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Start: 20th September 2017 - 6:00pm

Finish: 8th November 2017 - 8:30pm


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How to Write and Pitch Your Children's Book: From Picture Books up to Middle Grade

Do you aspire to be the next Julia Donaldson or Liz Pichon?

If so, join us in the heart of literary London for five stimulating weeks of practical workshops and expert advice from some of the top names in children’s fiction. Led by the editor of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Alysoun Owen and author Lucy Courtenay, this course looks at the essential elements of writing for children, in particular how to successfully combine text and illustration, and how you can apply them to your own writing.

This course welcomes writers at all stages in their writing. Whether you have an initial idea and want to know where to start, or have a full draft and need help with revising and making it the best it can possibly be, this is the course for you. 

Each week will combine a tutored session and a hands-on workshop format with practical exercises and discussion from your course tutor and special guest speakers. You will be given takeaway practical exercises based around your own writing to complete for the subsequent week.

Based at our Bloomsbury offices, these evening sessions will last for two and a half hours each, from 6-8.30pm, making it ideal for those with full-time jobs and other commitments. There will be opportunities at the beginning and the end of the course to get to know the other writers, as well as Alysoun and Lucy.

The course includes:

- 12.5 hours of expert tutoring and advice from a combination of leading authors, illustrators and publishing industry professionals 

- Practical sessions with hands-on exercises based around your own writing 

- A written review of your manuscript (based on a submission of up to 7,500 words)

- The chance to study in a small, seminar group at our offices in historic Bloomsbury and meet like-minded authors 

- Feedback on pitching your novel from leading children's literary agents 

- Exclusive discounts on W&A products and a complimentary copy of the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook


Week 1: Wednesday 20th September 

Getting going: Understanding your audience & channelling your ideas

Course convenor and Editor of the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook Alysoun Owen and Bella Pearson, Publishing Director at David Fickling Books, will give an overview of the children’s publishing market and what publishers do when building a children's list.

You will begin to translate your ideas into words on the page and should come armed with your own favourite illustrated children’s titles to discuss.

Week 2: Wednesday 27th September 

Know what type of book you are writing 

This session will look at genre and how books for different ages are mapped, giving you a better understanding of knowing what audience you are writing for. Special guest tutor Lucy Courtenay will cover everything from picture books to illustrated fiction up to middle grade. Lucy will also be joined by illustrator Salvatore Rubbino who will discuss the relationship between pictures and words on the page. 

Additional guest speaker to be announced

Week 3: Wednesday 11th October 

Setting the scene

Course tutor Lucy Courtenay willbe joined by bestselling author Tony Bradman to focus on planning and plotting your story, and how you can create a coherent and absorbing world for your characters and readers. 

Week 4: Wednesday 25th October

Character: From voices in your head to people on the page

In a session providing essential advice on character development, voice and dialogue, Lucy Courtenay will offer tips and advice on how to develop a convincing cast of characters and bring them to life through well-crafted dialogue that will appeal to your intended readership.

 Lucy will also be joined by best-selling author Andy Stanton.

Week 5: Wednesday 8th November

Next steps: Getting your book ready for publication

This final session will look at the process of editing your manuscript and the subsequent hunt for a literary agent. Alysoun Owen will lead this session with literary agents Julia Churchill and Penny Holroyde who specialise in representing children’s books of all types. With a chance to pitch your book, they’ll offer essential advice and hints on how to submit your manuscript. 

This session will be followed by networking drinks and may run slightly later than 8.30 pm.


From previous attendees of Writers' & Artists' children's writing events and courses:

Six weeks of fantastic workshops. I’ve learnt so much from all the visiting authors.’ 

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

‘Excellent through-and-through. Every session offered such valuable advice.’ 

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

Speaker Profiles

Course leader Alysoun Owen is a publisher with over 20 years' experience as a commissioning editor and running her own publishing consultancy business. She has been the Editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook and the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook for five years and is a regular speaker on how to get published at literary festivals and writer events.

Course tutor Lucy Courtenay has been writing children’s books for nearly 20 years and has written series and standalone fiction for children of all ages. She is also a freelance editor of children’s fiction, a literary consultant and the author of Get Started In Writing an Illustrated Children’s Book. You can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter.

Andy Stanton's award-winning Mr Gum books have sold more than 1.25 million copies in the UK alone and have been translated into 32 languages. They have won many awards including the Red House Children's Book Award, the Blue Peter Award for Most Fun Book With Pictures, the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Fantastic Book Award.

Bella Pearson spent most of her childhood with her head buried in a book, which has stood her in good stead ever since. After working in an independent children's bookshop and completing an MA in children's literature, Bella joined David Fickling Books in 2001 and was lucky enough to work with him for the next twelve years on a huge number of wonderful and award-winning books for children.

Salvatore Rubbino is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London. A Walk in New York (2009), his first picture book, began as a series of paintings that was short-listed for the Victoria and Albert Illustration Awards, and was followed by A Walk In London (2011) and A Walk In Paris (2014). He has illustrated Harry Miller's Run by David Almond, Just Ducks by Nicola Davis and most recently A Book Of Feelings by Amanda McCardie.

Julia Churchill joined A.M.Heath in 2013 as Children's Agent, after four years building up the UK side of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, and six years at the Darley Anderson Agency where she started the children's book side of the list. She represents some fabulous writers including Sarah Crossan, Sarah Lean and Joanna Nadin. She’s always on the treasure hunt for new writing talent and considers the slushpile to be the greatest place on earth. She’s looking for debut and established authors with storytelling magic, from picture book texts right up to YA fiction. Follow her on Twitter: @JuliaChurchill

Penny Holroyde has worked in children's publishing for over twenty years, first in the rights department at Walker Books and then as Director of Rights and Licensing for Candlewick Press in the United States. She then worked as an agent at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency for ten years before founding Holroyde Cartey in 2015 with former Hodder Art Director, Claire Cartey.

Holroyde Cartey represents several author/illustrator clients such as Jenni Desmond, Tor Freeman, Debi Gliori, Tim Hopgood, Paul Howard, Chris Mould and Sam Usher but don't insist that all clients can do both. Holroyde Cartey represent texts for picture books through to YA. They're currently looking for picture books and young fiction that is funny, poignant animal stories, middle-grade adventure with a light fantasy touch and sophisticated contemporary YA, anything with an original voice.

Tony Bradman

Tony Bradman has been involved in the world of children’s books since the early 1980s. He has written poetry, picture book texts, beginner readers and longer fiction, and has edited many anthologies of stories and verse. He reviews children’s and YA books for The Guardian, has taught creative writing, has visited hundreds of schools and has appeared at all the major literary festivals. Follow Tony on Twitter: @tbradman

Booking & Payment

The course fee of £495 (inc. VAT) is payable in full online. Please do contact us to discuss an instalment payment plan by calling 0207 631 5985 or by sending an email to

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