FAQs

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY APPLYING FOR ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND FUNDING TO RUN THE SCHEME IN 2021 AND DETAILS MAY CHANGE DEPENDING ON WHETHER WE ARE SUCCESSFUL OR NOT. PLEASE ALSO NOTE ANY 2021 SCHEME WOULD BE ONLINE DUE TO COVID-19.

What does it involve?

How do I apply?

Must the novel I write be about ethnic minority characters, or diversity issues?

Can I write a picture book?

How will I benefit from this scheme?

Why do we need this scheme?

How much does it cost?

Am I eligible?

I’m eligible, but is the scheme suitable for me at this point in my writing life?

When will it run?

What is the closing date for applications?

Where does it take place?

What do I need to do during the scheme?

I would love to apply but am not sure I can afford it.

What are the masterclasses about?

What will happen during the one-to-one sessions?

I’ve applied. Now what happens?

What if I apply and am not selected?

Will you pass my contact details onto others?

I have a question that isn’t answered here. How can I contact Megaphone?

What does it involve?
Over the course of one year, participants will write a novel for children or teenagers. They will also:

  • Attend masterclasses in the art, craft and business of writing for children and teenagers, given by published children’s authors, agents and editors
  • Attend six, one-to-one mentoring sessions with an experienced creative writing tutor, focused on bringing their novel to a publishable standard
  • At the end of the year, read from their work at a showcase event, to which publishers and press will be invited

Because of the current danger to public health (Covid-19), we have redesigned the scheme to run entirely online via Zoom Pro. The content will be the same as above, just online.
The scheme costs £300, though funding is available for participants in financial need.  Applications are awarded on merit.

Applicants must be resident in England.

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How do I apply?

You’ll be asked to email us a sample of writing and a letter of application. We will publish full details on the website once we know we can definitely run the scheme. Please follow the blog or @MegaphoneWrite on Twitter to be informed when we open to applications.

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Must I write about ethnic minority characters, or diversity issues?

Not unless you want to. We want your voice, your individual creativity, your ideas. You can write about whatever you want.

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Can I write a picture book?

No, sorry. We love and value picture books, but the scheme focuses on novels for ages 7 and up. 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! (Working on it – drop us a line at megaphone.write@gmail.com if you’d like to register interest). If you are an illustrator, the Pathways project (https://pathways-org.com/) may help.

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How will I benefit from this scheme?

  • 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 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

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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 contribute to changing 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) 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) 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.
https://clpe.org.uk/RR

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.”
https://www.spreadtheword.org.uk/projects/rethinking-diversity/

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

 

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How much does it cost?
The scheme costs £300. You will not have to pay anything until you have accepted a place 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 by cost – we will never refuse anyone a place just because they can’t afford it.

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Am I eligible?

The scheme is for writers of colour who are resident in the UK and aged 18 +. Applicants should self-define their ethnicity; multiple/mixed heritage writers are welcome. We are looking specifically for people from groups that are under-represented as writers for children in Britain, so please bear that in mind (maybe read the background reading mentioned on this page under the heading WHY DO WE NEED THIS SCHEME? if you’re not sure).

Applicants 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. Any previous self-publishing should not be of the nature that it would preclude launching the writer as a debut novelist for children/ YA (in other words, one self-published picture book, ten years ago, that sold fifty copies, would probably be acceptable, but a recently self-published series of novels that has had a lot pf publicity, for example, would be more problematic). 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.

Writers who are published in other fields (e.g. adult fiction) are welcome to apply. Unpublished writers are equally 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. 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 check eligbility.

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I’m eligible, but is the scheme suitable for me at this point in my writing life?

If you

  • 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
  • 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
  • define yourself as belonging to an ethnic minority group/ being a person of colour
  • have never had a book for children published before

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

You will probably (though not necessarily)

  • have been writing for some time
  • have experience of sharing your work, for example with a critique group.

If you are still unsure, please contact us at megaphone.write@gmail.com – we are more than happy to discuss it.

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When will it run?

We are working on a new scheme for 2021 – more details as soon as we have them!

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Where does it take place?

We are developing a new scheme which will be entirely online due to the Covid-19 situation (2021).

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What do I need to do during the scheme?

Write a novel! That means you will need to be sure you have time to write. You should consider the scheme as a serious commitment.

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I would love to apply but am not sure I can afford it.

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. Writers who are low income/ on benefits will be fully supported financially but financial disadvantage is not in itself a criterion for selection. If you wish to apply to be considered for funding, discount or instalments please include this information with your application.

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What are the masterclasses about?

These are writing workshops which will provide plenty of opportunity for you to engage, be creative, ask questions. Each masterclass leader will design a workshop based on their experience.  Publishers and agents will lead sessions focused on their expertise – these will be less about developing your creativity and more about developing your understanding of the publishing industry.

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What will happen during the one-to-one sessions?

These sessions will be focused on your novel in progress. You will need to send your mentor a section of your writing at least two weeks before each session, which they will read and discuss with you. The aim of the sessions is to help you discover ways of making your novel as strong and publishable as it can be. For the first 5 sessions, your mentor will read a maximum of 5000 words. For the final session they will read your entire novel.

There is a good guide to mentoring and what to expect here, published by the National Associaton of Writers in Education (download it through the link in the bottom right corner, it is a .pdf file): http://www.nawe.co.uk/DB/resources-3/mentoring-a-guide-for-creative-writers.html

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What if I apply and am not selected?

Don’t lose hope. Rejection is part and parcel of a writer’s life; even published writers get rejected. Perseverance is the single most important strength a writer needs. Also, don’t lose touch. Last time Megaphone ran we had 60 applications and could only offer 5 places.  This time we want to ensure that we can offer some support to everyone who applies. This will not be a full mentoring scheme, but will contain useful resources and a chance to chat to people in publishing.

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Will you pass my contact details on to others?

No. We never sell or share data. If, for example, an editor wanted to see more of your work, we would contact you and ask for permission to put you in touch with them. We delete all personal information such as contact details as soon as possible.

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I have a question that isn’t answered here. How can I contact Megaphone?

Contact Megaphone by email with questions, suggestions, for information, etc: megaphone.write@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter @MegaphoneWrite.
Or through the comments box:

 

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