Success Stories - The Literary Consultancy

Success Stories

The Literary Consultancy is very proud of the talented writers it has helped over the years. Whilst TLC did not set up as a talent scouting operation, but rather to provide informed editorial advice to people writing at all levels, we are well-positioned to keep a steady eye on real writing talent, whilst writing markets fluctuate. We have been instrumental in helping many writers find their place with publishers, and this list represents just a small selection of those who’ve gone on to get book deals, top bestseller lists, become bookclub favourites, have their books recommended by Oprah, made into films starring Hollywood actors, and gain media coverage across the UK and internationally. We’re incredibly proud, and very lucky to feature their kind words about TLC here.

“Finding TLC was a turning point for my writing. Until then, I had started many writing projects but had run out of confidence in my writing long before finishing any of them. In writing my second novel, the TLC reading service was invaluable. Like many writers I find it very hard to cut out pieces of prose I’ve carefully nurtured and become attached to. My TLC readers convinced me that a few painful changes to the text would make the portrait of the protagonist stronger and the plot tighter. The confidence I developed through my contact with TLC led me to decide to take the next step and self-publish in order to put my work out there in front of a real audience.”

Julia Watson, Cleaning Up in the Valkyrie Suite, Troubadour


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“An early critique from TLC in March 2014 was very helpful in pushing me to work out what I wanted The Unseeing to be. Lesley McDowell’s insightful report pointed out that I had not yet left the realms of fact; I had not yet figured out what kind of story I wanted to tell. Looking back, I realise that I had mistakenly thought that the history was the story, when of course the story has to be the characters’ arcs – it has to be about what changes. Two years on, The Unseeing has become something else altogether. Something better. But it was hard for me to let go of the ‘facts’, and that is part of the reason that one of the key themes of The Unseeing is truth and deception – how we interpret other people’s stories and how we narrate our own. I’m grateful to both Lesley McDowell and Aki Schilz for their help on my journey to publication.”

Anna Mazzola, The Unseeing, Tinder Press


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“The advice I received in my TLC Free Read report through Writing East Midlands was invaluable in identifying weak areas in my writing. Addressing the points identified in my critique really allowed me to tighten my manuscript and move forwards with confidence.”

Louise Jensen, The Sister, Bookouture


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“In 2005 I was living in New York when I sent my manuscript to TLC. It was assessed by Daniel Jeffreys who, in his nine-page appraisal, opened my eyes. It was the first in depth creative writing advice I had ever received, but it was enough to make everything click in to place for me. The road to publication was long, as it so often is, and littered with heart-wrenching rejections, but eventually the manuscript was picked up by Transworld in 2007. RAVEN: Blood Eye made the bestseller lists in 2009. I’m now working on my 10th novel, having written about Vikings, the English Civil War, and having even co-written a novel with Wilbur Smith. It has been a wonderful journey. But Daniel’s appraisal still sits in the front of my writing folder, marking the start of it all. I am still so grateful to Daniel and TLC, and so glad that I took the plunge and sent my script in.”

Giles Kristian, Raven: Blood Eye, Transworld


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“Winning the TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition [2014] gave me a tremendous boost, as I knew I was up against some very tough competition on the shortlist. The experience was a good one, and tremendously affirming. I had complete strangers come up to me afterwards and tell me how much they enjoyed the reading. The competition was worth entering just for that.”

Guinevere Glasfurd, The Words In My Hand, Two Roads


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“So our book deal with Simon & Schuster has been announced and we couldn’t be happier. We can’t thank TLC enough for their genius matching of manuscript to reader. We not only got a great report, we also found our perfect agent – Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary Agency. Consider our expectations to have been well and truly exceeded!”

Perdita and Honor Cargill , Waiting for Callback, Simon & Shuster


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“If you are thinking of getting professional feedback from TLC, I would say, Go for it! Your writing deserves a good reader. Don’t be afraid of the dark – the Supernatural…’ The best advice I received from Daniel Jeffreys that helped shape the journey of Companions of Clay. The report was diplomatic and encouraging – something for which I am grateful for, given that the first fifty pages were feral to say the least. The novel went from being a meandering mess to an opening that was not only unafraid of the dark, but it embraced it.”

