The Literary Consultancy Bursaries

We are currently closed for applications.

Show or hide

For further enquiries, please email

The Literary Consultancy Free Reads Scheme offers talented, low-income writers the opportunity to apply for bursaried (i.e., non-fee paying) access to their valuable commercial services for writers. Established in 1996 as the first service of its kind in the UK, The Literary Consultancy (TLC) offers writers the opportunity to receive an honest, market-aware appraisal of their work through its long-running manuscript assessment service, available for extracts or full manuscripts across fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, scripts and screenplays. TLC has helped a number of writers on to publication, but its main aim is to support writers in developing their work. TLC hand-matches each incoming manuscript to a suitable reader from its list of 80+ professional editors, and writers can expect to receive feedback in the form of a written critique, sent within 4-6 weeks of the application being processed. 

New Writing South works with TLC by offering a small number of Arts Council-funded Free Reads for talented, low income authors in the south east*. These Free Reads are specifically for writers who would have difficulty meeting the standard TLC cost and who would benefit from professional assessment.

The Free Reads scheme particularly welcomes applications from writers belonging to groups currently under-represented in publishing including women writers, disabled writers, BAME writers, and members of the LGBTQ community.

How to apply:

  • Download and complete the ACE Free Reads application form (below).
  • Return the form to along with proof of your low income status.
  • Include a sample of your writing - up to ten pages.  

* The south east region covers: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.

If you are interested in TLC's commercial (fee-paying) services across Manuscript Assessment, Mentoring or Events, and to read more, please see the TLC website.


Some comments from writers who submitted work in 2015:

"Living in a council house on a state pension + a wee bit of housing benefit, I'd never have been able to afford TLC mentoring. And TLC could not have chosen a better person to report on my manuscript, and without Lesley McDowell's helpful suggestions and much encouragement, and her saying I could use her name when I approached a publisher, I don't believe for a minute I would have found a home for my book - and one who truly appreciates it at that - half so quickly, if at all."

"I was thrilled to have won a bursary for a Literary Consultancy Free Read with New Writing South. At the time I was struggling to be objective about my novel, unable to see the flaws or the weak spots. I was submitting to agents and receiving one standard rejection after another, and I’d lost most of my enthusiasm for my work. Once TLC read the initial three chapters they were able to give me considered, professional advice and a real insight into the writing itself. It allowed me to look at my work afresh and make considered, necessary changes. With their help I managed to secure a literary agent and am in the process of editing my book with a view to publication."


Download TLC_Free_Reads_Application_Form_2016_2.pdf...