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BAME writers and illustrators: Penguin Random House want you

MENTORING: Penguin Random House Write Now programme

THIS YEAR, Penguin Random House is hosting three new WriteNow workshops in London, Liverpool and Nottingham, a UNESCO City of Literature, in September 2018, as it continues to champion the discovery and development of new writing talent from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.

This includes writers and picture book illustrators from BAME or LGBTQ communities, those who have a disability, or come from a socio-economically marginalised background.

With support from Spread the Word in London, New Writing North in Liverpool and Writing East Midlands and UNESCO City of Literature in Nottingham, the publisher wants to help aspiring authors and illustrators from across the country learn more about how to get their book published, receive personalised one-on-one feedback from an editor or designer, and have the chance to join a year-long mentoring programme.

Working in partnership with national charity Book Trust, this year’s WriteNow programme also calls for entries from British-based picture book illustrators for the first time; an area of publishing which has historically seen less representation.

By opening up the programme to illustrators, Penguin Random House hopes not only to seek out, inspire and support new talent in this space; but also to ensure that the picture books it publishes represent the lives, cultures and communities of all children in the UK.

Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House, said: “When launching WriteNow in 2016, our aim was to seek out talented new writers and different stories that represent everyone in our society.

Two years on, the programme is already achieving real change: reaching communities of writers we haven’t before and adding new and exciting voices to our lists. We hope that by also inviting illustrators of children’s picture books to apply we are further breaking down barriers to publication. Seeing yourself in books is important at any age, but especially for our youngest readers.”

Illustrator Nadia Shireen commented: “I think WriteNow is a really useful and practical initiative, and am massively excited about this year’s focus on children's books and illustration. Books help children navigate the world around them; and a well-rendered picture book holds a certain type of mystery and magic.

But we need more picture book makers from all walks of life. But, sadly, opportunities to break into the publishing world are tricky, so proactive schemes like this are needed more than ever.”

Penguin Random House is calling for unpublished writers in fiction, non-fiction, and children’s/Young Adult genres, as well as illustrators of children’s picture books, who consider themselves under-represented in publishing to apply; with 150 of the most talented and promising applicants invited to attend one of the three workshops in September.

The application period is open until midnight on Monday 9 July (for writers) and midnight on Monday 23 July (for illustrators), with further information about how to apply available at

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