We’ve answered every question we could think of. If yours isn’t here, contact us.
Update: We closed to applications at midnight, 31/08/23. Our warmest thanks to everyone who applied!
The judges will meet at the end of September so you will hear whether you have a place on the mentoring scheme or in the Community group in very early October. We’re sorry it can’t be any earlier but the judges are kindly volunteering alongside their work and family commitments so we are limited to their timetable.
If possible, we’ll let those who have got a place in the Community group (the first 60 applicants to apply) know during September.You can read about Community here: https://megaphonewrite.com/megaphone-mentoring-community-2023/ – scroll down to download a document with full details about what’s on offer, including dates of planned events.
Every time we run, we receive many, many excellent applications and simply can’t award a mentorship to everyone. Competitions like this are always subjective to an extent, and many people who were not successful in getting a Megaphone mentorship have still gone on to be published, so if you are not selected on this occasion, please don’t lose heart. There are some links on our website to other relevant opportunities: https://megaphonewrite.com/resources-for-childrens-writers-of-colour/
We do offer feedback, and will be in further touch about this once the mentees have been selected.
What does it involve?
1-1 MENTORING: Over the course of one year (14 months), 8 mentees will write a novel for children or teenagers. They will also:
- Attend career workshops about the art, craft and business of writing for children and teenagers.
- Attend one-to-one mentoring sessions with a published author, focused on bringing their novel to a publishable standard (13 hours total)
- At the end of the year, attend an event to launch their book, to which publishing professionals will be invited. This is planned to be in London in November 2024, further details closer to the time.
- The scheme costs £300, which is a fraction of the real cost of delivering it. However, full funding is available as are discounts and instalments. Applications are awarded on merit, based on the writing sample.
- In 2023 we will be including balancing criteria to enable us to decide between applications of equal merit – see balancing criteria.
- During Covid, like many organisations, we began to deliver online and found there were many benefits. The scheme is online, except for the showcase event.
Applicants must be resident in England and aged 18 +. They should not have published a work for children/teenagers before. We welcome applications from people who have published in other fields and want to move into writing for children/ teenagers.
For full details see the mentee agreement linked to below.
We will ask you to indicate that you have read the mentee agreement when you apply; the agreement is here so you can read this in advance:
Our latest round of applications closed at midnight on 31/08/2023. We’d like to thank everyone who applied. If you have any questions about your application, please don’t hestitate to get in touch. Every applicant should now have received an email acknowledgement of receipt. The judges will meet at the end of September and mentees will be notified as soon as possible afterwards.
Our policies are at this page: how we do things.
No, not unless you want to. We want your voice, your individual creativity, your ideas. You can write about whatever topic you want to.
Unfortunately we are only looking for novels for ages 8 up to young adult. We think a scheme for picture book authors would need to be designed differently and we’ve just not had the time yet to design that scheme! However, this is something we are looking at. Meanwhile if you are an illustrator, the Pathways project (https://pathways-org.com/) may help. If you are Black British, the amazing Jericho Prize is a great place to start.
- You will have sustained support through the process of writing your first children’s/YA novel
- You will benefit from the insight and experience of established children’s authors and editors
- You will be supported by an experienced mentor (a published children’s author) who will work with you to make your novel as good as it can be
- You will be guaranteed exposure to the publishing industry and have the opportunity to develop valuable networks and contacts
- You will be helped to develop the information, insight, networks and skills you need to sustain a career as a writer of fiction for children or teenagers in the long-term
No, for practical reasons it is too complicated to organise this at the moment. However we’ll seek to match you with a mentor who best fits your writing interests. You can see a list of our mentors here: (LINK TO COME)
Why do we need this scheme?
Children’s writers from minority ethnic backgrounds are under-represented in British children’s literature. The ultimate goal of Megaphone is to change the landscape of children’s reading in the UK so that children from ethnically diverse backgrounds can see themselves not only as characters in, but also as potential authors of, the books they read. Since Megaphone first ran in 2015 many different agencies have underlined the marginalisation of people of colour in publishing, especially the following:
BOOK TRUST Book Trust Represents (2018, 2020) collected and analysed data about children’s authors of colour :
“Between 2007 and 2017, fewer than 2% of children’s authors were British people of colour”: https://www.booktrust.org.uk/what-we-do/programmes-and-campaigns/booktrust-represents/representation-of-people-of-colour-among-childrens-book-authors-and-illustrators/
CENTRE FOR LITERACY IN PRIMARY EDUCATION Reflecting Realities (2018, 2019, 2020) collected and analysed data about representation of people of colour in children’s books:
-In 2018 only 7% of children’s books featured any BAME characters
-In 2018 just 4% of children’s books had BAME main protagonists
-However many BAME characters were assessed to be stereotypes, negative or token.
SPREAD THE WORD Rethinking Diversity in Publishing (2020) investigated structural racism and bias in British publishing:
“the entire publishing industry is set up to cater for a white, middle-class audience.”
ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND/ SHEFFIELD HALLAM UNIVERSITY Time for Change (2019) investigated ” the current position of BME people working in the sector (of children’s literature), the barriers they face and what the Arts Council and other organisations can do to achieve positive and sustainable change.” Megaphone is one scheme noted as effective: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/publication/diversity-children%E2%80%99s-literature-report-2019
How much does it cost?
