If you're a writer living in the South West of England but are finding it financially difficult to progress further then TLC Free Reads could be for you. Through this Arts Council England-funded scheme, Literature Works can offer you a free opportunity to have your work read and reported back on by a professional editor from The Literary Consultancy.

The Literary Consultancy is the UK’s first and leading editorial assessment, providing honest feedback and market advice for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, scripts and screenplays.

A critical assessment of all or part of your work could really help you progress and we are offering this scheme to all serious writers in the South West area who are on low incomes (see below for what counts as a ‘low income’).

This is a competitive process and eligible applicants will be selected based on artistic merit. Literature Works will select candidates through assessing samples of your work and will request further manuscript submission from the selected writers.

Please note: If you are offered a Free Read, you are gaining access to TLC’s standard manuscript assessment services on a bursary basis. To read more about TLC’s services, click here.

Successful candidates will be required to submit longer manuscripts to Literature Works to be forwarded to TLC in London, for a professional assessment, free of charge, so we urge you to read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you that you are eligible.

Free Reads is open to writers of prose (fiction, children’s, narrative non-fiction and short stories), poetry, and scripts for TV, film, radio or theatre.

Why apply for a TLC Free Read?

We asked Hazel Prior, former TLC applicant and author of Ellie and the Harp Maker and Away with the Penguins, both published by Bantam Press, an imprint of Penguin Books.

Hazel said this:
“TLC came to the rescue when I was struggling with the first draft of my first novel. Their expert editorial advice shaped my writing into something publishable… and now look! Two books with Penguin!”

PLEASE NOTE: This year, applications are accepted online only. Please email your submission to

Deadline: 5 pm on Thursday 31st December 2020.
Selected writers will be notified by 5 pm on Friday 22nd January 2021.

Selected writers must submit their longer manuscripts to Literature Works for TLC assessment by Friday 5th February 2021.

If you are interested in applying, please read the below carefully and complete the downloadable application form.

Please submit:

  • Your completed application form
  • A one-page covering letter stating why a Free Read would be useful to you at this stage in your career as a writer and addressing your qualification in the low income criteria.
  • A sample of the work you want to be assessed by TLC (max 75 lines of poetry, max 3 pages for prose, max 10 pages for scripts). All submissions must be typewritten and (excluding poetry) should be double-spaced, in a 12pt font, and printed on one side of the A4 page.
  • Paperwork pertaining to low income criteria (qualifying paper work is outlined in the application form, low-income, as defined by TLC, is outlined below.)
  • TLC state that current UK government guidelines suggest that low-income (household) equals 60% of the median household income. According to the latest figures this would put the national low-income threshold at roughly £16,200, with the London low-income threshold £23,000 and below.

    Download 2020 Application Form (PDF)

    Application form notes:

  • ‘Regional writing partner’ should be listed as Literature Works (south west).
  • ‘Submission length’ refers to the length of your final submission IF you are selected for a Free Read award.
  • You should be able to type directly into the application form once you have downloaded it.