Birmingham Insight Day: when & where?

When? Saturday 26 November, 11.00-17.30
Where? The Impact Hub, Walker Building, 58 Oxford Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5NR

Applications are now closed.

What's on offer?

You'll be one of 50 writers joining us for the afternoon. The day will include:

Publishing, de-mystified

We know that the publishing industry can sometimes seem like a 'closed shop' and that it can be confusing to understand how the word document saved on your laptop could top the bestseller list. We'll follow the journey of a book from manuscript to bookshelf, focusing in particular on how to get your foot in the door - including how to write a cover letter to an agent, and how to pitch your book. This will include hearing from:

  • The Author: it all starts with you and your book.
  • The Agent: Ella Kahn from Diamond Kahn & Woods Literary Agency will explain the role agents play as the key link between authors and publishers, and give her top tips on how to get your book noticed. 
  • The Editor: a commissioning editor will describe their role, focusing in particular on the acquisitions process (deciding which books to buy) as well as describing how they would work with an author to get a finished manuscript ready for publication. 
  • The Bookseller: Stuart, Store Manager of Waterstones Birmingham, will describe what makes a book sell.  

You'll also hear a little more about what it's like to be a published Penguin Random House author, including how we design a book's cover, how we create a 'buzz' around our books by connecting authors with their readers, and how we work with customers - from small independent bookshops to the likes of Asda and Tesco. 

One-to-one feedback from an editor

We have a team of Penguin Random House editors excited to meet you and to read your work (scroll down to see who they are and what they do). Each writer coming along to our workshops will spend 20 minutes talking with an editor about your book and your writing style. We'll ask you to send us up to 5,000 words two weeks before the workshop so that our editors can come ready with suggestions and constructive feedback. 

Option One: Writing fiction and non-fiction for adults

Join authors Jonathan Coe, Oscar De Muriel, Bernardine Evaristo, Kit De Waal and Nikesh Shukla in conversation with one of our editors.

Option Two: Writing for children and young adults

Join Children's authors Bali Rai, Leila Rasheed and Nii Ayikwei Parkes in conversation with one of our Children's editors. 

The burning question: what are the barriers to getting published, and what more could the publishing industry do to overcome them?

For this interactive session you'll join a small round table discussion alongside authors, agents and Penguin Random House staff. We'll ask you to share your views on what more we could do to make the publishing industry more accessible. The session will be facilitated by author Nikesh Shukla. 

Networking

We know how important those chats over coffee and biscuits can be, so we'll make sure you get the chance to speak to our editors, agents and authors more informally throughout the day. 

Authors: our line-up so far

Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of seven books including fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. Her most recent novel, Mr Loverman, won the Publishing Triangle Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction (USA) and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize (UK). Bernardine is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, and was awarded an MBE in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List. She was born in Woolwich, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother and Nigerian father. She currently lives in London. 

Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of seven books including fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. Her most recent novel, Mr Loverman, won the Publishing Triangle Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction (USA) and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize (UK). Bernardine is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, and was awarded an MBE in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List. She was born in Woolwich, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother and Nigerian father. She currently lives in London. 

Kit De Waal's debut novel My Name Is Leon became a bestseller in June this year. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law before becoming a full-time author. She recently founded the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Scholarship at Birkbeck University, supporting budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree. 

Kit De Waal's debut novel My Name Is Leon became a bestseller in June this year. Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish Mother and Kittian father, and worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law before becoming a full-time author. She recently founded the Kit de Waal Creative Writing Scholarship at Birkbeck University, supporting budding writers who would not otherwise be able to afford a Master’s degree. 

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is the author of Tail of the Blue Bird, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize. The French translation of the novel won the 2014 Prix Baudelaire, Prix Mahogany and Prix Laure Bataillon. Nii is also the author of The Makings of You (poetry) and The Parade (a children's book written under the pseudonym K.P. Kojo). In 2015, he was selected as one of Africa's 39 most promising authors of the new generation for the World Book Capital Africa 39 Project.  Photo Credit: Marrianne San Miguel

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is the author of Tail of the Blue Bird, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize. The French translation of the novel won the 2014 Prix Baudelaire, Prix Mahogany and Prix Laure Bataillon. Nii is also the author of The Makings of You (poetry) and The Parade (a children's book written under the pseudonym K.P. Kojo). In 2015, he was selected as one of Africa's 39 most promising authors of the new generation for the World Book Capital Africa 39 Project. 
Photo Credit: Marrianne San Miguel

Oscar de Muriel has published three novels, combining crime, history and horror.  Oscar was born in Mexico City, and moved to the UK to complete his PhD.  He is a chemist, translator and violinist who now lives and works in Manchester.   

