A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

The Game Changing Writing Course

In 2014 my sister forwarded me an email with the header “APPLY FOR THIS!!!” It was about a short residential writing course to be hosted by four publishing professionals. I was intrigued, but unsure.


The thing is, I’d never taken a course before. The very idea terrified and intimidated me in equal measure. But I’d written a book, knew it needed a really good edit and had absolutely no idea how to do it myself. I took a deep breath, did what my sister suggested and applied. A few months later I found myself driving along picture postcard country lanes headed to the Oxon Hoath Country Estate.


IMAGE 1 - OXON HOATH.pngOXON HOATH (Credit: Harry Ball-Weber)


That weekend, alongside fresh air, delicious food and some lovely children’s authors I now call friends, I also learnt how to edit. With a rigorous and strategic schedule of workshops and hands-on one-on-one editing sessions, there were also opportunities for us to liaise with a panel of agents and industry professionals.


BOOK BOUND TUTORS (Credit: Amanda Herbert)

Hosts Karen Ball (Publishing Consultant at Speckled Pen), Sara Grant (Author and Freelance Editorial Consultant), Sara O’Connor (Full Stack Developer at Bibliocloud) and Jasmine Richards (Author and story creator with In the Mix Agency) were not only incredibly generous with their knowledge; they were also really nice and very approachable.

Over the course of the weekend I learnt editing, research, plotting and pitching skills that I use to this day. I also got over my fear of other people critiquing my work. Handy that, now I’m a published author. Oh yes, and only a few months after the BookBound course, after using said skills to edit, polish and perfect my book, I signed with an agent. Three years later, I’ve had two books published and have just sent off my third book. I’m proof this course works, but don’t take my word for it. Here are three other participants who’d like to share their thoughts:


“I was in quite a bad writing place when I went to Book Bound. My fourth unpublished young adult novel had recently failed two acquisition meetings. I wanted to get some oomph back. Over the course of that weekend I learned key things, which made me more professional in terms of editing and what makes a manuscript work. I left with new skills and new friends, determined to re-double my efforts.”

Sue Wallman, author of Lying About Last Summer and See How They Die. Your Turn to Die, May 2018.


“Book Bound gave me the tools I needed to approach a structural edit objectively. I was still on an MA at the time, which was absolutely fantastic too, but I knew I needed other skills as well. Self-editing is such a hard thing to do unless you’ve got the confidence that you understand the process. With my first book, I’d floundered around for two years, polishing & adding stuff, rather than realising what actually needed to be done. Proof that the editorial foundations Book Bound give you really work came for me when Walker bought the second full draft of The Goose Road, following my own development edit. Since then, it’s only needed line & copy edits.”

Rowena House, author of The Goose Road, April 5th 2018.



The Book Bound weekend was brilliant as an experience in itself: an intense and challenging course delivered with energy, rigour and a lot of humour by Karen, Jasmine, Sara and Sarah. It’s been great how the relationships built there – with the other participants and with the course leaders – have developed into a community of writers: the BB Facebook page is the first place I turn to when there’s despair or joy to be shared. And the retreat was undoubtedly a pivotal moment for me. I’d already been writing for a long time, had completed three and a half novels, and had done a number of courses which looked at the craft of writing – but Book Bound’s focus on the process of revision was revelatory. I came away from the weekend with a new understanding and certainty about how to edit, which has seen me through revising and self publishing two volumes of a fantasy trilogy, and through the various drafts of a YA love story and political thriller that’s to be published by Scholastic later this year.”

Tracey Mathias, author of Night of The Party, 3 May 2018



And lastly, here’s a word from the Book Bound Team themselves:

“As well as providing solid editorial guidance, and an opportunity to network, our hope is to offer meaningful advice and insight into the publishing world, something we know can seem elusive from the outside. We are all published children’s authors, with strong editorial backgrounds, and can therefore share an unique viewpoint of the industry – we’ve written books and commissioned books and know what it takes to bring something to market.”

So if you’re an aspiring writer, you should know that the next retreat will be at the very same Oxon Heath country estate in Kent on 11-13th May 2018, and you can apply via the Book Bound website. Hurry though; there are limited spaces available. Oh and good luck!

Sarah Baker




Sarah Baker has worked extensively in film, with roles at Aardman Features and the Bermuda Film Festival, and as Story Editor at Celador Films. She has also been a writer and blogger for vintage fashion magazines. Sarah currently lives in London with her son. Her first book was THROUGH THE MIRROR DOOR, a time-slip novel for 9+ that’s perfect for fans of Emma Carroll, Katherine Rundell and Robin Stevens. Her second novel, ELOISE UNDERCOVER, is a thrilling middle-grade adventure set during WW2.


Twitter:             @bysarahbaker

Instagram:        @bysarahbaker






This entry was posted on January 26, 2018 by .

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