Submissions are now open: July 5-8, 2017

‘The friendliest of Litfests’ in 2014; ‘friendlier than ever’ in 2015, according to contributor Edward Wilson

It’s that time of year again – the mornings are frosty and the gales are blowing a hooley, but here in the far west we are turning our minds to summer and to the 8th Penzance Literary Festival, which means … submissions are now open!


The Litfest has undergone many changes over the past year and is now a charity. Of course, our status is not the only change: the world is changing at breakneck speed. To reflect this, the theme for 2017 is Uncharted Waters.

Maybe you have a philosophical or political offering, a memoir or a novel about venturing into the unknown, or possibly something about the sea or rivers – as always, we love creativity so please interpret this theme as widely as possible.

Every year we receive an extraordinary variety of submissions. This year we are once again looking for ideas for talks, interviews, panels, writing workshops, open mic sessions … and then there’s our cabinet of curiosities which in the past has included some more unconventional subjects. To get an idea of our range, take a look at last year’s events.

Within the loose framework of our Uncharted Waters theme we would like to receive submissions on subjects that will appeal to readers of all genres. We are mainly looking for submissions for adults, although we are also interested in hearing from writers for children and young people.

As well as individual sessions, we also welcome submissions for two individual strands in the programme.

  • Writing workshops. Over the past three years we have developed a thriving workshop strand. Slots are generally 90 minutes or 3 hours. We will also consider proposals for specialist full day workshops – although please note that to be considered for one of these you need to be offering something that will really catch our attention and justify the considerable time and financial commitment for us and for the participants.
  • Publishing Day. In 2015 this focused on self-publishing and hybrid publishing. In 2016 we had representatives from leading mainstream publishers and a high-profile agent. Both proved extremely popular with aspiring authors. In 2017 we are looking for ideas and proposals that will enable us to develop this strand and build its appeal still further.

Looking through the submissions is an exciting time for us but there are two things it’s worth pointing out. Firstly, our audience does enjoy a West Country association; this may be the subject matter, the speaker or, ideally, both. Secondly, we have a limited number of slots available; we hate having to say no to people but, since it’s inevitable, please do give us your best shot when you submit.

We look forward to being amazed and excited by your submissions

The Penzance Litfest Team

Submission Guidelines

We are looking for:

  1. A short pitch – 250 words max – for the session you are proposing
  2. Your book title, if appropriate. If you have a book that you would like us to look at, please send it to Penzance Literary Festival, c/o Quiddles, Pendeen, Penzance TR19 7DN
  3. A very brief summary of your proposed session
  4. A brief biography

All submissions should arrive no later than February 22nd.

We are all volunteers with busy lives but we will do our best to let you know whether or not you have been successful as soon as possible, most likely in mid to late March.

Please email your submission to and make your subject line PZLITFEST 2017 SUBMISSIONS. If you don’t use this header, your submission could easily slip through our net and we would all hate for that to happen.

Now for the troublesome part … money

There has been a lot of press coverage relating to payment of authors. Penzance Litfest is a small community festival, which receives minimal grant or sponsorship funding and serves a very deprived area. For these reasons we keep ticket prices as low as possible to allow access to all. None of the organisers is paid, though many of us are publishing professionals.

This means we are not able to offer a fee to our speakers. However we make a contribution towards travelling expenses. We do offer a small fee for leading workshops, which are often run by people who don’t have a book to promote.

This does not mean we disrespect our authors. Far from it. Many of us are writers ourselves and understand the problems. By way of recompense, we work hard to promote our contributors and their books, and we do our best to ensure that contributors are supported and welcomed and generally have a good time. How can you not, down here on Poldark country and within sight of the wonderful Mount’s Bay?

To be clear:

  • We do not offer either a fee or travelling expenses to anyone living in Cornwall
  • We do not offer a fee but can offer travelling expenses of up to £60 for anyone living between the River Tamar and Bristol
  • We do not offer a fee but can offer travelling expenses of up to £100 for anyone living further afield than Bristol
  • If you need accommodation, we can usually arrange this free of charge with one our festival supporters. However you do need to let us know whether this will be required as soon as your submission is accepted