Virtual event: Saturday 21 January, 10am - 2.30pm

As an applicant to this year's WriteNow, you have been invited to our exclusive online webinar on how to get published, with a specific focus on writing commercial fiction for adults. 

Held online on Saturday 21 January (10am - 2.30pm), this workshop will give you the tools, information and inspiration you need to become a published author.

Scroll down to find an agenda for the day and information about our panellists. You can find more information on accessibility and tech support here.

Illustration of a writer in the middle of question marks and speech bubbles

Getting published

Understanding publishing jargon


Welcome – 10am

  • Welcome from Louisa Burden Garabedian (WriteNow team) and Coco Hagi (Cult of Books, panel chair)

How to Get Published – 10.10am 

  • This session will break down the publication process, from first draft to bookshop, and offer practical information and advice on getting there. 
  • We'll be joined by authors Abir Mukherjee (The Shadows of Men, Death in the East) and Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?), literary agent David Headley, and Penguin Random House editor Sally Williamson.
  • This session will be followed by a 10 minute comfort break.

Ask an Agent – 11.20am

  • You'll receive top tips and advice from expert literary agents. We'll talk through example covering letters and look at the dos and don'ts when approaching literary agents.
  • We'll be joined by literary agents Gyamfia Osei (The Good Literary Agency), Hayley Steed (Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency), and James Spackman (The BKS Agency and The Spare Room Project).
  • This session will be followed by a 45 minute break to allow for lunch.

Writing for TV - 1pm

  • We'll deep-dive into the process behind adapting books into TV shows, as well as the opportunities for writers looking to work in the TV industry.
  • This will be a Q&A session with representatives from BBC Studios.
  • This session will be followed by a 10 minute comfort break.

Writing for an Audience - 1.40pm

  • The aim of this session is to explore the craft of writing and editing. How do writers and editors approach pacing, plot structure, and character? How do writers manage the tension between following their own instincts and passions, while at the same time writing for a commercial readership?
  • We'll be joined by authors Amy McCulloch (Breathless) and Sara Jafari (The Mismatch), and Penguin Random House editor Finn Cotton.

Books by authors joining us on Saturday...

Meet our panellists

Coco Hagi, WriteNow 2022 host

Coco Hagi is a content creator who discusses all things love, books and music. She is an English graduate with a masters in publishing, and a champion for inclusivity and diversity in the publishing space. Coco currently works for Penguin Books as an editorial assistant.


Amy McCulloch

Amy McCulloch is the Chinese-White author of eight novels for children and young adults. Her adult fiction debut, Breathless, is an international bestseller and she's currently working on her second novel, set in the Antarctic.

Abir Mukherjee

Abir Mukherjee is the bestselling author of the award-winning Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in 1920s India. He is a two-time winner of the CWA Historical Dagger and has won the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing. His books have also been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the HWA Gold Crown. His novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times' Best Crime and Thriller novels since 1945. Abir grew up in Scotland and now lives in Surrey with his wife and two sons.

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, who wants to tell the stories that she and her friends have longed for but never seen - romcoms 'where Cinderella is Black and no one bats an eyelid'. In 2019 she won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with the early draft of Yinka, Where is your Huzband?, which she had been writing alongside juggling her job at Carers UK. Since its release, Yinka, Where is your Huzband? has been compared to Bridget Jones, is a Times bestseller and Marie Claire book of 22. She has been at the receiving end of the question in the title of her novel many times and now lives with her husband in Milton Keynes.

Sara Jafari

Sara Jafari is a British-Iranian writer and editor. She is a contributor to I Will Not Be Erased and Who's Loving You. Sara also founded and runs TOKEN Magazine, a platform which showcases writing and artwork by underrepresented writers and artists. The Mismatch is her debut novel and her second novel, People Change, is forthcoming in February 2023.

Literary agents

David Headley

Originally from a working-class background in York, David Headley studied theology in London and Durham before co-founding and becoming the Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, a much admired, leading independent bookseller, based in central London.
David has spent the last 23 years establishing Goldsboro Books and becoming a well-regarded agent, forging strong relationships with publishing houses throughout the UK. He created the UK’s largest collectors’ book club and is influential in selling large quantities of hardback fiction in the UK. David has won awards for bookselling, and in the last ten years, has been included in the Top 100 most influential people in publishing by The Bookseller, a number of times.
David is the Managing Director of the D H H Literary Agency which he founded in 2008 and represents an eclectic range of best-selling and award-winning authors.

Gyamfia Osei

Gyamfia began her career in publishing working as a Bookseller at Waterstones, before joining Caskie Mushens as Literary Assistant to Juliet Mushens and Robert Caskie. She returned to the U.K. after living in Amsterdam for two years, where she managed international sales for The Pepin Press and held the role of Editor for Plural Magazine. Gyamfia is now an agent at The Good Literary Agency, focusing primarily on commercial women's fiction, genre fiction, cultural history and contemporary Children's books.

Hayley Steed

Hayley Steed is a Senior Literary Agent at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, where she works with authors of fiction and non-fiction including Clare Pooley, Yomi Adegoke, Henry Fry and Leah Hazard. She joined the MM Agency in 2016 and was named a Rising Star in The Bookseller in 2019. In 2022, she became a Trailblazer Award Winner for her innovation, creativity and passion in publishing, and also joined the board of Spread the Word.

James Spackman

James 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.


Finn Cotton

Finn Cotton is Senior Commissioning Editor at Transworld, commissioning crime fiction and thrillers. He works on authors such as Andrea Mara, Sarah Pearse, A. A. Dhand and Deborah Masson.

Sally Williamson

Sally Williamson has been a fiction editor for over 15 years, starting out as an Editorial Assistant for Harlequin (after stints as a Waterstones bookseller and an office receptionist) before moving to HarperCollins where she published Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – a debut novel which sold over a million copies in the UK. Sally has been at Transworld for four years where she works with brand authors such as the legendary Jilly Cooper and Sunday Times bestseller Trisha Ashley. Sally acquires commercial fiction at Transworld, ranging from historical sagas to Book Club reads, and this year is particularly excited to publish The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley and The Invisible Women’s Club by Helen Paris.

Sign up for updates, writing tips and inspiration from WriteNow

By signing up, I confirm that I'm over 16. To find out what personal data we collect and how we use it, please visit our Privacy Policy