TLC April Newsletter
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Dear Friends of TLC,

Welcome to our April newsletter. We're delighted this month to share our new website with you, where we've added a few new features and have worked on making everything more easily navigable. This includes a brand new Writers' Journey Wizard to help you figure out where you are, an updated and collated 'Writers' Corner' where you'll find useful resources, tips and practical information to make you feel at home, and a new online submissions portal to make sending your work to us even easier. We've also updated our Chapter & Verse mentoring page with some more information for those of you who are looking for one-to-one sessions with a published author or professional editor to help develop your work, and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more announcements about a new Chapter & Verse Premium offer coming soon...

We also bring you details of our annual TLC Pen Factor writing competition prize pot, the next in our 'Secret Life of Novels' series (with an earlybird ticket offer for newsletter subscribers!), and the last available room on our Literary Adventure writing retreat. There's an informative and helpful blog from writer and tutor Louise Tondeur on 'Why Writers Need a Business Mindset', a brilliant Middle Ages fantasy featured in our monthly Writers Showcase, and fascinating survey from the Royal Society of Literature looking at what writers need today, inspired by Woolf's seminal work 'A Room of One's own'. We finish as always with some useful links and things that caught our eye this month, from around the web.

As ever, happy writing, and reading,


15 TICKETS REMAINING + TLC Pen Factor Prize pot announced

We only have 15 tickets left available for our 2019 Writers' Day, and a £1,000 prize pot for the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition has been revealed! Don't miss out and book now.

All Writers’ Day 2019 ticket-holders are eligible to enter their unpublished writing into the TLC Pen Factor Writing CompetitionPrevious winners and shortlisted writers have gone on to be shortlisted for the Costa Prize (Guinevere Glasfurd, TLC Pen Factor 2014, The Words In My Hand), longlisted for the OCM Bocas (Fawzia Kane, TLC Pen Factor 2012, Tantie Diablesse) and selected as WH Smith Fresh Pick (Piers Alexander, TLC Pen Factor 2013, The Bitter Trade).

2018 was another outstanding year for TLC Pen Factor successes, as finalist Abi Dare subsequently went on to win the 2018 Bath Novel Award, with her literary debut The Girl with the Louding Voice, which will be published by Sceptre/Hodder in 2020 after securing a significant advance. 2018 TLC Pen Factor winner, Neema Shah, who won with her novel Kololo Hill, will be published by Picador in 2021.

Your 2019 deadline for submitting to the TLC Pen Factor writing competition is 3rd June. Please follow the instructions in your box office email for the chance to pitch your work to literary agents. 

We are delighted to announce this year’s prize package, worth over £1,000, thanks to the generosity of our TLC Pen Factor partners:


TLC Writers' Day features three hour-long talks by inspiring speakers. This year, we are delighted to welcome the award-winning novelist Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Harmless Like You, an NYT Editors' Choice and Winner of the Authors' Club First Novel Award), marketing guru Sam Missingham (formerly HarperCollins, founder of Lounge Books) and the acclaimed short story writer and lecturer Leone Ross (longlisted for the Orange Prize, author of Come Let Us Sing Anyway). Our special guest reader will be North-East based crime novelist Robert Scragg (What Falls Between the Cracks).


Last Literary Adventure Room 8 Available 

Due to a guest cancellation, we have one free en suite room available on our otherwise sold-out Literary Adventure writing retreat, taking place this September 7-13th at the idyllic Casa Ana in Andalusia, Spain. Our guest tutor will be Booker-shortlisted novelist, short story writer, and acclaimed tutor Romesh Gunesekera. Romesh has tutored and lectured on creative writing all over the world, and has been a prize judge for prizes including the VS Pritchett, Caine Prize for African Writing and the David Cohen Literature Prize. 

Room 8 (which is the lovely room featured in the picture above) is available at £865 for the full week. All breakfasts, lunches, two chef-cooked three course evening meals using the finest seasonal and local ingredients, and your accommodation are included in the ticket price for the full week.

Literary Adventures take place within the mesmerising Alpujarras mountain range in Andalucia, Spain, at a private house used exclusively for the week by TLC. You will have access to world-class teaching, get a chance to work, read, listen, learn and relax in a stunning setting which will open the mind and senses. The retreat is open to writers of fiction (novels or short stories)memoir and creative non-fiction.

