Spread the Word is proud to be an official partner for The Literary Consultancy Free Reads scheme, supporting applications from London writers. In the last 14 years, we’ve supported 75 writers with receiving professional editorial feedback via Free Reads.

Free Reads is managed by The Literary Consultancy (TLC) and funded by Arts Council England. It offers writers on low incomes the opportunity to receive professional, editorial feedback on their writing, alongside other support on their writing journeys. The scheme is open to writers of fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, children’s fiction including picture books, playscripts and screenplays. Free Reads particularly welcomes applications from writers belonging to groups currently under-represented in publishing including disabled writers, writers of colour (Black, Asian, Global Majority ethnicities), and members of the LGBQTIA+ community.

Spread the Word’s Free Reads is open from 12pm (midday) on Tuesday 23 July until Tuesday 8 October 2024, 10am.

Here is what you can apply for in this year’s scheme:

· Manuscript Assessment 

For writers who have a complete or partially complete manuscript they would like professional editorial feedback on. Writers can apply for the chance to have a full or partial read of your manuscript and given feedback by a TLC reader via an assessment report.

· Submission Package Report 

For writers who have a completed manuscript and have had editorial support, and are looking to polish their submission package before sending it out into the world. Writers can apply for the chance to be matched with a TLC Industry Editor who will read their first 8,000 words, synopsis, and ‘Dear Agent’ letter, providing them a written report and mark-up or commentary on the submission material.

· Editor One-to-Ones 

For trouble-shooting, generating ideas, writers can apply for the chance to have a one-hour session with a TLC Editor. One-to-ones are also popular with writers who have had an editorial service and need post-feedback support, or motivation to get through writer’s block. The writer has one hour with their editor plus one hour of prep time where your editor reads up to 2,500 words (or the equivalent in poetry/script/treatment)


To apply for these additional services, you will go through the standard application process – there is more information on this in the ‘how to apply’ section below. If selected, you’ll need to have your additional documents – for example, your ‘Dear Agent’ letter – ready by the end of January.

You must live in London and be on a low income to apply for a Free Reads via Spread the Word, meeting one of the following criteria:

– You are in receipt of Job Seeker’s Allowance, Disability Benefit, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit or Child Benefits  

– You earn up to or less than the London Living Wage of £11.95 per hour or a £23,000 annual salary  

– You are a full-time student  

– You are aged 60 or over** (You must have an annual income of £23,000 or less, including pensions and other forms of income)

If you identify as being on low-income but do not meet one of the criteria listed above, then please get in touch as we are able to evaluate applicants’ eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

For more details on what to submit please head to this page: (link to spread the word free reads 24-25 page)

We have a FAQs page for any enquiries on entering the scheme, but if yours is not listed there, please get in touch with us at noah@spreadtheword.org.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. 

We look forward to receiving your submission!

Spread the Word