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Announcing the Michael Langan LGBTQ+ Free Reads 2024


TLC is delighted to announce that, for the eighth year in a row, we are partnering with novelist and writing tutor Michael Langan to offer ten unpublished UK-based LGBTQ+ writers free professional feedback on the first 15,000 words of their fiction or creative non-fiction manuscripts.

Thanks to private donations, we were able to offer five places on top of the usual five generously supported by the scheme’s patron, Michael Langan. We would like to thank Writers’ HQ, Bluemoose Books, the novelist Laura Pearson, and a generous anonymous donor for their support of this scheme.

We rely on patrons, supporters and donors to ensure we can give generously to those most in need, and are grateful to those who opt to pay it forwards. Thank you.

Applications are open through Pride month (June 2024). All applicants will be invited to a reading and Q&A with Michael and guest speaker, literary agent Abi Fellows (DHH Literary Agency), and the selected writers will also receive free 15-minute one to ones with Abi.

This year, to honour the memory of 2021 LGBTQ+ Free Reads recipient Shereen Akhtar, who sadly passed away last year, we will be ensuring that one of the five spaces is reserved for a queer Muslim writer, with kind permission from her family. You can read more about Shereen and her writing on Spread the Word’s website here.

This is the eighth year the scheme is running, with several of our alumni now represented by major literary agencies and securing publishing deals.

Three of these opening extract assessments will be funded through the TLC Free Reads scheme (supported by Arts Council England), with two donated by Michael himself. We are extremely grateful to Michael for making this scheme possible and look forward to supporting another cohort of talented writers through our open applications. The scheme is completely free to enter. Applications from low-income LGBTQ+ writers will be prioritised.

About TLC Free Reads

TLC provides bursaried manuscript assessment and mentoring via the TLC Free Reads scheme to talented low-income and otherwise marginalised or under-represented writers. The TLC Free Reads scheme was established with a small pilot fund in 2001, and is now funded by Arts Council England. It is run in partnership with 22 regional literature partners across the entire country, including Arvon, Spread the Word, the National Centre for Writing, and New Writing North.

How to Apply

Applications for TLC’s 2024 LGBTQ+ Free Reads are open now, and will close at 9am BST on Monday 1st July 2024. Please email  with the subject header ‘Michael Langan LGBTQ+ Free Read’, attaching as Word documents:

  • A one-page synopsis
  • The first 2,000 words of your manuscript
  • A short covering letter describing why you are applying (please mention financial eligibility if applicable)
  • If you are applying for the Shereen Akhtar Free Read for a queer Muslim writer, please state this clearly in your application

About Michael Langan

A white man with cropped grey hair and brown rimmed glasses sits in natural sunlight, in front of a glass table in an outdoor environment. He wears a pink shirt.

Michael Langan has worked as an editor, writer, and teacher for over twenty years, currently facilitating writing workshops and courses at various locations in Lisbon, where he lives. He was Programme Leader of Creative Writing at the University of Greenwich from 2002 – 2012, where he specialised in short story writing and the novel. He has a PhD from Liverpool John Moores University in contemporary creative writing and a background in performance poetry and public speaking. His debut novel, Shadow is a Colour as Light Is, was published by Lume Books in September 2019 and he is currently working on his second. His short stories and poetry have been anthologised and published in magazines, journals and online. As Arts Editor of the online LGBT culture journal Polari he wrote about visual arts, film and literature and, in 2016, was a Contributing Editor to the Paris-based Seymour magazine, writing a series of essays about creative process. Michael has a particular interest in contemporary literary fiction as well as historical fiction. Michael lives with his husband, an artist.

Michael says:

I’m delighted that we are again able to announce our 8th year (!) of TLC’s LGBTQ+ Free Reads Scheme, running this Pride month. Our commitment to the scheme, which seeks to offer support, help, and advice, to emerging queer writers, has never wavered and, if anything, is stronger than ever. 

As the phony ‘culture war’ rhetoric intensifies in the run-up to the next U.K. general election, it’s even more vital to challenge and counteract the false narratives being revived and renewed by right-wing politicians and media outlets. Sadly, attacks on trans and non-binary members of our community come from all sides of the political spectrum and have increased massively in the last few years. I’d particularly love to hear from as many emerging writers as possible who represent gender diversity and gender non-conformity in all its fabulous glory! 

In our increasingly fractured and fractious world, giving LGBTQ+ writers the confidence to develop their stories, to speak their own truth to power, and to create on their own terms, remain our core values and are at the heart of what the scheme is designed to do. I can’t wait to read your brilliant work!     

Michael Langan, TLC LGBTQ+ Free Reads Patron

About Abi Fellows

A white woman with shoulder length brown hair sits in a black chair with a backdrop of painted brick in bright colours. She wears a silver chain and a black shirt.

Abi has broad experience in the industry, having started in bookselling at Blackwell’s in 2001 following her BA in English Literature at Bristol University. After a stint on the sales team of Faber and Faber and a return to education to complete an MA in modernism and postmodernism at University College London, Abi began her agenting career with Georgina Capel Associates in 2004. Abi then moved into literary scouting at RR Ltd for seven years, working with overseas publishers and TV and film production companies in the UK. In 2019 she returned to agenting at The Good Literary Agency, building a list focused on amplifying and championing writers from backgrounds that had traditionally been marginalised. Abi was shortlisted for Literary Agent of the Year at the British Book Awards (aka the Nibbies) in 2023 and joined DHH Literary Agency in September that year. Abi also has experience as a school governor with particular involvement in the schools literacy programmes and their work with children who have special educational needs and are disabled. She currently sits on the board of New Writing South, having joined as a Trustee in 2023.


Applications are welcome from any writers from the LGBTQ+ community. We are only able to accept work submitted by writers who are ordinarily resident in the UK for this initiative. Work submitted should be for adult or YA fiction or non-fiction – unfortunately we are not able to accept children’s fiction, middle grade fiction, or poetry for this particular opportunity. Submitted extracts must be from the opening of the manuscript and only previously unpublished work is accepted. The full manuscript does not have to be complete at the time of submission, but you must have 15,000 words ready should you be selected. Writers selected will be informed within two weeks of the deadline. Please do not submit work currently on submission to literary agents or publishers. Please note that Michael reads widely, but his preferences are for literary and commercial fiction of all kinds, and historical fiction. 

Applications from low-income writers will be prioritisedApplications from Global Majority writers and disabled writers from the LGBTQ+ community are particularly encouraged. There is no need to provide proof of low income for this particular initiative. If you need assistance with your application or have any questions, please let us know. You can email us in confidence at

A Thank You to our Supporters

Generous donations from the following organisations and individuals have allowed us to run this scheme:

Writers’ HQ, everything you need to get your stories written
Bluemoose Books, an award-winning and innovative independent publisher
Laura Pearson, #1 bestselling author

And thank you to our anonymous donor.

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