The London Writers Awards
New programme for writers under-represented in publishing announced
‘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
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.
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In order to make the step change from unpublished to published writer, valuable and sustained professional input with quality feedback is crucial.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.”
Bobby Nayyar, Programme Manager, Spread the Word
Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Publishing Director, Indigo Press:
‘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. With a focus on identifying, developing and rewarding excellence, the long-view taken by the awards is an approach the entire industry could learn from. From the open application process to the inspired range across literary and genre fiction, it’s a scheme that will enrich us all – agents, publishers and, most importantly, readers.’
Diana Evans, writer and judge 2018:
‘I would like to see British publishing engage more actively in the normalising of voices which are still often presented as other. There are so many untold stories yet to be unearthed, such a richness of imagination and experience and daring beyond the conventional safe offerings, and I am pleased to be taking part in this broadening of scope through the London Writers Awards.’
Vaseem Khan, writer and judge 2018:
‘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. The London Writers Awards are leading the way in this brave new world, by providing meaningful career support for emerging writers from diverse backgrounds, allowing them to achieve that breakthrough moment. For me such a breakthrough came after 23 years of waiting. I only wish something like the London Writers Awards programme had been around when I was first trying to make my mark … I am truly excited to be a part of this initiative.’
London Writers Awards’ (https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/projects/london-writers-awards/) mission is to increase the number of writers currently under-represented in publishing being agented and published. Each year, the Awards will provide 30 London writers with a nine-month development programme of critical feedback groups, masterclasses, 1-2-1 coaching and WriterLabs, including a showcase event. Built into the programme are points of contact and networking opportunities with professional writers, agents and editors. Bursaries are offered to writers in most need and an access fund is available for disabled writers. The 2018 Awards will open for applications on Monday 4 June and close on Friday 22 June.
ALCS (https://www.alcs.co.uk/) is a not-for-profit membership organisation started by writers for the benefit of writers. They are open to all types of writer, and owned by their members. They collect money that’s due to our members for secondary uses of their work. They also campaign and lobby on matters important to writers — both at a national and international level — to ensure writers’ rights are both recognised and rewarded. They measure their worth by the amount of money they have collected and paid to writers, and the number who join them, as well as by their successes in lobbying and educating about copyright. Today they have around 95,000 members, and since 1977 have paid over £450 million to writers.