Writing Schemes Launched in Promise to Diversify the Future of Storytelling
By Charlotte Brook
Are you a fiction writer at the start of your career and in need of that push to get your manuscript ready for publishing? Well, these schemes could be just the opportunity you’re looking for. And, what’s more, they are all exclusively open to writers from under-represented backgrounds, promising to open doors into the publishing industry for new voices.
The Octopus Scheme
Launched by online writing school, The Novelry and sponsored by bestselling guest authors including Sophie Kinsella and Rachel Joyce, this creative writing programme offers the successful applicants a fully-funded place on their Ninety-Day Novel Course, usually priced at £299 per month. The course is dedicated to giving writers step-by-step guidance and one-to-one author coaching with the goal to achieve a first draft of their novel. You can even select which bestselling author you want to work with from their in-house team, depending on what genre of fiction you write!
With daily lessons that offer unique tools to help structure and pace your writing plan, enhance your creative writing skills, and inspire and motivate you, the ninety-day course is a fast track to finishing your novel.
To apply, simply email The Novelry at email@example.com with a 500-word sample of your writing, a few sentences of what you hope to gain from the course and an overview of your circumstances that makes you eligible. The Octopus Scheme accepts applicants from, but not limited to, a low-income background, primary carers, ex-offenders, writers with a disability, writers of Colour and members of LGBTQIA+ community. The deadline for applications for this scheme is 31 May 2022. Read more about how to apply here.
Calling romance fiction writers! HarperFiction is teaming up with The Good Literary Agency to launch a mentoring scheme for underrepresented writers of romance fiction. The winner will receive a £1,000 writing grant from HarperCollins and a year of mentoring with Martha Ashby, Editorial Director at Harper Fiction, or Kemi Ogunsanwo, Literary Agent at The Good Literary Agency. Two runners up will also receive a year of mentoring!
So, what was the inspiration behind (Re)presenting Romance? Well, Ogunsanwo shares his passion for the universally-loved genre, “there is a clear need to ensure that the beauty of romance fiction is one that should reflect the realities, from different backgrounds and experiences. Love is universal, but the stories that have been so prevalent in commercial romance are not. In an effort to address this issue, we have worked hard to create a scheme that we hope widens the access point for under-represented writers in this genre; and I am incredibly excited about the quality, diversity and breadth of writing that we expect to see come out of such a wonderful initiative.”
Applicants must send the first three chapters (between 5–8,000 words) of their adult romance fiction, a short synopsis of their work and their biography to firstname.lastname@example.org before 11 July 2022. Find out more here.
After a successful first year of the scheme, All Stories are re-launching their mentorship and outreach programme for under-represented authors. While the first year of the scheme was for picture book and young fiction authors, this second year, and every other year thereafter in an on-going rotation, offers ten mentorships to writers of middle-grade and young adult fiction to take place across nine months.
The chosen mentees will receive nine months of one-to-one mentoring from a freelance editor with a wealth of experience, access to group webinars hosted by a wide range of independent and major publishers about the industry and the craft of writing, an invitation to the exclusive All Stories community where mentees can discuss their work and support one another and the chance to be introduced to literary agents at the end of the mentorship! The mentees will also be involved in sessions held with sixth formers from underrepresented groups to encourage them to consider a career in children’s books.
Increasing representation and inclusivity throughout not only the publishing industry but the wider society means starting from a young age, making available to children and young adults stories that are representative of race, social experience, class, family structure, and sexuality, written by authors who have lived experience of these groups in society, which is something that All Stories clearly strives to achieve. Find out more information and download the application form here.
As well as these amazing schemes for under-represented authors, it was also recently announced at London Book Fair that even more initiatives, including Hachette’s Changing The Story, will be upcoming to boost diversity, so keep your eyes peeled for more!
So, what are you waiting for? If you’ve got a story that you’re itching to finish and share with the world, then take a closer look at these schemes to see which of them are perfect for you!