Agenda & Speakers

Saturday 4 September, 10am - 2pm

As an applicant to WriteNow 2021, you have been invited to our exclusive online webinar on how to get published, with a specific focus on children’s books. Held online on Saturday 4 September (10am - 2pm), this workshop will give you the tools, information and inspiration you need to become a published children’s author. 

On this page you'll find an agenda for the day and information about our panellists. Please check the FAQs in the sidebar for more information on how the day will run and tech support.

Illustration of a writer in the middle of question marks and speech bubbles

Getting published

Understanding publishing jargon


Welcome – 10am

  • Shannon Cullen, Publishing Director at Ladybird, and Amanda Punter, Publishing Director at Puffin, will kick off the day. We'll also be joined by Sarah Shaffi, our host for this year.

How to Get Published – 10.15am 

  • This session will break down the publication process, from first draft to bookshop, and offer practical information and advice on getting there. 
  • Sarah Shaffi will host the panel, and we'll be joined by authors Kim Hillyard and Sharna Jackson, and Ruth Knowles (Publisher for our Puffin 6+ list).
  • This session will be followed by a 10 minute comfort break.

Ask an Agent – 11.15am

  • You'll receive top tips and advice from expert literary agents. We'll talk through example covering letters and look at the dos and don'ts when approaching literary agents.
  • Hosted by Sarah Shaffi, we'll be joined by Callen Martin (The Good Literary Agency), Davinia Andrew-Lynch (Andlyn), and Lydia Silver (Darley Anderson).

Focus on: Picture books – 12.15pm

  • We'll deep-dive into how picture books are made and published, and give you the chance to put questions directly to industry experts.
  • Hosted by Joe Marriott, Editorial Director for our Puffin picture books list, we'll be joined by Nadia Shireen, author and illustrator, Gareth Peter, author, and Steph Jones, Senior Designer at Puffin. 
  • This is also an optional lunch break for chapter book and middle grade writers.

Focus on: Chapter books and middle grade – 1pm

  • We'll deep-dive into how chapter books and middle grade books are published, and give you the chance to put questions directly to industry experts.
  • Hosted by Natalie Doherty, Editorial Director for our Puffin 6+ list, we'll be joined by authors Nazneen Ahmed Pathak and Jen Carney.

Books by authors joining us on Saturday...

Meet our panellists

Sarah Shaffi, WriteNow 2021 host

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance literary journalist and editor. Her work has appeared in publications including Stylist, Vogue Australia, Boundless and The New Arab. She is a judge for the 2021 Costa Novel Award, and has previously judged the Jhalak Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Sarah previously served as managing editor at and is currently editor-at-large at independent children's publisher Little Tiger Group.

Authors and illustrators

Gareth Peter

Gareth Peter is an author and stay-at-home dad, living in Nottingham with his partner, two huskies and their two adopted children. In 2018 Gareth was selected as one of ten exceptional finalists onto the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring scheme, seeking new voices from under-represented communities. His experience as a parent within a same-sex couple brings a fresh, funny and sensitive perspective to parenting and family life.

His three debut picture books My Daddies, Forever Star and Who Will You Meet on Santa Claus Street? published in 2021.

Jen Carney

Jen Carney is an author-illustrator living in Lancashire with her wife, three children and an array of animals. The Accidental Diary of B.U.G. is Jen’s first book and was originally written for and inspired by Jen’s reluctant reader son who is adopted by two mothers, like Billie, but had never seen his family represented in funny fiction before. B.U.G. sets out to celebrate diverse families and be an inclusive and accessible series for young readers.

Kim Hillyard

After completing a degree in Drama at the University of Exeter, Kim Hillyard spent nine years working as a music journalist for various publications, including NME, Time Out and the BBC. She has also worked as a drama and arts facilitator, delivering assemblies, storytelling and workshops in schools, bookshops and community spaces on everything from phonics to creative writing.

Kim's debut picture book, Mabel and the Mountain, won the 2020 Sainsbury's Children's Book Award and her second title (Ned and the Great Garden Hamster Race) was released in January 2021.

Nadia Shireen

Nadia Shireen enjoyed making homemade magazines and comics as a child. She studied law at university and then worked in magazine journalism; it was during this time that she started to draw again. After a lifetime of doodling in the sidelines, Nadia decided to pay some attention to drawing and in 2007 was accepted onto an MA course in Children's Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Her debut book Good Little Wolf received a mention in the Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Award and won the UKLA Book Award. Nadia has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Waterstones Children's Book Prize. She lives in London.

Nazneen Ahmed Pathak

Nazneen Ahmed Pathak is a British Bangladeshi writer, historian and visual artist who lives in the port city of Southampton. She spent most of her teen years in commuter belt suburbia writing, reading, and listening to melancholy indie music, going on to study English literature at the University of Warwick and completing a PhD in Bangladeshi literature at the University of Oxford. As a historian she researches the geography and history of migration, a subject which is also at the heart of much of her fiction, poetry and visual arts practice. She was selected as one of 12 mentees from 2000 applicants for the 2016/17 inaugural round of Penguin Random House's Write Now mentorship scheme which aims to support and publish underrepresented writers.

She has held residencies at Southampton Central Libraries, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton Museums and Archives, and the Francis Crick Institute in association with Poet in the City. She has been published in Poem: International English Language Quarterly, Places of Poetry: Mapping the Nation in Verse (OneWorld Publications), The Puffin Book of Big Dreams (Puffin), and A Match Made in Heaven: British Muslim Women Write About Love and Desire (Hope Road Press).

