A Day at the Random House Penguin National Book Blogger Forum 2014



I was thrilled by the invitation to attend the inaugural Random House Penguin National Book Bloggers Forum held earlier this week at the offices of Random House in Sydney. I was one of around 40 book bloggers to attend the event who made their way from all over Australia.

The day was launched by a warm welcome speech from Director of Marketing & Publicity, Brett Osmond  that showed his passion for publishing. He was especially encouraging of book bloggers, and readers, imploring us to connect with each other and Random House online. “When you connect books with readers magical things will happen.”, he said, and this is what drives him in the face of a changing industry.

Next to speak were Eva and Ellie, two of the Random House digital publicists. Their presentations focused on building a digital media presence with the help of  Google Analytics in particular, and  across social media in general. I learnt I probably don’t take my blog seriously enough, and that there are a myriad of ways to improve and increase my digital reach including studying my stats (which I usually ignore) to learn more about my audience, make better use of keywords and links, directly engage the community with ‘calls to action’ and implementing content planning. These are all things I am going to be looking at in the near future.

Sneh Roy was the first guest author to address us. A food blogger who has met with great success with the  Cook Republic and recently published her first cook book with Random House, Tasty Express, she spoke to us about her experience as a blogger of 10 years, emphasising the importance of finding your voice, having strong content and developing community and relationships.  She also spoilt us with a lovely morning tea which included this tasty Burnt Butter Caramel Slice.


Photo Courtesy Erin Patel @ezpatel



Morning tea, and lots of chatter, was followed by the publicists of Random House previewing some of the new releases we can expect from Australian authors. These included titles such as David Malouf‘s The Writing Life, Julia Gillard’s autobiography, My Story, A Fatal Tide by debut author Steve Sailah and Hooked: The Secrets of A Sydney Call Girl by by Samantha X. You can also expect Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant, He Who Must be Obeid by Kate McClymont and Linton Besser  and Australia’s Hardest Prison: Inside Long Bay by James Phelps. I am especially looking forward to the release of Eden, which is a sequel to the fabulous Hades by Candice Fox.  are you seeing me

Young adult readers can look forward to the third book in the Chasing the Valley series, Skyfire by Skye Melki-Wegner, Intruder by Christine Bongers and Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth and Felicity from PenguinTeen introduced Masquerade by debut Australian author Kylie Fornasier before showing off Richelle Mead’s latest, Silver Shadows and Afterworlds from Scott Westerfield.


Lunch gave us all a chance to chat over sandwiches and treats. I was so pleased to finally be able to meet face to face with the women I have worked with on the Australian Women Writers challenge for the past three years! I also had a chance to talk with some other lovely people, check out the full list of attendees at Random House or in this twitter list

L-R: Elizabeth (Devoted Eclectic); Michelle (Book to the Future), Me, Paula ( Wordsville) and Yvonne (Stumbling Through the Past)

L-R: Elizabeth (Devoted Eclectic); Michelle (Book to the Future), Me, Paula ( Wordsville) and Yvonne (Stumbling Through the Past)

We were all suitably impressed by the identity of the surprise guest author who joined us after lunch. Judy Nunn, popular Australian actress and author of 12 books, spoke about her work, her writing and graciously fielded questions from an awed audience. I really enjoyed her talk and  to top it off we were given signed copies of her latest book, Elianne, which I am now dying to read.

photo 1

Judy was followed by Bruce McCabe with an interesting story about his journey to publication. He self published his book, Skinjob, which by rather circuitous means made it into the hands of a well respected agent and is now being published by Random House in June. I was fascinated by the inspiration for his novel and his belief in himself and his story.

photo 3

Following Bruce we heard from Brandon Van Over, the Managing Editor of Random House, with advice for the aspiring writers in the audience. I think I was the only one there not currently writing the next Australian publishing sensation! Brandon particularly addressed the blog to book phenomena and let us know that publishers are reading blogs looking for potential authors.



Next up was a preview of what we can expect from international authors over the next few months. This included Courting Trouble by Kathy Lette; Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, and both Lee Child and Kathy Reichs will be adding to their series oeuvre. We were treated to a wonderful book trailer for John Cleese‘s memoir and Russell Brand’s The Messiah Complex. Murukami fans can expect Colorless Tsukura Tazaki and his years in pilgrimage, and you can also look forward to  Perfidia by James Ellroy, The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

The YA representatives fangirled over news of Magesterium, a collaboration by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare and the movie tie in of If I Stay by Gayle Forman.


