TLC Free Reads

Notebook on a table during an Arvon course

If you received a low-income grant or benefits-related concession to attend an Arvon course in 2019, 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 income-based 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 and treatments: A synopsis and up to 30 pages

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


How to Apply

Complete the ACE Free Reads Scheme Application Form making sure to specify Arvon as the name of Regional Writing Partner. Note that as a recipient of a low-income grant or benefits related concession to attend an Arvon course, you do not need to provide proof of your financial status as part of this process.

Send your completed application and manuscript for the attention of Sophie Lloyd-Catchpole to or by post to:

Sophie Lloyd-Catchpole
Free Word
60 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3GA

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 24th February 2020. If you have won a Free Read you will be informed in the week commencing 2nd March 2020. For further information regarding submission guidelines please visit The Literary Consultancy website.

Please note this is a limited opportunity, and successful applicants will be selected by Arvon. If you have won a Free Read you will be informed in the week commencing 2nd March 2020.

If you have any questions please contact our Learning Coordinator, Sophie Lloyd-Catchpole/ 020 7324 2558


“The TLC Free Reads scheme is invaluable to someone like me on a low income who would otherwise not be able to afford to have it. The advice given to me was in-depth and clear and enabled me to improve upon my work and see it from a completely different point of view.” — TLC Free Read Recipient



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.

Application Follow-up

We are unable to offer feedback to applicants who are not selected for this opportunity. If you have won a Free Read you will be informed in the week commencing 2nd March 2020. 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.