- Penguin Random House’s highly successful WriteNow mentoring programme returns for its second year
- The search has begun to find undiscovered writers from communities that are under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves
- In a further effort to make book publishing more inclusive, Penguin Random House launches an Inclusion Tracker to measure the diversity of its new authors and employees in an industry first, setting a company-wide goal for new authors and employees to reflect UK society by 2025
Penguin Random House UK has opened applications for its year-long WriteNow mentoring programme in a bid to discover and develop new writing talent from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.
WriteNow was created in 2016 to help ensure books and publishing better reflect UK society. It aims to find unpublished voices that are currently under-represented in books across all genres, including Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability.
The programme offers 150 aspiring writers access to free regional events in London, Bristol and Newcastle where they will get one-to-one time with editors to receive expert, personalised feedback on their book, alongside access to literary agents and published authors, including Francesca Martinez, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and Fox Fisher.
Penguin Random House editors will work with 10 of the most promising writers over 12 months to make their manuscripts the best they can be, with the ultimate ambition of publishing these new writers.
Penguin Random House is partnering with regional writer development charities Spread the Word, Literature Works and New Writing North to launch WriteNow 2017.
Over 2,000 writers applied for WriteNow last year, with 150 invited to attend regional events. 98% of writers attending said that being part of WriteNow had increased their confidence as a writer. Christine Brougham from Liverpool was one of the twelve writers selected to take part in the first mentoring programme. She shares her experience of WriteNow:
“I hope that my story will help society to see disabled people as ordinary folk and contribute an individual’s perspective to the body of knowledge that already exists in relation to disability issues.
“Through conversations with my editor I’ve learnt that the relationship between writer and editor is more of a “partnership” than I envisaged.
“The most reassuring aspect of my WriteNow experience so far has been to see the publishing industry showing more interest in social diversity. If the industry continues in this direction, it could provide an important platform from which writers like the mentees can demonstrate the validity of lives less ordinary.”
Francesca Martinez, author of What the **** is Normal? and WriteNow 2017 mentor said: “I’m excited to be involved in WriteNow because it’s so important that more books reflect the beautiful range of difference in humanity and encourage readers to embrace that difference as natural and normal. Unique perspectives are a gift to story-telling and a delight to discover!”
Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, commented: “We are determined to publish a wider range of voices and books to more fully reflect the diverse society we live in.
“Books and reading can make an enormous difference to people’s lives, expanding our imaginations and empathy and helping us make sense of different perspectives.
“As the UK’s number one publisher, our job is to tell the stories which aren’t often told. That’s why with WriteNow we are taking our teams outside of London and into communities to meet and mentor aspiring authors. We want to find and bring to life writing that connects with all readers, bringing the best new under-represented voices to bookshelves.”
Alongside launching WriteNow 2017, Penguin Random House has set itself a company-wide goal to ensure its new hires and the books it acquires reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. The publisher wants to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025.
To measure progress towards this goal, Penguin Random House will ask newly acquired authors and new employees to complete a voluntary Inclusion Tracker. Penguin Random House will voluntarily publish this data on its website each year: www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.
Applications for WriteNow 2017 open on 13 June at www.write-now.live.