Spread the Word announces London Writers Awards 2019 open for applications


For immediate release Wednesday 1 May 2019

“The potential of the London Writers Awards is not only to identify and support under-represented writers through the arduous process to publication, but also to effect positive structural change in the industry itself.”

Saeida Rouass, 2019 Judge

The London Writers Awards – Spread the Word’s annual development programme for talented London writers – opens for applications today, Wednesday 1 May.

Spread the Word invites applications from London-based writers of colour and working class, LGBTQ+ and disabled writers each year. The aim of the Awards, now in their second year, is to support and nurture writers from communities currently under-represented in UK publishing.

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word comments:

“Change is starting to happen but if the publishing industry wants to make a sustained change, it has to invest in writers and there is no other programme in the industry that supports under-represented writers on the scale of the London Writers Awards. We are really excited to be taking the scheme in to its second year. We look forward to receiving applications from talented London writers and reading their work.”

Writers are selected through a free and open application process. The programme is for writers who are committed to developing their work and their craft.

The 2019 awards will focus on four genres: Literary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, YA/Children’s and Narrative Non-Fiction. They are judged by a panel of exciting new writers and publishing industry professionals.

Author judges for the 2019 Awards are: Saeida Rouass; Kate Davies; Abir Mukherjee; Danielle Jawando and Derek Owusu. Industry judges are the independent agent Elise Dillsworth; Emma Finn (Literary Agent, C&W); Katie Brown (Editor, Orion), Philippa Milnes-Smith (LAW literary agency) and Rupert Lancaster (Non-Fiction Director, Hodder).

The programme offers 30 successful awardees an intensive programme of development over nine months (September 2019 – May 2020). During that time, they will become part of a critical feedback group meeting twice a month. They will participate in craft masterclasses run by professional writers and career masterclasses run by industry speakers and experts to help build industry and business knowledge and gain practical skills. At the end of the programme, awardees are invited to a special event to network with editors, publishers and agents.

Bursaries are available for writers most in need and there is an Access Fund for writers to access support to enable them to participate in the Awards programme.

The London Writers Awards submissions deadline is Friday 31 May.

The current London Writers Awards awardees will meet with agents and publishers at a networking event on Thursday 23 May.  

Anne Chen, 2018 awardee comments:

“Being a London Writers Awardee has entirely changed my writing career. I have gone from writing at my kitchen table alone, to being in what feels like a family of fellow writers, where we give each other encouragement, thoughtful and useful feedback. The Spread the Word links to industry professionals and agents will be invaluable for any emerging writer, but it is being part of the London Writers Awards with my fellow writers that has made this experience so life changing and worthwhile.”

The London Writers Awards launched in 2018 in response to Spread the Word’s 2015 report Writing the Future.

Spread the Word is currently working in partnership with the Bookseller on a new research project – Rethinking Diversity in Publishing – led by Dr Anamik Saha, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Awards are supported by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation with sponsorship from ALCS. Founding partners are: the Independent Publishers Guild, the Society of Authors, Knights Of, Diamond, Kahn and Woods Literary Agency, Burning Eye Books and Bookouture.

For further information contact:
Jane Acton PR – Tel: 07971 661576 / jane@janeactonpr.co.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Ruth Harrison, Director of Spread the Word, is available for interview
  • 2019 Judges and a range of the 2018 awardees are available for interview
  • Full details of the London Writers Awards, eligibility criteria and details of how to apply can be found at: www.spreadtheword.org.uk/london-writers-awards

About Spread the Word

Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency and a National Portfolio client of Arts Council England (ACE). It is funded to help London’s writers make their mark on the page, the screen and in the world and to foster a literature ecology which reflects the cultural diversity of contemporary Britain. In 2015 it launched, Writing the Future: Black and Asian Writers and Publishers in the UK Market Place, the first large scale report into diversity among publishers and novelists since the ACE funded report In Full Colour in 2004. 


Follow us on Twitter @STWevents #LondonWritersAwards