To book room 8 (first come, first served)
 please email

BOOKING NOW OPEN - The Secret Life of Novels Part III

Tickets (and exclusive earlybird tickets for newsletter subscribers) are now available for the the third part of our acclaimed event series The Secret Life of Novelswhere invite three authors at the top of their game to speak about their creative process, creatively. This exciting third instalment will be held at Free Word once again, and will be held on Thursday 6th June, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

The theme for our June event is playfulness and we are delighted to welcome Will Eaves, Susmita Bhattacharya, and Joseph Scapellato. Our guest novelists have all experimented with form, and are all writing highly intelligent, playful works, pushing the boundaries and challenging their readers.

BOOK NOW using code TLCSECRET19 for earlybird tickets at just £10 - limited number available until 22nd April!
(Standard tickets cost just £16/£12 concessions)

Why Writers Need a Business Mindset (At Least Some of the Time)

"One of the first things I learnt was about the concept of ‘your ideal reader’, or creating an ‘ideal customer profile’ in sales speak. When my first novel came out, if someone had asked me ‘Who’s your target audience?’ I would have said ‘anyone who wants to read it’. Now that response was complicated by others’ attempts to categorise the book. At the time (mid-noughties) the idea that a novel could be categorised as ‘lesbian fiction’ was controversial because of questions such as: is lesbian fiction really a genre? Is it too niche? Is that category based on the book or the sexuality of the writer? Am I pigeon-holing myself? Why aren’t other books branded ‘heterosexual fiction’?"

In this month's blog, writer, lecturer and tutor Louise Tondeur looks at how having a business mindset can stand writers in good stead at all stages of your writing 'career'. There is some really useful advice in there, from defining your ideal reader, to making sure you're where your readers are going to be.

You can read the full blog here

Do you have something on your mind, about books, literature and the value of literature, or publishing, that you'd like to blog about for us? We are actively seeking pitches to:

TLC Showcase: Christine Laurenson

This month, we are delighted to showcase the work of talented fantasy writer Christine Laurenson, who was awarded a manuscript assessment with TLC after winning a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Christine's Middle Ages fantasy novel The Dragon of Exnaboe tells the story of Mai, a young orphan living with her grandmother, in rural Hjaltland (Shetland) and her journey, both physical and emotional, from child to young adult. She is working on final edits, and is certainly one to watch... 

“The bird swooped down over them, landing a short distance away, near the dragon. They seemed to know each other, and stood nose to beak for a few seconds, making excited noises. Then the bird turned and began to walk towards them. As it did so, a strange wind blew up around it, causing the air to tremble and quiver. The bird seemed to stretch upwards, getting taller with every step. Sand and seeds, caught up in the strange wind, swirled around it. The bird disappeared into a shimmering column of light and out of that brightness stepped Amma Ragna.”

Read the full extract, and more about Christine's writing, in the April Showcase 

'A Room of My Own' RSL Writers' Survey

90 years ago, Virginia Woolf said that to be a writer, a woman needed money and a room of her own. In 2019, we want to know what writers – at different stages of their careers, from different backgrounds, and from across the UK – require today in order to flourish professionally.

As writers’ incomes sharply decrease – from £18,000 in 2015 to £10,500 in 2018 in ALCS’s independent research into authors’ earnings – we want to know what you need to work: from money to mentoring, contract advice to the support of an agent, what do you need to have a career in writing? The Royal Society of Literature is leading this research in consultation with writer development organisations, funders and supporters across the UK, including: Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Creative Scotland, Literature Wales, Literature Works, National Centre for Writing, New Writing North, New Writing South, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Poetry Library, Society of Authors, Spread the Word, The Literary Consultancy, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Writing East Midlands and Writing West Midlands.

The RSL will publish findings of this research on Dalloway Day, 19 June 2019.  This research is funded by ALCS. Writers can take the survey here:

Recommendations and Inspiration

Are you on Twitter? If so, make sure you're following our page @TLCUK for all the latest news, tips and inspiration, including our #TLCTips series of writing tips.

You can also now follow TLC on Instagram.

Other things from around the web to inspire you this month...

* The Authors Foundation are offering grants for works-in-progress for up to £6,000. They offer grants twice yearly to writers whose project is for a British publisher.
Deadlines in April and September
New Writing South, in partnership with Brighton Fringe, is running the Best New Play Award 2019. This award is presented to a playwright in recognition of an outstanding, original theatre script produced at Brighton Fringe. Deadline for Applications: Sunday 7 April 2019 enter now
* The seventh international Bath Short Story Award is now open for entries and closes at midnight BST, 15th April 2019. This year the short list judge is literary agent, Samuel Hodder, from Blake Friedmann Literary Agency. More information here

*Some handy tips on (Re)discovering the joy of re-writing on the Young Writer of the Year Award website, from TLC Director Aki Schilz
* And a pleasing story to finish, short story vending machines to transport London commuters.
Thank you for reading this newsletter. For further information on TLC's core services including manuscript assessment, mentoring, and other editing services including copy-editing and proofreading, do visit our website. All general enquiries and manuscript submissions should be sent to Editorial Services Officer Joe Sedgwick at

We also have Facebook and Twitter pages where we share information and insights, articles on writing, editing and the publishing industry, as well as tips and recommendations. 

