Spreading the word about under-represented writers with the backing of ALCS.

Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency which works to help the capital’s writers make their mark on the page, the screen, the stage and in the world. The London Writers Awards (LWAs) is Spread the Word’s flagship annual development programme, which rewards thirty talented writers annually from backgrounds or communities whose voices are currently under-represented in publishing. They include writers of colour, LGBTQ+ and disabled writers, as well as working-class writers and those from socio-economically excluded backgrounds.

Designed in response to Writing the Future, Spread the Word’s research report into diversity in the publishing industry, the London Writers Awards is a four year strategic initiative, which each year offers Award recipients nine months of creative and industry masterclasses led by professional writers, literary agents and publishers; small genre specific-critical feedback groups; training in networking and how to pitch; exposure to the industry through a booklet anthology of extracts from writers’ work; and finally an agent networking day.

As well as providing the above free of charge to Award recipients, the LWAs also make available bursaries and an access fund to pay for such additional needs as travel expenses, laptops, scribes or interpreters where required. This combined with the Awards’ mental health and self-care offer, one to one support and alumni network gives each participant a holistic package of support to achieve their creative goals, making the Awards unique amongst the many diversity and inclusion initiatives currently taking place.

ALCS has sponsored the London Writers Awards since its inception in 2018. The LWAs is further supported by the Esmée Fairbain Foundation and the Arts Council. The stated aim of the LWAs is for its recipients not only to be signed with agents and published, but also to have a sense of personal agency for their writing and themselves as writers, and how they place themselves and their work in the world. Among many glowing testimonials from writers who have participated in the scheme is this one from aspiring literary fiction writer, Loretta Ramkissoon:

I had never been part of a writing group before, and a Creative Writing MA or writing course were never financially an option for me, but I knew I needed guidance to get me to the end of my first draft. The London Writers Awards gives people like me the opportunity to develop our craft when it feels like every other door is closed.

With the 2021 London Writers Awards now underway, Chair of Spread the Word’s Trustees, Rishi Dastidar, comments: “I’m delighted that, once again, The London Writers Awards are able to showcase a new group of wonderfully talented writers from diverse backgrounds, previously under-represented in traditional publishing. The programme remains unique in giving these individuals the chance to develop their skills so they are then ready to launch their professional writing careers. In both fiction and non-fiction genres, it’s a privilege to work with these writers so their stories can be told on the biggest possible stages.”

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