Free Reads
A Manuscript Assessment Service


The TLC Free Reads Scheme offers low-income writers the opportunity to get free professional feedback on their writing via The Literary Consultancy, the UK’s leading editorial consultancy.  

This scheme is open to writers of fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, scripts and screenplays. Writers are hand-matched to a suitable reader from its list of 80+ professional editors and will receive either a partial or full read on their submission, with the feedback provided in the form of a written critique by TLC. The Free Read scheme particularly welcomes applications from writers belonging to groups currently under-represented in publishing including disabled writers, writers of colour*, and members of the LGBQTIA+ community. 

Spread the Word is delighted to be an official partner for The Free Reads scheme, supporting applications from London writers. Over the last 10 years, we’ve supported 47 writers with receiving professional feedback. For 2020-2021, the scheme is open from Monday 20 July 2020.   


To apply for the Free Reads scheme via Spread the Word, you must live in London and be on a low-income, meeting one of the following criteria:

– You are in receipt of Job seeker’s allowance, Disability benefit, Income support, Working tax credit, Universal Credit or Child benefits
– You earn less than the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour or a £23k annual salary**
– You are a full-time student
– You are aged 60 or over 

If you identify as being on low-income but do not meet one of the criteria listed above then please get in touch as we are able to evaluate applicants’ eligibility on a case-by-case basis. 

All applicants must submit: 

– A completed TLC Free Reads Scheme form – available to download here as a pdf, or here as a word document
– The first 1,000 words of your writing or up to 20 pages if your writing is poetry or script-writing (from the beginning of your piece)
A complete synopsis of the written work submitted. The synopsis must clearly show your story’s outline and should not exceed 1,000 wordsWe highly recommend that you check out our Pocket Guide to Writing a Synopsis before sending yours in.
– Documentation that shows you meet the criteria to apply for a Free Read. This may be in the form of a tax benefit letter, payslip, confirmation of your student status or a pension. Please check out our FAQs for more information on this.  

There are two submission windows for writers to submit: 1) Monday 20 July-Monday 2 November and 2) Monday 2 November-Monday 22 February. Please note, you cannot resubmit your application in the same year.  

All applicants must apply via Submittable:

We have a FAQs page for any enquiries on entering the scheme, but if yours is not listed there, please get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Our FAQs are also available as inclusive reads in standard and large print. The links to these are below:

We look forward to receiving your submission.  

*Writers of colour: Black, Asian, Arabic, Mixed-Raced and Non-white Latinx
**Please note that if you are currently furloughed and taking in less than £23k annually, you’re eligible to apply for the scheme.