The Emma Press & TLC

We’re very excited to be a partner of The Literary Consultancy‘s (TLC) Free Reads scheme in 2023-24. This will enable us to offer additional writer development support to low-income writers based in the Midlands who are submitting manuscripts to our open Calls for Submissions.

As well as being considered for publication by the Emma Press, any submitter based in the Midlands and on low-income will be considered for further free developmental support from TLC. We’ll be asking anyone submitting a manuscript to us who feels they fit this criteria for some equality monitoring data, where they live and a confirmation that they consider themselves to be on low-income. This data will be kept confidential and will be deleted following the submissions decision process.

We usually receive between 250-400 submissions each call and are generally only able to take 1-3 to publication. We expect to be able to facilitate just a few Free Reads in our submission calls, so selecting recipients will be another difficult decision. We will use the editorial experience of our team and wider editorial readers to chose those we think will benefit most from further development within the criteria. Our decisions will be final and recipients will have no obligation to the Emma Press in terms of submitting future work to us. If selected, chosen recipients will be required to fill in a Free Reads application form – so it’s worth having a glance over it now! – and put in touch with TLC to continue their development journey.


What is the Free Reads scheme?

The TLC Free Reads Scheme offers low-income writers the opportunity to get free professional feedback on their writing via The Literary Consultancy, the UK’s leading editorial consultancy. 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. Since 2001, TLC has been in receipt of funding from Arts Council England to extend its offer to those unable to pay the fees for its commercial services. The Free Reads Scheme is open to all writers resident in England through a range of partners. You can find a list of the partners operating in each region, as well as more fulsome information about the scheme, here.

The Free Reads scheme particularly welcomes applications from writers belonging to groups currently under-represented in publishing including disabled writers, neurodivergent writers, Black, Asian, and Global Majority writers, and members of the LGBQT+ community. 

Who is 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. TLC services are available to all writers, at all stages of development, writing in English. 

What are ACE Free Reads?

TLC processes novels, short stories, non-fiction, poetry, scripts and screenplays, offering professional critical feedback. 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 80+ 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. To read more about whether a manuscript assessment would be helpful, click here: 

What do you mean by “low-income”?

TLC’s Free Reads are funded by Arts Council England and are designed for writers to receive development advice on their work on a bursary basis. For this reason, as a rule of thumb, they are intended for writers who have earned below the national low-income threshold of £18,000 over the past 12 months. Recipients of Free Reads should have one of the following financial circumstances:

  • Job seeker’s allowance
  • Disability benefit
  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Universal credit
  • Pensioner
  • Student

As part of the application, successful applicants will be required to provide proof of their above financial status to be eligible for the Free Read. Other declarations of low income will also be considered on a case-by-case basis. To avoid disappointment, we recommend taking a look at the Free Reads Application Form to ensure you meet TLC’s low-income criteria.

What do you mean by the Midlands?

We take an Arts Council England area definition of the Midlands, which covers Birmingham, Coventry, Derbyshire, Dudley, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, part of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton, Worcestershire.

Can I still apply for TLC Free Reads schemes via Writing West Midlands or Writing East Midlands?

Yes! If you are eligible and based in the Midlands you should still consider applying for Free Reads schemes through these writer development organisations. We do not consider submitters stating their eligibility to us as “an application”, so you remain able to apply for your local opportunities when they become available. We encourage you to visit their websites for more details.

For any further questions, please get in touch with We are a very small team, but will endeavour to respond quickly. If in doubt of your eligibility for this further development option, do not delay your Emma Press submission beyond the deadline. We would recommend ticking the boxes you feel are appropriate and emailing with your query, which can be resolved after the submission deadline if necessary.


  • Emma Wright

    Emma Dai'an Wright is the founder of The Emma Press, and works across all areas of the business, from commissioning, editing, typesetting, illustrating, marketing and sales. She isn't the author of any books - this bit is just appearing under every book until we've finished updating the website!

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