#WriteNow with Penguin Random House: Boosting Underrepresented Voices in Publishing

Display of books by Penguin Random House

If you’re an unpublished author from an LGBTQ+, BAME, disabled or socio-economically marginalised background, Penguin Random House want to hear your stories. For a third year, the publishing house has launched their WriteNow initiative to connect with underrepresented voices in the publishing industry – and applications are open now!

Publishing giants in the UK, PRH launched WriteNow in 2016 t, offering authors an exclusive opportunity to learn about the publishing process, mix with authors and agents, and get feedback on their novel from a genuine PRH publisher.

As well as writers from BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) communities, those who have a disability, or come from a socio-economically marginalised background, PRH have this year opened applications to picture book illustrators, 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.

The results of WriteNow are already being seen in the industry: since the programme’s launch, five WriteNow mentees have been offered publishing contracts by Penguin Random House, and the first book by a WriteNow mentee – The Reinvention of Martha Ross by Charlene Allcott – will be published at the end of July. Since its conception, the programme has welcomed 300 writers to six regional events across the UK, and received nearly 5,000 applications from writers around the country.

You can apply to take part in the insight days in London (Saturday 8 September), Liverpool (Saturday 15 September) and Nottingham (Saturday 29 September). From those who have applied, 150 talented writers/illustrators will be invited to one of the three insight days, and as an aspiring author who was lucky enough to be invited along during their debut year, I cannot recommend this enough.

#WriteNow insight day in Birmingham, 2017

#WriteNow insight day in Birmingham, 2016

I was incredibly lucky to have been chosen to take part in the day held in Birmingham in September 2016, and it was an absolutely game-changing experience. We had the opportunity to mingle with editors, agents and published authors, and hear them speak about the journey towards publication. It was incredible to have a room full of people with the same goals, and the same drive towards a more diverse world of books.

Of the 150 WriteNow participants invited to the three free workshops, around ten will be invited to take part in the 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. I’m so excited for the novels it produces to hit the shelves; the fact that they’re running this programme for a third year is fantastic, and a really positive step for the publishing industry in terms of representing the true diversity of today’s society.

If you’re interested in applying for this year’s programme, applications are open until midnight on Monday 9 July (for writers) and midnight Monday 23 July (for illustrators), with all details on how to apply to the programme at www.write-now.live.

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