Shortlist complete!

I have just finished making the final shortlist for megaphone. We had sixty-two applications and it has been incredibly difficult to choose the shortlist of ten, knowing that after editors’ input that will have to go down to just five successful applicants.

I really didn’t know what to expect – how many applicants, what standard of writing – and I’ve been amazed, firstly at the high quality of the submissions, secondly at how many people have already made big investments in and sacrifices for their writing, thirdly at how interesting everyone was. I would have liked to give everyone a place if only to meet you all. It was also notable that many people expressed the feeling that Megaphone was a necessary, not just a desirable, project. So many applicants wrote about the sense of being absent from literature as children – locked out of the secret garden –  and the real effects that this had on their developing identity. Many people wanted to write the book that would change things for the child they once were. But most of all, what came through was the joy all applicants took in story-telling and creating worlds (a joy that’s often under-rated, and easily lost).

Megaphone aims to develop five publishable novels for children and young adults over the course of one year. That was always going to mean that some really promising writers were not going to be shortlisted. I’d like to stress that writing matters even if it does not immediately (or ever) result in commercial publication. Communicating with children matters, diverse stories for young people matter, and in the next months I will be looking into ways in which Megaphone can be developed to help more people reach goals that are right for their current stage in their writing life.

What happens now:

I should hear back from the editors and publishers by February 16th and will inform the successful applicants first.  I will then email everyone else. I will let you know if you were on the shortlist and you are welcome to use this fact on a writing CV if you wish. Unfortunately I can’t give feedback on unsuccessful applications, but I stress again – your writing matters and even if you are not successful in this instance, it doesn’t mean you won’t find success with your writing in the future.

  • Thank you again for applying!

Book Bound retreat: grant available!

The Book Bound retreat for children’s writers (early readers through to YA, no picture books, sorry) is offering a full grant for one participant in financial need this year. Travel costs aren’t included but everything else is. Have a look here for this excellent opportunity – you have to scroll down :


Update from Megaphone

Happy new year and here’s an update from Megaphone – finally!

Thank you so much to everyone who applied and everyone who spread the word. We had 62 applications which I think, for a new project – starting from zero  in terms of publicity – with a relatively demanding application process, for a long-term commitment, is a really good result.

The next couple of weeks will be quiet on here as I focus on shortlisting the 62 applications down to 10. These 10 will then go to the publishers and they will be asked to indicate their favourites. I’ll take this into account when making the final selection of five. I aim to inform the five successful applicants on the 16th of February, and unsuccessful applicants in the week just after.

Having said the awful words ‘unsuccessful applicants’… I want to stress my huge congratulations to every one of you who applied. I know that hearing ‘applying is a success in itself’ can be annoying – we all know we want to be published. But the truth is, applying for writer development programmes, sending submissions to publishers, entering competitions and all the rest we do to get our writing read, IS brave and brilliant and exactly what writers at all levels need to do if they want to reach readers. It can be scary to send your heart and soul out there. I certainly found it so when I was seeking publication, and I still do now. So if you applied – congratulate yourself. Congratulate yourself for writing in, for getting it done, for meeting the deadline. Even if you didn’t meet it, there will be next year (I hope!). And congratulate yourself just for WRITING full stop. Writing is a joy and a pleasure but it can also be a struggle for so many reasons. It doesn’t become less of a struggle when you’re published (sometimes it becomes more of a struggle). So you’re all doing brilliantly just by putting fingers to keyboard, pen to paper.
So keep writing, keep enjoying writing – and I look forward to reading your great stories in the next few weeks. And finally, thank you also for completing the online survey – this is really important because it allows me to get an idea of what’s working, what isn’t working and what needs addressing, and prepare a useful report for the funders. I’m really pleased to say that the feedback has been very positive overall – the main concern was to get the word out more. I agree this would be great, and will be working on it in the coming year so that (again, I hope!) if Megaphone runs again, we’ll have channels already open for promoting the scheme.
Leila Rasheed