Safeena Chaudhry, Companions of Clay, Amazon


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“As part of Writing West Midlands’ Room 204 scheme, was offered the opportunity to apply to TLC’s Free Read scheme. With detailed and constructive feedback and support from the poet Sibyl Ruth for TLC, I put together a few poems and sent them off to The Emma Press, after doing my research for a likely match for my work. I was delighted to be accepted for publication by them. TLC has been a huge part in my developing confidence as a writer. I am enormously grateful!”

Deborah Alma, True Tales of the Countryside, The Emma Press


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“I have been involved with The Literary Consultancy now for eight years. I’ve used its manuscript assessment services, participated in its writing retreats and attended its conferences. Rebecca Swift and the entire organisation have been an invaluable source of mentoring and support, at each step of my writing journey.”

Daniel Pembrey, The Harbour Master, No Exit


‘When I submitted The Last Fiesta to TLC the editor made me see the book in a new light. He said I could either go away and leave it and it would be a reasonably good book, but he urged me to find the real book within my book. It took a lot of hard work, but I am so pleased I followed TLC’s excellent advice. Thank you so much for helping me discover the book I didn’t know was there!’

Andy Rumbold, The Last Fiesta, Red Door Publishing


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“The Free Read Scheme between the TLC and Nottinghamshire Literature Development Department introduced me to the value of professional critiques from the early days of my publication journey. In fact, I became something of a TLC junkie, popping back several times for expert feedback on my short stories and three different novels … I very much appreciate the honest appraisals that have pushed me to raise my game and write and rewrite until I had a novel of which I could be proud.”

Anne Goodwin, Sugar and Snails, Inspired Quill


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“I came to TLC after winning the New Writing Ventures award for poetry in 2007. I’m extremely grateful for the mentorship as it has been instrumental in my working process from then to today. It taught me to be much harder on myself during the editing process, but ultimately it was a perfect combination of criticism and encouragement. On the back of the mentorship, I was awarded a residency at the Banff Centre in Canada. The journey from manuscript to published book was quite a lengthy and at times frustrating process, but what I’d learned on the mentorship was key in keeping my faith going. Eventually, a publisher – the new London-based outfit, Eyewear – came on the scene and pursued me for the manuscript, which was instantly accepted.”

Jemma Borg, The Illuminated World, Eyewear


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“The Literary Consultancy has been an essential part of my journey to publication. They told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear, something others can be afraid to do! While I have critique partners, they see the book chapter by chapter, and a professional view of the whole thing reveals weaknesses that are missed by this approach. TLC also championed my work at a time when I was doubting myself, and gave me the encouragement to continue. I will be sending them my next manuscript for their feedback, as soon as it is ready.”

Kate Blair, Transferral, Dancing Cat Books


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“TLC is a wonderful organisation. Anna South’s manuscript assessment was both insightful and useful, but that was just the beginning. Winning the TLC Pen Factor Competition opened many doors for me and the book. I’ve made dozens of great contacts at TLC events, and Rebecca Swift’s guidance and support has led to a cool digital and audio serialisation deal with The Pigeonhole. She was a major factor in The Bitter Trade becoming an airport bestseller.”

Piers Alexander, The Bitter Trade, The Pigeonhole


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“Since the day I mailed my manuscript to TLC, they would not stop until I was accepted by a top literary agent. The result: my novel, The Black Coat, being published by Penguin Books in India in 2013 and Periscope in the UK in 2015 Thank you to my TLC reader, Kavita Bhanot, for her insightful report and to Rebecca Swift for her personal encouragement. TLC has been with me at every step since 2011.”

Neamat Imam, The Black Coat, Penguin India/Periscope


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“In 2014 I was fortunate enough to benefit from the TLC Free Read scheme – it couldn’t have come at a better time. My reader, Doug Johnstone, offered me the fresh perspective and insight I needed to lick my novel into the best possible shape. Doug [Johnstone]’s support and encouragement helped boost my self-belief, both that I could actually write, and that Real Monsters was a story that demanded to be told. Real Monsters has since been acquired and published by Legend Press.”

Liam Brown, Real Monsters, Legend Press


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“Karl French advised us on chapters from our true-crime story Out Of The Box. His insightful input and encouragement in the early stages of our project was invaluable. The book has now been signed with a US publisher.”

