the london book fair
12–14 March 2024

The Writers' Summit

Wednesday, 19 April 2023 | Chelsea Old Town Hall

08.30 – 08.50

Arrival & Networking 

James Spackman, Literary Agent, The BKS Agency   

08.50 – 09.00

Chair’s Welcoming Remarks

09.00 – 09.30

Opening Keynote Address: The Journey of Becoming a Singular Talent

We are all storytellers, everybody can write and everybody has a story to tell. Laura would not class herself an academic and yet she is been writing since she was able to hold a pen and has gone on to have a professional career in publishing for 15 years. Writing is her backbone, her underscore to life. Author, scriptwriter and poet, Laura Dockrill will speak about finding your way in the literary industry whilst living with imposter syndrome. How to make a hobby your job, that living is writing and how to dream big! She will also share how writing helped to save her life.

Laura will also speak about her path into writing and new projects too.


Speaker: Author Laura Lee Dockrill

09.30- 10.00

How Writers Can Avoid the Bear Traps - Copyright, Privacy and Communication

A free-ranging discussion between Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the SoA, and Harriet Evans, bestselling author of 13 novels, former publisher and member of the SoA Management Committee, this session will cover the pitfalls to avoid when writing and submitting your work to publishers, common copyright, privacy and defamation issues in a modern world, and finally, how to work with editors and publishers for a smooth relationship- and what to do if things go wrong.


Speakers: Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive, Society of Authors; Harriet Evans, Author

10.00 – 10.45

Workshop: Do I Need an Agent, to be Successful? (Part 1)

How do you define writing success for yourself? Do you need a literary agent to achieve it? Join this workshop to focus on your literary goals.

[at end of session, challenge writers to submit two-sentence pitches]


Speaker: James Spackman, Literary Agent, ­The BKS Agency 

10.45 – 11.15

Networking break

11.15 – 12.00

How Literature Development Agencies Can help Writers 

Every region in England is served by a regional writing development agency. This session aims to bring together bespoke initiatives for new and emerging writers run by different regional agencies to support talented writers from all backgrounds and achieve their creative ambitions. 



  • Peggy Hughes, Executive Director, The National Centre for Writing in Norwich   

  • Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager (Talent Development) and Programme Leader, New Writing North

  • Bobby Nayyar, Programme Manager, Spread the Word in London


Moderated by: James Spackman, Literary Agent, The BKS Agency

12.00 – 12.30

Rosemary’s House interview with Rebecca Abrams and Joanne Limburg: Building a cross-genre career 

How do writers successfully establish themselves across multiple genres? What are the unique opportunities for writing in different publishing categories in the UK? How important is it to maintain a recognizable voice across genres? Writers Rebecca Abrams and Joanne Limburg share their experiences as influential contributors to nonfiction, journalism, poetry, historical fiction, and memoir. 


Speakers: Author Rebecca Abrams; Author Joanne Limburg 


Moderated by:  Angelica Rose Toumbas, the founder of Rosemary’s House, a writing residency and fellowship program aimed at nurturing both established and emerging multidisciplinary writers

12.30 – 13.15

Panel: How to Get Published

A conversation with authors, agents, and the most prestigious professionals in the industry. The discussion will include a talk about creating #1 bestsellers and top tips to showcase your writing to get published. 



Daphne Tonge, Owner and Director of Illumicrate

Preethi Nair, Author and Managing Director, Kiss The Frog Productions

Kevin Anderson, CEO and Editor in Chief, Kevin Anderson & Associates  

Claire Shanahan, Director, Women's Prize Trust


Moderated by: James Spackman, Literary Agent, The BKS Agency


13.15 – 14.15

Lunch and Networking

14.15 – 15.00

Workshop: Pitching to Agents (Part 2)

Join us for live feedback on the two-sentence pitches submitted this morning. James Spackman will select pitches for feedback and show which pitches work and how to improve your submission


Speaker: James Spackman, Literary Agent, ­The BKS Agency

15.00 – 15.15

Session break

15.15 – 15.45

Going Indie: In Conversation with Self-publishing Experts 

What does it take to be a successful independent author? In this session, three self-publishing experts frankly explore what it means to a writer to have the full creative freedom and commercial control of self-publishing. A series of rapid-fire tips on getting started and scaling up will be followed by a Q&A.


