EVENTS Knowing Your Power

If you're an author-of-colour and would like to know how other SCBWI British Isles members find support and encouragement, read this article to find out what four writers learned during the Knowing Your Power event. 

Eva Wong Nava

'I felt so privileged to be in the company of such supportive colleagues.'

As an Author-of-Colour (AOC) and one who is from a minority ethnic group and under-represented in the industry, I was so excited to hear that Patrice Lawrence was going to be leading a SCBWI workshop. I signed up immediately.

There was a magnetic line-up of speakers: Emma Roberts (a freelance editor who had commissioned Patrice’s book when she was the Commissioning Editor at Hachette); Fiz Osborne from Scholastic UK, who I’m currently working with, but have never met; and the marvellous Macmillan sales/marketing duo, Charlie Morris and Cheyney Smith. The duo shared some insightful behind-the-scenes processes on how a book and/or author are promoted and marketed, which was particularly useful as, once a manuscript is submitted and commissioned, and then published, it is the promotion and marketing of the book as a product which overwhelms me the most. So, it was great to hear from Charlie, who deals with sales, and Cheyney, who does the marketing, about how they plan to let the world know about a book and author.

Emma was generous in sharing how she works as a commissioning editor, and now a freelance editor, and Patrice shared her processes with us as well as demonstrating ways that we can all shine as AOCs, writing without apology. I felt so privileged to be in the company of such supportive colleagues. I also made some new friends, who I know will be there for me as I journey on as an author.

Eva Wong Nava.

Piu Das Gupta

'By the end of the day, I felt it was apparent that there was much more that we had in common, than our differences.'

When I heard about the online workshop, I immediately wanted to sign up for it. In the past couple of years there has been some impressive progress in children’s publishing with respect to commissioning books by AOCs. However, the industry itself — especially on the agenting, editorial and management side — is still predominantly white and can therefore be an intimidating prospect for AOCs. 

The event did not disappoint. Patrice Lawrence did an amazing job covering a huge range of relevant issues in a short time, from the use of sensitivity readers to developing an author 'brand' while avoiding being pigeon-holed into a straitjacket of one genre or subject. Emma Roberts (formerly Patrice’s editor at Hachette, now freelance) discussed the importance of the editor’s role with particular reference to working with AOCs. 

The panel discussion revealed the inner mysteries of marketing and PR. The workshop participants came from a huge range of countries, backgrounds, and disparate experiences. However, by the end of the day, I felt it was apparent that there was much more that we had in common, than our differences. Most of all, it was wonderful to make new contacts and know that I would have support in my writing future.

Piu Das Gupta.

Rachael Davis

'Most of my writing friends are white, and sometimes I can feel isolated.'

I applied for a place as soon as bookings opened. This was the event I had wished for. I have an amazing circle of supportive writing friends that I’ve built up over the past few years from writing courses, SCBWI events, crit groups, WriteMentor and Twitter. However, most of my writing friends are white and sometimes I can feel isolated. I hoped Knowing Your Power would help me to connect with other AOCs, as well as be a safe space to talk about how we can sustain a long writing career. 

At the start of the day, we each introduced ourselves and I felt at ease straight away. So many of us had the same worries, the same experiences, the same hopes and the same frustrations. The code of silence gave this event a different feel to any I’ve done before. We could relax and talk freely, and we did not hold back in our questions to the panel of industry professionals. It was a fabulous opportunity to learn from one another and I came away feeling empowered. Best of all, we formed a WhatsApp group and have all stayed in touch. I cannot thank Patrice and the organisers enough.

Rachael Davis.

Davina Tijani

'The event was important for two main reasons: connection and community.'

I first saw the event promoted on Twitter and applied as soon as it opened for bookings. I wanted to go to this event because of the opportunity to make new writing friends and also to further develop my understanding of publishing. The event provided key insights into the industry including the commissioning process (from submission to publication), working with an editor, career-building (long-term careers as authors), authors’ care (what happens post publication), marketing and publicity, as well as the importance of networking. 

The event was important for two main reasons: connection and community. There is something affirming and unifying in being around other people whose life experiences mirror your own while pursuing similar goals and achievements within the publishing industry. The event provided a safe space to speak openly about the experiences of women of colour trying to establish their careers in publishing. Patrice and the other speakers gave valuable advice about navigating the trade. I left the session feeling energised, inspired, and, most importantly, empowered on my journey traversing this industry. My gratitude to SCBWI, Patrice and all the other organisers for putting together such an impactful event.

Davina Tijani.


Eva Wong Nava was born on a tropical island where a merlion guards the inhabitants from sea-faring pirates. She is a children’s book author who believes that magic animates all stories. She is constantly looking to sprinkle a story with some magic dust. Her recent book is a YA historical fiction with an all-Asian cast. She lives in the Land of Albion with a goat, tiger and dog. Eva is represented by Lydia Silver of Darley Anderson. Eva is on Twitter and Instagram @evawongnava.


Piu Das Gupta was born in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, to an Indian father and English mother. She writes poetry and prose, and is currently editing two Middle Grade novels for publication. She is also studying for an MFA in Writing for Children & Young People at Manchester Metropolitan University.

She is represented by the Kate Shaw Agency and can be found on Twitter @PiuDasGupta1


Rachael Davis is a mixed-raced Black-British children’s author and book reviewer, represented by Alice Williams. She writes inclusive books for children of all ages, both fiction and non-fiction, and is passionate about showcasing diversity, mental wellness and STEAM. Rachael’s debut picture book, I am NOT a Prince, illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher (Hachette), is a twisted fairy tale that breaks gender stereotypes. Rachael can be found on Twitter @rachdavisauthor


Davina Tijani writes mainly science fiction and fantasy books for adults and children. She is currently working on an upcoming children’s series which is set for publication. She is currently represented by Davinia Andrew-Lynch of the Andlyn Literary Agency. Find her on Twitter @davinatijani


Eva Wong Nava is the Events Editor of Words & Pictures magazine. Contact her at

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