There are 8 mentoring places available.
The cost of each place on 1-1 mentoring has been set at £300, which is a fraction of the actual cost of delivering it. The cost has remained the same since 2016.
However we want to make this scheme as accessible as possible, and therefore we have discounts available thanks to our funders.
2 places are 100% funded (cost to mentee: £0)
2 places 75% funded (cost to mentee: £75)
2 are 50% funded (cost to mentee: £150)
2 are 0% funded (cost to mentee: £300)
When you are offered a place we will contact you and ask you to select an appropriate fee/ discount level for your circumstances. This will be confidential and you should select the fee you feel comfortable with, without. You will then be able to pay in one lump sum or in instalments.
You will not have to pay anything until you have accepted a place as a mentee on the scheme. Writers in need will be fully supported financially but financial disadvantage is not in itself a criterion for selection. Please do not be put off applying for mentoring by cost – we will never refuse anyone a place on the basis of affordability.
There is no application fee.
COMMUNITY membership and events are free.
This is the total cost for all elements, we will not ask you for any other payments at any point.
The scheme is for writers of colour who are resident in England and aged 18+.
Applicants should self-define as people of colour; multiple/mixed heritage writers are very welcome.
Applicants for 1-1 mentoring should not have published work for children or young adults before. That said, we acknowledge many people who are marginalised by mainstream publishing are choosing to self-publish. So any previous self-publishing should not be of the nature that it would preclude launching the writer as a debut novelist for children/ young adults. Our decision will be led by the goals of the scheme: will the previous self-publishing make it difficult to publish the completed novel successfully? Will that mean it is less likely to find an audience? We may consult with our partner editors on this issue. If in doubt, contact us and we can discuss it!
Writers who are published in other fields than children’s literature (e.g. adult fiction) are very welcome to apply. The selection is made on the basis of the writing sample and your publishing history (unless you have previously published a novel for children or young adults) will not be taken into account. Our aim is to make a difference to bookshelves and encourage a wider range of people to write great books for young readers.
Writers should not be currently agented.
Note: If you have already agreed with your agent that they will only deal with your adult work and you would be seeking a new agent for any children’s / YA work, please email us to discuss eligbility.
What are your balancing criteria?
In 2023 we are looking for ways of encouraging an even wider range of people to apply, especially those who might not have benefitted from a scheme like this before. Therefore we will be applying two balancing criteria, as follows:
When we are looking at applications of equal merit, we will prioritise applications from
1) people living in Arts Council England priority places. These are areas in which Arts Council England (our major funder) has determined that its investment and engagement are currently too low. The list is here:
2) people who have not previously had the benefit of sustained 1-1 mentoring as a children’s/YA writer.
The balancing criteria will only be applied to 1-1 mentoring, not to Community. Community is offered on a first-come first-served basis to the first 60 to submit an eligible application. It is also offered to the mentees.
- have ideas for a children’s/YA novel you would like to write
- already spend a lot of time writing for pleasure and manage your time well to make sure you have time to write
- are ready to commit to a year-long programme
- understand the importance of working to improve your writing
- enjoy reading contemporary children’s and teenage fiction
- want to be published and have a career as a children’s/ YA author
then the scheme is for you.
You may also
- have tried writing for children before, but not had it published
- have expertise in another area of writing, for example drama or poetry, and want to develop your skills in another area of writing
You will probably (though not necessarily)
- have been writing for pleasure for a long time
- have experience of sharing your work, for example with a critique group.
If you are still unsure, please contact us at email@example.com – we are more than happy to discuss it.
We will be open to applications from 8 am on the 5th July 2023 to midnight on the 31st August 2023.
Mentoring will begin running from October 2023. The scheme ends in December 2024.
In 2020, we began running online, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This got very positive feedback as it was more convenient and accessible, so we’ve decided to keep going with a mostly online scheme. We use Zoom and Band . Band is an app for groups, and it looks a bit like a Facebook group, but without the ads and with more privacy.
Write a novel! That means you will need to be sure you have time to write and to take part in scheduled events such as masterclasses and 1-1 mentoring meetings. You should consider the scheme as a serious commitment which will take at least a day per week. We expect you to come to events which are scheduled as part of the scheme. If your circumstances change and you cannot attend we are always understanding, but you should communicate with us clearly and in a timely manner so that we can help. If you are regularly not turning up for scheduled events, we will discuss with you why this may be and try to find a solution.
Please don’t let this hold you back from putting your writing first. COMMUNITY is free and is offered to every applicant and there is no application fee. With MENTORING, the charge to participants of £300 represents only a small fraction of the real cost of a place on the scheme – our funders and in kind supporters make it possible for this scheme to run – but we have discounted places and flexible payments available. This includes 100% funding.
If you are one of the first 60 eligible applicants you will be offered a place on COMMUNITY. This is a free programme of career and creative development workshops and talks. All eligible applicants will be offered feedback.
Contact Megaphone by email with questions, suggestions, for information, etc: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter @MegaphoneWrite.
Or through the comments box: