Scotland’s New Writing Expo

I love the Edinburgh International Book Festival – it’s the largest public celebration of books in the world, and I’m so proud that I get to be a part of it each year. While I variously run events, chair sessions and spend time briefing the media, it’s watching my programmes for new writing develop, and the writers it supports growing in confidence, that keep me going when I’m drowning in spreadsheets.

The Project

Scotland’s New Writing Expo is the overall name given to three strands of activity designed to promote and develop a range of emerging writers, and to celebrate the new voices emerging from Scotland.

Events were linked with a promotional leaflet and a formal networking reception to connect with established writers & industry professionals. All participants were offered the opportunity of participating in a Presentation Skills workshop, and received a ‘Starter for 10’ document to help them navigate their next steps into the literary world.

Story Shop

To support the new voices emerging directly from the City of Literature, there were free daily readings of original fiction from emerging writers living and working in Edinburgh. In 2010, a combined audience of 710 came to the readings by 17 writers.

Story Shop was a joy to be part of from start to finish. It was a privilege to be part of this and it gave me some lovely experiences and memories. And now I know I can read out one of my stories in public and survive to tell another tale! – Story Shop participant

More from the Story Shop >

Dragons’ Pen

Nine new writers each pitched their unpublished work to a panel of three literary professionals – the ‘dragons’ – in front of a live Book Festival audience. The panel then responded to the writer’s work with comments, questions and advice from their professional perspectives.

The best new writers’ event I have ever been to – Creative Writing Course Tutor

The risk of being ‘eaten’ was outweighed by the benefits of learning from the experience – Participant

The Dragons comprised of:

  • Francis Bickmore, Senior Editor, Canongate Books
  • Charlotte Higgins, Chief Arts Correspondent, The Guardian
  • Lucy Luck, Lucky Luck Associates literary agency

It was utterly enjoyable and brilliantly conceived. Make it an annual event!  – Charlotte Higgins, Dragon

Thanks to all of you for making this into a really memorable evening. We are in love with the City of Lit – Nick Barley, Director, EIBF

More from the Dragons’ Pen >

Writing into the Future

The Scottish Creative Writing Schools nominated students to represent their course and read their work.  Publishers, literary agents and new writers attended two events, chaired by Aly Barr of Creative Scotland, where a selection of writers read from their original work.

The other writers were fantastic and I was so proud to be a part of it. I met lots of people and enjoyed every minute. The crowd was receptive and polite, and I received several nice emails and Twitter messages from people who’d heard me read. – Writing into the Future participant

More Writing into the Future >

New Writing Reception

Industry professionals including publishers, agents and established writers were invited to meet all new writers who appeared in the programme, along with the Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award winners for that year.

Networking is an important skill, and this was often the first opportunity new writers received to meet and mingle with professionals in their industry. The event also provided an opportunity for new writers to meet, and to celebrate the events that they had taken part in with the wider literary community.

I enjoyed mingling with publishers, agents and fellow new writers. I think any opportunity to encourage dialogue between industry professionals and new writers is a ‘must attend’. – New Writer

The New Writers Reception is definitely essential as it brings people together from the three strands of the programme. – New Writer


  • New writers felt a sense of connection, receiving encouragement and support from the wider literary sector.
  • New writers were given often their first opportunities to think about the performance element of their work, and how it may be received by an audience.
  • Established writers appreciated the sense of a structured pathway into the industry being promoted.

At the Edinburgh International Book Festival

  • Cities of Literature International Residency
  • British Council Book Case
  • Press & media interviews

Vital Statistics for 2010

  • 34 new writers took part in 21 new writing events at EIBF of which 19 were free
  • 23 new writers completed a Presentation Skills workshop to prepare them for their EIBF performances (core skills including voice coaching and mic technique)
  • 9050 leaflets promoting 25 organisations were given away at the Information Desk, and were available to an estimated footfall of 200,000
  • 17 emerging Edinburgh writers performed at StoryShop to an audience over 700
  • 52 delegates from across the world attended the British Council Book Case
  • 100% of participants in the Scotland’s New Writers events stated that they would like to be involved in future events
  • Press articles were positive
  • All new writers received a ‘Starter for 10’ info sheets to help link them to existing organisations and resources available

City of Literature Information Desk

Our Information Desk in the Book Festival’s Entrance Tent was available to an estimated footfall of 200,000. In total we made available approximately 9,050 leaflets, postcards and flyers from 25 literary organizations representing all aspects of literary Edinburgh to the 200,000 people that passed through the entrance tent over the 18 days of EIBF.


 British Council Book Case


The British Council Book Case 2010 saw 52 participants from around the world visit EIBF as part of a showcase of UK literature. EUCL held a civic reception at the City Chambers to welcome delegates, with 100 invited guests from across the literary community. Delegates also received welcome events and presentations from the major literary organsiations based in Edinburgh: the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Scottish Poetry Library, National Library of Scotland and Scottish Book Trust.

Wheeler Centre Director Chrissy Sharp was among the delegates, as was Emerging Writers Festival Director Lisa Dempster, who spent one month in Edinburgh, treating the tip as a professional exchange.

EUCL Director Ali Bowden attended a Festival Directors’ Lunch hosted by EIBF Director Nick Barley.


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