London Writers Awards 2021 open for applications


The London Writers Awards – Spread the Word’s annual development programme for talented London writers – opens for applications today, Monday 17 August.

Spread the Word invites applications from London-based writers of colour and working class, LGBTQIA+ and disabled writers each year. The aim of the Awards, now in its third year, is to support and nurture writers from communities currently under-represented and marginalised in UK publishing.

Ellah P. Wakatama, editor, 2021 Judge comments:

“The London Writers Awards promise to take us beyond mere “conversation” about increasing the range of writers from outside the mainstream who make it to publication. With a focus on identifying, developing and rewarding excellence, the long-view taken by the Awards is an approach the entire industry could learn from. From the open application process to the inspired range across literary and genre fiction, it’s a scheme that will enrich us all – agents, publishers and, most importantly, reader.”

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word comments:

“The Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing research shows that if the industry wants to move beyond its white middle class audience, it needs to be acquiring and investing in UK based writers. The London Writers Awards is the only programme in the UK that has equity at its heart, is committed to building at scale a cohort of talented writers and, is already having an impact on the stories we will get to hear and read. We look forward to receiving applications from talented writers from across London’s communities for the third year of the Awards, and to continuing to make change for writers and readers.”

Writers are selected through a free and open application process. The programme is for writers who are committed to developing their work and their craft. It has helped 60 writers so far, 22% of whom had no writing development support before taking part. The programme offers 30 successful awardees an intensive programme of development over ten months (January 2021 – October 2021) alongside networking with agents and publishers. The programme is free to participate in and offers bursaries and an access fund to ensure equity for all writers.

Denise Rawls, 2020 awardee comments:

“When I started the Awards I did not feel like a writer, would never have called myself a writer and didn’t think my stories were needed or valued. I don’t think that anymore! I call myself a writer, I feel confident in what I have to contribute creatively and that my stories have a place in society. My confidence in me as Denise, someone who writes, has grown enormously, I still have work to do but I am not the same person I was a year ago.”

The 2021 Awards will focus on four genres: Literary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, YA/Children’s Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction. They are judged by a panel of authors and publishing industry professionals.

Author judges for the 2021 Awards are: Michael Donkor; Season Butler; Ayisha Malik; Samantha Baines and Luke Turner. Industry judges are the editor Ellah P. Wakatama; Ludo Cinelli (Literary Agent, Eve White agency); Katherine Armstrong (Editor, Bonnier Zaffre), Lauren Gardner (Agent, Bell Lomax Moreton) and Angelique Tran Van Sang (Non-Fiction Editor, Bloomsbury).

The London Writers Awards submissions deadline is Wednesday 30 September.

The London Writers Awards launched in 2018 in response to Spread the Word’s 2015 report Writing the Future. Since launch, 15 awardees now have been agents, and 5 book deals have been confirmed.