Canongate announces the Nan Shepherd Prize Workshops

Canongate in partnership with Waterstones and local independent bookshops and supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland are delighted to announce the Nan Shepherd Prize Workshops. Accompanying the 2023 Nan Shepherd Prize, a biennial literary prize for underrepresented voices in nature writing, the workshops will see experienced nature writers meet with prospective writers in cities across Scotland to learn how to put together a non-fiction book proposal from scratch.

Each workshop will be hosted by a nature writer or industry professional including; Marchelle Farrell, winner of the 2021 Nan Shepherd Prize; Jini Reddy, author of the Wainwright Prize-shortlisted Wanderland; and Caro Clarke, literary agent and co-founder of the Nan Shepherd Prize. The workshops will each last one hour, with additional time allowed for questions at the end. The workshop leader will break down each element of a non-fiction book proposal, exploring how to create and refine them, including sample chapters, outline of the proposed book, chapter summary, biography and accompanying material. These elements are the main requirements to submit to an agent or publisher in the UK so, while the theme will be centred on the Nan Prize, the lessons taken from the workshops will be applicable to any non-fiction book proposal.

The Nan Shepherd Prize is a voluntary-run prize, whose award is sponsored by Canongate Books ltd. These workshops have been made possible thanks to generous funding from The National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Fund awards and the Scottish Government.

Workshops will take place at the following:

21st July at 5:30pm – Aberdeen with Marchelle Farrell, hosted at Waterstones Aberdeen
22nd July at 1pm – Inverness with Marchelle Farrell, hosted at Waterstones Inverness
27th July from 6:30pm – A recorded online workshop, hosted by Caro Clarke, available to watch-back any time.
8th August – exact time tbc, Edinburgh with Jini Reddy, Venue to be announced
9th August at 6:30pm – Glasgow with Jini Reddy, hosted at Category is Books
10th August at 6:00pm – Dundee with Jini Reddy, hosted at Waterstones Dundee

To allow time for the workshop attendees to put their proposals together after the workshops, the Nan Shepherd Prize’s submission window has also been extended from 31st July to August 25th.

About the Prize: The Nan Shepherd Prize aims to celebrate nature writing, provide an inclusive platform for new and emerging writers from underrepresented backgrounds, and to discover brilliant new voices. It is named after Nan Shepherd, author of The Living Mountain, today recognised as one of the best books ever written on nature and landscape. Previously the Nan Prize has been won in 2019 by Nina Mingya Powles (Small Bodies of Water, 2021) and in 2021 by Marchelle Farrell (Uprooting, forthcoming August 2023).

Submissions for the 2023 Nan Shepherd Prize open Wednesday 31 May until the 25th of August. Entrants are invited to submit a non-fiction proposal with a focus on nature, the natural world and the environment. More details, and helpful publishing tips and resources, can be found at the website:, and on Twitter: @NanPrize and Instagram: @nanprize. The winner will receive a book deal with Canongate with a £10,000 advance, and the option of literary representation with The Portobello Literary Agency, a new Edinburgh-based Literary Agency run by a co-founder of the Nan Prize, Caroline Clarke.

The judging panel for the 2023 Nan Shepherd Prize includes:

  • Claire Ratinon, author of How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving the House and Unearthed: On Race and Roots, and How the Soil Taught Me I Belong
  • Jason Allen-Paisant, Poet & Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, author of Thinking with Trees
  • Peggy Hughes, Executive Director of the National Centre for Writing Norwich
  • Caroline Clarke, Literary Agent at the Portobello Literary Agency
  • Chair of the Judges, Helena Gonda, Senior Commissioning Editor at Canongate.

The prize is run by a committee of five at Canongate: Alan Nevens, Head of Brand; Claire Reiderman, Editorial Assistant; Leila Cruickshank, Managing Editor; Jamie Norman, Senior Marketing Executive; Melissa Tombere, Editorial Assistant.

To submit to the prize, visit

For all enquiries, please email Enable JavaScript to view protected content..

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