Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Picture Book Weekend – From Idea to Bookshelf

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Date(s) - 25/09/2021 - 26/09/2021
10:00 am - 3:30 pm

Zoom - virtual meeting online
Virtual - meeting , online Uk



The life of a Picture Book from initial idea to bookshelf

Two whole days of picture book bonanza from the comfort of your own home!  (recording available for two weeks after the event).

*The zoom link will be in your email confirmation!
Watch out for it!

Bookings close on 20 September 2021


F   U   N   D   I   N   G

A limited number of fully funded tickets are available for writers underrepresented in children’s publishing (BAME, LGBTQ+, socio-economically marginalised and writers with a disability)

We recognise all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA+, BAME, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. We subscribe to a broad definition of disability, which includes but is not limited to physical, sensory, cognitive, intellectual, or developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and mental illnesses (this may also include addiction). Furthermore, we subscribe to a social model of disability, which presents disability as created by barriers in the social environment, due to lack of equal access, stereotyping, and other forms of marginalisation.

Application deadline: 30 June 2021
Successful applicants will be contacted by 30 July 2021








to 10.15










SATURDAY 25th September


Good morning!

Please log in early from 10.00 am to say hi, socialise in the Chatbox, make sure all your tech is working.

Paul Morton and Nick Cross will be there to greet you!





From Idea to Submission – with James Mayhew

Author/illustrator James Mayhew will share his process: 

  • Books that he has both written and illustrated – from getting the idea, character development to roughs; the writing part compared to the drawing stage. James will talk about the steps working up to a dummy book presentation to send to an agent/commissioning editor. How do you know it’s ready to send?
  • Books where James has illustrated another author’s text: James will talk about how he interprets the text – what thought process goes into this? What considerations and decisions are made? What’s the role of the ‘unsaid’ elements that an illustrator can add?
  • James will share tips for authors about the process of creating picture book art and ALLOWING space for the illustrator without art direction
11.15 15 min Break









The Pitch – Hooking the Agent + the Editor
and In-House Teams

with Jodie Hodges (Agent, United Agents) & Elaine Connolly (Senior Commissioning Editor, Hachette Children’s Group), moderated by Natascha Biebow

  • What makes a stand-out must-have submission to an agent, and to an editor? How do agents prepare a submission to a publisher and decide where to send books?
  • The Acquisitions process: We will unpick the role of the editor and role of the agent. How does it work? What series of meetings takes place at publishers as part of the acquisitions process? What stages does the book go through before going back to the author illustrator with a positive response or rejection?
  • Match Making: Our Commissioning Editor will discuss matching the text with an illustrator, and the process of pitching in-house, all the way through to the Acquisitions Meeting. If it’s a relatively new author /illustrator how does it differ from established, well-known names? 


12.30 to 13.15






SESSION 3 part 1

Revisions to Final Book. Part 1

with Author/Illustrator Mini Grey

Now the book is acquired, the creative work begins with REVISION

  • Get the insider view on this complex process: Mini Grey will share examples from her work to show the stages necessary to make the best book possible visually.
  • She will discuss her particular personal work method and her process. How many hours? How to handle creative blocks? Using tried and trusted media or experimentation?
  • Discover how to handle the pressure of deadlines – get tips on how to balance out marketing other books and working on new ideas simultaneously.


 14.00  15 min Break













SESSION 3 part 2

Revisions to Final Book. Part 2

with Chitra Soundar and Dapo Adeola

  • Chitra will talk about the process of revising the text from an author’s point of view – refinements to characterisation, changes to pacing, and working with an editor to comment on roughs
  • Dapo will talk about process of revision from an illustrator’s point of view – receiving feedback from the art director and editor, tightening up pacing and characterisation
  • Q&A






7-8 pm Evening Saturday evening social

Grab a drink and join us again on Zoom for an evening with your fellow picture book creators!

Please bring a favourite Picture Book or ‘How-to’ book as a conversation starter. Please join the meeting 10-15 minutes early so we can be sure to let everyone in! MAKE SURE YOUR ZOOM NAME MATCHES YOUR BOOKING NAME PLEASE.


NB: The SOCIAL Zoom link is different from the Weekend Programme one,
and you will find it in your confirmation email –
be sure to check for it!




to 10.15

SUNDAY 26th September


Log in from 10.00 to say hi, socialise in the Chatbox, make sure all your tech is working. Paul Morton and Nick Cross will be there to greet you!








Why does it take SO LONG to make a book?

