The London Writers Awards announced

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Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency, is pleased to announce The London Writers Awards, a new annual development programme for talented London writers. The Awards’ aim is to increase the number of writers from currently under-represented communities being taken up by agents and publishers.

“The London Writers Awards promise to take us beyond mere ‘conversation’ about increasing the range of writers from outside the mainstream who make it to publication.”
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Publishing Director, Indigo Press

“I would like to see British publishing engage more actively in the normalising of voices which are still often presented as other.”
Diana Evans, writer and judge 2018

There are multiple barriers for writers from underprivileged and diverse backgrounds to getting their stories heard. Despite operating in one of the most diverse and creative cities in the world, we often don’t hear the stories that are truly reflective of London’s citizens’ voices. 

Spread the Word’s challenging Writing the Future (2015) research into the wider UK marketplace revealed, that 57% of the publishing industry agreed the sector was “not very diverse at all” and 27% of literary agents had “not thought about diversity until now.”

Opening for applications on Monday 4 June 2018, the London Writers Awards will work intensively with 30 talented writers each year. The Awards will support writers of literary and commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, YA/children’s and poetry, and are focused on supporting London-based writers of colour and working class, LGBTQ and disabled writers. Winners will be selected via open application and participation is free.

Author judges for the 2018 Awards are Diana Evans, Vaseem Khan, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Daljit Nagra and Patrice Lawrence. Industry judges are Aimée Felone (Founder, Knights Of), Lucy Luck (Literary Agent, C+W), Ella Kahn (Co-founder, Diamond Kahn & Woods Agency), Rukhsana Yasmin (Deputy Editor, Wasafiri), and Rachael Allen (Poetry Editor, Granta).  

Vaseem Khan, writer and judge 2018 says: “As the world changes around us, the need of the hour is for a generation of diverse literary voices to come to the fore, reflecting our modern societies. But such voices need to be encouraged, nurtured, and given the same opportunities as those traditionally favoured by the industry.”

In order to make the step change from unpublished to published writer, valuable and sustained professional input with quality feedback is crucial. The London Writers Awards will offer this service as part of its programme. 

The London Writers Awards receive support from Arts Council England and sponsorship from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. 

Barbara Hayes, Deputy Chief Executive says: “ALCS is delighted to be a sponsor of the London Writers Awards. Writing shouldn’t be just for the privileged few; being as representative as possible of our wide-ranging society can only benefit the industry, increase market reach and ensure that minority voices are heard.”

Rishi Dastidar, Chair of Trustees, Spread the Word says: “Thanks to an ambitious, long term commitment to working intensively with 30 writers each year, from backgrounds too often overlooked by the publishing industry, I expect the London Writers Awards to have a significant impact – not just in increased diversity in the authors of books published, but the stories those books tell. I’m especially excited that we will be helping to bring many new voices from London into the world.”

Contact: Bobby Nayyar, Programme Manager, Spread the Word
bobby@spreadtheword.org.uk

Published 3 May 2018