Frequently Asked Questions about Megaphone are on this page. PLEASE NOTE, THE SCHEME IS NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS. Please follow the blog to hear more in due course.

What does it involve?

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

Can I write a picture book?

How will I benefit from this scheme?

What are the goals of the 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 write a novel for children or teenagers. They will also:

  • Attend six, one-to-one mentoring sessions with an experienced creative writing tutor, focused on bringing their novel to a publishable standard
  • Receive feedback on their completed novel from at least one top children’s editor at a major publishing house
  • At the end of the year, read from their work at a showcase event in central Birmingham, to which publishers and press will be invited
  • Be professionally filmed reading from their work in a short film promoting their writing, which will be distributed and promoted to the publishing industry.

The scheme costs £300, though full funding is available for participants in financial need. This year funding allowed for  five places available on the scheme. Applications were awarded on merit.

Applicants must be resident in England.

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Must I write about ethnic minority characters, or BAME 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. The scheme focuses on novels.

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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 BAME children’s authors
  • Your novel will be read by one of Britain’s best children’s editors, and you will receive feedback to help you improve
  • 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 experience you will 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?

With the exception of a few ‘flag-ship’ names, children’s writers from minority ethnic backgrounds are under-represented in British children’s literature. The ultimate goal is 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. The links on the BACKGROUND page provide more context.

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How much does it cost?
The scheme costs £300. You will not have to pay anything until you have been offered a place on the scheme. Writers in need will be fully supported financially but financial disadvantage is not in itself a criterion for selection.

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Am I eligible?

The scheme is for BAME writers resident in England and aged 18 +. Writers 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. Writers should not have published  for children or young adults before.
We acknowledge that the area of publishing is in flux and that many people 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 (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 YA novels, for example, would be more problematic). Our decision will be led by the goals of the scheme: will this previous self-publishing make it difficult to publish the completed novel successfully? We may consult with the involved 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 had 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
  • 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 via the comments box or megaphone.write@gmail.com

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When will it run?

The masterclasses and one-to-one meetings will be delivered between 02/04/2016 and 31/03/2017. In this time there will be eight 2-hour masterclasses delivered by published children’s/YA writers and publishing professionals (see WHO IS INVOLVED for more details) and six one-to-one meetings with a mentor who will work with you to develop your novel-in-progress (the first five mentoring sessions last 1 hour; the sixth and final session lasts 2 hours). The masterclasses will run on Saturdays. The mentoring sessions will be arranged following individual discussion with the participants. You should plan to attend all masterclasses and all your mentoring sessions.

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What was the closing date for applications?

24th December 2015 – midnight.

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Where does it take place?

All masterclasses take place in the Writing West Midlands meeting room, at The Custard Factory, Central Birmingham, B9 4AA. They will be followed by an opportunity for the participants to meet informally as a group. The Custard Factory’s disabled access guide is here at http://www.disabledgo.com/access-guide/birmingham-city-council/custard-factory-2

 

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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 – explain how you will manage your time, in your letter of application. You should consider the scheme as a serious commitment.Masterclasses all take place in central Birmingham so you should consider the cost and time of travel as well as the fees.

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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 full funding, please include this information with your application (see APPLY for details). In the event you are selected we may ask for proof of low income/ benefits.

There is no specific fund to cover travel but we want to ensure that no-one is unable to take up a place due to financial disadvantage, so in the event you are selected to take part and feel the travel will be a significant burden, please discuss this with us. There may also be other funds such as Creative Skillset that are available to you, so look into these.

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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. Julia Churchill will lead a session focused on pitching and working with agents. Publishers will lead sessions focused on the business of writing for children. We will also draw on what you want to learn and integrate that into the workshops.

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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 Leila a section of your writing at least two weeks before each session, which she 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.

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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I’ve applied. Now what happens?

You’ll get an automatic response which you should take as evidence of receipt. We anticipate a large volume of applications so sadly we cannot reply to each one individually, but we are looking at ways in which applicants and interested parties can all benefit in some way from Megaphone – please sign up to follow the site if you want to be kept informed.

The applications will be longlisted, shortlisted and the 5 participants selected with the input of editors (see WHO IS INVOLVED). If you are selected, you will be notified by email in early February 2016 and invited to meet Leila in Birmingham on or around 05/03/2016. This meeting is for you to determine whether you feel there is a good ‘fit’ between you and the tutor, and to have the option of declining. We will discuss your plans for your novel and make arrangements for the mentoring meetings. Part of the programme involves making a promotional film so that your work and you can reach as many potential publishers as possible, so at this point we will need you to sign consent to be photographed/filmed.If for some reason you are not happy to be filmed/ photographed however, this will not mean you cannot take up your place.

If you are not successful you will be notified slightly later in March 2016. We are looking at ways of making sure everyone who applies benefits from the goodwill around Megaphone in some way, so please keep in touch by following us either here or on Twitter: @MegaphoneWrite .

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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. We hope to develop a community as the year goes on and create ways of bringing BAME writers and children’s publishers together which can include people at all stages of their writing journey. We hope this will be only the first year of Megaphone so if you are not selected you can always apply again next year. Also look at the BACKGROUND page for some links to organisations who may be relevant to you as a developing writer.

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Will you pass my contact details on to others?

No.

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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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