Speakers: Sacha Black, Young Adult fantasy writer and writing facilitator; Dan Wood, COO of Draft2Digital, one of the world’s largest book distributors; Clare Lydon, author of bestselling contemporary lesbian romance; JD Kirk, author of the bestselling DCI Logan thriller series


Moderated by: Orna Ross, novelist, poet and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors 

15.45 – 16.15

Hay Festival and The British Library on Supporting Emerging Writers

This session will unlock powerful advice and inspiration from The Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award winners for 2023 Ayanna Lloyd Banwo and Jarred McGinnis, including advice to overcome challenges and embrace new opportunities in the joy of developing a creative work, how to develop an international career and how Hay Festival and The Eccles Centre at The British Library supports new writers. 


Speakers: Ayanna Lloyd Banwo; Jarred McGinnis. 

Moderated by: Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library


16.15 - 16.20 

Chair’s Closing Remarks

James Spackman, Literary Agent, The BKS Agency

16.30- 17.30

Networking Drinks Reception 


Nicola Solomon

Chief Executive,

Society of Authors

James Spackman

Literary Agent

­The BKS Agency

Peggy Hughes

Executive Director,

The National Centre for Writing in Norwich

Will Mackie

Senior Programme Manager & Programme Leader

New Writing North

Bobby Nayyar

Programme Manager,

Spread the Word in London

Angelica Rose Toumbas


Rosemary’s House

Preethi Nair

Author and Managing Director,

Kiss The Frog Productions

Sacha Black

Young Adult fantasy writer &

writing facilitator

Claire Shanahan


Women's Prize Trust

Daphne Tonge

Owner & Director,


Orna Ross


Alliance of Independent Authors

Clare Lydon


Bestselling Contemporary Lesbian Romance

JD Kirk


Bestselling DCI Logan Thriller Series

Polly Russell

Head of Eccles Centre for American Studies

British Library

Jarred McGinnis


The Special Relationship

Dan Wood

Chief Operating Officer,


Kevin Anderson

CEO & Founder,

Kevin Anderson & Associates

Rebecca Abrams

Writer and Journalist

Speaker Information

Her work has earned her plaudits like ‘Top 10 literary Talent’ from The Times newspaper and Top 20 hot faces to watch from Elle Magazine.

Her first book for children, ‘Darcy Burdock’ was shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of The Year Prize and Carnegie Medal as well as her young adult novels, Lorali and Big Bones, which was also shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018. Her latest book for young people, You Are a Story- a creative guide, releases this year.

Laura’s writing has expanded to stage and screen; Laura’s first film, Goldfish, received a BAFTA nomination for best short. Her critically acclaimed memoir ‘What Have I Done?’ is being adapted for TV. She has been commissioned from The National Theatre, The Young Vic and The Donmar Warehouse. Her show for children, Dust won a Best Theatre award at the 2022 Offies. 

She is currently working on her first novel for adults.

Nicola’s role encompasses protecting authors' interests in negotiations/disputes with publishers and agents, advising individual authors and campaigning for authors’ rights, as well as for the wider cultural environment.

Nicola is an expert in the publishing industry and the associated law, from copyright and defamation, to privacy, data protection and contract.

She is a Deputy District Judge and sits on the board of the International Authors’ Forum and the British Copyright Council and the European Writers Council.

Harriet Evans has sold over a million copies of her novels. She is the author of thirteen bestselling books, most recently The Beloved Girls, a Richard and Judy Book Club Selection and the Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller The Garden of Lost and Found, which won Good Housekeeping’s Book of the Year. She used to work in publishing as an editor and now writes full time, when not distracted by her children, other books, gardening, her jumpsuit collection and now star-gazing, having acquired a telescope whilst researching her latest novel The Stargazers which is out later this year. She volunteers with Inspiring the Future, is an ambassador for the London Library and last year was elected to the Management Committee of the Society of Authors. She lives in the greatest city in the world (Bath) with her family. 

James Spackman is a London based literary agent with The bks Agency, publisher of cycling imprint Pursuit and presentation coach, as The Book Pitch Doctor. In his career he has worked in sales, marketing and management for Bloomsbury, Hachette and Osprey. He founded The Spare Room Project, which helps interns find free accommodation in London.