Sharna Jackson

Sharna Jackson is an award-winning author and curator who specialises in developing socially-engaged initiatives for children across culture, publishing and entertainment. She was recently the Artistic Director at Site Gallery in Sheffield, and was formerly the editor of the Tate Kids website. Sharna's debut novel High-Rise Mystery received numerous awards and accolades including the Waterstones Book Prize for the Best Book for Younger Readers. Sharna lives on a ship in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Literary agents

Callen Martin

Callen graduated from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People in 2019, becoming the first care-leaver in the history of East Sussex County Council to study at postgraduate level. Since his Masters, he has completed work experience and internships at publishing houses such as PRH’s Michael Joseph, Walker Books, and Chicken House. Currently, he works at The Good Literary Agency where he has recently been promoted from Submissions Coordinator, a role that required him to be the initial reader for all submissions, to Agency Assistant – a role that is one-step closer to his goal of being a Literary Agent.

Alongside his work at TGLA, Callen reads for publishing houses and global competitions that specialise in Children’s and YA Publishing and is also a Manuscript Assessor for Faber Academy. He is currently editing a Middle Grade novel that he hopes will be his debut.

Davinia Andrew-Lynch

Davinia is the founder of ANDLYN, a boutique agency dedicated to finding storytellers whose material can not only exist on the page but can also find an outlet through other media territories.

Davinia was previously an associate agent at a highly reputable film and television agency, and worked simultaneously as a freelance children's fiction editor and reader for various publishers, literary agencies, consultancies and scouts.

Small and intimate, ANDLYN aims to offer a service tailored to the individual's needs.  This is not a 'one size fits all' agency, but a place to nurture talent and careers.

Lydia Silver

After a childhood buried in library books and Beanos, Lydia started her career in the editorial team at Egmont, where she commissioned books such as the Carnegie Medal-winning The Poet X. She joined the Darley Anderson team in 2018, and is building an engaging and diverse list of authors and illustrators. With experience on both sides of the commissioning desk, Lydia loves working editorially with her clients and developing ideas from an initial spark into a full manuscript. She represents clients across all age groups, including picture book, chapter book, middle grade and YA, and has a particular focus on non-fiction. Lydia reads and considers widely, and among other things she is looking for snort-inducing stories for younger readers, clever and contemporary teenage and YA fiction, and non-fiction projects that take big ideas and make them easily navigable, accessible and fun. No matter the story, Lydia is drawn to voice above anything else and will always be sucked in by a strong hook.

Lydia is actively looking for submissions from all under-represented writers.

Lydia represents clients including Soofiya, Gina Blaxill, Mark Bradley, Ryan Hammond, Alice Harman, Joyce Efia Harmer, Catherine Jacob, Hannah Moffatt, Rachel Morrisroe, Nick Sheridan, Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Eva Wong Nava. If you could sum up her tastes in three words, they would be curious, characterful and heartfelt, and in three books, they would be One of Us is Lying, Nevermoor and You Are Awesome.

Penguin Random House Children's

Amanda Punter

Amanda is Publishing Director for Puffin, home of some of the world’s best-loved storytellers, including Beatrix Potter, Allan Ahlberg, Jacqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl, Malorie Blackman, Philip Pullman and Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

Amanda oversees a talented editorial team of over twenty people focused on bringing these books to generations of new readers, as well as championing newer authors and illustrators like Tom Fletcher, Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Nadia Shireen, Karen McManus, Vashti Harrison and expanding Puffin’s non-fiction offering with books like the bestselling Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay, One Hundred Steps by Captain Sir Tom Moore and the illustrated adaptation of BBC Earth. Puffin’s mission is to spark imagination and to empower young people to be and do anything.

Amanda has worked in children’s publishing for twenty years and has contributed to the World Book Day executive committee and recently been appointed to the Children’s Laureate Steering group.

Joe Marriott

Joe Marriott is Editorial Director for picture books on the Puffin Picture Books, Partnerships and Illustrated Non-fiction team. He works with a team of designers and editors making picture books for babies and 2-6 year-olds, both new stories, established brands and illustrated non-fiction. Some of the authors and illustrators on his list include Tom Fletcher, Eric Hill, Nathan Bryon, Dapo Adeola, Gareth Peter, Mini Grey, Kes Gray, Steven Lenton and Ella Okstad. He’s always on the lookout for original texts and ideas (and illustrations) that are funny, clever, surprising and heart-warming.

Shannon Cullen

Shannon Cullen has been the publishing director for Ladybird at Penguin Random House since 2017, managing the editorial teams across the Licensing, Trade and Education lists, which publish brands such as Peppa Pig, Ten Minutes to Bed and Ladybird Readers. Prior to this she was at Puffin and 6+ fiction teams, working with a wide range of authors, including John Green, Zoe Sugg, Anna Perera, Lucy and Stephen Hawking, Sufiya Ahmed and Anthony McGowan. She previously worked on the Primary Literacy list at Collins Education and in 2008 was co-chair of the Children’s Book Circle. Shannon has twice chaired the Muslim Writers Award for an Unpublished Children’s Story, judged the inaugural Undiscovered Voices competition, and helped to establish the Commonword Diversity Writing for Children Prize in 2012 and develop WriteNow.

Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones works as Senior Designer on Picture Books, Partnerships & Illustrated Non-Fiction at Penguin Random House Children’s. At school she was a keen art student, and volunteered at a local children’s library. Steph went on to study Graphic Design at Nottingham Trent University, during which time she worked part-time at Waterstones, primarily in the children’s department. After graduating in 2016, she joined PRH as Design Assistant, and has since moved up in the team.

Currently, Steph works on a range of projects, from Nadia Shireen’s latest picture book and Tom Fletcher’s Who’s In Your Book series, to non-fiction titles like Stuff by Maddie Moate and Paul Boston and How to Change the World by Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Annabel Tempest.

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