Free Read Scheme

Are you a budding writer? Would you benefit from constructive professional feedback on your work? We are pleased to be part of the Arts Council England (ACE) Free Read Scheme.

The scheme offers low-income writers the opportunity to get free professional feedback on their writing via The Literary Consultancy (TLC), 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 Read Scheme particularly welcomes applications from low income writers belonging to groups currently under-represented in publishing including women writers, disabled writers, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

What is a Free Read?

TLC processes novels, short stories, non-fiction, poetry, scripts and screenplays, offering professional critical feedback. 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. The notes you receive are intended to help you develop your writing further. Read more about whether a manuscript assessment would be helpful.

We are currently accepting submissions for assessment until 23 February for the 2022/2023 financial year.

Submission guidelines

  • free Reads are granted to low income, high quality writers (due to demand and available funding, a limited number of manuscripts received will be submitted)
  • applicants cannot apply for a Free Read 2 years in a row
  • applicants cannot work for the regional writing organisation they apply through
  • 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

How to apply

All submissions must be made online. All writing (with the exception of poetry) should be should formatted double-spaced, in a 12pt font, and saved as Word or PDF document. For poetry, please state how many lines the submission contains, and for short stories, how many words.

Please also tell us a bit about yourself and your writing history. This can include any particular questions you would particularly like addressed.

You can submit any of the following:

  • synopsis and up to 15,000 words
  • short stories: up to 3000 words
  • poetry: up to 200 lines
  • TV, Film, Radio and Theatre scripts
  • treatments (averaging 350 words per page): up to 10 pages
  • scripts (averaging 250 words per page): up to 30 pages
  • Illustrated picture books for children: 1 or 2 books

Apply by email to:

Libraries team manager: service development

Full contact details

Contact us if you are unable to submit work in a digital format.

Dorset Libraries writing challenge

Find out more about our weekly writing challenge and other library events and activities


A few words can express deep emotion – if you have never tried reading poetry, why not try now?

The National Poetry Library has a large online collection of modern poems to read and listen to. 

The Poetry Foundation is committed to creating a place for poetry in modern culture. Read and listen to poems and read articles about poetry and poets.

The Children's Poetry Archive has a great collection of poems for children, read aloud with themes to explore and poems listed by age group.

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