Oscar de Muriel has published three novels, combining crime, history and horror.  Oscar was born in Mexico City, and moved to the UK to complete his PhD.  He is a chemist, translator and violinist who now lives and works in Manchester. 

 

Jonathan Coe is the author of eleven novels, all published by Penguin, including the highly acclaimed bestsellersThe House of Sleep, The Rotters' Club, and most recently Number 11. He is probably best known for his book What a Carve Up! - his witty takedown of the 1980s Conservative government. Jonathan was born and grew up in Lickey, a suburb of south-west Birmingham.  

Jonathan Coe is the author of eleven novels, all published by Penguin, including the highly acclaimed bestsellersThe House of Sleep, The Rotters' Club, and most recently Number 11. He is probably best known for his book What a Carve Up! - his witty takedown of the 1980s Conservative government. Jonathan was born and grew up in Lickey, a suburb of south-west Birmingham.


 

Nikesh Shukla's debut novel, Coconut Unlimited, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010. Alongside his second novel, Meatspace, Nikesh has written for The Guardian, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Vice and BBC 2 as well as hosting The Subaltern podcast, an anti-panel discussion featuring conversations with writers about writing. Nikesh is also the editor of the forthcoming essay collection, The Good Immigrant.  

Nikesh Shukla's debut novel, Coconut Unlimited, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award 2010. Alongside his second novel, Meatspace, Nikesh has written for The Guardian, Esquire, Buzzfeed, Vice and BBC 2 as well as hosting The Subaltern podcast, an anti-panel discussion featuring conversations with writers about writing. Nikesh is also the editor of the forthcoming essay collection, The Good Immigrant.  

Bali Rai has written eight young adult novels. His first, (un)arranged marriage, won the Angus Book Award and the Leicester Book of the Year and subsequent books Rani and Sukh and The Whisper were both shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize. He also writes the Soccer Squad series for younger readers. Bali was born in Leicester, where he still lives, writing full-time and visiting schools to talk about his books.   

Bali Rai has written eight young adult novels. His first, (un)arranged marriage, won the Angus Book Award and the Leicester Book of the Year and subsequent books Rani and Sukh and The Whisper were both shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize. He also writes the Soccer Squad series for younger readers. Bali was born in Leicester, where he still lives, writing full-time and visiting schools to talk about his books. 

 

Leila Rasheed is the author of Chips Beans and Limousines (a Red House Read of the Year). She teaches a module in Writing for Children and Young People at the University of Warwick, as well as short courses in Writing for Children for Writing West Midlands. Leila founded of Megaphone, a writer development scheme supporting BAME writers penning their first novel for children or teenagers. 

Leila Rasheed is the author of Chips Beans and Limousines (a Red House Read of the Year). She teaches a module in Writing for Children and Young People at the University of Warwick, as well as short courses in Writing for Children for Writing West Midlands. Leila founded of Megaphone, a writer development scheme supporting BAME writers penning their first novel for children or teenagers. 

From Penguin Random House: our line-up so far

Tom Weldon is the CEO of Penguin Random House UK. He began his career as a trainee at publisher Macmillan, and has worked in the industry ever since. Over his career Tom has commissioned and published authors including Jeremy Paxman, Victoria Beckham and Jamie Oliver. Tom wants Penguin Random House UK to be the place where people can do the best work of their lives, and where people are tireless in connecting the world with the stories, ideas and writing that matters. 

Tom Weldon is the CEO of Penguin Random House UK. He began his career as a trainee at publisher Macmillan, and has worked in the industry ever since. Over his career Tom has commissioned and published authors including Jeremy Paxman, Victoria Beckham and Jamie Oliver. Tom wants Penguin Random House UK to be the place where people can do the best work of their lives, and where people are tireless in connecting the world with the stories, ideas and writing that matters. 

Emad Akhtar is an editor at Michael Joseph. He commissions primarily on crime, thrillers and science fiction. He has edited or worked on the books of MJ Arlidge, Tim Weaver, James Oswald, Lauren Beukes, SJ Parris and Stuart MacBride.  

