham Regional Manager Stuart Bartholomew, and Leila Rasheed who runs Megaphone, a development scheme for BAME children’s authors.

  • WriteNow Manchester will take place on Saturday 4 February 2017, 12.30-17.30 at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5N

  • Authors taking part in the Manchester Insight Day are: Amit Dhand, Bali Rai, Nikesh Shukla, Polly Ho-Yen, Lynsey Hanley, Imran Mahmood and John O’Farrell.

  • Sessions at both will include ‘Publishing, de-mystified’, ‘Writing fiction and non-fiction for adults’, and ‘Writing for children and young adults’ as well as one-to-ones with editors. 

Press Enquiries

For more information on this story please get in touch via our media contacts