Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators





As ever, we have a feast of opportunities for writers at this year’s SCBWI Conference. There is a selection of award winning published authors, agents, publishers and editors to help you hone your skills and get feedback on your work. Whether you are a picture book, middle grade or young adult author, there are industry experts for you. Develop your craft and share the energy of fellow authors and artists to help you on your writing journey.



Our author keynote, Geraldine McCaughrean, has published over 170 books.  She has a host of awards to her name and has won the Whitbread, Costa Children’s book award not one, not twice but three times, as well as being a double Carnegie Medal winner. Geraldine is probably best known for writing the official sequel to Peter Pan, titled Peter Pan in Scarlet.

Geraldine is a prolific writer and works within a wide range of genres including picture books, middle-grade and young adult, as well as retelling myths, legends and classical stories – making her the perfect choice for keynote speaker this year.  Her current novel Where the World Ends won the Carnegie Medal in 2018 and her other work includes The Middle of Nowhere, The Positively Last Performance and The Death-defying Pepper Roux. The very best thing you can do is to look at Geraldine’s website to really understand the range and breadth of her writing.

The Pulse/Spark keynote Nicola Solomon Chair of Society of Authors will discuss some of the most relevant issues for authors and illustrators.
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)

This is your chance to hear Chief Executive Nicola Solomon, in conversation with Candy Gourlay, discuss the SOA’s campaigns to uplift the livelihoods of authors.



A session for both authors and illustrators, Aimée Felone (Knights Of and Round Table books co-founder) and Selom Sunu (illustrator and character designer) will be discussing how taking positive action, wider commissioning and being inclusive in your approach to books can create magical moments for readers.

We have a First Pages session for writers, where Bella Pearson (editor at Guppy), Benjamin Scott, (author and host) and Becky Bagnell (agent with Lindsay Literary Agency) will be looking at the opening pages of submissions and sharing their valuable insights. Using real examples from conference attendees, find out how to avoid common mistakes and write exciting opening pages. Willing delegates (selected beforehand) will be able to hear the initial reaction to their work.



New to writing? Already published? We have a whole host of workshops to cater to a range of experiences and needs.

The amazing Geraldine McCaughrean is not only our keynote but will also host a workshop on Saturday afternoon.

You’ve written your novel, you’ve edited it, everything is now perfect and you are ready to send it out. This Newbie 101 session with Davinia Andrew-Lynch of Andlyn is a tailored session to ensure our newest members have all they need to know about submitting to agents, including writing a cover letter and the perfect synopsis. It will be full of hints and tips to ensure that your submission jumps to the top of any submission pile.

Self-editing your picture book. Through unravelling and then re-knitting your picture book, Natascha Biebow can help you get your manuscript in tip-top shape. This is a hands-on session to develop your work.

Interested in writing non-fiction? Let Isabel Thomas talk you through this increasingly-popular genre. 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!

Revision, revision, revision. Sara Grant offers you an opportunity to ruthlessly revise your first draft of your novel 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 coloured pens and highlighters to the workshop.

Do you want your reader to care about your characters? Join Piers Torday who will help you write fictional characters 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. Bring existing characters who need work, or the blank space where there should be one – and some examples of your own favourite characters from children’s fiction.



We have lots to offer our already-published authors. Beverley Birch and Lara Hancock are giving a workshop on career longevity for mid-list authors, helping you to stay afloat in the current challenging publishing climate. This is for authors who want to learn how to keep going and keep faith with their creative integrity, stage a comeback, or make a splash in the market.

Emma Suffield, (School Librarian of the Year 2018) and Elizabeth McDonald (Public Librarian of the Year 2016) will be presenting a workshop on what librarians want from authors – giving tips and resource advice on how to ensure a successful trip.
Our Pulse/Spark attendees can benefit from a range of demos covering scrivener, book trailers, building a website and much more!



Speed pitching , The Hook and author 1-1s are all opportunities to get exposure with our host of agents. We have an exciting range of ways to meet and get feedback from agents on your work.



Hone your pitch and get feedback from two agents while learning from other attendees pitching experiences. This is a perfect opportunity to tell your story and get feedback on it in four minutes. Then move onto the next agent and improve your pitch. Quick and effective – it’s like speed dating for stories.



Like Dragons’ Den but with children’s books. Five conference delegates have 10 minutes to introduce themselves, pitch their work and receive feedback from a judging panel of four agents. The agents choose the most promising delegate, then the delegate gets to choose their ideal agent from whom to receive up to an hour’s 1-1. Enter The Hook yourself or come and cheer on your fellow writers. Clare Wallace (Darley Anderson), Amber Caraveo (Skylark Literary) and Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency) are three of our agents who will be our dragons on The Hook!



This can be the most invaluable 15 minutes of your conference! You, your first ten pages of your manuscript, and an agent or editor providing direct feedback and empowering, constructive, criticism. Get your work read and critiqued by one of our industry professionals including Alice Williams (Alice Williams Literary), Becky Bagnell (Lindsay Literary Agency), Catherine Pellegrino (Catherine Pellegrino & Associates), Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency), Joanna Moult (Skylark), Bella Pearson (Guppy Books), Joe Marriott (Penguin Random House) and Davinia Andrew-Lynch (Andlyn).and many more.


Please note – Author 1-1s must be booked in advance and cost an additional £30 (or £35 for non-members) on top of your Conference fee. They are very popular so book quickly to avoid disappointment.



Meeting up with old friends, making new ones, Friday night offers a whole host of activities to get you in the mood for the weekend’s conference.

Why not start off with the scrawl crawl session for writers, before joining the tour of Winchester to get your bearings of this beautiful city. Next up, you can join the Friday night crit. Whether you are attending a 1-1 over the weekend or just want to take advantage of a fresh pair of eyes on your work then the Friday Night Crit will help you improve your work. Everyone meets up at 6pm and it finishes at 8pm. You will be invited to send the first 2000 words of your manuscript before the Crit, as explained here.

Finally there is the Friday night meal, where you can join your fellow writers and artists for a two course meal at the University. Sign up for the meal on the online booking form.



We have the 10 word pitch competition judged by our regional team. We also have a host of raffle prizes to be won including one to ones with agents.





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