SCBWI British Isles Conference Programme 2023

Author Keynote - Robin Stevens

Writing With Hope

Come away inspired and energized by award-winning, best-selling author of the Murder Most Unladylike series and the Ministry of Unladylike Activity.

Saturday Morning Breakouts

WRITERS: Sleuths and Suspects: Creating a Cast of Characters for Your Mystery Novel with author Penny Joelson

Have fun creating a cast of characters for a mystery novel and bringing them to life in your writing. Whether you are a mystery writer or not, you will come away with techniques that will help you make characters stronger and more convincing.

PULSE: Smart Money and Creative Side Hustles with Anna Orenstein

Meet Anna Orenstein-Cardona author of The Tree of Hope who also happens to be a certified financial educator (CFEI) and wealth coach. She will discuss how we can foster financial well-being so that we can thrive at our creative endeavors. What is the current financial reality for creatives? How can we diversify our income streams and build financial resilience? What is the secret to a successful AND creative side hustle? Come with questions and ideas.

ILLUSTRATORS: Creating a Standout Portfolio with Art Director Tiffany Leeson (Farshore), Ness Wood (DfB) and Emma Layfield (Hachette)

Create a standout porfolio! Come away with practical tips on the do's and don't of what to include to really grab industry professionals. Opportunity to submit your work for critique - watch this space!

NON-FICTION CRAFT: The Rise of Creative Non-Fiction: authors Kate Peridot and Larry Hayes with agent Becky Bagnall

Authors, Kate Peridot and Larry Hayes, and their agent Becky Bagnell, share top tips on how they found opportunity in the expanding non-fiction market. Join the discussion about this growing genre of children’s books for readers 0 to teens. What is creative non-fiction? How does each author use fiction techniques to make facts fun? What are publishers of non-fiction looking for now? Plus, tips on how to sub creative non-fiction successfully, followed by an audience Q&A. Perfect for authors and illustrators seeking to expand into a new genre or improve their commercial pitch.

Illustrator Keynote - Ed Vere

My Life In Pictures: An Artist's Reflection

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling writer & illustrator of picture books Ed Vere shares how pictures are the key to unlocking creativity.

Saturday Afternoon Breakouts

WRITERS: Character Show, Don't Tell with Penny Joelsen

Your character description will include personality and physical traits as well as key emotions and interests. Can you communicate these well enough in an action-based scenario, so that others can correctly guess the characteristics? But no telling, only showing!

Publishing 101 for Newbies with Matt Killeen and agent Jessica Hare

So you’ve written your brilliant middle grade, YA or picture book – how do you go about finding an agent and getting your book published? YA Author Matt Killeen (Orphan Monster Spy) shares his journey to publication and his career to date, to help you gain realistic expectations and help you plan your own career as a writer. He’s joined by literary agent Jessica Hare (The Agency), who will speak about how best to submit your book to literary agents, and give top tips on how an agent can help with your career.

PULSE: How to Create and Be All Inclusive with Storymix founder Jasmine Richards and Megaphone Co-Director and Editor Stephanie King

How do authors and illustrators avoid the pitfalls of misrepresentation, bias and stereotypes? Jasmine Richards, founder of Storymix, and Stephanie King, former commissioning editor at Usborne and co-director of Megaphone Write discuss representational hazards that confront every author and illustrator and offer tips and strategies to help authors and illustrators create inclusive books with confidence.

GRAPHIC NOVEL FOCUS: Comic Books and Graphic Novels Are IN with Neill Cameron and editor Anthony Hinton (DfB)

Sources say publishers from all over are looking for comic books and graphic novels for readers of all ages, fiction and non-fiction. Who better to give us hot tips to get into graphic novels than Anthony Hinton, editor of bestselling homegrown graphic novels such as Bunny vs Monkey by Jamie Smart and Mega Robos Bros by Neill Cameron – in conversation with Neill Cameron himself!

The Hook Pitch-Off

The Hook Pitch-Off

Come and join us for an exciting pitch event on Saturday afternoon in a super entertaining format – think a cross between blind date and speed pitching. There will be opportunities for illustrators and authors for all age groups. You might even win a prize of a Professional 1-1 review with an agent or editor!

Dinner, Party and Mass Book Launch

Dinner, Party and Mass Book Launch

Included in your conference ticket - three-course sit-down dinner and Mass Book Launch party. An unmissable opportunity to socialize informally with industry professionals and fellow creatives. Celebrate the books published this year with the Mass Book Launch and Crystal Kite Award presentation. Enjoy the special decorative cake and make new friends and connections.

