Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators






Fringe Friday, 1 November

Meet lots of lovely people in an informal setting. After all, the weekend is for creativity, fun and networking!

The Famous Fringe!

The Friday Fringe has a Scrawl Crawl or a Drink and Draw event. If you arrive early and want to socialise and have fun creating with friends old and new, it starts at 2.00 pm. 

Scrawl Crawl 12pm or 2pm Venue The Scrawl Crawl will meet by Winchester Cathedral main entrance at 12pm and again at 2pm. In keeping with this year’s conference theme *Telling Tales*, we’ll be exploring the myth of St Swithun (which is based around events in Winchester), visiting sites and reinterpreting the stories for the 21st century in our scrawls.

Drink & Draw Social 2-4 pm Venue For those who prefer images, Soni Speight invites you indoors to keep warm and dry while you sketch and enjoy Winchester’s fantastic ambience.

SCBWI Newbie Crawl 4.15pm Venue TBA Walk up to Uni and tour the town showing all the important places around the Uni campus and the best route to the party venue ending in time for the Friday Night Critique. Join us for a bit of an orientation and a chance to meet some people before getting into the full conference flow.


6 to 8 pm – Friday Night Critique

‘Twas the night before conference . . .

Why not join us for our popular Critique Meet (with 80 plus fellow writers and illustrators)? This night is for everyone and anyone, whether it’s your first critique or you’ve been doing it for years. It is a fantastic opportunity to get peer feedback on your manuscript or artwork.
We meet at 6 pm Winchester University for a prompt 6.30 pm start.

For more information please see the Friday Night Critique FAQ.

8.15 pm – Dinner

Optional two-course set meal at the university (with wine and beer available to buy). Open to everyone, even if you haven’t been to the critique. Please note, you must sign up for the meal on your online booking form.

Saturday, 2 November

Saturday is a day for networking, honing your skills and immersing yourself in the children’s book industry – whatever your level, there is something for you! In the evening, join us for the Industry party, a celebration of the publishing year’s crop of SCBWI-BI books and the presentation of the Crystal Kite Award.


8:45 – 9:30 Welcome coffee and registration
(For everyone, not just newbies)

And so it begins! Sign in, collect your folder of goodies, find out which rooms your sessions will be in, and settle in for a wonderful weekend.

Those new to the conference can come and meet our experienced conference volunteers. This friendly bunch will make you welcome, answer your questions and be available throughout the conference to help or just chat.

Meet Your Network

Ease yourself into the conference by meeting up with your local Network Organisers and volunteers. You can also check out what’s happening in nearby networks. There will be folks around to talk about every network area. 


This is a great place for newbies to connect with their local network and make friends for the weekend, and a great opportunity for everyone to socialise and volunteer!

9:30 to 9:45 – Opening Remarks
With Natascha Biebow and Kathy Evans (Co-Regional Advisors)

Natascha Biebow
Co-Regional Advisors Natascha and Kathy introduce the conference theme.

9:45 to 10:35 – Author Keynote
With Geraldine McCaughrean


10:35 to 10:55 – Coffee Break

10:55 to 12:15 – MORNING BREAKOUTS

First Pages Panel (for Writers)
With Bella Pearson of Guppy Books, Becky Bagnell of The Lindsay Literary Agency and author Benjamin Scott
Willing delegates (selected beforehand) will be able to get immediate feedback when they present the First Page of their book to our panel of industry professionals.
First Impressions Panel (for Illustrators)
With Art Director Strawberrie Donnelly of Scholastic, Arabella Stein of the Bright Agency and illustrator Bridget Marzo

An Art Director, an Agent and and an Illustrator… This is not the start of a joke, this is an exciting panel looking at illustration submissions and sharing their valuable insights. Come and find out what an exciting submission looks like and what common mistakes you can avoid, whilst looking at real examples. Willing delegates (selected beforehand) will be able to hear the initial reaction to their work.
PULSE/SPARK ~ Career Longevity for Mid-List Authors
With author Beverley Birch and Lara Hancock from Penguin Random House
How can an author stay afloat in the shifting currents and stormy commercial seas of publishing today? How can they achieve longevity in a career? And how does the relationship with an editor, and an editor who champions them at the publisher make a difference. Lara Hancock (Publisher for Picture Books, Partnerships and Illustrated Non-fiction at Penguin Random House Children’s) and Beverley Birch (published author for over 30 years, and former senior commissioning editor) lead an exploration of how authors can keep going and keep faith with their creative integrity, stage a comeback, or make a splash in the market.