Julie McSorley and Marcus McSorley, Out of the Box: The Highs and Lows of a Champion Smuggler, Roaring Forties Press


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“I consider my TLC mentor [Tim Clare]’s advice absolutely key in my success in getting The Zoo picked up by an agent and published. He provided advice that went beyond the surface and picked up the fundamental issues that were holding my writing back. His explanations of where I was going wrong and, most importantly, what I could do to put it right were insightful and precise. I genuinely believe that without TLC and my mentor I would not be in a situation where the publication of my debut is just around the corner.”

Jamie Mollart, The Zoo, Sandstone Press


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“In 2009 I won a mentoring award from TLC. My mentor was Tessa West. She read the whole novel in several large chunks and gave me very useful and thoughtful feedback. At the end of the process (2011) the book was read by another reader at TLC. I was very grateful for the support and encouragement I received at TLC, and really enjoyed the Industry Day I attended there. When We Were Sisters was published by Ebury Press in August 2014. The paperback is due out in Feburary 2015.”

Beth Miller, When We Were Sisters, Ebury Press


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“In 2010 I decided to consult TLC and received a commentary from John Harrison. In August 2012 I returned to [the book] with fresh enthusiasm and a new idea for a structure. At this point, John’s constructive criticism became invaluable and I was ready to accept the implications of redrafting. The result? A contract for the publication of Doubling Back – Ten Paths Trodden in Memory from Freight Books.”

Linda Cracknell, Doubling Back, Freight Books


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“My TLC reader, Jill Foulston, encouraged a change of tone – to a more playful style – so that the book would be popular with a wider female audience. The Date Night Manifesto it is now a source of relationship advice and a fun read too. Pre-publication, the Date Night Manifesto is proving in-demand with the media and features in The Bookseller as their pick for January 2015 books.”

Sophia Ledingham, The Date Night Manifesto, Troubadour


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“[Helen Gordon]’s detailed and insightful report was encouraging, but also showed me where aspects of the book were not quite working. I made a number of changes and sent further submissions. To my delight, Indigo Dreams Publishing asked to see the full manuscript, and subsequently accepted the novel for publication, saying they ‘loved it’ – music to the ears of any aspiring writer!”

Diana Finley, The Loneliness of Survival, Indigo Dreams Publishing


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“I approached TLC hoping that they could provide me with some direct and practical guidance as to why my manuscript wasn’t quite working. I got just that. Anna South told me exactly where – and precisely why – I was misfiring. Her report gave me focus and motivation and a new mindfulness of my own (many) bad habits. That candid and expert opinion was so worth having.”

Caroline Scott, Those Measureless Fields, Pen and Sword


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“[TLC Director] Rebecca’s personal encouragement, wise counsel and sheer patience were nothing less than invaluable to me. This lady deserves a medal to be struck in her honour in recognition for her services generally to literature in this country.”

Tom O'Rourke, West Briton Story, ROMAN Books


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“The TLC read was a brilliant opportunity to get detailed and useful feedback. Evie Wyld’s report was comprehensive and thought-provoking. Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love has now sold in fifteen territories, and was selected as book of the week on Oprah.com after it was published by Penguin Press in the US.”

Sarah Butler, Ten Things I've Learnt About Love, Picador


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“Not only did I get candid, insightful and actionable editorial advice, but TLC also picked it out as a manuscript to pitch directly to agents – and my road to publication began. I cannot thank them enough.”

Tina Seskis, One Step too Far, United Agents, Penguin


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“TLC’s editorial advice was outstanding, as was their support through the traditional publishing environment, out in to self-publishing which seemed the best place for my hybrid memoir/inspirational business book ‘All you Need is Love.’ ”

Pete Smith, All you Need is Love,


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“The most difficult thing to find as an unpublished author is an objective and authoritative opinion on the merits – or otherwise – of your work. The Literary Consultancy’s report made all the difference in gettingThe Golden Pig published.”

Mark Penny, The Golden Pig, Lightning Press


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“Their comments were entirely supportive and constructive, all the way from detail to structure, and it was obvious that thought and experience had been put into them.”

