WordFactory Logo

Apprenticeship Application 2021

Word Factory Apprentice Award Application 2021

The National Mentoring Scheme For Short Story Writers

We are seeking two emerging short story writers to be individually mentored by leading authors for FREE as part of our renowned Word Factory Apprentice Award running from July 2021-March 2022.

The chosen writers will be talented, supportive of our inclusive ethos and willing to participate in our activities. To qualify, they need to be living in England. They will have access to our events and masterclasses — a programme offering creative inspiration, writer development and collaboration between leading and emerging writers.

Successful applicants will also:

  • Be invited to read their work with their mentor at a special Word Factory event.
  • Receive free membership to the Society of Authors.
  • Become part of the distinguished Word Factory Apprentice Award alumnae. Previous winners have achieved industry recognition including publication with independent and mainstream publishers such as Salt and Faber; awards and shortlistings including the Guardian BAME prize, Bath Flash Fiction Prize and Wasafiri prize; reviewing for journals and publications including the TLS, Economist and New Statesman and representation by leading literary agents.
  • Receive a small bursary.

The Word Factory Apprentice Award is celebrating its seventh year. We would like to thank our partners New Writing North and the Society of Authors. Previous partners include Literature Works, Writing West Midlands, and Arts Council England.

How To Apply

The award is offered to two talented authors on the way to their first collection of stories or beginning to send work out for publication. 

Please Note: the scheme is not suitable for anyone with novels or collections already published or under contract (self-published and non-fiction books may apply).

If you live in the North of England:

The award is open to submissions of work written in World English by writers of any nationality or descent who at the time of entering are permanently resident in the north of England. You will be mentored by Catherine Menon and offered additional developmental support and access to other opportunities near to home.

This place is supported by New Writing North as Part of the Northern Writers’ Awards.

To apply, follow the link below, where you will find the entry portal for the Word Factory Northern Apprentice Award:


If you live anywhere else in England:

The award is open to submissions of work written in World English by writers of any nationality or descent who at the time of entering are living anywhere other than the north of England.

You will be mentored by Toby Litt and also receive our Word Factory writer developmental opportunities.

Use the link below to apply and follow the full instructions:

There is a £10 fee to cover our admin. We do not want to exclude anyone in financial difficulty and if you can’t pay the fee and want to enter, please write to us at wfaward@thewordfactory.tv

  • Applications OPEN on November 26th 2020
  • Applications CLOSE on February 28th 2021 at 11:30PM.
  • Announcements at the Word Factory and Northern Writers’ Awards June 2021.
  • Mentorship completes March 2022.

Due to the high numbers of applications expected, we will not be contacting you if your application has been unsuccessful. Good luck! We look forward to reading your applications.

The Mentors

Our 2020/2021 mentors bring a vast range of experience to the award — plus a passionate commitment to the literary and social values of the Word Factory. We are delighted to announce that they are:

Toby Litt- Word Factory

Toby Litt

Toby Litt is best-known for writing his books – from Adventures in Capitalism to (so far) King Death – in alphabetical order; he is currently working on M. His story ‘John & John’ won the semi-widely-known Manchester Fiction Prize, and his story ‘Call it “The Bug” Because I Have No Time To Think of a Better Title’ was shortlisted for the notoriously lucrative Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. In December 2013, Vertigo DC launched Dead Boy Detectives a monthly comic written by Toby, based on characters from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Renowned for the craft and innovation of his award-winning novels and short stories, Toby teaches at Birkbeck, the University of London. His short story collection Life-Like, was shortlisted for the 2015 Edge Hill Story Prize.

Catherine Mennon photo - Word Factory

Catherine Mennon

Catherine Menon is the author of Fragile Monsters, which will be published by Viking in 2021. Her debut short story collection, Subjunctive Moods, was published by Dahlia Publishing in 2018. She has a PhD in pure mathematics and an MA in creative writing from City University, for which she won the annual prize. She’s won or been shortlisted in a number of competitions, including the Fish, Bridport, Bare Fiction, Willesden Herald, Asian Writer, Leicester Writes, Winchester Writers Festival and Short Fiction Journal awards.

The Judges

General applications will be judged by the co-founders of the award, Word Factory director Cathy Galvin and associate director, and Paul McVeigh. And this year they are joined by renowned short story writer Leone Ross and Will Mackie of New Writing North. Giselle Leeb and Tom Conaghan will assist the judgers as readers.

Sincere Thanks

Sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our scheme to date, most particularly our previous mentors Adam MarekStella DuffyAlex PrestonNicholas RoyleJacob RossVanessa GebbieProfessor Ailsa CoxAlexei SayleZoe GilbertJarred McGinnisNikesh ShuklaCourttia NewlandTom LeeK.J.Orr  Jenn Ashworth; Chris Power; Leone Ross; Lisa Blower; and Carys Davies.

Previous Apprentices

Trusted relationships are vital to the development of a writer. Our apprentices — Rebecca Swirsky, Holly Dawson, Kerstin Twatchmann, Uschi Gatward, Claire Adam, Divya Ghelani, Emily Devane, Melissa Fu, Durre Shawar, Avani Shah, Fergus Evans, Natalia Theodoridou, Georgina Aboud, Farhana Khalique, Sharon Telfer, Giselle Leeb, Clare Howdle, Roya Khatiblou, and Melissa Wan— have all become members of the Word Factory team in addition to winning awards and being published in leading magazines and journals.


The Word Factory Apprentice programme is a truly remarkable award that invites and fosters growth. The Word Factory masterclasses and salons have not only inspired me to improve my own craft but have also challenged me to use writing to connect with others and build understanding. With Zoe Gilbert’s generous mentorship, I have grown so much, taking risks and experimenting with form. I have loved every aspect of the award and highly recommend that aspiring writers apply for 2018. It is a wonderful community and I am so proud to be part of it.

Melissa Fu, 2017 Apprentice. mentored by Zoe Gilbert. In 2017 Melissa was published in The Nottingham Review, The Lonely Crowd, International Literature Showcase and Word Factory online. She was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Prize and had a Special Mention for Spread the Word’s inaugural Life Writing Prize.


Working with Nikesh has been amazing for both my ego and my word count. With his support and advice, my novel has grown in ways I couldn’t have expected. As for the community – the Word Factory gang have welcomed me with open arms. I’ve found myself a part of a group of readers and writers who cheer each other on, share work, and always have great suggestions for what to read next.

Avani Shah, 2017 Apprentice, mentored by Nikesh Shukla — in 2017 Avani was shortlisted for the Guardian BAME Prize.