WriteNow to visit London, Liverpool and Nottingham, with picture book illustrators invited for first time

Penguin Random House UK will host three new WriteNow events in London, Liverpool and Nottingham, a UNESCO City of Literature, in September 2018 as it continues to champion the discovery and development of new writing talent from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.

With support from Spread the Word in London, New Writing North in Liverpool and Writing East Midlands and UNESCO City of Literature in Nottingham, the publisher will seek out and invite aspiring authors and illustrators from across the country to learn more about how to get their book published, receive personalised one-on-one feedback from an editor or designer, and have the chance to join a year-long mentoring programme.

Working in partnership with national charity BookTrust, this year’s WriteNow programme will also be calling for entries from British-based picture book illustrators for the first time; an area of publishing which has historically seen less representation. By opening up the programme to illustrators, Penguin Random House hopes not only to seek out, inspire and support new talent in this space; but also to ensure that the picture books it publishes represent the lives, cultures and communities of all children in the UK.

Penguin Random House CEO Tom Weldon speaking at last year's WriteNow Bristol event

Of the 150 WriteNow participants invited to the three insight days, around ten will be invited to take part in the third WriteNow mentoring programme; being paired with an editor or designer from Penguin Random House with experience and expertise in their genre to develop their manuscript or illustrations further.

Since the programme’s launch, five WriteNow mentees have been offered publishing contracts by Penguin Random House, with more acquisitions expected to follow. The first book by a WriteNow mentee – The Reinvention of Martha Ross by Charlene Allcott – will be published at the end of July.

Applications for entering this year’s programme will open in May, with all information on the events and how to apply available at www.write-now.live. WriteNow is looking for unpublished writers in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s/ Young Adult genres, as well as illustrators of children’s picture books.

Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House, commented: “When launching WriteNow in 2016, our aim was to seek out talented new writers and different stories that represent everyone in our society. Two years on, the programme is already achieving real change: reaching communities of writers we haven’t before and adding new and exciting voices to our lists. We hope that by also inviting illustrators of children’s picture books to apply we are further breaking down barriers to publication. Seeing yourself in books is important at any age, but especially for our youngest readers.”

Illustrator Nadia Shireen said: “I think WriteNowLive is a really useful and practical initiative, and am massively excited about this year’s focus on children's books and illustration. Books help children navigate the world around them; and a well-rendered picture book holds a certain type of mystery and magic. But we need more picture book makers from all walks of life. But, sadly, opportunities to break into the publishing world are tricky, so proactive schemes like this are needed more than ever.”

Our regional partners added:

Jill Coleman, Director Children’s Books at BookTrust said: “BookTrust is delighted to support WriteNow and especially excited that the project will be looking for talented new illustrators for the first time this year. Children who see themselves as part of the story are more likely to become the readers of the future, so it’s vital to for us to offer all children a diverse range of illustrators and authors. WriteNow will help us find the talented people to create the diverse range of great books which we so desperately need.”

Sandheep Mahal, Director, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, commented: “We are delighted that Nottingham has been chosen to host one of this year’s WriteNow events. It is vitally important to encourage and support writers from under-represented backgrounds, and as a UNESCO City of Literature with a reputation for radical ideas, free expression and working class rebellious writers from all backgrounds, Nottingham is the perfect place to search for WriteNow to nurture new talent. We are certain that the programme will be a great success and can’t wait to get started.”

Claire Malcolm, Chief Executive of New Writing North, commented: “We’re delighted to be working with our friends at Penguin Random House to bring another WriteNow event to the North of England. Liverpool is a city full of great writers and it will be fantastic to open out this amazing opportunity to the North West and to help to support the breadth of engagement that Penguin are serious about having with writers across the UK.”

This is the third year that Penguin Random House has run its flagship WriteNow programme; launched as part of a wider commitment to ensure that the books and authors we publish better represent the society we live in. To date the programme has welcomed 300 writers to six regional events across the UK, from Newcastle to Bristol, and received nearly 5,000 applications from writers around the country. 22 writers are currently part of the mentoring programme.

Our 2017 WriteNow mentees

    

    

    

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