TLC May Newsletter
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Dear Friends of TLC,

We're moving quickly into the summer months (if only the weather would catch up) and at TLC we have been busy planning a new programme of events, to be launched in the Autumn, including a range of free 'Meet the Editor' workshops in cities across England, and a revival of the popular TLC Masterclass series on the craft of fiction. Meantime, we have launched the first six titles in the TLC Press Mini Guides on Craft and Creativity, available at £1 each here to support and inspire your writing. Our Writers' Day is sold out, but there are still tickets left for our June 6th Secret Life of Novels event, with £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize-winning author Will Eaves. Our TLC blog this month by Fiona Linday talks about funding for writers, and our Showcase is longstanding TLC client Tom O'Rourke, with his novel in short stories. 

We also continue to offer professional advice on manuscripts at all levels through our
manuscript assessment and Chapter & Verse mentoring services. Do get in touch with us if you are in need of expert feedback. 

As ever, happy writing, and reading,


Book Now: Secret Life of Novels

"A fantastically intimate event that was as insightful as it was inspiring."

"This is a great format enabling people to learn about the process of writing novels, distinct from other writer events I have been to."

There's still time to book your tickets to attend the latest in our acclaimed new literary event series The Secret Life of Novelswhere we invite three authors at the top of their game to speak about their creative process, creatively. Each writer has twenty minutes to talk candidly about their creative process, revealing the dead ends, drafts, sketches and scribbles beyond the page. There follows an intimate sofa chat chaired by TLC Director Aki Schilz, drawing out the themes of the evening. This exciting third instalment will be held at Free Word in London, on Thursday 6th June, 6.30pm-8.30pm.

We also want to wish a huge congratulations to Will Eaves, who will be speaking at the event, for recently winning the £30,000
 Wellcome Book Prize. This is a brilliant opportunity to watch this lauded writer in a unique event format. Previous presentations include photographs from stormy beaches in Cornwall, a photographic diary of the Falklands, botanical inspiration for political literary fiction, and snippets of diaries from Virginia Woolf. 

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, writing across poetry, short stories and fiction, and pushing the boundaries to challenge their readers.

BOOK NOW and select 'Concession' at check-out to access discounted £12 tickets, as valued TLC newsletter subscribers

NEW: TLC Press Mini Guides 

We are delighted to announce the launch of the TLC Press Mini Guides, a new series of low-cost, practical guides for writers on aspects of craft and creativity, written by our expert professional readers. These mini guides were created based on discussions with TLC's writing community, as well as a sense of common issues that come up in TLC manuscript assessment reports. Each guide can be downloaded in one of three formats: as a mobi file (for Kindle e-readers), an epub file (for all other e-readers) or as a print-friendly PDF (for printing/reading on your desktop or laptop computer). Our guides are just £1 each, with Self-editing (including a printable editing checklist) priced at £3. 

You can find the first of our guides, on Self-Editing, Voice, Character, Plot, Structure, and Dialogue, in the new Writers’ Corner of our website 
here. Let us know what you think of them by tweeting or Instagramming using the hashtag #TLCPress.

Buy your Mini Guides here

Writers' Day SOLD OUT TLC Pen Factor Open for all Ticket-holders 

TLC Writers' Day is now officially SOLD OUT. To be put on the waiting list, please contact the Free Word box office on 020 7324 2570 or email

All Writers’ Day 2019 ticket-holders are eligible to enter their unpublished writing into the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition, which closes on June 3rd. Previous 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. Finalist Abi Darè subsequently went on to win the 2018 Bath Novel Award, and her literary debut The Girl with the Louding Voice 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. We can't wait to read your work and hear from some of the literary stars of the future. Don't miss out! 

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 our panel of literary agents: Jo Unwin, Harry Illingworth, Nelle Andrews, and Susan Yearwood. 

This year’s prize package for the winner is worth over £1,000, thanks to the generosity of our TLC Pen Factor Partners. You can read the full list of prizes here.

Blog: How Funding Can Provide Vital Access Support for Marginalised Voices

Are you struggling to source funding for your work? In this month's blog, writer and TLC client Fiona Linday explores the benefits of Arts Council funding and shines an important light on how, for marginalised writers, funding such as the ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ grant scheme can provide real motivation and practical impetus. 

"If I could share just one tip on applying for funding to help your practice as a writer or writing facilitator, it would be this: prevent your inner critic from hijacking a submission for funding to pay yourself to develop creative writing. The Arts Council, along with other funders, validates that the services of writers are worthy of investment. You are worthy of investment. Go for it."

Read even more helpful tips and advice in 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:

Natalie Murray Bags 3-Book Deal 

We are delighted to share news of another TLC Success Story this month. In 2018, Natalie Murray came to TLC with an early draft of a YA historical novel, then titled Savage Grace. Following her manuscript assessment, Natalie edited the MS extensively, and the novel, under the new title of Emmie and the Tudor King, picked up a US publisher who felt to Natalie like the perfect fit. The debut will be published by Literary Crush Publishing on June 11th, 2019, with two further titles forthcoming.

Of her experience with TLC, Natalie says:

I approached TLC for a manuscript assessment with what felt like a confused manuscript and paralysing anxiety over professionals reading my work. TLC paired my YA romance with the perfect reader: award-winning YA author CJ Flood. After a few weeks, I received pages of invaluable feedback and the sort of encouragement that’s vital to a nervous, new writer: I was told the novel had real publication potential. I got to work implementing all of Chelsey’s suggestions, most instrumentally across motivation, pacing and tension. What emerged was a book that felt 100 per cent more compelling to read. I sent the manuscript off and scored a three-book publishing deal with Literary Crush Publishing, and Chelsey (CJ) kindly provided a blurb to endorse my novel. Without TLC, I believe my promising but muddled story would still be looking for a home. TLC and Chelsey Flood were instrumental in Emmie and the Tudor King finding its way to publication and into readers’ hands.”

Emmie and the Tudor King can be pre-ordered now online here.

TLC Showcase: Tom O'Rourke

Across the Stone Bridge is a series of twelve vignettes or short stories which move through time and record the life of an artist at the precise moment of an event in history. It evolved out of a manuscript that has been percolating in the mind of writer Tom O'Rourke for many years, and we are delighted to be able to share a section, and some notes on Tom's writing journey, in this month's Showcase.

“This future life is unknown to you. Now at this moment you look up at your unmoving, silent waiting audience. You half-raise your left arm and reach for the cup of water, half-noting the red and yellow glaze of the ceramic cup. You glance once more at the vellum sheet in front of you, idly record the date at the foot of the formal document. And another unbidden thought strikes you then, as if an unseen silver silent arrow has pierced deep into your heart. On this day next month, she who has devoured your stricken heart, she whom your mind beholds in glory, shall have been gone from the sorrows and sad joys of this unredeemable world for ten full years.”

Read the full extract, and more about Tom's writing, in the May 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.

Remember to also follow us on Instagram.

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

* TLC Director Aki Schilz features on The Bridport Prize blog this month, with a helpful piece on 'How to Edit With Purpose' 

* Join Writing West Midlands for their National Writers' Conference 2019, which will offer plenty of opportunities and advise on sustaining a creative career for writers in the Midlands. Tickets and more information here 
* The Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019 is open for submissions in the categories of Fiction, Poetry, and Life Writing. More details
* Harper Collins imprint Avon is currently seeking submissions of commercial fiction, specifically looking for crime, thrillers, women’s fiction, romance, romantic comedy, historical fiction,saga and time-slip fiction
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 Assistant Nelima Begum 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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