EVENTS Mass Book Launch 2020

With no SCBWI-BI Conference last year, organisers took on the mammoth task of planning an online Mass Book Launch. Scoobies up and down the country and beyond met on Zoom to celebrate members' latest publications. In case you couldn’t make it, Crystal Kite award-winner Clare Helen Welsh talks us through some of the highlights.

The SCBWI-BI virtual Mass Book Launch (MBL) was a wonderful and heartfelt event. There really is power and hope in the writing community that can bring comfort and joy in the darkest of times. 

Highlight No. 1

Kereen Getten sharing her debut book, When Life Gives you Mangoes (Pushkin Press) and talking about how she got her deal.

Highlight No. 2

Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Darren Chetty talking about their middle grade non-fiction Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It, Give It (Wren and Rook) / What is Masculinity? Why Does it Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland).

Highlight No. 3

Illustrator John Shelley, thrice nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Prize, sharing his latest book, The Boy in a Jam Jar, written by Joyce Dunbar (Bloomsbury). (Event Eds note: we would have heard from John on the night were it not for a small and unfortunate technical hitch).

Highlight No. 4

Kelley Donner talking about writing and publishing two picture books in just a few weeks and selling more than 4,000 copies (A Very Corona Christmas: Santa Stays Home/ The Day The Lines Changed.

Highlight No. 5

Juliet Clare Bell and Rebecca Colby speaking about their accountability partnership and between them publishing 52 books during the lockdown.

Highlight No. 6

Paul Morton and Lucy Farfort discussing what it's like to be debut children's book authors after careers in other kinds of illustration (Bug Belly’s Babysitting Trouble, Five Quills / Afraid of the Dark, Little Tiger Press).

Highlight No. 7

Tracey Mathias and Cliff McNish speaking about their unusual launches this year: Tracey's book was rejacketed and relaunched for another audience (Silence is also a Lie, Scholastic). Cliff took back the rights of his bestselling The Doomspell series and self-published a luxe edition to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Highlight No. 8

Leila Rasheed of Megaphone interviewing Maisie Chan about her 2021 debut that was featured in the Bookseller (Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, Piccadilly Press).

Highlight No. 9

Teri Terry and AM Dassu sharing their new books (Dark Blue Rising, Hodder / Boy, Everywhere, Old Barn Books). 

Highlight No. 10

Winners of The Hook, Sheila M Averbuch and Justin Davies, speaking about getting agents and books published as a result. 

Highlight No. 11

Yours truly collecting the Crystal Kite Award 2020 on behalf of Ashling Lindsey and Little Tiger Press for our picture book, The Tide.

Highlight No. 12

Mo O'Hara, George Kirk and Candy Gourlay performing ‘We'll Write Again,’ their parody of ‘We'll Meet Again,’ originally sung by Vera Lynn.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate… 

Finally, there was a surprise video of George Kirk at the last SCBWI conference, singing a song about submitting to agents! It was an evening full to the brim of book chat, celebrations, fancy dresses, swampy hats, smiles and tears, too, wonderfully hosted by Kathryn Evans and Candy Gourlay.

There was also an online bookshop hosted by PG Wells, and a spectacular video of all those SCBWI members who launched books in 2020, put together by Candy and singer, Alice De Warrenne.

It was a shame that the conference couldn’t happen in person this year, but the MBL was a credit to the volunteers and organisers who make SCBWI-BI the wonderfully supportive organisation it is. Despite the trials of 2020, we all adapted and persevered, and the MBL was a spotlight on the many SCBWI successes of the year. It was also a boost for all members looking for motivation and commitment to continue along their writing journeys in the coming year, myself included.

Thank you to everyone involved in making it happen. A special thanks has to go to Clare Bell, who suggested the idea! (Many thanks, also, to Kate Thompson, BB Taylor, Paul Morton and Will Hamilton-Davies for providing photos for this article!)

Until next year… 


Clare Helen Welsh is the author of both fiction and non-fiction picture books and early readers. Her picture book with Ashling Lindsay, The Tide (Little Tiger, 2019), was winner of the SCBWI-BI Crystal Kite Award 2020. You can find out more about Clare here:


Fran Price is Events Editor for Words & Pictures, the online magazine for SCBWI-BI. Contact her at

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.