TLC February Newsletter
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Dear Friends of TLC,

Welcome to our February newsletter. Our big news this month is that we are finally ready to reveal the TLC Writers' Day programme, with very special guests in a stellar lineup. As TLC newsletter subscribers, you get exclusive access to earlybird tickets at just £50+VAT for all day access. Earlybird tickets are extremely limited, and this event has sold out every year we've run it, so we strongly recommend booking now to avoid missing out. 

Also coming up is the second instalment of our Secret Life of Novels series on March 6th, with the theme 'books drawn from life'. Our special guests are recently Dylan Thomas Prize-longlisted Michael Donkor, a rising Ghanaian literary star, Kelleigh Greenberg, whose debut novel based on the life of Truman Capote was pre-empted in a huge six-figure deal, and Nell Stevens, whose hybrid fiction-nonfiction has been praised by the likes of the New Yorker Magazine.

In this month's blog, professional editor Ian Howe takes you through the differences between the stages of editing to help you figure out where you are in the writing process. Our Showcase is the talented Latinx poet Leonardo Boix, with an extract from his astonishing collection, Gnarl, which explores issues around gender, identity and the mythology and folklore of Latin America and Britain. And, as usual, we share news and opportunities we have gathered from around the web that might be of interest. 

We would like to dedicate this newsletter to Clive Swift, a dear friend of TLC who passed away this weekend, peacefully and surrounded by his loved ones. Clive would often write to us in response to these very newsletters, sharing encouraging words and wishing us well. Now, it's our turn. Rest well, Clive. 

As ever, happy writing, and reading,


Earlybird and General Booking Now Open for TLC Writers' Day 2019

Booking is now live for Writers' Day, and there's an exclusive earlybird discount for newsletter subscribers!

We are delighted to reveal that our key speakers for Writers' Day will be the 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).

Writers’ Day will also see the return of the popular 
TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition. Now in its seventh year, selected finalists of the competition will live-pitch to an expert panel of agents and publishers at the event. The competition is open exclusively to ticket-holders.

BOOK NOW using code TLCWD19 for earlybird tickets at just £50+VAT (usual price £60+VAT). All day ticket includes lunch. Earlybird strictly limited, first come first served.

Writers’ Day 2019 Programme

Registration (tea and coffee) 10am

Introduction by TLC Director Aki Schilz 10.30am-10.45am

Snapshots of a Debut Novel  with Rowan Hisayo Buchanan 10.45am-11.45am

In a visually exciting presentation format, with original images and sketches by the author of Harmless Like You, novelist Rowan Hisayo Buchanan takes us through the story behind her debut, sharing what she has learned about the process to help guide others as they face submissions to agents and publishers.

Sell Your Story, Not Your Soul with Sam Missingham 11.45am-12.45pm

So much of marketing strategy is billed as promoting a product, but how do you manage this with an eye on protecting your own creative energy, wellbeing, and artistic integrity? Marketing guru Sam takes learnings from a decade working in the books industry, transforming them into practical advice to help you think both creatively and holistically about your 'brand' from the inside out.

Lunch (buffet style lunch provided) 12.45-1.30

Special guest reading by Robert Scragg (What Falls Beneath the Cracks) 1.30pm-1.45pm

TLC Pen Factor live pitches with literary agents Jo Unwin, Susan Yearwood, Nelle Andrews, and Harry Illingworth 1.50pm-2.30pm

Writing In The Dark: The Short Story That Shocks with Leone Ross 2.30pm-3.30pm

The short story is the perfect vehicle for slipping out of your comfort zone. In this mischievous and practical session, fiction writer Leone Ross discusses her favourite strategies for taking chances on the page, breaking through taboo and telling your absolute truth, while nailing the short story form.

Announcement of the Winner of the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition

Networking Break 

End 4pm


Room 6 10% Discount: Literary Adventure Writing Retreat 2019 

“The week at Casa Ana was unforgettable. The teaching sessions were thought-provoking and beautifully prepared. The setting was exquisite and the accommodation very comfortable. The company was delightful. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about reading and writing literature or memoir.” - 2018 Literary Adventure participant 

There are just two rooms left at our popular writing retreat, TLC Literary Adventure, running at the beautiful Casa Ana (Spain) September 7th-13th 2019. Room 8 is the last en suite room available, and we are offering a flash 10% discount on Room 6 (pictured), a lovely single room at just £715.50 for the week. You can read full room details hereTo claim this discount, or to book the last en suite, please email Rooms are allocated on a first come, first served basis and a £100 deposit is required to secure your booking.