12:15 to 13:15 – Lunch

13:15 to 14:15 – Illustrator Keynote
With Mini Grey

14:20 to 15:40 – AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS

The Magic of Inclusivity
With Aimée Felone from Knights Of and illustrator Selom Sunu
Aimée and Selom discuss the power of children being able to really see themselves represented in books, what happens when you take positive action rather than waiting for others and how commissioning illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds enriches books for everyone.
‘Speed Pitching’ Your Stories
With agents- Alice Williams & Catherine Pellegrino and editor –  Joe Marriot (Penguin Random House). Hosted by Tracy Liennard.
Practice your short snappy elevator pitch and get feedback on your story concept. This is a round-robin-style session where you will have the opportunity to pitch your story idea to two agents or editors and receive immediate feedback. This gives you two chances to perfect your pitch and learn from other attendees as you listen to them from your position in the queue. Each back and forth will last roughly 4 minutes, leaving time between pitches to make adjustments according to feedback. It’s just like speed dating but with stories.

Please note: Numbers for this session are limited to 32. We now have only positions on the waitlist remaining, once these are full then this option will be closed. For more information on this session please see the Speed Pitching link on the conference front page.

Newbie 101 Session
With Davinia Andrew-Lynch of Andlyn
 A tailored session to ensure our newest members have all they need to know about submitting to agents. This will cover how to write a good cover letter and perfecting a synopsis. It will be full of hints and tips to ensure that your submission jumps to the top of any submission pile.

It will offer a safe space to ask all those burning questions and get answers straight from the expert’s mouth.

Ask a Librarian
With Lucas Maxwell and Elizabeth McDonald
A visit with an author, poet or illustrator is a wonderful way to connect children—and their families—with the magic of books and reading. Join Lucas Maxwell – A Former School Librarian of the Year – and Elizabeth McDonald – Public Librarian of the Year 2016 – for tips and essential resource advice on ensuring you have a successful visit.
Fiction Based on True Events
With Geraldine McCaughrean
Fiction based on True Events: Since history is invariably stranger than fiction, it is a good place to go treasure hunting – so long as few have been there before you.
Come prepared for adventure as Geraldine leads us through a voyage of her historical discoveries and helps point the way to new horizons and exciting finds. Who knows what tales you might find!

16:00 to 17:30 – The Hook
Hosted by Zoe Cookson and Kate Mallinder
Five conference delegates pitch their work to four agents. The prize for the one lucky winner will be a 1-1 with the agent of their choice from the panel.

Find more information including how to apply for The Hook here 

17:30 to 19:30 – Rest and Relaxation

Fantastic costumes on show at last years SCBWI BI Conference

19:30 to 23:00 – Party
Including Mass Book Launch and Crystal Kite Award

Time to let your hair down! A chance to socialise with other writers and rub shoulders with the stellar line-up of industry professionals attending. Partake of a drink or three, cheer the book launchers, and applaud the winner of the Crystal Kite Award.

Read the Party FAQ to find out more.

One glass of wine or juice on arrival is provided, thereafter it will be a cash bar. Canapés are also served, but if you think you’ll be hungry, please eat beforehand. And don’t miss the fabulous MBL CAKE!

Sunday, 3 November

Sunday is a day to roll up your sleeves! Take your pick of workshops and intensives. Whether you’re an illustrator or a writer, whether you’re pre-published, published or self-published, there will be a session just right for you!


9:00 to 9:35 – Outstanding Contribution Award

Volunteers make the SCBWI world go round. Here is our chance to celebrate the generous contributions of members from all over the British Isles.

9:35 to 10:25 – PULSE Keynote
With Nicola Solomon in conversation with Candy Gourlay

What with plunging advances, heavy discounting, and opaque contracts, how do authors know they’ve signed up to a fair deal with the book industry at large? Enter our trade union, the Society of Authors, fighting for author rights since its creation in 1884. Here are some things you might have had no idea the SOA was fighting for on your behalf:
• legislation for fairer contract terms for authors
• reforms to aspects of Universal Credit, Tax thresholds, and National Insurance that have had a negative effect on author livelihoods
• Fair payment for appearances at Festivals and other events
• Right of Approval when publishers heavily discount books (special sales)
A chance to hear Chief Executive Nicola Solomon discuss the SOA’s campaigns to uplift the livelihoods of authors. In conversation with Candy Gourlay


10:30 to 12:30 MORNING BREAKOUTS

FICTION FOCUS: Creating Characters to Care About (part one)
With Piers Torday
Characters are your story, but first we need to care about them. How do you write fictional characters, be they human or otherwise, that leap off the page? From story function to naming, voice to visual hallmarks, and that often problematic issue of character development, Piers will discuss different strategies for writing characters who live long in the memory after a book is finished. Children’s fiction is bursting with unforgettable heroes, villains and everything in between, but some of the precedents are different to adult fiction and this creates an opportunity for real imaginative invention. Bring existing characters who need work, or a blank space where there should be one – and some examples of your own favourite characters from children’s fiction.

(This is a full day workshop)

Be Brave: Unravelling, Then Re-Knitting A Stronger Picture Book (Morning Session Only)
With Natascha Biebow
Getting your manuscript tip-top for submission requires you to step back and take an objective look at your work. But how? In this workshop we will explore techniques to capture the big picture and scrutinize the small stuff. Bring highlighters or coloured crayons! You will come away with a checklist to help you do a micro and macro edit of your picture book.

