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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 one of last year’s selected writers about their experience of applying for a Free Read. Here’s what they said:

“After a demoralising year of living with Long Covid, and coming to a bit of a standstill with my writing, I massively benefited from the Free Read bursary and the critic’s encouraging positivity about my poetry. The reader I was assigned had clearly given time and thought to his comments. It gave me new confidence and pushed me to look at my sequence anew, in light of his perceptive editing suggestions.”

PLEASE NOTE: This year, applications are accepted online only. Please email your submission to info@literatureworks.org.uk

Deadline: 5 pm on Friday 31st December 2021.
Selected writers will be notified by 5 pm on Friday 21st January 2022.

Selected writers must submit their longer manuscripts to Literature Works for TLC assessment by Friday 4th February 2022.

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 12 pt 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.)
  • PLEASE NOTE: You cannot apply for a FREE Read two years in a row.
  • TLC define low income as follows:
    Current UK government guidelines suggest that low-income (household) equals 60% of the median household income. This is only a rule of thumb, but is a helpful guideline when assessing applications. According to the latest figures this would put the national low-income threshold at roughly £18,000 per annum income, with the London low-income threshold £23,000 per annum and below. For the purposes of the Free Reads scheme TLC are referring to your earnings in the last full financial year.

    Please note, those who are over 60 are eligible to apply for a Free Read.

    There are some helpful calculations here to show how these margins are measured by the Government across the country. If you are a full-time student or pensioner, or in receipt of any kind of Universal Credit, you are eligible to apply for a TLC Free Read. You may also submit HMRC self-assessment paperwork to show you are low-earning if you are self-employed and not in receipt of income support.

    TLC understand that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, loss of income has affected many communities and individuals particularly hard, and we want to be able to provide the scheme to those who are looking to develop their writing in the wake of the pandemic and whose financial circumstances might have been affected by the pandemic. If you are eligible on this basis, please simply submit a one-paragraph statement outlining your circumstances. This information is completely confidential, but is a necessary requirement of TLC’s funding relationship with ACE, to show that the scheme is genuinely serving those most in need. You can find out how TLC store personal information in their privacy policy here.

    Download 2021 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.