TLC Free Reads

Supported by Writing West Midlands, the TLC Free Reads scheme is a free manuscript assessment for writers on a low income and/or who are under-represented in publishing.

TLC Free Reads

Applications are currently closed.

What is it?

Supported by Writing West Midlands, the TLC Free Reads scheme is a free manuscript assessment for writers on a low income and/or who are under-represented in publishing.

The TLC Free Reads Scheme offers talented, low-income writers the opportunity to apply for free access to their manuscript assessment service, available for extracts or full manuscripts across fiction, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, scripts and screenplays. 

This service is open to all on a commercial basis, but Free Reads are on submission to TLC’s regional partners, and subject to eligibility criteria. Your work will be hand-matched to one of TLC’s 90+ professional readers, and writers can expect to receive feedback in the form of a written critique, sent within 4-6 weeks of the application being processed. The notes you receive are intended to help you develop your writing further.

Funded by Arts Council England, The Literary Consultancy is the UK’s first and leading editorial assessment organisation.

We are unable to give individual feedback on submissions.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for Free Read service you can write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays or theatre plays.

You must be a resident of the West Midlands (Birmingham, Warwickshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Solihull, Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford & Wrekin, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley).

You must be on a low income (household income of less than £17,000 per year.)

To be considered so, one of the following criteria must apply:

  • You receive Job Seekers’ Allowance, income support or working tax credit, disability benefits or other benefits
  • You are a full-time student
  • You are retired or over 60 years old

But if none of the above applies to you, we will also consider other financial factors – just tell us what they are.

Your submission must:

  • Be written in English
  • Be authored by one person only
  • Not be from a current student of a Creative Writing university programme


‘The scheme allows hard-working but isolated writers access to truthful and expert assessments of their work, and guidance about where to take it next. It does what friends, other writing group members, your partner or the dog can’t do. What no one else can, in practice, do for most of us. It’s irreplaceable and invaluable.’

‘I’m grateful for the opportunity and the feedback and encouragement I received is priceless. I have gained so much confidence because of my feedback and I was taught so many valuable things which I will continue to apply in the future. To also be given this opportunity given my current financial situation is just amazing. Thank you.’

How to apply

You will need:

  • TLC Free Reads Application Form 2021 – please complete this form, indicating the full length of your manuscript (not the length of your excerpt).
  • Proof of low-income document (please do not send original documents) – see application criteria for further guidance
  • Opening excerpt of your manuscript (2000 words prose, 40 lines poetry, or 10 pages script)
  • A 500-word synopsis of your complete manuscript
  • A 500-word covering letter

Send these as a single email with attachments to

Subject line: TLC Free Reads Application – [Your Name]

Accepted file formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 25 August 2022, 12 noon.