In the workshop, we will aim to use some practical examples from attendees’ work. If you would like to send your work in for consideration for participation, please email your complete picture book manuscript (800 words or less) as a MS Word document or picture book document as a low-res PDF and email to: with SCBWI SELF-EDITING WORKSHOP in the header by no later than 30th September. Please note that it will not be possible to provide detailed feedback and/or include examples from every submission.

Telling True Tales (Morning Session Only)
With Isabel Thomas
Bigger, louder, LOTS more teeth . . . children’s non-fiction books are booming as young people, parents and teachers show a huge appetite for adventures in the real world. In this practical workshop, Isabel shares her approach to writing exciting non-fiction for children and young people, honed over the course of more than 150 titles. You’ll learn how to develop original non-fiction concepts, approach research, find your non-fiction voice and pitch winning proposals. Isabel also shares the mistakes she’s made, so you don’t have to!
How To Not Draw Things: Adventures in picture book making with pictures and words and scissors and glue. (Morning Session Only)
With Mini Grey
What do you when your ideas are no longer flowing, or something just isn’t working? Ever wished you had some fun exercises to bust through creative block?

In a hands on session, Mini will share techniques she uses herself to craft her stories.  You will explore different ways to creep up on ideas unawares and collect visual story material. Drawing may well be involved!
(Suitable for illustrators primarily, but anyone welcome)

PULSE: Doing it Yourself! Tools & Tips that Trace your Creative Journey from Production to Publication to Promotion
With Candy Gourlay and Sarah Towle
Join Candy Gourlay and Sarah Towle in this hands-on demonstration of the best user-friendly creation tools — as many as can fit into a Sunday workshop. From using Scrivener and editing your own book trailers to Instagramming, creating banners, logos, presentations and much more! This workshop will appeal to authors and illustrators alike, whether newbies or mid-listers, in the indie or traditional route. What tool would you like Sarah and Candy to demonstrate? Contact them here to let them know:

(Please note, this session will be running once in the morning and repeated again in the afternoon)

12:30 to 13:40 – LUNCH

13:40 to 15:40 – AFTERNOON BREAKOUTS

FICTION FOCUS: Creating Characters to Care About (part two)
With Piers Torday
(Continued from the morning session)
WRITERS’ WORKSHOP: Ruthless Revision: An Intensive Hands-On Workshop
(Afternoon Only)
With Sara Grant
You’ve finished a first draft of your novel. It’s got a beginning, a middle and an end. But your first draft is only the first step on your road to publication. This session offers an in-depth workshop on revision – using a combination of discussion and hands-on activities. Be prepared to review and dissect your work-in-progress. Participants will be asked to bring the first two chapters of their novels as well as colour pens and highlighters to the workshop.
Books: the Masters of Disguise (Afternoon Session Only)
With Mini Grey
 Words and pictures have countless ways of playing together,  and sometimes you need to experiment to get a story to work.

In this session Mini will lead us on an exploration of the different formats books can have and the different sorts of object a book can be. We’ll look at easy ways to make home-made books and make one to take away.

(Suitable for: anyone)

ILLUSTRATION FOCUS: The Art Directors Brief
(Afternoon Session Only)
With Jude Evans, Art Director at Little Tiger Press
This is a great opportunity to look at your illustration work through the eyes of an Art Director. How do they really see it, what are they looking for, how can you make small tweaks that make a big impact?

In this professional practise session for illustrators, Jude will give you tips on how to get the most out of a brief, and suggest ways in which you can be commercially successful and still creatively satisfied. 

PULSE/SPARK: Doing it Yourself! Tools & Tips that Trace your Creative Journey from Production to Publication to Promotion
With Sarah Towle and Candy Gourlay
Join Candy Gourlay and Sarah Towle in this hands-on demonstration of the best user-friendly creation tools — as many as can fit into a Sunday workshop. From using Scrivener and editing your own book trailers to Instagramming, creating banners, logos, presentations and much more! This workshop will appeal to authors and illustrators alike, whether newbies or mid-listers, in the indie or traditional route. What tool would you like Sarah and Candy to demonstrate? Contact them here to let them know:

(Please note, this is a repeat of the morning session)

15:40 to 16:10 – Closing Remarks, Coffee and Goodbyes

We all gather together to say our thanks to the volunteer team. You have a last chance for a bit of book shopping, cake, and a chat and giggle with your SCBWI colleagues, before you make your way home.



Book Conference Here





Our main sponsors are:


Society of Authors Main Sponsor: Golden Egg

SCBWI would like to thank the sponsors for their support. SCBWI is a non-profit organization
and does not endorse any products or services provided by external companies.


Illustrations © Mini Grey 2019