With the day nearly over, we were given the opportunity to talk amongst ourselves but unsurprisingly the audience mainly wanted to ask questions of the publishers and so it became a Q&A session fielded by Kirsty Notfke, the wonderful Random House publicist and organiser of the Forum, and Felicity V from Penguin Teen. Honestly, the eight hour day flew by in what felt like minutes and everyone was reluctant to leave at the close of the forum, even without the draw of champagne, cake and a generous swag bag!



The events of the day were eagerly tweeted, facebook’d and instagrammed by all those in attendance. You can check out the #NBBF14 Twitter feed for more details. Everyone felt the forum was a huge success and we are all hoping Random House will host the event again next year. Look out for an announcement in 2015!

I would like to personally extend my thanks to Kirsty and the Random House team for all their hard work, generosity and passion for books, and book bloggers!

You can connect with Random House at their website, blog, Facebook and Twitter


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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael @ Literary Exploration
    May 22, 2014 @ 14:14:30

    Looks like this was an amazing event.I hope this will become an annual tradition and I plan to make every effort to be there for the next one.


  2. persephonenich
    May 22, 2014 @ 14:21:13

    Hi Shelleyrae, lovely to meet you at #NBBF14 and thanks for the great round up of the programme. I agree Kirsty and the Random House team gave us a really inspiring and motivating day – am already looking forward to #NBBF15!


  3. herschelian
    May 22, 2014 @ 14:31:31

    So envious – sounds like it was a fascinating day, and you have reported it so well that I really got a flavour of the whole event – as well as some new titles/authors to note in my little black ‘MUST READ’ Moleskine notebook.


  4. Book Muster Down Under
    May 22, 2014 @ 14:45:21

    Brilliant run-down of the day Shelleyrae – wish I could have been there.


  5. thebookdate
    May 22, 2014 @ 15:19:58

    Sounds like a great day, happy you enjoyed it so much. Great post summing it up, very interesting. Thanks.


  6. Debbish
    May 22, 2014 @ 15:52:13

    Great post – you absorbed so much detail!


  7. ezpat1981
    May 22, 2014 @ 16:56:10

    I had such a fantastic time Shelleyrae. It was wonderful to be in a room with likeminded people.


  8. 1girl2manybooks
    May 22, 2014 @ 18:53:01

    Great re-cap!


  9. didibooksenglish
    May 22, 2014 @ 20:27:29

    Looks you had a fantastic time at this informative event. I dream of being invited to one of these. One day soon I hope…. Boy did that Burnt Butter Caramel Slice look good!


  10. brendat59
    May 22, 2014 @ 20:33:54

    Excellent post Shelleyrae! Sounds like a fantastic day was had by all :)


  11. Alys @ Mundane Ecstasy
    May 22, 2014 @ 22:17:08

    Reminds me what a great day it was and boy did it fly by


  12. Teddyree
    May 23, 2014 @ 08:02:16

    What a fab recap Shelleyrae, wish I could have been there! Next year I hope. The blogger to author experience fascinates me … I dream occasionally lol and increasing my digital reach is something I read up on regularly but don’t often put into practice … you know good intentions and all that.

    Lucky bloggers, meeting Judy Nunn, I would have been just a little excited, love her work. And the women from AWW challenge … last year at ARRC meeting bloggers was another highlight for me. Yay to the Random House team for what sounds like a fantastic event, hope it becomes a regular one.


  13. Danielle
    May 23, 2014 @ 09:25:47

    Woah, what an awesome day!
    ‘Are You Seeing Me?’ by Darren Groth sounds amazing – adding it to the wish list :)


  14. notesoflifeuk
    May 26, 2014 @ 03:16:06

    What a wonderful day! I’ve been to a couple of book blogger events with Random House Childrens Publisher in London, but they’re usually just for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning down in London.


  15. perkinsy
    May 26, 2014 @ 10:55:50

    Thanks for this great overview Paula. I love these opportunities to meet fellow book bloggers, and I finally got to meet you!


  16. Tien
    May 26, 2014 @ 14:17:41

    aw, sad that I missed out :(
    Really wasn’t paying attention to the bookish world for a couple of months but thanks for the recap – sounds like a great fun time!
    The swag bag looks amazing!


  17. kathrynsinbox
    May 26, 2014 @ 21:43:05

    Sounds wonderful. I’m glad that you had an excellent time there :-)


  18. Jo
    May 27, 2014 @ 02:02:53

    Sounds like a great event. =)


  19. stacybuckeye
    May 28, 2014 @ 11:04:15

    Wow! What a great day! Lucky bloggers :)


  20. Trackback: EVENT: National Book Bloggers Forum 2014 – Book Thingo

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