NPO Activity

Summary of Comma Press’s NPO Activity, 2018/19 to 2021/22

Comma's activity over the next four years will fall into the following three 'core' strands:
1. Talent Development
2. Commissioning, Publishing & Public Events
3. Sector Support & Access to the Industry

These strands will break down into a further eight areas of activity, as follows:


Specialised short story courses (meeting monthly and lasting for six months) in six different locales, as well as special one-off 'fictionalising history' workshops, and one course a year entirely online. The intention is to vary the locations of the six physical courses as much as possible, whilst always hosting one in Manchester and Liverpool.


An annual day-long industry event for unsigned and emerging writers, offering one-to-one contact with industry figures (agents, publishers, etc.) and continuing advice and resources on how to make a living as a writer (previously known as the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair).


Comma will also co-ordinate two annual prizes devised to find new talent in both short fiction and translation The Dinesh Allirajah Short Story Prize (in conjunction with the University of Central Lancashire) and the Manchester Translation Day Emerging Translator Award.


The commissioning, editing and publication of two single-author collections a year, bringing together work developed over previous challenges, one-off commissions, and separately developed bodies of work. These will include established authors, authors in translation, and debuting authors (see also 2C).


The pairing of writers with expert consultants from other disciplines across two anthologies a year: one societal challenge-themed 'science-into-fiction' anthology, and one 'history-into-fiction'.


The translation and publication of one international anthology every year, and one translated single-author collection every 2 years. Plus the coordination of an annual translation competition, in partnership with City, University of London.


The commission and publication a Northern ‘Book of the City’ each year, featuring 10 stories set in that city, by at least two by writers developed through the courses. Plus the development of a new interactive digital platform to allow users to map their way through the literary landscapes of the North and add their own work.

2E. COMMA 360: Events & Digital Access

- To host, co-host or help organise approx. 75 public events a year featuring Comma authors and editors (including a minimum of 20 'Outreach Days' in libraries and FE colleges, as well as working in partnership with festivals, arts venues, bookshops, and universities across the UK).

- To host a new platform of digital content, including video, podcasts, blogs, and live streaming of both public events, talks, seminars, and 'behind-the-scenes' access to the work of the publisher.


- A 3-month paid internship targeting graduates from BAME or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in partnership with Northern universities.
- The expansion of the NFA to the Northern Publishing Alliance, to offer Publishing Seminars and an annual IP Forum.

- Organising of a small annual delegation to Frankfurt (three publishers each year), plus a joint brochure promoting the rights of all fiction members.

All of these strands have been devised to both nurture and celebrate excellence (ACE Goal 1), but also to maximise the number of people able to experience this work (ACE Goal 2). Access to our work through digital means has been woven into every strand of our activity: 1A - the best stories produced by each course will be published as an eBook; 1B - highlights from the Industry Day will be videoed and made available through YouTube and the website; all publications in strands 2A-2D will be published as eBooks, as well as at least two a year as audiobooks; in 2E a minimum of 50% of events will be recorded and shared as audio (Soundcloud, or LitNav) or video (Youtube, Vimeo),  2E will also feature Comma's 'Alternative Histories' podcast, and 'behind the scenes at a publishing house' content; in Strand 3, Publishing Seminars will be audio recorded, if not videoed, and shared on the NPA (formerly NFA) website. This digital strand to all our activity is designed to specifically meet the ACE Goal 2, Priority 2 (‘strengthening the distribution of excellent art through touring and digital platforms’) as well as, ‘attracting new audiences’ (Goal 2, Priority 3).