Announcing the Winners of the LBA Literary Agency Feedback Opportunity 2024


In September 2023, we launched a submission feedback opportunity with LBA Literary Agency, which represents a range of bestselling and prizewinning authors of commercial and literary fiction, non-fiction and children’s fiction, to support talented new voices in romance fiction from writers from backgrounds underrepresented in publishing.

We were thrilled to receive a variety of wonderful submissions for this feedback opportunity. We are pleased to announce that the winners are: Alice Sanders, Katty Janneh, Lauryn Mwale, Reema Kausar Majid, and Sheila Padre who received feedback critique from literary agent Hannah Schofield on their projects.

Hannah says: “I’ve been an admirer of the work of Spread the Word for years, and as a Lewisham resident myself I feel passionate about local outreach, so I was delighted to be given the opportunity to partner with StW on our romance session and submission call-out. The team were wonderful in facilitating all the events, and having worked more closely with them, I am even more impressed with their commitment to widening access to publishing to people from all walks of life.

My client Anam Iqbal and I were able to demystify the submission process to agents and editors in our live session, and we both so enjoyed the questions and insights from the audience. I was also hugely impressed at the quality and diversity of the submissions we received during the call-out, which represented love stories of all types: queer, straight, historical, contemporary, tropey, and sweeping! It was truly hard to pick the finalists, but I hope that I was able to encourage the authors I spoke to in their writing journeys and empower them to keep going – the world needs their stories.”

Find out more about the selected writers and their work below…

Image of Alice Sanders, a white woman with shoulder length strawberry blonde hair. She wears a cream coat with a fur lining with a black turtleneck beneath. She puts her hands in her pockets and stands against a red brick wall. Alice Sanders is a writer and comedy performer. Originally from London, she now lives in the Scottish Highlands where there is more nature, but, sadly, less Vietnamese food. She has written for various media outlets including The Guardian, The Telegraph, and Vice. She enjoys writing humour pieces, such as ‘Dick Portraiture for Renaissance Gentlemen’, published by McSweeney’s. She also writes audio description for TV programmes and films such as ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Up’. An erstwhile member of various comedy improv teams across London, as well as writing sketches and bad poetry for the character she performs, Sebastian Frond. Sebastian Frond, however, thinks he is a very talented poet.

About Alice’s fiction project: Playing for the Other Team is a novel about, well, playing for the other team – ever thought of giving it a go? Fran has, so she joins a lesbian football team with the (not-so) secret agenda of sleeping with a woman. And finding love, of course. After her initiation into the Sapphic arts, Fran is drawn towards a romance that could blow the football team apart. She’s faced with a tough decision: will she choose the path of virtue or the path of excitement? Like a queer sliding doors, the timelines diverging from her decision, it explores sexuality, agency, and how the small choices you make add up to more than the sum of their parts.

Alice says: “The feedback from Hannah was invaluable. Having her expert eye on my manuscript without the significant costs of an editor was so helpful. She gave me several points to work on during the next edit of my book in order to improve it. She named some novels I could look at that were excellent examples of things I’m trying to do with my book. I’m grateful to have received her advice and I think my new draft has already improved because of her comments!

Instagram and Twitter/ X: @wernerspenguin

a black person smiling and looking into the distance. The sea is behind them. They have big glasses and wear a white tank top.

Katty Janneh is a writer based in South East London. After spending too long ‘should-ing’ in her life, Katty started writing again just as the pandemonium kicked in. She wants to craft stories that centre women like her: older, dark-skinned women who find love later in life with her brand of humour and joy that she strives to live by.

About Katty’s project: Amina, get an Attitude is Katty’s first novel. A romance set in the present day between the UK and The Gambia. Amina is a late bloomer who experiences a horrible betrayal. As she tries to rebuild her relationship, a spanner hits the works leaving her with a dilemma. Does she continue to keep the peace by pleasing others or will she finally start pleasing herself?

Katty says: “The experience was nerve wracking but so, so valuable. It gave me a reality check on what is needed to bring Amina’s story to life. Teasing out the magic so people can feel it when they read the words. I’m excited to see how the story will end.”

Instagram: @kattyjanneh

a close-up headshot of a black woman smiling at the camera. She has long dark hair in a ponytail. She wears a lilac square-neck top and earrings. Behind her is a white wall. Lauryn Mwale has always been a reader, flying through countless Nancy Drew adventures and Enid Blyton series, devouring classic literature to prove a point and learn about the history of storytelling. She has always hoped to be brave enough to write and her very kind English teachers encouraged this dream. In 2022, she published a non-fiction book, The Shuri Effect: Bridging the gap for Young Black Women in STEM. It was inspired by her experiences studying Mathematics at university, where she was often the only or , if she was lucky, one of three Black students in her classes. The book was an outlet for her feelings of frustration and anguish as well as an opportunity to platform and celebrate the Black women that came before her. Currently, she is working on her first full-length fiction novel, Low-key Losing It. The Work-in-Progress was shortlisted for the 2023 Merky Books New Writers Prize and Bloomsbury Book Mentorship as well as the LBA x Spread the Work feedback opportunity. 

