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TLC Blog: 20th Birthday and Welcome

This is an exciting moment in TLC history. We are celebrating our 20th birthday this year (2016) and as part of our celebrations we are introducing our first official blog. Please bear with me while I give a bit of background to those who do not know us, and welcome to you all.


The Literary Consultancy was co-founded in 1996 by myself and Hannah Griffiths who was most recently Publishing Director at Faber & Faber. We were the first to establish a professional editorial consultancy on any scale anywhere in the world. Having worked together at Virago, we were concerned that the large majority of people were writing without understanding their real chances of achieving publication. It struck us that creating a non-stigmatised fee-paying service was timely. As former publisher and Booker prize judge Carmen Callil said, “it will build a bridge between publisher, agent and writer-and be of use to all three.”

Back in 1996, online self-publishing had not yet been invented.

Back in 1996, online self-publishing had not yet been invented. In those days our job was to engage professionally with people writing at any level, and to provide detailed feedback as to what was and wasn’t working with their manuscript. Where possible we would recommend them to literary agents, or to the one reputable self-publishing outfit we knew. Over time we helped many people to publication.

Our core job is still the same, but of course there are now a plethora of ways for people to see their work “in print.” We have found it fascinating to keep up to date with the changes in modern publishing, with a view to being able to support our clients into as many innovative ways of celebrating their work as possible. See current SUCCESS STORIES for updates.

… it seems that everybody writing … has recognised the deeply valuable role of a gifted editor.

At various moments over the last few years, we have wondered what the role of the editorial assessor will be in the future, and whether people writing will still wish to pay for professional opinion. The way the literary landscape looks now however, it seems that everybody writing – both with a view to self-publishing, or to holding out for that commercial deal through a traditional publisher – has recognised the deeply valuable role of a gifted editor. Beta readers are well and good, but a skilled editor operates, or should operate, at a different level altogether. At TLC we find ourselves, with our carefully chosen 90 readers working across all genres and types of writing, and a specialist group of mentors, extremely well-positioned to continue to advise an increasing number of clients as time goes by.

Since we started, we have introduced a mentoring scheme with six email sessions of feedback, a full face-to-face industry day and manuscript assessment included, an annual Literary Adventure writing retreat in Spain, and a number of exciting events for writers and aspiring editors which we hold at our base, the vibrant Free Word Centre in London, where we are a Founder Member.

We also are the only editorial consultancy to receive National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England who have long recognised the quality and commitment of our work. With their support we work with 17 literature-development bodies to provide free editorial work for talented, low-income writers from a broad range of backgrounds (the TLC Free Reads Scheme).

Our partners have included the Royal Society of Literature, the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Byte the Book, Completely Novel, Kobo Writing Life and IngramSpark, to name but a few.

Our Manager Aki Schilz has bought new dynamism to the company. It was her idea to introduce this blog, building on the success of her wonderful Facebook world, and together we will bring you a range of up-to-date articles from contributing writers from amongst our clients, readers, mentors, clients and publishing and agent contacts.

So sign up, follow and comment for a monthly contribution from us through to the end of 2016, and if it’s going well, beyond …

We value your opinion. Do also join our lively communities on Facebook and Twitter. We will link to this blog in our monthly newsletter.

Rebecca Swift

Rebecca Swift read English at Oxford University and has since worked as an editor and writer. For seven years she worked at Virago Press, where she first conceived of the idea for TLC. For Chatto & Windus she edited a volume of letters between Bernard Shaw and Margaret Wheeler, Letters from Margaret: The Fascinating Story of Two Babies Swapped at Birth (1992) and Imagining Characters: Six Conversations about Women Writers, a book of conversations between writer A.S. Byatt and psychoanalyst Ignes Sodre (1995). Rebecca has also had poetry published in Virago New Poets (1990), Vintage New Writing 6 (1995), Driftwood, US (2005), Staple (2008), InterlitQ (2010) and India’s online Talking Poetry (2011). A libretto written by Rebecca was funded by the Arts Council England, and commissioned by the Lontano Ensemble: the opera ‘Spirit Child’, composed by Jenni Roditi, was performed at Ocean in Hackney, London in 2001. Rebecca has also written and reviewed for The Independent on Sunday and The Guardian. A biography of Emily Dickinson, Dickinson: Poetic Lives, came out in February 2011 with Hesperus Press and a piece for Granta online, ‘Generations‘ appeared June 2011. Rebecca has also appeared at numerous literary festivals and on many panels talking about the work of TLC and the relationship between writers and the publishing industry. She has taught poetry at West Dean College of Further Education, life-writing for the Hackney Music Development Trust and ‘Approaches to Publication’ for Skyros Writers’ Lab and TLC’s own Literary Adventure holiday. In 2016, she was selected as one of Whitefox’s 25 ‘Unsung Heroes of Publishing‘. She is also an Emeritus Trustee of the Writers’ Centre Norwich and Trustee of the Maya Centre, as well as being a member of the prestigious Speakers for Schools. In 1999 she completed an M.A. in Psychoanalytic Studies at the Tavistock Centre in London and UEL. Her thesis title was ARE YOU READING ME? An Exploration of the Relationship between people who write and those who read them in publishing and related industries.

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