With Art Director, Zoe Tucker, and Katie Cotton, Group Publisher, Quarto Books, moderated by Paul Morton

  • Zoe and Katie share the inside scoop on how they have collaborated on bestselling book projects. What goes on behind the scenes inside the publisher? What are the editor and the book designer’s roles as they liaise with the author, author/illustrator and illustrator? They will talk about:
  • Design decisions (getting the book ready for Production)
  • Editorial changes (creative process) & Pre-publication plans (working with Marketing/Publicity; the role of International Bookfairs and Rights Sales);
  • Covers: Sales/Marketing’s involvement at this stage, how is cover image discussed & finishes agreed;
  • Sales: How does the book get into Waterstones and Indies; the role of Amazon and special sales, paid-for space for promotion.
11.15 to 11.30 15 min break








SESSION 2 part 1

Publication – On the Bookshelf. Part 1 

With publicist Clare Hall-Craggs and bookseller Imogen Hargreaves, from the bookshop Mostly Books Abingdon, moderated by Nick Cross

  • What do publishers put in place to promote a book? We’ll talk about bookshop promotions. How can authors work with local bookshops – events and appearances? Other opportunities with local schools and community?
  • The book launch: what can an author do to help launch the book successfully? Online and in-person ‘tours’; blogs  & reviews, influencers, publicity opportunities.
  • How can an author work with a publicist to best help publicise their book? Top tips and No, no’s.
to 13.15
Lunch Break and Chat







SESSION 2 part 2

Publication – On the Bookshelf. Part 2 

with Chitra Soundar, Dapo Adeola, Mini Grey, James Mayhew, moderated by Paul Morton & Nick Cross

Our keynotes will share insights into how to launch and promote your books, including:

  • Top tips on how they’ve collaborated with their publishers to help raise the profile of their books. Most important lessons learned?
  • For debut authors, how to best create a presence, a footprint on the internet to establish a character, a series, and a career.
  • Allocating time to promotion vs creating new books
  • The book launch
  • Reaching influencers and reviewers
  • Reaching underrepresented audiences
  • School visits (virtual and in-person)
  • Creating an online Profile (Where Should You Be Visible?)
  • Working with bookshops and librarians
  • Educational materials, activity sheets, and other freebies – what works?



to 14.45



15 min break








Q&A with our authors & illustrators, the bookseller and publicist, moderated by Soni Speight and Natascha Biebow

Attendees will be invited to submit questions in the chat. The panel will address questions such as:

  • How have recent global events impacted you?
  • Co-editions and US market influencers
  • How has promotion changed from publication of your first book to a recent one?
  • The unexpected spin-offs. Films, games, requests….
  • How does someone as busy as you juggle all the various titles and franchises?











Mostly Books of Abingdon will be selling books from all our speakers.


Check out the titles and order here.








James Mayhew

Award winning author and illustrator James Mayhew is the creator of the best-selling KATIE and ELLA BELLA books, KOSHKA’S TALES and many other titles. He has been writing and illustrating for over 30 years. Katie merchandise is now available exclusively at the National Gallery in London.
Other titles include illustrations for MRS NOAH’S POCKETS (with Jackie Morris), the MOUSE & MOLE series (by Joyce Dunbar) and GASPARD THE FOX by BBC newsreader Zeb Soanes. James is also an established presenter of family classical concerts, and will be taking part in many unique events at music festivals all over the country. Find him at


Mini Grey

Mini Grey was given her name after being born in a Mini in a car park in Newport, Wales. She studied for an MA in Sequential Illustration at Brighton under the tutelage of John Vernon Lord. Mini also worked as a primary school teacher in Oxford, where she now lives. Her books include EGG DROP, THE PEA AND THE PRINCESS (shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), BISCUIT BEAR (winner of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Gold Award), TRACTION MAN IS HERE (winner of the Boston Horn Book Award and shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), THE ADVENTURES OF THE DISH AND THE SPOON (winner of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize Bronze Award and winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal), and TRACTION MAN MEETS TURBODOG. Mini Grey is one of the Big Picture’s ten Best New Illustrators. Find her at


Chitra Soundar

Chitra Soundar is an internationally published author of over 50 books for children. She is also an oral storyteller and writer of many things. Chitra writes picture books and fiction for young readers. Her stories are inspired by folktales from India, Hindu mythology and her travels around the world. Her books have been published in the UK, US, India & Singapore and translated into Chinese, German, French, Japanese and Thai. Find her at



Dapo Adeola

Dapo Adeola is an award-winning illustrator and designer who creates characters and images that challenge expectations around race and gender in a fun and upbeat way. He is the co-creator and illustrator of bestselling picture book LOOK UP!, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the number 1 debut picture book of 2019. Dapo is also illustrator of the Versify fiction series THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER and other upcoming series with Macmillan and Bloomsbury. London born and bred but of Nigerian heritage, when he’s not busy cooking up new characters and adventures you can find Dapo running illustration and character design workshops with children or organising events to help highlight the possibilities of a career in illustration to underrepresented members of the Black diaspora. Find him on Instagram @daposdraws



Jodie Hodges

Jodie works with authors and illustrators of picture books, helping them shape their stories and their portfolios, giving them the best shot at publication and beyond. She’s always on the lookout for knock-out texts, characters or concepts in picture book writing and for unique, relevant and engaging illustration. Find out more about her and submission guidelines at United Agents.



