Mission Statement

TLC’s mission is to provide professional, in-depth, market-informed editorial advice to people writing at any level through its manuscript assessment service, online mentoring scheme, events, original workshops and debates. This is in order to help people writing understand where they stand in relation to their own ambitions, and to the literary marketplace. Where possible TLC will facilitate publication through its traditional publishing industry networks, as well as in to informed self-publishing.

A Founder Member of the Free Word Centre since it was set up in 2009, TLC partners strategically both within the funded sector as well as the commercial, to ensure that quality delivery and ethics are maintained within a publishing environment in which the traditional publishing models and values are mutating with the rise of new technology. TLC’s commitment is to hold a steady eye on editorial and literary excellence, at the same time at keeping open to democratic forms and processes across various environments as they provide new and varied platforms for serious writers.

About TLC

The Literary Consultancy was the first editorial consultancy service in the UK, and was founded in 1996 by Rebecca Swift, who directed the company until 2017, and Hannah Griffiths, who went on to become Publisher at Faber & Faber. While working as an editorial assistant at Virago Press, Rebecca realised that there was no professional, trustworthy editorial consultancy for writers to send work to for manuscript assessment before they approached publishers and agents. Many people writing seemed to know very little of the basics of what publishers and agents expected, and that agents and publishers never had the time to explain in detail what they really felt about a writer’s work.

“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

TLC was the first service of its kind to offer professional, in-depth editorial advice and assessment to anyone writing in the English language, anywhere in the world. It removed professional editorial feedback from the confines of the commercial publishing setting and into a more democratic arena. Despite initial concern that writers wouldn’t really want to know what an editor thought of their abilities, TLC found quite the opposite. The majority of clients were pleased to have a detailed editorial assessment from a professional who has carefully read and thought about their work, even if the final response is not a recommendation for publication. TLC has always operated with an ethos of honesty and spirit of independent thinking and believes that a constructive but firm response enables authors to get on – either with a re-write, a new writing project, or with other things in their lives.

Since TLC was founded the literary landscape and publishing industry have changed significantly, with many more resources and options available for writers and increased diversification due to new technologies. TLC has developed a wider range of services in addition to its central and original offer of manuscript assessment and become much more than a reading service. In 2001 TLC received its first tranche of ongoing core funding from Arts Council England. This enabled the provision of free reads known as ‘The Free Read Scheme’ and ‘Chapter and Verse’ – an Arts Council backed mentoring scheme. TLC now also programmes and runs literary events, writing workshops and holidays. In 2009, TLC became a founding member of the Free Word Centre, an international organisation for literature, literacy and freedom of expression, based in Farringdon in central London. TLC is a Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and a Corporate Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. Its strapline is ‘literary values in a digital age.’

“If the NHS weren’t bankrupt, I’d say The Literary Consultancy should be available to writers on prescription.”

Paul Heiney

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 have been shortlisted for the HG Wells Prize and the Fish Prize, and 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 (tNY.press, The Bohemyth, Synaesthesia Magazine, Annexe 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. 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 Literary 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, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and sits on the Advisory Board for Penned in the Margins. 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 which focuses on positive activism to encourage greater salary transparency within the publishing industry. She is currently an Advisor to award-winning experimental publisher Penned in the Margins, and a Trustee of Poetry London.

Aki joined the TLC team at the beginning of 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 supports TLC’s core editorial and operational services, managing its team of readers and mentors and overseeing all database management. He also supports TLC’s marketing and communications strategies, working with advertisers, liaising with freelancers, and supporting TLC’s events programme. He is the first point of contact for all enquiries, and oversees the day-to-day running of the office.

Rebecca Lloyd: Quality Manuscript Liaison Officer 

Rebecca works in a freelance capacity for TLC, liaising with the Director to support writers who have come through TLC’s manuscript assessment and mentoring services who have been flagged by their TLC reader/mentor as having real commercial potential, with a view to connecting them with suitable agents and publishers.

Rebecca brings an impressive background in publishing to bear on her work with TLC, having worked in rights and editorial at Poetry Wales Press (now Seren), HarperCollins (where she worked for ten years before eventually commissioning for the Flamingo list, bringing in authors including Louisa Young and Rhidian Brook), Reed Publishing Group, managing an independent bookshop and working in association with Cowbridge Book Festival and Beyond the Border Festival, and most recently working as a senior editor at Accent Press, where she set up a YA list, before making the decision to go freelance. She also works with Firefly Press and is the current Publisher at the Dome Press.

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, and we are the only editorial consultancy currently supported by Arts Council England, as one of its National Portfolio Organisations in the literature sector.

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

Yen Ooi, Consultant

Yen Ooi holds postgraduate degrees in English Literature and International Business, and a Bachelors degree in Commercial Music. Having enjoyed a vibrant career as project manager in music touring and education, Yen started writing in 2008 and is interested in creating exciting stories in speculative and science fiction. Her debut novel, Sun: Queens of Earth and anthology A Suspicious Collection are now available.  Yen also works as a freelance literary strategist and branding and marketing consultant, both with CreateThinkDo and with Head & Heart, and works for TLC on a freelance basis in a consultancy capacity.

Jon Slack, Amphora Arts

Amphora Arts is a UK-based company specialising in literature, arts and education projects. We produce live events and digital content that target audiences across a range of backgrounds and cultures. Our work includes producing the South Asian Literature Festival, the Writing in a Digital Age Literary Conference with The Literary Consultancy, and the upcoming Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts in London.

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.

Memberships and Affiliations

Founding Resident: Free Word Centre
Partner Member: The Alliance of Independent Authors
Corporate Member: The Society for Editors and Proofreaders
Participant: Boosting Resilience: Survival Skills for the New Normal
Partner: The BookJobTransparency Campaign
Supported by Arts Council England


Alliance of Independent Authors /blog-badgeTLC is a Corporate Subscriber of the SfEP