The Goat Bursary launches for unpublished writers

The Goat Bursary launches for unpublished writers

Joanna Cannon and The Writers’ Workshop are to finance an unpublished author to attend the Festival of Writing 2016, an annual writing conference for unpublished writers.

The Goat Bursary will be available to an unpublished author who needs financial support in order to attend the Festival of Writing. The festival is an opportunity for unpublished authors to meet publishers, get advice from professional authors and pitch their work directly to agents.

In September 2014, Cannon attended the Festival of Writing, where she won the Friday Night Live competition and received offers of representation from seven literary agents within 48 hours of leaving the festival. She went on to sign with Sue Armstrong of Conville and Walsh. This January, Borough Press published Cannon’s debut novel The Trouble with Goats and Sheep which has sold 19,565 copies in hardback since it was published on January 28th, according to Nielsen Bookscan.

Cannon said: “Before I visited the festival in 2014, I told no one about my writing and Goats and Sheep was written mainly in secret, in a car park. I didn't know anyone else in 'real life' who was working on a novel, and we all fear being the odd one out (or the goat, if you like). Visiting the festival made me realise just how many people are out there, feeling exactly as I did, and it was a huge turning point for me. In fact, it changed my life. Through the bursary, I want to give someone else, someone who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend, that sense of belonging, and perhaps give them the opportunity to change their life too.”

The Goat Bursary includes two nights’ campus accommodation, all meals, a festival pass and travel expenses, worth over £800. The bursary also includes editorial feedback from Armstrong.

Laura Burson, managing director of The Writers’ Workshop, said: “We couldn’t be more thrilled and more proud that the Festival of Writing provided Jo with the platform for her break into publishing, and that she’s back with us this year as keynote speaker is the icing on the cake. We hope through this bursary to find just such a talent, a new undiscovered voice, one that wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to benefit from all that the Festival of Writing has to offer. The Festival of Writing is social and welcoming event which is defined as much by its joyful spirit as its focus and genuine usefulness. Each year, lasting friendships are forged and cemented with our communal meals, evening entertainment and competitions giving delegates a chance to relax and compare experiences."

Unpublished authors are invited to submit 500 words of their work in progress, along with a 500 word letter on why they would like to attend the festival. The entry deadline is 22nd August 2016 and the winner will be selected and notified by 28th August 2016. Entries should be emailed to For more information on how to enter is available here.

The Festival of Writing takes place at York University from 9th to 11th September 2016.