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. Our 2019 tutor is the critically acclaimed, Man Booker-shortlisted novelist, Romesh Gunesekera, who has tutored and lectured all over the world. The retreat is open to writers of fiction (novels or short stories)memoir and creative non-fiction, and will include morning workshops on elements of writing as well as a session on the publishing industry, plenty of free writing time, readings with your fellow writers, and optional trips to a nearby village with local hand-made artisanal products. 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, and each writer will have a short one-to-one with one of our two tutors. All details can be found here.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Editing

"There are so many ways for a writer to reach their readers without any need to involve a publisher – or even a printed page. Today, whether working in fiction or non-fiction, editorial professionals are as likely to be approached directly by authors as by publishing houses, perhaps more so. And whereas the desk editors at a publisher would (usually …) know exactly what they meant by a proofread or a copy-edit, that’s not the case for a lot of authors..."

Do you know the difference between developmental editing, copy-editing, and proofreading? Professional editor Ian Howe has been a freelancer for 15 years, and often finds, as we do at TLC, that writers are unsure about the differences between the types of edit that might (or might not) be needed. In this month's TLC blog, he breaks the process down, to help you clarify the kinds of interventions that exist, and shine a light on the work that goes on behind the scenes. Editing, as we know, isn't cheap, so being absolutely sure you're asking for the right thing is vital. It's better to have one meaningful edit, after all, than several that are cheap, fast, ineffective, or any combination of these. 

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:

The Secret Life of Novels: The Drafting Process Uncovered

Following the huge success of the inaugural Secret Life of Novels event in November as part of Free Word Centre's 'This is Private' events season, the series will return on March 6th 2019 6.30-8.30pm, with three very special guest writers: Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (Swan Song), Michael Donkor (Hold, longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize), and Nell Stevens (Bleaker House; Mrs Gaskell and Me). The theme of the evening is books drawn from life, with our guests taking inspiration for their creative work from a range of topics, including the life of Truman Capote, the legacy of slavery, and the relationship between writers and the writing process through a blend of memoir and short story.

You can view a gallery of photos from our first Secret Life of event here, featuring Wyl Menmuir, Amer Anwar, and Fiona Melrose.

Booking is now open here with tickets costing just £16/£12 concessions. 

TLC Showcase: Leonardo Boix

“Gnarl was inspired by my experience growing up in Buenos Aires as a queer person, and as a young Latinx immigrant to the UK. I was given the opportunity of presenting my work to TLC as prize for winning the Exiled Writers Poetry Competition 2018. The report by Simon Barraclough was detailed, in-depth and illuminating in all respects, and has been put to very good use."

Leonardo Boix is a Latinx poet from Buenos Aires, now based in the UK. Interested in the intersections between myth and legend, folklore and realism, identity and self, queerness, nature, voice(s) and voicelessness, he hews poems from rock. We are delighted to share this powerful 12-part ode with our readers, and look forward to more from this talented writer in due course.

“A leap away from becoming ghost. She stood erect, her bathing floral suit, sugared marigolds, a petal cap. She knew it wouldn’t last.
¡Saltá, mamá!—

Extract from ‘Gnarl’ You can read the full extract, and more about Leonardo's writing, in the February Showcase 

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 Emma Press are looking for picture book submissions for their open window, closing in April
* Confluence Conference will be taking place on Friday 15th February (full programme here) and TLC subscribers can claim a 15% discount using the code 'storybiz' at checkout
* The international Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Award 2019 is open for entries, with £1,000 cash prize up for grabs. All details here
* From LitHub, how learning to draw can help a writer to see
* The Comedy Women in Print Prize (CWIP) has joined forces with Harper Collins to offer a publishing contract and £5000 advance to an unpublished comic novelist. Closing 28th February. All details here 
* The London Library has launched an Emerging Writers Programme, a unique opportunity which offers writers, in all genres, one years’ free membership to The London Library as well as a range of benefits. Find out more and apply here

Pssst! TLC is looking for an Editorial and Marketing Services Assistant. You can find, and share, the job ad here. Deadline 9am 11th February.

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 6th March 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.”

Book now here
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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