Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators


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Date(s) - 13/05/2023 - 14/05/2023

Zoom - virtual meeting online
Virtual - meeting , online Uk

Your first published book is an exciting and terrifying time. Not only do you have to create the best book you can but you also must work to promote yourself and your book. The SCBWI Boot Camp can help you prepare for the opportunities and challenges of being a published author or illustrator. Your drill sergeants for the day will be authors Candy Gourlay, Sara Grant and Mo O’Hara (see profiles below).

We’ll discuss ways to promote your book, maximise social media, create educational and entertaining school visits – both in person and online – and how to work with your publisher and the children’s book community.



£50 SCBWI Members

£50 SOA Members

£65 Non Members


Who can apply?

  • Authors and illustrators who have a book coming out in the next 18 months
  • Authors and illustrators who are previously published may also apply.

Places are available for traditionally and self-published authors/illustrators.


Grants for UK-based applicants

A limited number of fully funded tickets are available for applicants based in the UK who are under-represented in children’s publishing, including:

  • SCBWI British Isles members who have financial need
  • SCBWI British Isles members who identify as BAME, LGBTQIA+, disabled or working class
  • And non-members who identify as BAME, LGBTQIA+, disabled or working class


How to Apply

Please apply on this form. You will need to provide details on you and your upcoming book. You can apply for a grant on the form.   You will not be asked to pay until your application has been accepted.


If your application is accepted 

You will need to download the Slack app the week before the event. We will use this platform to deliver content, bond, network and chat in the week before through the week after.

Applications close on 14 April.

All applicants will be notified the following week about the success of their application.



Saturday 13 May 2023

10 a.m.           Welcome

10:15 a.m.      Planning for Publication with Sara Grant – how to organise your time and resources to maximise book promotion and save your sanity.

11:15 a.m     Break

11:30 a.m.    Panel of children’s book industry professionals – how to work with your publisher.

1 p.m.          Lunch break

2 p.m.          The How & Why of Digital Opportunity with Candy Gourlay –  an overview of social media and how best to use the different platforms.

3 p.m.          Breakout sharing sessions – writers and illustrators will break into small groups to discuss and share promotional ideas.

Sunday 14 May 2022

10 a.m.       Welcome and recap of sharing sessions.

10:30 a.m.   School Visits: Getting Your Act Together with Mo O’Hara – a tutorial in how to host successful school visits.

11:30 a.m.   Break

11:45 a.m.    Panel of librarians, booksellers and event organizers – advice on securing speaking engagements and making the most of opportunities to meet readers. 

12:45 a.m.   Lunch break

1:45 p.m.     Final Q&A with Candy, Mo and Sara and Wrap Up



Your Drill Sergeants

Since 2016 Mo O’Hara, Candy Gourlay and Sara Grant have hosted SCBWI British Isles Bootcamp. 


Sara Grant

Sara Grant writes and edits fiction for children and teens. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Crystal Kite Award for Europe. Ten of her books have been traditionally published, including two series – Chasing Danger, an action-adventure series for tweens, and Magic Trix, a funny magical series for young readers. Dark Parties, her first young adult novel, won SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Award for Europe. As a freelance editor of series fiction, she has worked on fourteen different series and edited nearly 100 books. She consults with Storymix, the inclusive fiction studio. She’s taught master’s courses on writing for children/teens at Goldsmiths University and the University of Winchester. She has given writing workshops in the US, UK and Europe. She co-founded Undiscovered Voices – which has launched the writing careers of more than a hundred authors and illustrators, who now have published more than 400 children’s books. 

Mo O’Hara 

Originally from America, Mo O’Hara moved to London because she wanted to live abroad but spoke no foreign languages. After a brief and unsuccessful stint as a serving wench at the Tower of London Mo found work as an actress and comedy performer. It was when she toured the UK as a storyteller that she started writing for kids. Now, Mo lives in South London with her husband, her two kids and her two (slightly bitey) cats.  Mo’s New York Times Bestselling series My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish has been translated into 14 different languages.  She writes picture books, young  fiction and graphic novels including Agent Moose (Illustrated by Jess Bradley) which is out with Scholastic in the UK and Macmillan in the US.  Her latest young fiction series, Honey’s Hive (illustrated by Aya Kakeda) , with Anderson Press is out in April.  Mo’s latest picture book , Hush Little Rocket (illustrated by Alexandra Cook) is out with Macmillan in the US in March. Mo has toured extensively across the USA and the UK and has also visited schools and festivals in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mo has been a SCBWI volunteer for about twelve years and loves organizing PULSE events with Candy Gourlay and doing Debut Bootcamp with Candy and Sara Grant!


Candy Gourlay

Candy Gourlay was an early adopter of digital platforms, creating a following with her popular blog Notes from the Slushpile in the 2000s. After an enthusiastic decade, she left Facebook following revelations of the platform’s fatal negligence in the developing world but continues to maintain content on Instagram and Twitter. She has given presentations on digital opportunity, virtual events and author platforms for Booktrust, the Society of Authors, SCBWI and the Bookseller Conference. Candy’s latest novel, Wild Song, was published in March to stellar reviews including both Times and Sunday Times Book of the Week. Previously, her teen novel Bone Talk, was shortlisted for the Costa Award and the Carnegie Medal. Candy has been a SCBWI volunteer since she began to search for agents more than 20 years ago, and just loves working with her SCBWI pals to make things happen for other KidLit creators.