Frequently Asked Questions
Is it free to take part?
Yes. Both the WriteNow workshops and mentoring programme are free for those taking part.
Will you cover my travel expenses?
We’re not able to cover travel expenses to everyone joining us for a WriteNow workshop. However, if you need to travel and are unable to afford the journey (for example if you are unemployed or receiving Housing Benefit) we have a limited number of travel grants available of up to £50 per person. If your application is successful we will let you know how to apply for a travel grant.
We will cover all related travel to our London offices, and accommodation where required, for the writers and illustrators who join our mentoring programme. You can read full details of the expenses we're able to offer in our terms and conditions.
Do I need to be a UK resident to apply?
Yes. As WriteNow is being run by Penguin Random House UK our programme is only open to UK residents. You don't need to have permanent citizenship - just a current and valid UK address.
Can I apply if I’m already supported by Writing East Midlands, Spread the Word or New Writing North?
Absolutely. We would love to work with writers supported by our partners.
How will you decide who gets through to attend the WriteNow workshops and who doesn’t?
We will assess applications based on two factors:
Quality of writing/illustrations and originality: assessed by a Penguin Random House editor or designer
Meeting our desired criteria: as part of your application we'll ask you to tell us, in your own words, why you feel your voice is under-represented in books and publishing. Your answer will be assessed by our partner Spread the Word, a writer development charity, together with members of our Human Resources team.
What if I’m self-published, published in another format or genre, or published as part of an anthology?
We'd be happy to receive applications from writers and illustrators who have self-published, been published as part of an anthology, been published in digital or e-book format only, or published in an entirely different genre (e.g. a non-fiction writer who has previously published poetry). We would also be happy to receive applications from writers and illustrators who have been published in another format altogether such as a magazine or newspaper.
What if my artwork has been published elsewhere?
That’s absolutely fine. We’d love to receive applications from people working in other industries, for example graphic design or packaging design. However, we won’t be able to accept your application if you have already published a children’s picture book with a commercial publisher.
Illustrators: what’s the intended age range for Jack and the Beanstalk?
2 - 5 years.
Is a publishing contract guaranteed if I’m one of the 10 writers or illustrators selected for the mentoring programme?
We would love to have the chance to publish the writers and illustrators we work with as part of our mentoring programme, but there are no guarantees.
If I join the mentoring programme, will I have to publish my book with Penguin Random House?
We're investing time and resource in the 10 writers and illustrators we'll be supporting through our year-long mentoring programme, and so we will ask you to give us the first option (i.e. first refusal) of publishing your book. If we can’t come to an agreement after 30 days of good faith negotiations then you are welcome to take your book elsewhere.
How many of the 10 mentoring places will be for illustrators versus writers?
Our mentoring programme is about finding and nurturing talented people who we are excited to publish, regardless of whether they are a writer or illustrator. This will mean we won't be prescriptive about how many of our 10 mentees are writers and how many are illustrators.
Can I apply with more than one manuscript?
Yes, we will accept multiple submissions from the same writer so long as they are in different genres - for example if you have both a fiction and non-fiction manuscript. You won't be able to submit multiple manuscripts in the same genre.
Can I apply with more than one illustration?
Yes. We will accept multiple submissions from the same illustrator so long as they are in different illustrative styles - for example if you work in a realistic painterly style and a stylised graphic style.
Do I need any experience as an illustrator to enter?
Not at all – we’re just looking for raw talent and a passion for telling stories through beautiful, eye-catching illustrations.
Can I apply to more than one workshop?
We have 10 places on offer for illustrators at our WriteNow Nottingham workshop, so all illustrators will automatically be offered a place at Nottingham.
When you apply for WriteNow as a writer we will ask you to list our three locations in order of preference. We'll assess all of the applications we receive together, and the top 140 writers will then be allocated to one of our three workshops.
We will do our best to make sure you are invited to attend your preferred location. If you are unable to make a particular date or location, please just list one or two preferred option(s) when you apply. Please be assured that your choice of location will have no impact on the success of your application.
If I applied in the past, can I apply to WriteNow again?
We aren’t accepting applications from writers who have previously successfully applied and attended a WriteNow workshop, to make sure that as many writers as possible have the opportunity to take part. If you have previously applied but didn't get through, you are welcome to apply again.
Can I still apply for the mentoring programme if I can’t attend a WriteNow workshop?
We will only accept applications to our mentoring programme from writers and illustrators who have attended a WriteNow workshop, and had the opportunity to discuss their work with one of our editors or designers.
If you are not able to access any of the events, for example because of a physical disability or if you are currently in prison, we will consider your application to our mentoring programme on a case by case basis.
Are the venues accessible?
Yes, all our venues are wheelchair accessible and we will do everything we can to make the workshop as accessible as possible for everyone on the day. Please just let us know if you have any additional needs or need us to make any adjustments for the day, for example providing a BSL interpreter. If you need to bring a personal assistant with you, that's absolutely fine.
Does my story have to focus on 'issues' based narratives?
No, not unless you want it to. We want to hear your perspective, and in your own words, whether you’re writing serious non-fiction about personal development or if you're the next Lee Child.
How do I know if I’m from an under-represented community?
If you feel that your community, or your background, needs a stronger voice and a platform in publishing we would love to hear from you.
This could include:
- If you identify as LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer)
- If you identify as BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic)
- If you have a disability. You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a “physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”
- If you come from a socio-economically marginalised background, for example if you ever received free school meals or if you or your family have ever been on income support, homeless or at risk of homelessness
- If you have or have ever had refugee status
- If you are currently in prison or have ever spent time in prison.
Will I get any feedback on my application?
After applications have closed, we will publish a blog post giving an overview of common themes and general feedback from the editors and designers involved in the assessment process. We aren't able to give individual feedback to every applicant due to the volume of applications received.
If you are successful in your application and attend a WriteNow workshop, you will receive personalised feedback on your work from one of our editors or designers. Writers and illustrators shortlisted for the mentoring programme will receive further feedback on their full manuscript or portfolio of artwork.
If I’m submitting a picture book text can I also submit accompanying illustrations?
No. If you're a budding illustrator please apply to the Nottingham illustration workshop by submitting your Jack and the Beanstalk illustrations.
Can I submit poetry?
We're not looking for submissions in poetry, cookery or graphic novels this time around. We’re happy to receive applications for short story collections and verse novels.
Questions? Send us an email at WriteNow@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.