Peggy Hughes has been with the National Centre for Writing since November 2017, first as Head of Programmes, and now as Executive Director (since January 2022). She is also on the boards of Age UK Norwich and Open Book Reading, and is Co-Chair of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival. Peggy has worked across the literature sector in Scotland, at the University of Dundee, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust and the Scottish Poetry Library, and as Chair of Literature Alliance Scotland, Scotland’s largest network of organisations dedicated to literature and languages, from 2017-2021. Peggy interviews writers at festivals and events throughout the UK and Ireland.

Will is Senior Programme Manager (Talent Development) and Programme Leader (MA in Publishing), leading on talent development and devising programmes of support for writers and translators while working alongside partners such as Channel 4, Hachette Children’s Group and the British Council. Additionally, he manages the David Cohen Prize for Literature. He develops module content for university courses and is Programme Leader on the MA in Publishing, run in partnership with Hachette UK and Northumbria University. He previously worked as an editor for publishers in London and Edinburgh and was Head of Writer Development at the literature charity, Scottish Book Trust.

Bobby Nayyar is a programme manager and writer. He started his career in publishing at Faber and Faber, Little, Brown Book Group and founded his own imprint, Limehouse Books. He has also managed Equality in Publishing and Wasafiri Magazine’s digital presence. At Spread the Word he works on the London Writers Awards, Nature Nurtures and the regular programme of workshops and events. He has written two novels and a collection of poetry.

Angelica is a songwriter and multimedia storyteller. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science and Nonfiction Writing, studied History and Politics at the University of Oxford, and is currently pursuing an MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. Living in London and Greece, Angelica runs a writing fellowship and residency program called Rosemary’s House. She is set to release her debut album in the coming year. 

Preethi worked as a management consultant but gave it up to follow her dream and write her first book, "Gypsy Masala". Having been rejected by every publisher, she set up her own publishing company and PR agency to publish and promote the book. Working under the alias of Pru, Preethi managed to gain substantial coverage and after two years of a roller coaster journey, she  signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins. She won the Asian Woman of Achievement award for her endeavours and “Pru” was also shortlisted as Publicist of the Year for the PPC awards. She went on to write, act and produce a one woman show in the West End and she is currently working on a pilot for the BBC. Preethi has just turned down a fourth book deal with HarperCollins to independently publish her fourth novel, “Unravelling” in May 2023 


Sacha Black is a bestselling and competition winning author, rebel podcaster, speaker and casual rule breaker. She writes writing craft books for authors, and spicy sapphic fantasy romance as Ruby Roe. She lives in Cambridgeshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

Claire Shanahan leads the Women’s Prize Trust, having worked previously on the Women’s Prize for Fiction during her time as Head of Arts at BookTrust. As Director, Claire is responsible for strategy, business planning, partnerships, delivery of programmes and projects, and day-to-day operations. Named a Bookseller Rising Star in 2013, Claire began her career in publishing as an editor at Pearson and Hachette before moving to the charity sector. Claire has run the BBC Short Story Awards for over a decade and sits on the advisory board of Nesta’s Alternarratives programme. Claire is a passionate advocate of the transformative power of reading and writing, and the ongoing need to invest in and cheerlead women.

Daphne is the founder and CEO of Illumicrate, the UK’s first specialist book subscription box since 2015, and a wonderful community of avid book lovers. She is also the founder and Managing Director of Daphne Press, a new Science Fiction and Fantasy publisher. She’s judged for book prizes and is an event chair. Previously, she was an award-winning book blogger. She lives in London, but is a Chinese-Filipino born and raised in Manila. She can usually be found fangirling over first editions & fictional princes, and recommending books on social media at: @daphlt.

Orna Ross is an award-winning historical novelist, poet, and founder-director of the global non-profit for self-publishing writers, the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). An international bestseller, she enjoys book sales in 120+ countries worldwide and her awards include the Goethe Historical Fiction Grand Prize Award for fiction, Gold Literary Titan award for poetry, the Romantic Novelists Association's Indie Champion Award, The Writers' Digest's Top Websites for Writers, and The Bookseller's Top 100 people in publishing. In what she describes as “the best move of my writing life”, Orna took her book rights back from her publishers in 2011. The experience has made her a passionate advocate for the commercial and creative empowerment of authors through self-publishing and selective rights licensing.

Clare Lydon writes contemporary sapphic romance with all the feels, and is a No.1 best-seller around the globe. She co-hosts the Lesbians Who Write podcast, and has spoken at queer festivals and prides around the UK. When she's not writing, Clare watches far too many home-improvement shows, drinks nuclear-strength coffee & scoffs Cadbury’s Wispas.

