pass the pen

Campaign to Promote Authors & Illustrators of Colour


BookTrust Represents and Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, have opened submissions for #PassThePen, a new campaign designed to help create visibility and generate book sales for emerging authors and illustrators of colour in the children’s books world.

#PassThePen will see fresh talent paired with established, high-profile authors and illustrators, for a takeover of their partners’ Instagram platform for a day to share information about themselves and their work. The week-long campaign will run from 16 – 22 November, featuring a diverse range of genres from picture books to YA.

Some of the authors and illustrators already confirmed to share their Instagram platforms as part of the campaign include Nadiya Hussain, Rob Biddulph, Dapo Adeola, Greg James, Onjali Rauf, Dermot O’Leary, Chris Smith, Holly Bourne, Chris Riddell, Juno Dawson, Laura Dockrill, Benji Davies, Jim Field, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Holly Smale.

Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, will host a different author or illustrator each day throughout the week, and will continue to #PassThePen moving forward by running a monthly social media guest takeover. Point five on Cressida’s Waterstones Children’s Laureate Charter is that ‘every child has the right to see themselves reflected in a book’, integral to which is the visibility of authors and illustrators of colour to readers.

Alongside the #PassThePen ‘takeover’ on Instagram, Cressida and BookTrust Represents will curate a Christmas reading list selected from the titles submitted for the campaign. This will be released on Monday 16 November, alongside a Twitter campaign – supported by Alex Wheatle, Candy Gourlay, Floella Benjamin and Nikesh Shukla – to encourage further recommendations of books by authors and illustrators of colour.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: UK publishers are now invited to submit titles first published in the UK between 1 September 2019 and 30 November 2020 by authors and illustrators of colour based in the UK. The campaign is designed to give emerging talent a platform, and so only authors or illustrators of colour with four or fewer titles published will be eligible. For further information and submissions forms please email Authors and illustrators can also submit individually on the BookTrust Represents Facebook group: Submissions must be received by 14 October 2020. Further submissions for Cressida’s ongoing activity are also invited as part of the submission process.

Indigo Williams, BookTrust Represents Project Manager said:

“We started BookTrust Represents with a clear aim to level the playing field across the industry. This campaign will connect new voices with seasoned writers to #passthepen and give emerging authors and illustrators a platform to showcase their talent and to reach new audiences. BookTrust Represents supports and subsidises authors and illustrators of colour, promoting their work through events (both virtually and in person) in bookshops, schools and festivals. We also offer free training for less experienced writers and illustrators. BookTrust is passionate about creating real change and we are pleased to be partnering with Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell, to champion new voices and ensure  that children across the UK can see themselves and their world reflected in the books and authors they read.”


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