Allan Hendry, Seeds of Destruction, Olympia Press


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“Having my manuscript assessed by TLC was the best investment I’ve made in years. Christopher Wakling was absolutely brilliant. He sent me a report of incredibly helpful and encouraging comments”

Kerry Young, Pao, Bloomsbury


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“I owe a huge thanks to The Literary Consultancy. This book would not have been completed without Alan Wilkinson whose guidance, re-writing and all round incomparable brilliance turned my words from a muddled mishmash into something publishable.”

Barbara Want, Why Not Me? A Story of Love and Loss, Orion


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“I am convinced my book’s success is due to the down to earth, practical advice The Literary Consultancy gave me.”

Tony Booth, Cox’s Navy, Pen and Sword


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“Just about the best money I ever spent. The quality of advice I received from The Literary Consultancy was outstanding.”

Leaf Fielding, To Live Outside the Law, Serpent’s Tail


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“I sent my first draft to The Literary Consultancy for a critique and was really impressed with the insightful report I received. My reader pulled no punches; she thought the novel needed a complete restructuring – and she was right.”

Shelley Harris, Jubilee, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Orion)


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“I’m absolutely sure Rory’s Boys would never have been published without Sara Maitland’s expert assessment, constructive suggestions and, above all, enormous encouragement to keep working at it. It was worth every penny of the fee.”

Alan Clark, Rory’s Boys, Bliss


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“The guidance I received from TLC at this early stage of my writing career has proved invaluable.”

Catherine Pearson, E. J. Rudsdale’s Journals of Wartime Colchester, The History Press Ltd


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“The feedback I had from Alan Wilkinson about structure and presentation came at a time I was uncertain about how to proceed in the writing of a quite complicated book. The final structure owed much to your reader’s comments.”

Ronald Ram, The Thread of Identity, Amberly


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“TLC introduced my work to agents and publishers on my behalf. I suspect no-one would have looked at it otherwise.”

Jenny Downham, Before I Die, David Fickling Books, Random House


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“TLC’s report was very honest and highlighted key strengths and weaknesses which can be overlooked whilst in the midst of writing. All in all, my report really helped me to stand back and simplify and clarify my writing, to give what is hopefully now a good and compelling read.”

Amanda Addison, Lost for Words, Chipmunka


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“I had my children’s novel Edwin Spencer Mission Improbable critiqued by TLC (Kelly McKain) about five years ago. It definitely gave me the jump start I needed to get an agent, and I’m glad to say Edwin is being published by Catnip Publishing Ltd in January next year.”

Julie Irwin, Edwin Spencer Mission Improbable, Catnip Publishing Ltd


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“TLC gave me the expert and impartial commentary needed by a first-time novelist to validate their work. Before the reader’s comments I had no way of knowing whether I could write, apart from my own hubris, and family and friends are not impartial. The reader gave me the confidence to send my book out into the world happy in the knowledge that I wasn’t deluding myself.”

Mischa Hiller, Sabra Zoo, Telegram Books


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“The great advantage that an author enjoys when using The Literary Consultancy is the power of an objective and dispassionate view of his or her work from talented and knowledgeable people. The guidance and positive criticism I received from TLC played a major part in the market’s acceptance of The October Killings. I am truly grateful for the help given to me.”

Wessel Ebersohn, The October Killings, Umuzi


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“The immense encouragement and sound practical advice I received from The Literary Consultancy proved to be the bridge between the dream of being a published author and the reality of becoming one.”

Jim Powell, The Breaking of Eggs, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Orion)


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“The Literary Consultancy was beyond helpful in the writing of my novel, The Hidden Dance, and at a time when I most needed sage advice and encouragement.”

Susan Wooldridge, The Hidden Dance, Allison & Busby


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“I ran my pitch past Rebecca Swift at TLC, and thanks to her well-informed advice, I was able to get an agent and a publishing deal for my book incredibly quickly.”

Tom Feiling, The Candy Machine, Penguin Books


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“TLC chose the perfect reader for my book. He provided an in-depth and sound critique, with constructive criticism that I could apply. Thanks to the invaluable advice, my book is now proving to be a hit with children and parents alike!”

Karen Andrea, The Enchanted Library, YouWriteOn


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“I re-read the MS, and, with the help of Anna’s excellent advice, re-wrote. When my agent sent the book off again, we secured a deal with Serpent’s Tail.”

