Festival of Writing 2017


Meet agents and publishers. Get advice from professional authors.

Pitch your work direct to agents.

And have fun!

Friday 8th, Saturday 9th, Sunday 10th Sept | University of York | Tickets from £185.



   2017 programme

The Mini Courses •  Friday 8th Sept, 14.00 - 17.00pm

Pre-booked optional extra. The mini-course costs an additional £75 to the normal Full Festival Weekend price.

**3 hour workshop to start the weekend with a bang.**

The Women’s Fiction Masterclass, with Julie Cohen
• Plotting Masterclass, with Andrew Wille
• Pipedream to Publication, with Clare Wallace & Kerry Fisher
• Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper
• Self-Publishing Success, with Joanne Phillips
• The Children’s Fiction Masterclass, with Tamysn Murray
• Resilient Thinking, with Isabell Costello & Voula Grand


17:15 - 18:00


Meet the Agents: Industry Q&A


20.45 - 


Friday Night Live.

Your chance for a panel of experts to hear and evaluate your text. Terrifying, but useful.

Past winners include: Joanna Cannon and Deborah Install. 

Joanna Cannon walked away with seven offers from literary agents. She decided to sign with Susan Armstrong, and The Borough Press acquired Jo’s novel shortly afterwards. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was published in January 2016. Within a fortnight of publication, it reached #3 in The Sunday Times bestsellers’ list. Deborah Install was approached on the spot by agent Jenny Savill and was soon the proud owner of a six-figure publishing deal. A Robot in the Garden was a Doubleday hardback in April 2015, and was published as a Black Swan paperback in early 2016.

Saturday 9th Sept          





Registration for Saturday arrivals

 9.10 - 10.10

Keynote speakers: Rachel Abbott & Mark Edwards

Rachel and Mark are each multi-million selling authors, but they achieved their success via self-publishing and (latterly) Amazon Publishing. In this slot, Rachel and Mark will each speak about how their achieved their success and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. 

Read more here >>

10.10 - 10.40

Coffee break & book signing


Workshop 1 • Saturday 9th Sept, 10.40am - 11.40am

• Laura Williams - How to Write Blistering Blurb
• Debi Alper - Hearing Voices 
• Sarah Manning - Top tips to hook an agent
• Shelley Harris - Who Dares Wins: How To Take Risks and Supercharge Your Writing
• Julie Cohen - Learning Story Structure from Pixar Films
• Harry Bingham - Snow falling on cedars. Sense of place, and the astonishing art of foreshadowing

When you book your Festival ticket, you will be asked to select your workshop choice. See workshops for more info. 


How to Hook an Agent and Get a Book Deal: What's Your Genre?  • Saturday 9th Sept, 11.50 - 12.50

  • Literary Fiction
  • Reading group Fiction
  • Childrens/Young Adult 
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Crime/Thriller/Mystery
  • Historical Fiction
In nearly all cases, panels will include both authors and agents/publishers.


Buffet Lunch

14.00 - 15.00

Industry Key note address

Workshop 2  • Saturday 9th Sept, 15.10 - 16.10

• Hal Duncan - How to Write a Sentence
• Emma Darwin - Point-of-view and Psychic Distance
• Ruth Hogan and her agent Laura Macdougall - From Pitch to Publication
• Andrew Wille - Showing & Telling & Storytelling
• Jon Appleton - Life’s a Pitch
• Julie Crisp - How to get an Agent: the dos, the don’ts
• Tamsyn Murray - Never Put Your Giraffe in a Scarf - Dos and donts of picture books

See workshops for more info.

16.10 - 16.40

Afternoon Tea (plus author book signings)

Workshop 3  • Saturday 9th Sept, 16.40 - 17.40

• Sallyanne Sweeney - Best Beginnings
• CM Taylor - Theme
• Carrie Kania - 10 Tips on the Cover Letter: How to Approach an Agent
• Amanda Saint - Doing the Plotter & Panster Combo
• Deborah Install - Writing comedy
• Kerry Fisher - Characterisation
• Debbie Taylor - How to write a synopsis (limited to 10 places)

See workshops for more info.

18.45 - 19.15

Gala Dinner Reception and Drinks. Come along to meet agents, editors and fellow writers.

19.15  -

Gala Dinner and Competition Presentations


3 course dinner, with drink on arrival. Dine with agents, editors and fellow writers. 


Sunday 10th Sept






Registration for Sunday arrivals

09.20 - 10.00

Futurecast 2017: The future of publishing

Workshop 4  • Sunday 10th Sept, 10.10 - 11.10

• Ruth Hogan - Grand Openings
• Julie Crisp - Social Media: what works to help market your book?
• Julie Cohen - Make Shit Happen
• Emma Darwin - Memoir, Life Writing & Biographical Fiction
• Susan Yearwood - How to Attract an Agent
• Harry Bingham - Gratuitous sex & violence
• Debbie Taylor - How to write a synopsis (limited to 10 places)

See workshops for more info.

11.10 - 11.40

Coffee break & author book signings

Workshop 5  • Sunday 10th Sept, 11.40 - 12.40

• Ben Clark - Letters of Note: How to write a perfect cover letter
• Shelley Harris - The Architecture of Stories: Plot, Structure and the Three-Part List
• Jenny Geras - Traditional vs digital publishing: exploring different models
• Andrew Wille -  Rocks and Arrows, Nouns and Verbs
• Amanda Saint - Creating Complex Characters
• Tamsyn Murray - Steve Carells Show Not Tell - What one actor can teach us about writing for Middle Grade & YA

See workshops for more info.


Buffet Lunch

Workshop 6  • Sunday 10th Sept, 14.00 - 15.00

• Debi Alper - Facing the Fear
• C.M Taylor - Common Mistakes
• Deborah Install - Sidekicks and second tiers
• Hal Duncan - The Four Big Facets of Action 
• Carrie Plitt - Perfecting your pitch

See workshops for more info.

15.10 - 15.50

Keynote Address: To be Announced. 

15.50 - 16.00

Wrap-up and farewells


Still undecided? You may like these blog posts.


Attending the Festival Of Writing can seriously change your life!

Tor Udall, A Thousand Paper Birds (2017)

Festival success and seven offers from literary agents!

Jo Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (2015)

Friday Night Live comp and a six figure book deal!

Deborah Install, A Robot in the Garden (2015)

A Richard & Judy Bestseller!

Tracy Rees, Amy Snow (2015)

The life-changing Festival of Writing!

Roz Watkins, The Devil’s Dice (2018)


More on literary agents | More on competitions | More on workshops