Stuart White, a Glasgow writer of YA and Middle-grade began a free summer mentoring programme for children’s writers from around the world. He called it #WriteMentor. The scheme paired agented writers with those looking to submit their manuscripts to agents. The ‘pay it forward’ mentally was attractive to those who wanted to gain experience as a writing mentor and those who may not have been able to afford or access expensive children’s writing programmes or mentoring which costs hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pounds.
Stuart has created an online community that offers support, practical advice for getting an agent and also a space where people with disabilities and mental health issues can feel included. By using social media and online forums, Stuart has levelled the playing field for writers who may be disadvantaged by financial means or physical/mental health issues. Many of the larger well known courses for children’s writers involved travelling to large cities and spending thousands of pounds. For carers, parents, those working full-time or those who are housebound, #WriteMentor and it’s new online conference has been a breath of fresh air.
Fast forward a year and #WriteMentor has grown substantially. Stuart has created an online conference for children’s writers. Thank you to Stuart for answering a few questions about the exciting new conference that is accessible to all.
Wow-Con 20th-22nd September 2019
Why did you decide to do an online conference for children’s writers?
One of my good friends was chatting to me about the frustrations of being a children’s writer but never being able to go to conferences or agent 1-2-1 events because of a chronic illness which means she’s housebound most of the time. My personality is very much, if I can fix something I’ll do it, so I organised the online con, so ANYONE (with a computer!) can attend a conference.
What kind of things can people expect from the conference?
We have 8 excellent speakers, 20 superb and varied workshops and 12 blog posts on topics ranging from mental wellbeing to physical health obstacles and how to still be a writer, while managing all of those.
We also have an online pitch contest on the Saturday, WOW-PITCH which will be judged by 3 literary agents in 3 different categories with prizes for those winners. We also have a recorded video of a discussion panel on the benefits of mentorship and we talk with 3 graduated #WriteMentor programme mentees who have now got agents and book deals since the 2018 programme.
Has your own health and personal experience influenced you to do things like #WriteMentor and Wow-Con?
I personally suffer from two autoimmune chronic illnesses and while I’m not massively physically impaired, I live in Glasgow, so getting to any UK conference is difficult, due to money, family responsibilities and working full-time.
How much is Wow-Con and how can writers book a place?
It’s £10 for a general admission ticket – that gets you all 8 speakers, the 12 blog posts and a chance to take part in WOW-PITCH.
The workshops are £10 each, and last 1 hour, all online and via a text platform, so no need for your face to appear on video!
And agent 1-2-1s (which are selling fast) are £25 for 15 minutes on Skype (or equivalent) where the agent will read your opening pages and give you feedback.
Interviewed by Maisie Chan