Interview with WriteNow mentor Lydia Yadi

WriteNow, Penguin Random House UK’s programme to find, mentor and publish new writers currently under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves, is back for 2017. The world’s number-one publisher is looking for new writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability, to make books and publishing more representative of the society we live in. Find out more and apply at www.write-now.live. Applications close on 16 July 2017. Join the conversation using #WriteNowLive @PenguinRHUK. 

Here Norah Myers interviews WriteNow mentor Lydia Yadi, Assistant Editor, Portfolio at Penguin Random House UK, about her experience mentoring participants. 

1) Why is it important to you to be a WriteNow mentor?

Helping find, develop and publish unique stories and ideas is the most important part of my job as an editor and being a WriteNow mentor gives me the opportunity to do that with an extremely talented author who I might not otherwise have discovered.

The WriteNow scheme is a brilliant way for Penguin Random House to help make publishing a fairer industry that speaks to readers of all kind and finding voices that represent the true range of British experiences is something I feel passionately about.

I believe it’s important that young editors get involved with this scheme. Most book lovers remember the first time a book truly spoke to their own experience with excitement — if by finding writers who widen the conversation I can help new audiences engage with books in a way they haven’t before, I’ll be happy.

2) As an editor, what do you look for in submissions?

When I stumble across something original it makes the task of getting through an endless stack of proposals worth it. I’m usually sent proposals rather than full submissions so when I am reading non-fiction outlines I look for well-researched or well-developed ideas that offer a new perspective on a topic.

To stand out in a crowded space a book has to connect with a specific audience, so as well as having a refreshing proposition, a submission must illustrate awareness of who will buy the book and what they will be gaining from reading it.

3) Penguin Random House has made the decision to hold insight days for WriteNow outside of London. How does this further reflect your commitment to diversity?

At Penguin Random House UK we want to lead the industry to make publishing more inclusive and that means listening to and engaging with voices from all over the country. Focusing our attention outside the capital is going to attract more local talent in underserved metropolitan areas and create a richer more diverse literary culture for Britain.

4) What do you hope to gain from mentoring new writers?

Working in personal development, business and career books, I am always looking to challenge my own thinking and way of doing things. Mentoring new writers opens my eyes to new experiences and teaches me about audiences I might not have known much about before. In mentoring new writers I hope to gain insight into the lives of others, help diversify the industry’s outlook and feel pride knowing my efforts have helped aspiring writers achieve their goals.

5) What are three pieces of advice that you would you give to a prospective applicant?

Can I give five pieces of advice because No 1 on my list is 1) Break the rules!?

2) Always be true to yourself – your individuality not conformity is what makes you interesting

3) Think positively and with confidence

4) Write with meaning, heart and flair

5) Edit with precision and without feeling (too much!)

Find out more and apply at www.write-now.live. Applications close on 16 July 2017.

Join the conversation using #WriteNowLive @PenguinRHUK

Lydia Yadi is an Assistant Editor at Portfolio, within Penguin Random House UK. Portfolio is one of the fastest-growing business and personal development imprints in the UK and internationally. Lydia commissions new books, works across backlist titles, and provides editorial support to authors. Find out more and apply at www.write-now.live. Applications close on 16 July 2017. Join the conversation using #WriteNowLive @PenguinRHUK. 

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