Penguin Random House UK launches nationwide campaign to find and develop talented new writers from under-represented communities
Penguin Random House’s highly successful WriteNow mentoring programme returns for its second year
The search has begun to find undiscovered writers from communities that are under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves
In a further effort to make book publishing more inclusive, Penguin Random House launches an Inclusion Tracker to measure the diversity of its new authors and employees in an industry first, setting a company-wide goal for new authors and employees to reflect UK society by 2025
Penguin Random House UK has opened applications for its year-long WriteNow mentoring programme in a bid to discover and develop new writing talent from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.
WriteNow was created in 2016 to help ensure books and publishing better reflect UK society. It aims to find unpublished voices that are currently under-represented in books across all genres, including Fiction, Non-Fiction and Children’s. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability.
The programme offers 150 aspiring writers access to free regional events in London, Bristol and Newcastle where they will get one-to-one time with editors to receive expert, personalised feedback on their book, alongside access to literary agents and published authors, including Elif Shafak, Kit de Waal, Afua Hirsch and Fox Fisher.
Penguin Random House editors will work with 10 of the most promising writers over 12 months to make their manuscripts the best they can be, with the ultimate ambition of publishing these new writers.
Penguin Random House is partnering with regional writer development charities Spread the Word, Literature Works and New Writing North to launch WriteNow 2017.
Over 2,000 writers applied for WriteNow last year, with 150 invited to attend regional events. 98% of writers attending said that being part of WriteNow had increased their confidence as a writer. Benjamin G. Wilson from London was one of the twelve writers selected to take part in the first mentoring programme. He shares his experience of WriteNow,
“A lot of my writing life has, till this point, felt incredibly risky. As a crazy person with no qualifications, austerity has not made being an artist easy. Choosing to write has often meant turning down work which has meant, in effect, living unsure if I could keep my flat or feed myself, but this novel in particular has involved a lot of emotional risk. Being told that the work was good, and that it could reach people, has meant the world.”
Fox Fisher, author of Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? and WriteNow 2017 mentor said,
“I got involved with WriteNow to encourage other members of underrepresented groups to step up and gain confidence in writing by having the support of a mentor. This is such a fantastic scheme, one I would have pounced on if it was available when I was growing up. Seeing yourself represented in literature is such an important thing, to better understand ourselves and to feel a sense of belonging in the world.”
Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, commented,
“We are determined to publish a wider range of voices and books to more fully reflect the diverse society we live in.
“Books and reading can make an enormous difference to people’s lives, expanding our imaginations and empathy and helping us make sense of different perspectives.
“As the UK’s number one publisher, our job is to tell the stories which aren’t often told. That’s why with WriteNow we are taking our teams outside of London and into communities to meet and mentor aspiring authors. We want to find and bring to life writing that connects with all readers, bringing the best new under-represented voices to bookshelves.”
Alongside launching WriteNow 2017, Penguin Random House has set itself a company-wide goal to ensure its new hires and the books it acquires reflect UK society by 2025, in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality. The publisher wants to see a positive shift towards this goal every year through to 2025.
To measure progress towards this goal, Penguin Random House will ask newly acquired authors and new employees to complete a voluntary Inclusion Tracker. Penguin Random House will voluntarily publish this data on its website each year: www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.