Elaine Connolly

Elaine is a Senior Commissioning Editor for picture books at Hachette Children’s Group where she has been busy acquiring some exciting books. Having joined in October 2020, Elaine is looking forward to not just seeing everyone’s heads and shoulders all the time. Before Hachette, she worked at Bloomsbury Children’s Book for nearly 7 years, where she acquired bestselling illustrated fiction and non-fiction for kids. Enthusiastic, creative, sometimes silly and extremely passionate about ensuring that every child can see themselves in books, Elaine is looking for stories that will sit proudly on every child’s bookshelf and will be read over and over and OVER again.



Zoe Tucker

 A freelance art director, designer, and author with over 20 years experience in children’s publishing. As an art director I get to work with some of the best illustrators in the business including Axel Scheffler, Nick Sharratt, Helen Stephens, and Guy Parker-Rees. I am passionate about characterisation and strong storytelling, and I love to discover and nurture new talent. Recent acquisitions include Nicola Kinnear, Nick Frith and Kirsti Beautyman. Find her at



Katie Cotton

Katie Cotton is Group Publisher at The Quarto Group, overseeing the Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, Wide Eyed Editions, Happy Yak, QED and Ivy Kids imprints. She is also the published author of LOOK UP AT THE STARS (FLCB, 2019) and BRICKS (Andersen Press, 2020). She started her career at Templar Publishing. She has been working in the industry for 10 years across all genres in children’s but with a special focus on prize-winning picture books, having commissioned two Waterstones Prize-winners in the Illustrated Books category: David Litchfield’s THE BEAR AND THE PIANO and Lizzy Stewart’s THERE’S A TIGER IN THE GARDEN. Find her on Twitter @KatiaCotton



Clare Hall-Craggs

Clare Hall-Craggs is Head of Publicity at Macmillan Children’s Books, working with authors and illustrators including Rod Campbell, Alex T Smith, Dara McAnulty and Baroness Floella Benjamin. Previously she worked at Nosy Crow and managed the arts and prizes team at the children’s reading charity BookTrust. As publicity director at Random House Children’s Books she promoted authors such as Simon Mayo, Philip Pullman, Shirley Hughes and John Burningham. She is passionate about classic children’s picture books, and is very much looking forward to visiting the Raymond Briggs exhibition at the Winchester Discovery Centre and the Giant Jam Sandwich show at The Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft.



Imogen Hargreaves

Imogen Hargreaves, bookseller,  is from the award-winning independent bookshop Mostly Books in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.








SCBWI Picture Book team


Natascha Biebow

Natascha BiebowNatascha Biebow, MBE, is the founder of storyshaping literary consultancy Blue Elephant Storyshaping and Editorial Director of Five Quills Press. With over 25 years’ experience editing novelty books, picture books, non-fiction and young fiction, her favourite job is working with authors and illustrators to discover the story they are passionate about. She is also the author of

THE CRAYON MAN: THE TRUE STORY OF THE INVENTION OF CRAYOLA CRAYONS, winner of the Irma Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature and Best STEM Book 2020.


Paul Morton

Paul MortonA professional illustrator for over 30 years with a wide spectrum of clients including chocolate companies and games’ manufacturers. Paul’s debut illustrated early reader book came out in 2020, published by Five Quills.

Bug Belly Babysitting Trouble tells the story of the greedy and ingenious frog Bug Belly, and his heroic rescue of hundreds of helpless little tadpoles. The 2nd in the series is published this July Bug Belly Froggy Rescue.


Nick Cross

Nick Cross is a writer, illustrator and blogger who has had over ten short stories published in children’s magazines. He has won both SCBWI Undiscovered Voices and the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for published short fiction. Nick recently contributed a comic series to SCBWI Words & Pictures magazine called Antisoci@l Media, and is currently writing and illustrating graphic novels.


Soni Speight

I hold my pencil wrong, or at least so I’m told. I make stuff up, tell tall tales and have been developing some stories for picture books.

I enjoy working on projects that involve Illustration, Creative Project Management or Marketing and can also be found at  I work from home supervised by Ted, my dog.

I am the Illustration Coordinator for SCBWI British Isles and a supporter of #PicturesMeanBusiness