in partnership with

Commonword is now accepting submissions for The Literary Consultancy’s (TLC) Free Read Scheme (funded by the Arts Council of England). We will accept submissions from writers based in the North West of England.

What is a Free Read?

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:

As well as a Manuscript Assessment, writers are also able to apply for a Submission Package Report or Editor 1-2-1


You are eligible if you are:

  • a writer of fiction, poetry or plays.
  • You must be from a low income background. Commonword works with a definition of low income as at or below 60% of median household income (roughly below £16,200).
  • Priority will be given to groups currently under-represented in publishing including women writers, disabled writers, BAME/POC writers, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • able to submit either 50 pages of fiction plus a 2 page synopsis or 300 lines of poetry or 60 pages of script if nominated by Commonword. (The usual cost for this service is £100 – £300.)
  • a permanent resident in the North West.

How to apply

If you would like to be considered, please request an application form, from the Free Read Scheme by emailing (and CC in Complete the form and return it to us, together with a section of your manuscript that you would like to be critiqued. Please find guidelines of how much to submit below:

  • Fiction (novels): up to 4,000 words
  • Fiction (short stories): up to 2 short stories (totalling 5,000 words)
  • Poetry: up to 7 poems or 200 lines of poetry
  • Theatre script/play: up to 10 pages

N.B: All submissions, except poetry, must be in 12-point font, double-spaced. Please include a covering note for fiction (novel) submissions.

What happens if you are nominated by Commonword?

Manuscripts chosen to be sent to TLC will be read by an experienced editor, University Creative Writing tutor or similar, who will provide a detailed, professional critique of your work and where appropriate recommend appropriate agents/publishers.

For further information email

If you are not in the North West, but are in England, you can find a Free Read organisation near you.