SCBWI BI CONFERENCE 2022 Why you shouldn't miss it

With just over a week to go until bookings close for this year’s conference, co-chair Alison Gardiner shares why this is an experience not to be missed.

Remember the first time you found yourself nose to nose with a kitten? No? Indulge me: imagine your young self – never seen a real cat, just pictures. Envisage the moment when you first met a tiny, tabby, playful, furry, purry creature. This massive difference between a page and reality equates to trying to get to know agents or editors from a screen or book and actually meeting them face-to-face – like at the SCBWI Manchester conference.

Manchester Metropolitan University Business School 
[Picture credit: MMU]

There’s definite magic in meeting industry professionals and finding out that they’re real people, do care about your book and genuinely wish to help you. I’ve found that when a person puts on their agents’ or editors’ hat they don’t miraculously transform into a dragon, but rather into someone who is knowledgeable, engaged and enormously helpful.

The conference is stuffed with opportunities to meet with agents, editors, experienced authors and illustrators: at lunch, coffee, milling around, in seminars and lectures. It’s easy to chat to them: talk about writing – we all want to!

Book a 1-1. The value of being able to ask industry professionals any question you like about your manuscript in a one-to-one review is enormous. “Does my manuscript flow?” “Do I have a flabby middle?” “Do I need more action?” you might ask. Expect an honest, supportive reply. Bookings have been re-opened for a short time!

An illustrator sharing their portfolio with an agent
[Picture credit: Paul Morton]

Immerse yourself in a sea of other creators who are as deeply fascinated in the whole process as you.  Everyone you meet at the conference will have felt the joy of creation, the pain of struggling, been challenged by blocks. They are your literary kinfolk; your experience mirrors. Whether you’re a new writer or further along your writing journey, associating closely with these kindred spirits is refreshing, invigorating, inspiring. It can dispel self-doubt, helping you embrace your work and drive it forwards. 

We’re friendly critters; come and join us to toss around concepts, share your own tips and ideas while learning how to overcome problems, like writers’ block; support and be supported; link arms mentally (well, brain cells really) with other like-minded people. 

Even the most experienced conference aficionados had a first SCBWI conference; mine was many years ago but I still remember that hesitant thrill of arriving and finding it was friendly, informative, stuffed with people who were fascinated by writing – a brilliant moment of joy tempered by relief. Such a good feeling.

Some people find their literary agent at a conference, some meet friends for life; everyone makes contacts, learns something, finds value and enjoys. 

(Pictured l-r) Keynote speakers Alex Wheatle, MBE; Jim Field; Karen Sands O’Connor; and Darren Chetty. 
[Picture credit: PULSE Team]

Our keynote speakers are extraordinary: Alex Wheatle, MBE for literature; Jim Field, illustrator of works by JK Rowling; Carnegie Medal nominee Louisa Reid, with her groundbreaking novels in verse; multi-award winning writers Caryl Hart and A M Dassu. It's a staggering list of diverse voices producing a wide range of work. Find the full programme here.

Join us in November in Manchester for a tremendous weekend being immersed in the best job in the world: creating.

Bookings close on Tuesday 1st November, so don't delay. You have just over a week to secure your place at the Conference (book your ticket here), Friday Fringe (book afternoon activities and/or dinner here) and Saturday Night Party (grab your ticket here). To claim one of the last remaining 1-1 slots with an industry professional, book before the 24th October.

See you in November.

*Header image: designed by Tita Berredo; illustrations by Jim Field


Alison Gardiner, author of MG fantasy The Serpent of Eridor and Alchemy, several picture books and two young fiction books. Doctor, mother, radio voice performer, writer, reasonable cook, terrible gardener, Alison loves all her roles, but sometimes her priorities get muddled. She spent her early years in Jamaica, USA, Gibraltar and Scotland and loves gathering flashes of ideas to weave into tales. She attributes her wildlife fearlessness to having four children. Contact:


Stephanie Cotela is the new Network News & Events Editor for Words & Pictures magazine.

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