About Lauryn’s project: Lowkey Losing It, opens in present day London with our protagonist, Sondi, fantasising about a stranger she’s eyeing on the bus. Sondi is not one to allow life to happen to her so when he drops his phone on the seat, she accepts this gift from the universe and rushes out to return it to him, hoping that her gallantry will be the beginning of a beautiful love story. Unfortunately, the universe was merely playing with her. Caller ID alerts her that this man is, in fact, very much not available and in a panic, she dashes off, phone still clasped in hand. Clearly, going-for-it romance-wise is not the answer and so begins her #thatgirl delusional summer. Sondi will be turning her energy inwards; developing a Pilates habit, trying things outside of her comfort zone, getting a new role at work, being more creative and going back to therapy. Above all, she will be ignoring all men, especially her effortlessly charming work bestie Andre. Through therapy, tears and living life for the memoirs, will Sondi learn how to maintain healthy boundaries and welcome surprises, all while appreciating the love that already surrounds her?

Lauryn says: “Hannah was such a massive help! She was generous with her energy and insights and left me filled with ideas about positioning my book when submitting for representation. We discussed genre and comparables, the energy of my opening scene and the hacks for writing the perfect elevator pitch. I’ve already applied her advice and received some interest for representation.”

an olive-skinned woman smiles at the camera. She wears a loose cream headscarf. Reema Kausar Majid holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa and is a FAB Prize 2023 Highly Commended winner. She has been published in Amaliah under a pseudonym, is an alumna of the RCW summer workshop 2023 and is a member of Megaphone.

About Reema’s project: The Lonely Road is set in pre-partition 1940’s India and follows beautiful and headstrong Wafaa as she joins the independence movement while fending off marriage proposals. A family tragedy leads her to Ibrahim, a celebrated freedom fighter, with whom she falls in love. As colonial rule crumbles so does their marriage. Pulled apart by their opposing political visions and Wafaa’s desperation for a child, they must choose between love and loyalty.

Reema says: “The feedback I received from Hannah was invaluable in terms of industry insight and the guidance she offered on pitching effectively. From changing my novel’s title, to reducing the word count, revising the query letter and answering my questions, the whole session was incredibly useful. Having an award winning agent compliment my writing style has been a huge boost and propelled me to keep revising. Huge thanks to Spread the Word, the LBA Literary Agency and Hannah for this opportunity!”

Instagram: @reemakausar01

A close-up image of a black woman who smiles at the camera. She has medium length dark brown hair. She wears a blue denim jacket and a light brown shoulder bag. Behind Sheila is a grey tiled wall. Sheila Padre is based in South London. She worked in digital marketing before deciding to take the plunge, do a Creative Writing MA and resume working on her first novel. She has a BA in International Relations and Politics and an MA from Cardiff University and Royal Holloway, respectively. Her literary work tends to explore emotional trauma in character-driven narratives and examine the human condition in times of turmoil. When she’s not writing, she’s re-watching Gilmore Girls, curled up with a glass of wine and her Westie, Penny.

About Sheila’s project Purple-Lipped Bookworm: Marlowe Balbuena is the most cynical, angry 25-year-old you’ll ever encounter, but grief has a way of undoing everyone. In the past, Marlowe’s adolescence in a Southwest London council estate is a playground of innocence and friendship that grows bleaker with the commonplace hyper-sexualisation of young women and loving a broken boy who can’t love her back. She grows depressed, and her coping mechanisms grow reckless. In the present, 25-year-old Marlowe has just lost her surrogate grandmother but refuses to attend the funeral. Greif-stricken, she meets Jude—a charming paramedic, at a housewarming, but she’s still harbouring severe trust issues from the last time she was in love. Still, she comes to learn the gift of art and literature as a medium of self-expression that can help ease the turmoil of depression and trauma.

Sheila says: “Hannah Schofield was absolutely lovely and provided invaluable guidance regarding what worked well and areas of improvement, not only for my writing but also for the synopsis and query letter. She answered all my questions thoughtfully and suggested where I should position my novel within the market, which sounds simple, but in the thick of writing, it is tricky to zoom out and select authors to cite as comps to better signpost your work in such a vast and varied market. The feedback reinvigorated my determination to keep writing and finish my first novel!”

Instagram: Sheila_padre

Spread the Word will open for its next 1-2-1 feedback opportunity in May 2024.

Published: 22 March 2024