The Literary Consultancy was the first editorial consultancy service in the UK, and was founded in 1996 by its Director Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, who is currently 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.”
Pru 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 tranch 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.
“If the NHS weren’t bankrupt, I’d say The Literary Consultancy should be available to writers on prescription.”
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.
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 Editor-in-Chief of the official Creative Writing anthology, ARC. After working in various administrative roles, as a copywriter for a large advertising agency and as an arts and culture reviewer for a youth charity, Aki completed a number of publishing internships (among them Granta Books and Literary Review) and worked as Acquisitions Assistant at Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Aki is the co-founder of the #LossLit digital literature project with publisher at Influx Press Kit Caless, and co-editor of LossLit Magazine which in 2015 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 (Popshot Magazine, The Colour of Saying, Kakania, An Unreliable Guide to London, Birdbook: Saltwater and Shore) and online (tNY.press, The Bohemyth, Annexe Magazine, Cheap Pop Lit, Mnemoscape Magazine, And Other Poems). She also performs as a spoken word artist, and was previously a dance artist and choreographer, performing at various venues across the UK. Aki is also an editor, and works with literary fiction and short stories. She is a trained workshop facilitator.
In 2014, Aki was appointed as Bridport Prize First Novel Award shortlist judge alongside literary agent Euan Thorneycroft, and in 2016 will be on the judging panel for the Creative Future Literary Awards, a national literary competition which celebrates talented writers who lack opportunities. She also appears regularly to speak to university students, and at publishing conferences and events, about editing, publishing, and literature development, with a special interest in promoting diversity in the sector. She is a member of BAME in Publishing.
Aki is in charge of the day-to-day running of the office and handles all submissions, manages our team of readers, co-ordinates the national Arts Council funded Free Read Scheme, is responsible for our Chapter and Verse mentoring scheme, editing the content of our website and TLC’s marketing. She also works with our Quality Manuscript writers whom she represents to agencies TLC has a working relationship with, and welcomes approaches from agents wishing to hear more about this side of our work.
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 services, marketing and communications, and database management.
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.
Yen works for TLC on a freelance basis in a consultancy capacity.
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 are delighted to work with:
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 current 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 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.