About TLC

Founded by editors Rebecca Swift (Virago Press) and Hannah Griffiths (Faber & Faber) in 1996, The Literary Consultancy was born out of recognition of the need for greater critical engagement with work on a structural level than readers at publishing houses were able to provide, by a reader whose expertise and affinities aligned closely with the text. How was a writer, who might be working in isolation, or relying on the view of supportive but inexperienced peers, to know what worked in their text, what might be amiss? Whether the work might stand out enough to catch the eye of a publisher, or if not, why not? The hand-matching process, of reader to writer, remains at the heart of TLC’s editorial services, which focus on objective editorial feedback, equipping writers with the tools to develop their ideas, and their skills.

“The Literary Consultancy was invaluable to me for my first novel. I would not dream of sending a completed novel to my publisher without having TLC look at it first.”

Prue Leith OBE, author of bestselling Leaving Patrick

We believe that direct, constructive feedback can be transformative, and our client testimonials speak to the range of benefits writers might find from this investment. Many go on to find publishing deals, but our clients also tell us that their TLC experience has inspired confidence, has helped them to find their writing voice, or to have any number of other ‘light bulb moments’ that lead to a better understanding of their position and skillset as writers. Critical feedback can be tough, and we are on hand to support any writer who comes through the service, but we firmly believe that in the long-term, a rigorous, though sympathetic read, that bears in mind the writer’s vision but is also clear about where the work needs development, is the most useful kind of feedback. If you feel you aren’t ready to engage with the assessment process just yet, then you may wish to look at our Resources page which is full of practical guidance for writers nearer the beginning of their writing journey.

If you feel you would like support from TLC, but aren’t sure where to start, we suggest using our Writers’ Wizard to help you start to think about which service might be of most benefit at this stage in your writing journey.

At TLC, all of our services – from assessment, to mentoring, to events – are tailored to suit the needs of those who take their writing seriously, and are built on the cornerstone of our founding ethos: that every writer deserves a good editor. We hope to hear from you soon.

Affiliations

Arts Council England (ACE) – National Portfolio Organisation

Free Word – Founding Resident

Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) – Corporate Subscriber

Alliance of Independent Authors – Partner Member

Bridport Prize – Industry Partner

Rebecca Swift Foundation – Editing Partner

National Forest – Supporter (read about our pledge to plant trees for writers here)

Our team

Aki Schilz: Director

Aki Schilz has a Bachelor in English and French Literature from the University of Oxford, and an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from Bath Spa University, where she was co Editor-in-Chief of the official Creative Writing anthology, ARC. After working in various administrative roles, and as a copywriter for a large advertising agency, she trained as a workshop facilitator for a youth arts charity where she delivered workshops for clients including the British Heart Foundation, Adobe Youth Voices, PEN International, and Asia House. Aki completed a number of publishing internships (among them Granta Books and Literary Review) before working as Acquisitions Assistant at a small non-fiction publishing house. Aki is the co-founder of the #LossLit digital literature project with publisher at Influx Press Kit Caless, and co-editor of LossLit Magazine. In 2015, LossLit was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award (Best Collaborative Work). She is the winner of the inaugural Visual Verse Prize, supported by Andrew Motion, and the inaugural Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction, judged by Angela Readman. Her short fiction, non-fiction and poetry appear in print (On Bodies, Popshot Magazine, The Colour of Saying, Kakania, An Unreliable Guide to London, Birdbook: Saltwater and Shore, Best Small Fictions 2015, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Vol. 4) and online (The Bohemyth, Synaesthesia Magazine, Cheap Pop Lit, Mnemoscape Magazine, And Other Poems). She is a Queen’s Ferry Press Finalist and was featured in the Wigleaf Top 50 as selected by Roxane Gay in 2015. An article on women writers and the value of time appeared as one of three features in Mslexia‘s 20th anniversary issue in March 2019. For several years Aki was a spoken word artist, and was previously a dance artist and choreographer, performing at various venues across the UK.

In 2014, Aki was appointed as Bridport Prize First Novel Award shortlist judge alongside literary agent Euan Thorneycroft, and is on the judging panel for the Creative Future Writing Awards, a national literary competition which celebrates talented writers who lack opportunities. She has appeared regularly to speak to university students, and at publishing conferences and events, about editing, publishing, and literature development, with a special interest in promoting inclusivity and better representation in the sector. She is a member of #BAMEinPublishing, and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. In 2018, Aki was announced as one of the #FutureBook40, a list of the UK’s top 40 innovators in publishing, for her work at TLC and her #BookJobTransparency campaign. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for women in publishing. She is an alumna of the Boosting Resilience programme run by the Culture Capital Exchange in association with Manchester Metropolitan University, and has completed a Clore Short Course in Leadership Skills, and a Practical Accounting and Finance for Entrepreneurs course with the Cass Business School. Aki sits on the Advisory Board of award-winning experimental publisher Penned in the Margins, and is a Trustee of Poetry London

