Aki Schilz,
TLC Manager, gives us the low down on what The Literary Consultancy has to offer writers

Thanks to Aki for the following encouraging advice for writers.   The Literary Consultancy are one of our partners in the new Peggy Chapman-Andrews award for a first novel.  If you have any questions for Aki, do comment below.


The Literary Consultancy was set up in 1996 by our Director, Rebecca Swift. Rebecca realised, whilst working as an editorial assistant, that there was neither provision nor resource to properly address the issues facing writers whose work ended up being declined. From the publisher's point of view, there was always an enormous pile of submissions to get through, and a very quick set of judgments to be made, which boiled down largely to only two possible responses: a yes, or a no. From the writer's point of view, they would endure an agonising wait, then receive a rejection mail with, more often than not, nothing to indicate whether they were an almost-yes, a mid-range maybe, a please-start-a-new-project, or even a writing-is-not-for-you. Today, writers still face the same questions. Why did this agent/publisher say no? How can I make it better? Should I give up? Should I give up? 

For a first-time writer, or even a writer who has been duly plugging away for years, it can be bewildering. That's where organisations like TLC come in: to offer honest, professional advice, both at the level of the text (developmental and structural editing, either in the form of a manuscript assessment, or as part of a sustained one-on-one mentoring programme) and at the level of the market (workshops and events dealing with the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing, looking at what kinds of platforms exist in various environments for writers in the digital age). One such platform is the literary prize. The Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award is a great example of that. The Bridport is a long-respected literary institution, and this new prize offers a step up for first-time novelists, in a world where the bottom rung can seem unreachable. The writing comes first, because it's the writing that matters.

If you're serious about writing, your first concern won't be, where do I find an agent, what genre is my work, where can I find readers. Those can be addressed later. If you're serious about writing, your first concern will be: is this good? That's what TLC is for. And we're delighted to be assisting in spotting, and developing, the kind of talent we pride ourselves in discovering and championing through our reading service, and our dedicated mentoring programme which the 2014 prize-winner will have access to. In the judging process, we may be interested in reading literature that is surprising and colourful, or quietly insistent; literature that is beautiful, or that deals with something ugly; that frightens us, or makes us fall in love. But what we want, and what readers will always want, whether they are reading paperbacks, e-readers, on phones or tablets or as yet uninvented devices, is good, well-written literature. 

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