Emad Akhtar is an editor at Michael Joseph. He commissions primarily on crime, thrillers and science fiction. He has edited or worked on the books of MJ Arlidge, Tim Weaver, James Oswald, Lauren Beukes, SJ Parris and Stuart MacBride.
 

Jessica Harrison is an editor at Penguin Press. She looks after the Penguin Classics list, working across different historical periods and genres (novels, stories, poetry, philosophy, folk tales etc) as well as creating new series such as Little Black Classics and Pocket Penguins. Jessica also works with authors including Jean Rhys, Shirley Jackson and Evelyn Waugh.

Jessica Harrison is an editor at Penguin Press. She looks after the Penguin Classics list, working across different historical periods and genres (novels, stories, poetry, philosophy, folk tales etc) as well as creating new series such as Little Black Classics and Pocket Penguins. Jessica also works with authors including Jean Rhys, Shirley Jackson and Evelyn Waugh.

Alex Russell is an Assistant Editor at Vintage, where he looks after crime and thriller, literary fiction and non-fiction paperbacks. He has worked on the books of Eimear McBride, Edna O’Brien, Teju Cole, Jo Nesbo, Stuart Neville and Lionel Davidson. 

Alex Russell is an Assistant Editor at Vintage, where he looks after crime and thriller, literary fiction and non-fiction paperbacks. He has worked on the books of Eimear McBride, Edna O’Brien, Teju Cole, Jo Nesbo, Stuart Neville and Lionel Davidson. 

Rebecca Smart is Managing Director of Ebury Publishing. Ebury’s focus is on non-fiction publishing; it is the UK’s largest publisher in food and drink, biography/ autobiography, personal development and many other topics.      

Rebecca Smart is Managing Director of Ebury Publishing. Ebury’s focus is on non-fiction publishing; it is the UK’s largest publisher in food and drink, biography/ autobiography, personal development and many other topics.

 

 

 

Katy Loftus is a fiction editor at Viking, part of our Penguin General division. She publishes ‘the best of commercial fiction’, including Jane Corry, author of the bestselling thriller My Husband’s Wife.   

Katy Loftus is a fiction editor at Viking, part of our Penguin General division. She publishes ‘the best of commercial fiction’, including Jane Corry, author of the bestselling thriller My Husband’s Wife. 

 

Mainga Bhima is an editor for Penguin Random House Children's working on fiction for children and young people aged 5–18. Mainga works with authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Steve Cole, Catherine Johnson and Jennifer Bell. 

Mainga Bhima is an editor for Penguin Random House Children's working on fiction for children and young people aged 5–18. Mainga works with authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Steve Cole, Catherine Johnson and Jennifer Bell. 

Joe Marriott is an editor for picture books across all the Penguin Random House Children’s imprints. Joe works with authors and illustrators including Nick Sharratt, Nadia Shireen, Giles Andreae and Kes Gray and is also responsible for new 'Spot' publishing.    

Joe Marriott is an editor for picture books across all the Penguin Random House Children’s imprints. Joe works with authors and illustrators including Nick Sharratt, Nadia Shireen, Giles Andreae and Kes Gray and is also responsible for new 'Spot' publishing.

 


 

Ruth Knowles is a fiction publisher for Penguin Random House Children’s. She manages Sir Terry Pratchett’s children’s publishing programme and works with authors Malorie Blackman, Sophie Kinsella, Sandi Toksvig, Joseph Delaney, Susie Day and Lucy Hawking.

Ruth Knowles is a fiction publisher for Penguin Random House Children’s. She manages Sir Terry Pratchett’s children’s publishing programme and works with authors Malorie Blackman, Sophie Kinsella, Sandi Toksvig, Joseph Delaney, Susie Day and Lucy Hawking.

Susannah Otter has worked at Vintage since 2011, joining as the department’s general editorial assistant. She is now an editor, and has worked with authors including Peter Ackroyd, Richard Flanagan, Susan Hill, Deborah Moggach and Sadie Jones. 

Susannah Otter has worked at Vintage since 2011, joining as the department’s general editorial assistant. She is now an editor, and has worked with authors including Peter Ackroyd, Richard Flanagan, Susan Hill, Deborah Moggach and Sadie Jones.