Barry Hutchison, better known by his pen name JD Kirk, is a bestselling author based in Fort William, Scotland. He has been a top 5 Kindle Storyteller Award nominee for two years running, in 2021 and 2022 and is known for his DCI Jack Logan series, set in the highlands. He has also written over 140 children's books and 15 other adult novels as Barry (J) Hutchison.

Joanne Limburg is a writer and creative writing lecturer. Her publications include the poetry collection The Autistic Alice, the novel A Want of Kindness and the non-fiction books Small Pieces: A Book of Lamentations and Letters to my Weird Sisters: On Autism and Feminism. She is a Teaching Associate at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Polly Russell the Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. The Eccles Centre supports writers through various activities, including the annual Eccles-Hay Writer’s Award which is run in partnership with Hay Festival. Polly is also a food historian. She was the on-screen historian for BBC2’s Back in Time series and has a regular food history column in the Financial Times Saturday Magazine.

Jarred McGinnis was chosen by the Guardian as one of the UK’s ten best emerging writers. His debut novel ‘The Coward’ was selected for BBC 2’s Between the Covers, BBC Radio 2’s Book Club and listed for the Barbellion Prize. The French edition won the First Novel Prize and was selected for the prestigious Femina prize. He is the winner of the 2023 Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award.

He is the co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. He was the creative director for ‘Moby-Dick Unabridged‘, a four-day immersive multimedia reading of Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’ at the Southbank Centre, involving hundreds of participants.

He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, but mostly he inspires the able-bodied by using public transport and taking his daughters to the playground.

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo is a writer from Trinidad & Tobago. Her debut novel When We Were Birds was named one of the UK Observer’s Best Debuts of 2022, The Economist’s Best Books of 2022 and was longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize, the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and the Jhalak Prize. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she is a Creative and Critical Writing PhD candidate. Her short fiction and non-fiction has been published in Moko Magazine, Small Axe and PREE, among others, and shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary Competition and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She is the 2023 winner of the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award and is currently at work on her second novel. 

Dan Wood is the Chief Operating Officer at Draft2Digital, where he has spent the last 9 years helping authors publish their books to stores, libraries and subscription services worldwide. During this time, he has had the privilege to present at conferences in 7 countries across the world and speak with thousands of authors at various stages in their careers. With their acquisition of Smashwords, Draft2Digital now distributes over 900,000 books. Dan is also a Co-Host of the Self Publishing Insiders Podcast.

Kevin Anderson is the founder and CEO of Kevin Anderson and Associates, a New York-based book-writing and editing firm that serves major publishers, agents, and authors. He is a graduate of Harvard University, as well as an accomplished ghostwriter, editor, and entrepreneur that has worked on 30+ national bestsellers. His clients include numerous bestselling and award-winning authors, literary agents, and Big-5 publishers, as well as prominent public figures, successful professionals, and aspiring authors. At KAA, he works directly with his clients to put together an excellent writing team, a bestselling publishing strategy, and navigate the publishing industry, ensuring clients receive the highest caliber of service. Whether writers want to explore traditional, non-traditional, or hybrid publishing options, Kevin ensures his clients’ books are in the best hands. He is also a contributing author by invitation to Publishers Weekly’s Book Publishing Almanac 2022: A Master Class in the Art of Bringing Books to Readers.

Rebecca is the author of seven published works of fiction and non-fiction. Her historical novel, Touching Distance (Picador, 2009) was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize for Literature and won the MJA Open Book Award for Fiction.  Her most recent non-fiction publications include Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England (LOWA, 2022), The Jewish Journey: 4000 Years in 22 Objects (Ashmolean, 2017), and  Jewish Treasures of Oxford Libraries (Bodleian Libraries, 2020), long-listed for the Wingate Literary Prize.  She is also the author of the acclaimed When Parents Die:  Learning to Live with the Loss of a Parent (Taylor & Francis, 3rd edition, 2012) Her debut stage play, All of Us, a revisioning of Sophocles’ Electra, was performed at the Oxford Mint House in June 2019 and will be staged in New Zealand in 2023.  She has taught creative writing at Oxford University since 2007 and from 2017-2020 was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford.  She has also held posts as Writer-in-Residence for First Story and Gladstone's Library. A former columnist on the Daily Telegraph, she is the recipient of an Amnesty International Press Award for Journalism and is a regular literary critic for the Financial Times.