SCBWI-BI CONFERENCE 2019 First Page and First Impression panels

Conference co-chair Sally Purdie tells Words & Pictures all about two new exciting panels at the SCBWI British Isles Conference 2019, Telling Tales.  

Anyone who’s written for a while knows that critique is one of the most effective ways of improving our work. The reason I joined SCBWI was to find a trusted crit group. They have helped me identify what worked and what needed a little tweak. I have also learned a huge amount by seeing others' work and hearing the feedback on how to take it to the next level.

Imagine how useful it would be to get that kind of input from a panel of industry professionals: priceless! This is the idea behind our First Impressions and First Pages panels. 

First Page

Willing delegates  selected beforehand  will be able to get immediate feedback when they present the First Page of their book to our panel of industry professionals:

* Branford Boase Award-winning Editor Bella Pearson.

Bella worked in publishing for over twenty years before starting her own independent children's publishers, Guppy Books, this year. She's edited legendary titles including John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, and Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. In an interview for The Bookseller she said, "I never think it's my story. I stand away and suggest but would never tell. I'm probably more of an emotional editor."

* Agent Becky Bagnell

Becky set up the Lindsay Literary Agency in 2008, having previously worked as a commissioning editor for Macmillan. She specialises in representing children's authors and feels "finding new authors that all-important publishing deal is what makes the agency tick." She represents SCBWI's own Sue Wallman and Ruth Hatfield.

* Chairing our panel Benjamin Scott

A long-time friend of SCBWI, Benjamin is an author and creative writing tutor. He has many years of experience helping authors craft their best work. As part of the Undiscovered Voices team, he knows exactly what makes a first page stand out. he has a range of published fiction and non-fiction, including five Star Fighters books published under the name Max Chase.

Not only will the delegates get constructive input into their submission, but it's also an opportunity to pitch directly to our panel of influencers who may then want to see more of their work.

First Impression

The First Impressions panel is set up especially for illustrated works. Instead of an editor, we will have an Art Director  Scholastic's wonderful Strawberrie Donnelly  on the panel. First Impression will cover what an exciting submission looks like and what are the common mistakes you can avoid. The rest of the panel will be announced shortly but will include an agent, and it will be chaired by an illustrator.

Who Is It For?

The thought of pitching your work in front of one of our panels might seem a little nerve-wracking, but don't worry. We've hand-picked the panels and selected people with both professionalism and bags of kindness. The conference team will also be there to provide any help and support needed.

We are developing a number of new elements for Newbies, however, presenting to one of these panels is not suitable for those just starting out. We would recommend that you should have a mature submission and already understand the basic guidelines for submitting work to agents and publishers.

If you’re not ready to share your work directly, do come and learn from others. It will give you first-hand experience of what a good submission looks like, what tips can you apply to your work and how you craft a submission that jumps off the pile. You’ll also get a peek inside the head of industry professionals, and a chance to hear a little of their processes. What do editors look for in a submission? What do agents currently want to come across their desks? Etc.

The date for booking to go live will be announced shortly, so watch this space. Only a small number of places are available for these panels, demand is going to be high.
*Header image: illustration by Mini Grey.


Sally is one of the Co-Chairs for the 2019 SCBWI Conference, and responsible for organising the 1-2-1s. Before getting embroiled in conference organisation she spent twenty years as an engineer investigating jet engine failures, making diamonds and trying to recreate the sun in a basement.
For the last ten years, she’s been doing something even more challenging: trying to become a writer. She started an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa in 2018, where (everything crossed) she’ll complete her third YA novel. Contact Sally at or connect on Twitter.


Anne Boyere is part of the Words & Pictures events team, managed by Events Editor Fran Price. Contact:

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