PULSE Keynote: A Literary Agent Looks Back with Hilary Delamere

PULSE Keynote: A Literary Agent Looks Back with Hilary Delamere

Hilary Delamere looks back on a long career as a children's literary agent that has witnessed a revolution in children's publishing – the fall of the Net Book Agreement, Harry Potter's dramatic impact on sales, the bottom line and author advances, battles for representation and inclusion, the decline of the public library and the current so called golden age of children's literature.

Sunday Morning Breakouts

WRITERS: World-Building With The Hero's Journey with Peter Bunzl

Discover how the traditional elements of a quest narrative can pull your story world together. Peter writes middle grade historical fantasy, both series and stand-alones. He will talk about how he researches for world building before he starts a project. He will share how he uses character, plot, backstory, McGuffins, mystery, cinematic storytelling and especially The Hero’s Journey to help hook readers into the story world on the page. There will be an exercise for stuck characters or writers, plus some tips on writing a series, and a Q and A. There won’t be any talk about grammar as he’s terrible at that.

PULSE: Are You Ready For Your Close-Up with Candy Gourlay and Mo O'Hara

Everyone wants one from you. Schools, book clubs, bookshops, prize givers, festivals. And it’s not a bad idea to post one on Instagram. VIDEOS! Create a one minute video with Candy Gourlay (Wild Song) and Mo O’Hara (My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish) We’ll show you how to script it, light it, shoot it, edit it and even add subtitles, text or graphics … using your phone.

ILLUSTRATORS: Releasing the Artist with Ed Vere

Ed Vere reveals his creative process behind his latest book The Artist, focusing on the balance between visual narrative, mixed media, and text. A friendly and flexible workshop for PB Writers and Illustrators.

PICTURE BOOK CREATORS: Creating Engaging, Commercial Picture Books from a Blank Page with Libby Hamilton (Publisher, Rocketbird Books)

All books start with a blank page, but what if you had the insights of a publisher to help you shape your ideas into commercial pitches? In this workshop, Libby Hamilton, editor and publisher of Rocket Bird Books, will use trends and gaps she has identified in the marketplace as a springboard for generating book ideas that go the distance. How can you as a picture book creator engage with the physical book to make something unique? How can you come up with picture books that really engage young, pre-literate children, empowering them as readers to interact with the book form? How can you use true stories all around you as a springboard for engaging young readers? Come prepared to doodle, innovate, write and create!

Sunday Afternoon Breakouts

WRITERS: Creating Series Fiction with Paula Harrison

Paula will talk through the process of writing and publishing series fiction for younger readers, explaining how she develops initial ideas into fully fledged series. As the writer of six (soon to be seven!) series herself, she will talk about how she decides which ideas to work on and her experience of what publishers look for in a successful series. She'll set short exercises to give attendees the opportunity to practice developing series ideas themselves and reveal some common pitfalls for writing series fiction. Finally, she'll discuss how to pitch the stories to agents and publishers.

PULSE/SPARK: Take the Time to Market Your Book For Success with authors Camilla Chester and Snezana Danilovic

Planning to self-publish? Then in the run-up to publication you MUST take time - lots of it. Reach out to potential readers, plan distribution, build a platform. Camilla Chester (Call Me Lion) and Snezana Danilovic (Yaks CAN Do Yoga!) discuss the pitfalls, the learning curve and how to make time to set your self-published book up for success. Those interested in marketing tips for traditionally published books may also find inspiration here!

ILLUSTRATORS: Character Development and the Story That Comes With It with Ed Vere

Ed shares the development behind his most appealing characters from How To Be A Lion, Mr Big, Banana! and Grumpy Frog and shows illustrators how to develop a story from a relatable character.

PICTURE BOOK CREATORS: Playing with Ideas - The Creative Writer's Toolbox with Clare Helen Welsh

Join Clare Helen Welsh (Never, Ever, Ever Ask A Pirate To A Party and Sunny Side Up) to kick-start your picture book creation - whether fiction or non-fiction, funny or heartfelt. Learn about techniques and formats for making your picture books special and different. Stuck on how to breathe new life into picture book drafts? Take away a toolbox of ideas to apply at home. This is a hands-on workshop. Attendees are encouraged to bring along existing drafts of stories they'd like to re-work.