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Penguin seeks out emerging talent in science fiction and fantasy through WriteNow

ASPIRING authors have until Sunday 16th June to submit their story ideas for this year’s WriteNow programme, which will focus exclusively on science fiction and fantasy.

WriteNow, Penguin Books’ award-winning programme to seek out, nurture and publish new under-represented voices has opened applications for the 2024/2025 cohort. Focusing on science fiction and fantasy, the programme is looking to find exciting new writers from across the UK and Ireland.

Aspiring authors can apply to take part in this year’s programme by submitting a short synopsis and 1,000 words of sample writing by Sunday 16th June. Entries will be judged by editors across Penguin Random House with the longlist contacted by Friday 12th July.

WriteNow is designed to give writers from under-represented backgrounds the skills, knowledge, and access needed to navigate the industry and build a successful writing career. Since its launch in 2016, 20 authors to have come through the programme have been published by a Penguin Random House imprint, including: Beth Lincoln, author of New York Times bestseller The Swifts, and Manjeet Mann, author of The Crossing, winner of the Costa Children’s Book Award.

Applicants will be invited to a free online workshop on Saturday 22nd June where guest speakers will break down and demystify the publishing industry. Topics will include:

The publishing process from start to finish — hearing from a published author, literary agent, and editor
How published authors write – including balancing writing alongside other commitments, self-editing, and personal stories on getting published
How to pitch your book to literary agents and write an effective cover letter, with advice from experienced literary agents

Following this, longlisted writers will be asked to submit a further 5,000 words from their book by Sunday 18th August. All longlisted writers will receive one-to-one feedback on their writing from a Penguin editor. From this, writers will be shortlisted writers and asked to submit up to 40,000 words from their manuscript.

A final group of writers will then be asked to join the year-long editorial programme, which matches a handful of writers with a Penguin editor to work on their manuscript. These writers can expect:

  • One-to-one support on their manuscript from a Penguin editor with expertise and experience in the genre they are writing
  • A year’s free membership to the Society of Authors, the UK trade union for writers at every stage of their career, which offers impartial advice and support
  • Opportunities to make connections and build their networks within the industry
  • Tailored sessions throughout the year on parts of the industry the cohort are looking to learn more about

Speaking of the programme, Dr Nazneen Ahmed Pathak, author of City of Stolen Magic, said: “It’s not an exaggeration in the slightest to say that being selected for WriteNow changed my life. I was able to change career, I had the book I’d been working for years finally published, it brought me a fantastic host of friends and champions, and it gave me confidence and self-belief to create the stories I wanted to tell.

“I’m really thrilled that this year WriteNow is focusing in on the genres of my heart, sci fi and fantasy. While they’re genres where anything should be possible, and anyone should be able write those infinite possibilities, they’re still genres in which we’re in dire need of new, diverse voices and stories. I can’t wait to see the stories that come from this year’s programme.

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“Be brave, and apply – there’s nothing to lose, and potentially whole new worlds to gain.”

Meredith Adams, Head of Social Impact at Penguin Books, said: “Last month we celebrated the twentieth WriteNow debut author published by a Penguin Random House imprint, testament to the long-term investment in the programme across our publishing houses. There is a lot of excitement internally for a focus on fantasy and science fiction, and we can’t wait to meet and work with this year’s applicants.”

Find out more about WriteNow, tips on making the most of your application, and how to apply at www.penguin.co.uk/writenow

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