"My TLC reader read my novel and her feedback was excellent. She helped me see what didn't quite work with the pacing and storyline, and she helped me see that I was writing a thriller; I'd been unsure of the genre up to that point. She was also very encouraging, which is exactly what I needed. After working on my manuscript, TLC put me in touch with Sapere Books, who are publishing Running in Circles. I'm so grateful to everyone at TLC; I feel like they offer something very special, and they have kickstarted my career."

Claire Gray, Running in Circles.
"The manuscript assessment through TLC was the best investment I could have made, and was worth every penny. My reader gave such an insightful report. Her comments made me look at my own work in a different, more objective way, and I've been able to use a lot of that advice to improve other work since. I genuinely believe the help from her and TLC played a crucial part in being picked up by an agent, and subsequently landing a two-book deal. I couldn't recommend them highly enough."

Robert Scragg, What Falls Between the Cracks (Allison & Busby)
Do I need a manuscript assessment?

Do I need a literary agent?

What should I send to agents?

Will I be considered for the TLC Talent Showcase?

How do I write a synopsis?

Where can I find a proofreader or copy-editor?

Ask TLC: See our FAQs

Useful Links for Writers: Click here
"Since the day I mailed my manuscript to TLC, they would not stop until I was accepted by a top literary agent. The result: my novel, The Black Coat, being published by Penguin Books in India in 2013 and Periscope in the UK in 2015. Thank you to my TLC reader Kavita Bhanot, for her insightful report, and to Rebecca Swift for her personal encouragement. TLC has been with me at every step since 2011.

Neamat Imam, The Black Coat (Penguin India/ Periscope UK)
NEW 'The Secret Life of Novels' event series, £16/£12 inc. VAT, next event June 6th 2019

“A fantastically intimate event that was as insightful as it was inspiring.”

“This was my first TLC event. It won’t be my last. An amazing opportunity to hear from there authors about their writing journey. Inspirational and motivating. A great location too and excellent value.”

“The Secret life of Novels was a brilliant and truly inspirational event. Each of the three authors speaking at the event were so generous and open while sharing their stories. Listening to them left me energised, inspired and hopeful. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

I feel the scheme has set me up for a writing life. In this sense, it really has been priceless.

Rachel Connor, Sisterwives (Crocus Books)

[Chapter and Verse's] combination of personal attention and truthful critical advice is ideal for anyone who is serious about their writing.

Joanna Briscoe, Sleep With Me (Bloomsbury)

In a nutshell, I now have a novel on its way to completion with the possibility of being read by someone. 

Jennifer Makumbi, Kintu (Oneworld)

It's been the best investment I have ever spent.

Liz Harris, author  

Find out more here
TLC Writers' Day, June 22nd 2019 10am-4pm (£60+VAT)


Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of NYT Editors' Choice Harmless Like You

Sam Missingham, founder of Lounge Books

Leone Ross, acclaimed short story writer, Come Let Us Sing Anyway

Robert Scragg, Read Regional crime novelist, What Falls Between the Cracks

and TLC Pen Factor judges, literary agents

Jo Unwin (JULA)
Harry Illingworth (DHH)
Susan Yearwood (Susan Yearwood Literary)
Nelle Andrews (Peters, Fraser & Dunlop)

Book now here
"So our  book deal with Simon & Schuster has been announced and we couldn't be happier. We can't thank TLC enough for their genius matching of manuscript to reader. We not only got a great report, we also found our perfect agent - Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary Agency.  Consider our expectations to have been well and truly exceeded!"

Perdita and Honor Cargill, Waiting for Callback
"My TLC editor made me see my book in a new light. It took a bit of hard work, but I am so pleased I followed TLC's excellent advice. Thank you so much for helping me discover the book I didn't know was there!" 

Andy Rumbold, The Last Fiesta (Red Door Publishing)
"Having my manuscript assessed by TLC was the best investment I've made in years." 

Kerry Young, Pao.

Published by Bloomsbury

Shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize
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