Aki joined the TLC team in 2012, and in 2013 was appointed Editorial Services Manager of the company. She became Director in 2017, succeeding TLC’s cherished longstanding Director and Founder Rebecca Swift, in line with Rebecca’s wishes. In 2017 Aki founded the Rebecca Swift Foundation in memory of her former boss and mentor. The Foundation is now managed by a Board of Trustees and Project Manager, and offers a biennial Women Poets’ Prize. Aki is in charge of all business strategy, programming and partnerships at TLC. She co-ordinates the national Arts Council England-funded Free Read Scheme with TLC’s regional literature partners, oversees all editorial service provision, and manages TLC’s website content and marketing strategy. She also manages TLC’s Quality Manuscript writers whom she represents to literary agencies TLC has a working relationship with, and welcomes approaches from agents wishing to hear more about this side of our work, as well as from prospective partners and sponsors who wish to support TLC’s work.

Joe Sedgwick: Editorial Services ManagerJoe Sedgwick

Joe Sedgwick has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and American Studies from Manchester University. He holds an MA in Publishing from Kingston University. After leaving the University of Manchester, he worked as a Marketing Assistant for a housebuilding company before leaving to pursue a career in publishing. Joe has also undertaken internships at Palgrave MacMillan and Bloomsbury. He enjoys reading literary fiction and non-fiction and his favourite author is John Steinbeck.

Joe manages TLC’s core editorial and operational services, looking after its team of readers and mentors and overseeing all in-house processes. He also leads on TLC’s marketing and communications strategies, working with advertisers, liaising with freelancers, and supporting the TLC events programme. 

Nelima Begum: Editorial and Marketing Assistant

Nelima Begum is the Marketing and Editorial Assistant for TLC. After graduating in 2017 with a BA degree in English from SOAS, University of London, she found herself searching for a career that would allow her to work with books and authors. Her first role was at Hachette, working on a creative writing initiative called The Future Bookshelf, for which she was Submissions Administrator. Being a part of an initiative which sought to publish underrepresented writers from minority backgrounds honed her interests within the industry and she realised she had a passion for finding and championing fresh talent, amplifying unheard voices and furthering the careers of writers and building them into brands while maintaining their vision and authenticity.

She then went on to work as a reader for a film and TV scout and then took up a role as a Marketing Intern for Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. While as HarperCollins, she learnt more about the commercial landscape and was provided with a wealth of insight regarding how both the literary and commercial markets work in this digital age. Nelima is a lover of all things literary, sometimes being drawn to the same books and authors several times; Chinua Achebe, Paulo Coelho, Margaret Atwood, Khaled Hosseini, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and many more! Away from books, she is a podcast enthusiast, a foodie, traveller and all around creative being who also loves to sketch, go to the theatre, write and take lots of pictures.

Nelima is the first point of contact for all enquiries from writers, and supports TLC’s marketing strategies as well as managing its social media channels.


Rebecca Swift: Founder of TLC and Director 1996-2017

Rebecca SwiftRebecca Swift read English at Oxford University and worked as an editor and writer. For seven years she worked at Virago Press, where she first conceived of the idea for TLC. Rebecca served as TLC Director from its inception in 1996 until her death in April 2017 aged 53, after a short illness. She was a cherished and well-respected member of the literary and publishing community, and a tireless champion of writers and literary values. TLC’s continuing work honours her legacy.

For Chatto & Windus Rebecca 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 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 wrote 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 also appeared at numerous literary festivals and on many panels talking with famous energy and passion about the work of TLC and the relationship between writers and the publishing industry. She 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 was also an Emeritus Trustee of the Writers’ Centre Norwich and Trustee of the Maya Centre whose fundraising efforts and service provision she supported actively for many years, 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. The thesis was published as a limited edition printed book, supported by IngramSpark and Head & Heart, as part of TLC’s 20th Anniversary celebrations and launched at the ‘What’s Your Story?’ conference in November 2016.


As well as our team of 90 professional readers and mentors who provide TLC’s core editorial services to our clients, TLC works with a small but dedicated team of freelancers for support with various aspects of its business, including web design, marketing, events management, and business development. We also have a highly skilled Advisory Board who support the TLC Director and team across all aspects of the business.

We are delighted to work with and acknowledge the support of:

FMcM

FMcM Associates is an arts communications consultancy based in London. We offer a range of services, including publicity, strategic consultancy, profile management, sponsorship support, and digital strategy.

Pynto Ltd

Pynto offers comprehensive design, print and digital marketing services to a wide range of clients, from individuals to Corporations. We provide a complete web design package from domain registration to fully updatable original site design. We also provide a full design and print service in addition to our online digital marketing services.

Additional thanks are due to: Jon Slack, Christina Fonthes, Harry Gallon, Nicholas Murray, Julia Forster, Rebecca Lloyd, and Yen Ooi