Sign up to the newsletter

How to Write for Children and Young Adults

Back to Events

23rd February 2019 - 9:30am to 4:30pm


Sold Out


Are you the next Julia Donaldson? If you want to write for children or young adults, learn from the best with a day of writing workshops and panel discussions with leading children’s publishers and literary agents. 

Meet experts of children’s publishing, and find out how to improve your writing and how best to increase your chances of getting published.

The day includes: a two-hour writing workshop with an author; plenty of opportunity to network with speakers and fellow delegates; informative and interactive panel discussions with literary agents looking for debut authors to add to their lists.

In the morning, three successful children’s authors offer advice on how to improve your writing with engaging and interactive workshops full of practical exercises. The afternoon sessions help navigate the current market, warn of what to avoid in a submission to an agent, and give insight into the minds of leading publishing industry figures. 


09.30-10.00 Welcome coffee and tea 

10.00-10.20 Introduction to the world of children's publishing with Alysoun Owen, Editor of the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook

10.20-11.15 A writing workshop of your choice: either writing picture books with Joseph Coelho, writing for middle years with Peter Bunzl or writing YA with Katherine Webber

11.15-11.35 Short break 

11.35-12.55 Writing workshop continued 

12.55-14.00 Lunch break (lunch not included but teas and coffees available)

14.00-15.00 Keynote talk from Alex T. Smith

15.00-16.00 How to submit your work to an agent: panel discussion with leading literary agents Josephine Hayes, Felicity Trew and Chloe Seager

16.00-17.00 Refreshments 

Speaker Profiles

Katherine Webber is the author of Wing Jones. She was born in Southern California and studied Chinese literature and language at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and comparative literature at the University of California, Davis. She has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Hawaii and Atlanta. She currently lives in London with her husband. Travel, books and eating out are her favourite indulgences. She also spends far too much time on Twitter. Come and say hello to her @kwebberwriters. Only Love Can Break Your Heart is Katherine's second novel. 

Peter Bunzl grew up in South London in a rambling Victorian house with three cats, two dogs, one sister, an antique-dealer dad and an artist mum. He is a BAFTA-winning animator, as well as a writer and film-maker. Like Lily and Robert, he loves adventures and reading penny dreadfuls, but wishes dearly that he had a mechanical fox called Malkin. Skycircus is his third novel in the Cogheart series. 

Joseph Coelho is a performance poet, children’s author, and playwright. His debut poetry collection Werewolf Club Rules (Frances Lincoln) won the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award (CLiPPA) 2015. His second collection, Overheard in a Tower Block (Otter-Barry Books), is shortlisted for this year's CLiPPA, was longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018, and awarded Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week. Joseph has also been included on The Guardian’s 2018 list ‘Fresh Voices: 50 authors you should read now.’ Joseph's debut picture book, Luna Loves Library Day, illustrated by Fiona Lumbers is published by Andersen Press, and his non-fiction title How to Write Poems is published by Bloomsbury.

Joseph has written plays for the Polka Theatre, Soho Theatre and the Unicorn Theatre. He nationally tours his own dynamic poetry theatre for young people, as well as performing with the UK's top performance poetry organisation, Apples and Snakes. Joe has also been a guest poet on Cbeebies’ Rhyme Rocket.

After many years spent honing his world class skills in eaves dropping and people watching Alex T. Smith turned his hand to illustration, graduating from Coventry University in 2006 with a 1st Class Honours Degree. Since then, Alex has gone on to create a clutch of best-selling and award-winning picture books with numerous publishing houses. He's been the recipient of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, the Sainsbury's Book Award and the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize, UKLA Picture Book Awards and World Illustration Awards. Alex was crowned World Book Day Illustrator in 2016.

His much- loved bestselling Claude series, about a little dog's adventures with his sidekick, Sir Bobblysock has achieved stratospheric success, published worldwide in over 14 languages and now a series of 8 books including a doodle book and picture book for younger readers. The Claude books caught the eye of Belfast based animation production company Sixteen South who lovingly adapted the books for the small screen in a series of over 50 animated episodes now being aired on Disney Junior UK, delighting ardent Claude fans and introducing this magical pair to a whole new audience.

Josephine Hayes is an agent at The Blair Partnership. She is predominantly on the look-out for exciting new voices in commercial children’s fiction for all ages, particularly pacey and adventurous middle grade and teen fiction with lots of heart. She’s after strong characters and unusual heroes that you fall in love with and worry about when you’re not reading, and gripping plots that keep you totally engrossed.

Talented, enthusiastic and energetic, Felicity Trew is keenly building up a list of children’s writers and illustrators at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Clients she already represents include Joseph Coelho, Swapna Haddow, Sheena Dempsey, Sandra Dieckmann, Zehra Hicks and Yuval Zommer. Felicity has a particular love for quirky and imaginative children’s books. Dream projects to arrive on her desk would be: a spellbinding novel of our time, a bold UK teen voice to rival the likes of John Green and Holly Smale, an accessible, well-plotted (and don’t hold back on the funny!) middle grade book, and a picture book classic of the future à la The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Felicity is also on a mission to find extraordinary illustrators who capture the life of their characters and have a real love of story-telling at the heart of their artwork. Felicity was nominated one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars of 2016. 

Chloe Seager is responsible for the agency’s children’s and young adult book business as well as science fiction and fantasy. In children’s, Northbank Talent Management represents all genres of young adult, middle-grade and age 5-8 fiction and non-fiction. Chloe is herself a published author of young adult fiction, with her first novel Editing Emma published by HQ in 2017 and the sequel Friendship Fails of Emma Nash published in 2018.

Further speakers to be announced shortly.

Event details

The event will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP. Doors will open at 9.30am, with teas and coffees provided upon arrival.

The talks will begin at 10am prompt, finishing at 4.30pm for refreshments.


'Accessible, informative, informal yet well-presented.' Kerry Corden

'It makes the whole publishing world feel more accessible - the spur I needed to keep going.' Tom Jordan

'Feel privileged to land a place on this course - now the rest is up to me!' Charlotte Turner

'Thoroughly enjoyed, very inspirational. Thank you so much for a great day with the right sized crowd and perfectly picked experts to share their knowledge.' Charlotte Scarborough

'I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for a wonderful and inspiring day on Saturday at the Writing for Children Conference. I spent Sunday writing up the notes I made and applying Matt Whyman's practical tips to my own manuscript. It was a pleasure to meet with so many other writers' who feel just as nervous as myself, apparently I'm not alone - who knew!' Shelley Wilson

'A lovely day! Very informative for someone new to the game! I'm super inspired to get cracking and get out there!' Rhiannon Holland

'This was an extremely helpful day, thank you! It was very well organised and informative - just what we needed. I was struck by how incredibly friendly everyone attending and running the workshop was. Being creative seems to bring out the best in people!' Astrid Weber

'Very well organised. Length of sessions was good, lots of variety and chance to ask questions.' Chelle Parker

'The conference offered a well-judged mix of practical advice and inspirational personal stories. The range of speakers – from literary agents, to publishers, to authors – meant that all aspects of the business were covered… [It] has certainly given me the tools to return to my own work not just with renewed enthusiasm but with a sharper editor's eye, too.' Becky Brewis

'Fantastic event. Thank you so much for all the great advice!' Margaret Kim

'Excellent course with so much to think about. Can't wait to get back to my writing.' Zita O'Rourke

'Very professional and friendly, inspiring and realistic. Heading home now to start the search for an agent!' Nikie Forster

'Loved the day, loved the speakers – thank you! Also thought that Alysoun was a perfect host for the day.' Kerensa Jennings


Sold Out