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National Writers’ Conference 2019: Sustaining Your Creative Career

Bramall Music Building

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston

General Admission: £60 / £54 (concs) Ticket includes buffet lunch, tea and coffee.

Early Bird: £50 / £45 (concs) SALES HAVE NOW ENDED

Booking closes on Thursday 20 June (noon)

The National Writers’ Conference is a day of information sharing with industry experts.

Hear what those who really know about being a writer have to say about finding opportunities, creating new work and sustaining a creative career.

Come along, ask questions, share answers and be part of a vibrant network of writers from across the country, working in many forms and genres.

At a glance:

  • Professionalising Yourself: protecting your rights, mentoring, working with the publishing industry
  • Promoting Yourself: pitching your work, performing your work, social media for writers
  • Keeping Going: resilience for writers, writing with a disability, forging a career from writing
  • Our two keynote addresses, from Mandy Ross and Kit de Waal, will set the tone for the day’s discussions and future direction of the writing industry.
  • Our panel sessions are informal discussions around specialist areas, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share ideas.

Please book before Friday 7 June 2019 to ensure your dietary requirements are met. 


Programme now online and available to download:


9.15am – 10am: Registration & Refreshments

10am: Welcome & Introduction, Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands

10.10am – 10.30am: Keynote Address: Mandy Ross, Poet, children’s writer & community arts practitioner

Human Writing

10.35am – 11.35am: Breakout sessions (to be selected at registration on the day):

Choose ONE from the following three sessions:

  1. How Publishing Works – Elizabeth-Jane Burnett, poet & non-fiction writer; Davinia Andrew-Lynch, Founder & Agent, Andlyn Literary Agency; Charlotte Hutchinson, Publicity Manager, Unbound. Chair: Isabel Galleymore, University of Birmingham.
  2. The Value of Mentoring – Shahed Yousaf, fiction writer; Lynne Voyce, fiction writer; Jane Commane, poet, publisher & mentor. Chair: Jon Opie, Deputy Director, Jerwood Arts 
  3. Writing for Performance – Tom Wentworth, playwright; Stephanie Ridings, playwright; Casey Bailey, poet & performer. Chair: William Gallagher, writer & Deputy Chair, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

11.35am – 11.45am: Comfort Break

11.45am – 12.45pm: Breakout sessions (to be selected at registration on the day):

Choose ONE from the following three sessions:

  1. Social Media for Writers – Lucy Cook, Social Media expert; Claire Hunte, Publicist; Leena Normington, Blogger, YouTuber and Social Media expert; Chair: Cynthia Miller, poet & Co-Director, Verve Poetry Festival. 
  2. Rights for Writers– Richard Combes, Head of Rights & Licensing, Authors’ Licensing & Collection Society; Theo Jones, Publishing Contracts Adviser, Society of Authors. A speaker from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain will be confirmed shortly. Chair: Dr Gregory Leadbetter, Birmingham City University
  3. Resilience for Writers – Mandy Ross, poet, children’s writer & community arts practitioner; Sophie Hannah, crime writer & poet; Abda Khan, novelist. Chair: Molly Rosenberg, Director, The Royal Society of Literature

12.45pm – 1.45pm: Networking & Buffet Lunch (included in ticket price)

Please note: This will be a vegetarian and vegan buffet. Specific dietary requirements must be given at booking. We regret that we are unable to guarantee specific dietary requirements if tickets are booked after Friday 7 June.

1.15pm – 1.45pm: Speed Pitching Workshop with Olivia Chapman (limited places, reserve when booking)

1.45pm – 2.45pm: Breakout sessions (to be selected at registration on the day):

Choose ONE from the following three sessions:

  1. Overcoming Obstacles: Health & Wellbeing for Writers – George Bastow, writer, journalist & blogger; Jane Roberts, fiction & non-fiction writer; Maisie Chan, fiction & Young Adult fiction writer. Chair: Louise Palfreyman, writer.
  2. Getting Your Work Heard– Tom Peel, Overhear; Leena Normington, Blogger, YouTuber and Social Media expert. Chair: Lisa Blower, fiction writer. 
  3. New Perceptions on Poetry– Jon Opie, Deputy Director, Jerwood Arts; Romalyn Ante, poet; Cynthia Miller, poet & Co-Director, Verve Poetry Festival. Chair: Stuart Bartholomew, Co-Director, Verve Poetry Festival, Co-Founder, Verve Poetry Press

2.45pm-3.15pm: tea and coffee break (provided)

3.15pm-3.45pm: Keynote Address from award-winning novelist, Kit de Waal

Common People: An Anthology of Working Class Writers – Why We Did It, How It’s Doing and What’s Next

3.45pm – 4pm: closing remarks from Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands

Please re-join us for our Spark Young Writers Award Ceremony, taking place from 4.30pm – 5.30pm in the Elgar Concert Hall. We will be celebrating the work of many of the young writers aged 8 to 17 who have participated in our Spark Young Writers development programmes.


The National Writers’ Conference is presented in partnership with University of Birmingham, and supported by ALCS. It is also supported by Andlyn Literary Agency, Unbound, Jerwood Arts, Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, Verve Poetry Festival, The Royal Society of Literature, Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society, The Society of Authors, Birmingham City University, Verve Poetry Press, Nine Arches Press and Let’s Go Social Media. We are also grateful for the support of our many panellists and speakers.

Writer and editor Kavita Bhanot will be The Literary Consultancy’s Ambassador at the Conference. Please do ask her to tell you about the work of The Literary Consultancy, including its Free Reads scheme.

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Bramall Music Building
The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston


22 Jun 2019


9:15 am - 4:00 pm