TLC Free Reads

If you received a low-income grant or benefits-related concession to attend an Arvon course in 2018, then you are able to apply for the chance to win a free editorial assessment from The Literary Consultancy (TLC).

TLC is the UK’s leading manuscript assessment and editorial advice service providing expert, market-aware editorial appraisal and help to writers at all levels. TLC receives funding from Arts Council England to support free manuscript assessments to a limited number of Arvon grant recipients. The assessment includes a detailed, critical assessment of their work at any stage, and feedback regarding their work’s market potential.

Recipients of low-income grants or benefits-related concessions can apply for an assessment for one of the following:

Longform prose (Novels or non-fiction): A synopsis and up to 15,000 words (please include a word count)

Short stories (including flash fiction): Up 8000 words combined, in as many stories as you like (please include a word count for each story and total)

Poetry: Up to 200 lines of poetry, in as many poems as you like (please include a line count for each poem and total)

Scripts: A synopsis and up to 120 pages

Treatments: A synopsis and up to 30 pages

Children’s picture books: Up to 4 picture books (please send the text only)

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 LGBQT community.


If you attended an Arvon course in 2018 supported by either a low-income grant (i.e. a course bursary for which you made an application and sent evidence of your financial circumstances) or an benefits-related late availability concession (i.e. you received a 50% reduction on a course with late availability after providing evidence that you were in receipt of specified state benefits) you are eligible to apply for this opportunity.


To apply, please send a completed application form along with your manuscript(s) or extract, either by email to or by post to Joe Bibby, Arvon, Free Word, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA. Note that for the purposes of the application form, your ‘regional writing partner’ is Arvon. As you have already sent evidence of your financial circumstances to qualify for your grant or concession, you don’t need to send this again – so ignore the line on the form that that says ‘please enclose proof of status’. Please note this is a limited opportunity, and successful applicants will be selected by Arvon. Please make sure your manuscripts (excluding poetry) are in 12pt font, double spaced.

The deadline is 5pm on Monday 18th February 2019.


TLC Submission Rules and Guidelines

  • Free Reads are granted to low income, high quality writers.
  • The ACE Free Reads Scheme is free but all manuscript return requests require a SAE, otherwise manuscripts will be recycled.
  • All applications must be correctly formatted (12-point font, double spaced for fiction/non-fiction; including word counts for short stories/poetry)
  • Applicants cannot apply two years in a row for a Free Read.
  • Applicants cannot work for the regional writing organisation they apply through.
  • TLC can refuse any material which is deemed unlikely to benefit from the critical reading service or if a reader finds that a submission has been previously published or if we cannot find a suitable editor for your work. If your work is not accepted, it will be returned within 30 days if there is a SAE provided.
  • We accept only single authored work.
  • We accept only writing in English.
  • The applicant should not be part of a creative writing programme or longer writing course.
  • Applicants must be over 16.
  • TLC’s full manuscript assessment terms and conditions are available here.

About TLC

Established in 1996 as the first service of its kind, The Literary Consultancy (TLC) offers a range of services for writers including manuscript assessment, mentoring, and events at its base the Free Word Centre in London. TLC services are available to all writers, at all stages of development, writing in English.

TLC has helped hundreds of writers on to publication, but its main aim is to support writers developing their work and honing their writing craft through structured constructive feedback.

Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Programme Applicants

If you have applied for the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Programme, please note that TLC Free Reads is an entirely separate opportunity and selection process, and the two do not conflict with each other in any way – so we strongly encourage you to apply for both if eligible, and you are free to send the same writing sample as you did in your Jerwood/Arvon application (and this will not be seen to affect the anonymity of that application).

Application Follow-up

We are unable to offer feedback to applicants who are not selected for this opportunity. You will be contacted in the week of 25th February to let you know whether or not your application has been successful. If selected, TLC will contact you directly to confirm that your mansucript has been placed with a reader, and your feedback report will then be emailed to you within 4-6 weeks.

This website uses cookies to give you the best experience. Agree by clicking the 'Accept' button.