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Hachette UK relaunches Future Bookshelf

Hachette UK is growing and relaunching The Future Bookshelf, its online creative writing community and open submissions platform for writers from under-represented communities. From 2022, The Future Bookshelf will house all of Hachette UK’s creative writing programmes focused around diversity and inclusion, starting with Modern Stories, an open submissions initiative for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers run by Headline Publishing Group, which launches today.

The Future Bookshelf is an integral part of Hachette UK’s Changing the Story diversity and inclusion programme, which marked its fifth anniversary in 2021 with the publisher releasing the results of its staff and author censuses in the ‘Changing the Story: People and Publishing Transparency Report’. The report identified key areas of under-representation among staff and authors and outlined several new initiatives to improve it over the next five years of Changing the Story, including the relaunch of The Future Bookshelf.

Co-chaired by Nick Davies, MD of John Murray Press and Patron of Changing the Story, and Rhiannon Smith, Editorial Director of Fleet, The Future Bookshelf will hold six varied projects across the course of the year, offering new mentoring opportunities and providing skills and support to aspiring writers from under-represented backgrounds. The programme aims to find books that would otherwise not be published, thereby building richer and more genuinely diverse lists across Hachette UK.

The brief for the inaugural initiative, Modern Stories, is to write a commercial crime or thriller novel about ‘a relationship that isn’t what it seems’ and can include any sub-genre of writing, from psychological or domestic suspense to detective fiction or action thriller. A team of influential bloggers will help to judge the shortlisted entries, including The Candid Book Club, Shikha Chopra of Unfolding Pages, Amyn Bawa-Allah of LipGlossMaffia and Nicola Soremekun of Booked Up and Busy. Shortlisted candidates will receive editorial feedback and a follow-up session with an editor, while one writer will be offered a full publishing contract with Headline.

Nick Davies and Rhiannon Smith commented: “We’re delighted to be announcing the new format of The Future Bookshelf with Headline’s Modern Stories initiative. We’re looking forward to enabling more projects from across Hachette in the future, with plenty of exciting announcements to come, including from the Mo Siewcharran Prize, Thrive’s Grow Your Story, and some brilliant partnerships with major literary agencies. Watch this space!”

The Candid Book Club said: “We are absolutely delighted to be on the judging panel for the Headline Modern Stories initiative, alongside some other wonderful book bloggers. We’re always on the lookout for new voices from under-represented communities, and so we are very much looking forward to candidly reviewing the shortlisted books and sharing our thoughts with everyone. This is an exciting opportunity for the candidates, and we’re privileged to be a part of their writing journey.”

To date, The Future Bookshelf scheme has helped to discover a host of talented new writers, including Elizabeth Wong, author of We Could Not See the Stars (John Murray Press), Eleni Kyriacou, author of She Came To Stay (Hodder & Stoughton), Rebecca Zahabi, author of Tales of the Edge (Gollancz), Elizabeth Okoh, author of The Returnees (Hodder & Stoughton), and Robert Hamberger, author of A Length of Road (John Murray Press).

In 2021, The Future Bookshelf paired nine writers with nine Hachette UK editors as part of its mentoring offer. The mentees are writing books across a wide range of fiction including sci-fi, YA, crime and thriller, fantasy, reading group fiction and historical fiction. They also enjoyed free access to one of Curtis Brown Creative’s short online courses as part of the programme.

Submissions for Modern Stories are now open. Candidates can now apply or find more information here.