Bethan Roberts, The Pools, Serpent’s Tail


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“The feedback from Sara Maitland (TLC) was invaluable and gave me the confidence to begin considering myself as a writer.”

Valerie Mason John, The Banana Kid , Serpent’s Tail


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“Your best friends won’t tell you, agents and editors no longer have the time to tell you but, if you’re brave enough to ask, TLC will tell you what is wrong with your novel.”

Angela Young, Speaking of Love, Beautiful Books


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“As I read the advice from Alan Wilkinson it was quickly apparent that he got what I was trying to say. He was clear and perceptive with his comments and honest in his rejection of what did not work. This helped me tune my own editorial sense, and the result, according to the reviews, was a book worth writing.”

Peter Webb, Ice Bears and Kotick, Seafarer Books


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“Thanks to the Arts Council and Spread the Word, a TLC read made me aware of my ‘writing ticks’. I really appreciated having someone pay serious attention to my work. I still use the advice I was given.”

Chrissie Gittins, Family Connections, Salt Publishing


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“I am awed by your reader’s philosophical, novelistic and teaching skills. I can’t thank her enough.”

Y. J.M Bonavero, Something in the Sea, Bloomsbury


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“Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, with which TLC gave me excellent editorial help, sold 30,000 copies to the consumer in hardback. Your fine and necessary service made it possible for me as a novice to write a bestseller.”

Terry Darlington, Narrow Dog to Carcassonne, Transworld


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“Editorial acumen and wisdom is difficult to find, and TLC possesses both. My first novel has found its way onto Waterstone’s Summer Reads list and it would have not got there without TLC.”

Nick Taussig, Love and Mayhem, Revolver Books


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“I would like to thank TLC for making my book publishable.”

Pam Smart, Who’s Afraid of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Chipmunka Publishing


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“I found it invaluable to receive a thoughtful and perceptive report on the strengths and weaknesses of my novel from a professional whose opinions I could trust.”

Christine Coleman, The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society, Transita


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“TLC’s feedback motivated me to keep going with my first novel, which is now on the bookshop shelves!”

Helen Salter, Does Snogging Count as Exercise?, Piccadilly Press


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“Macmillan have commissioned my fourth children’s book in the Jammy Dodgers series. Without The Literary Consultancy’s help with the first book I would never have got this far.”

Brenda Sivers Bowering, Jammy Dodgers series, Macmillan


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“If it wasn’t for TLC, my novel just wouldn’t have made it.”

Heather Reyes, Zade, Saqi


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“I think it’s fair to say that I owe my career to TLC, editorially and financially. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their services to anyone.”

James Flint, Habitus, 52 Ways to Magic America, Fourth Estate


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“Thank you for your kindness and encouragement and for choosing such a perfect reader.”

Norman Thomas, The Thousand Petalled Daisy, Maia Press


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“TLC’s report and recommendation enabled me to secure an excellent agent and a superb two book deal.”

Kim Lloyd, Erskine’s Box, Sceptre


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“TLC turned out to be a soothingly apt acronym. Becky Swift discussed the book with me, then sent it to a reader. I spent the months that followed rewriting and adding to it on the basis of the lucid insights and recommendations in the reader’s report. A publisher subsequently made an offer and gave me a contract after reading only two chapters.”

Gloria Cigman, Exploring Evil: through the landscape of literature, Peter Lang


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“TLC was invaluable to me for my novel. I wouldn’t dream of sending a completed novel to my publisher without having TLC look at it first.”

Prue Leith, Leaving Patrick, Sisters, A Lovesome Thing, Penguin Books


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“Thanks to TLC I got an agent . . .”

Max Kinnings, Hitman, Hodder


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“Many thanks to your excellent consultancy for its invaluable contribution to making this possible.”

Michael Richardson, The Pig Bin, Tindall Street Press


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“It is no exaggeration to say that The Literary Consultancy’s advice and encouragement was invaluable to me when I was writing my first novel, Isabella. It’s always useful to have feedback on your work but with TLC you know that it is from professionals who really know what they are talking about.”

Fiona Mountain, Pale as the Dead, Isabella, Orion


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