Get a Job in Publishing with the Northern Fiction Alliance and The bks Agency

27 Apr 2019

Get a Job in Publishing will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Sandra Burslem Building.

Saturday 27th April, 9.30-5.00

Tickets are £50 with refreshments included. Book your place at eventbrite here.

Sponsored tickets have been generously donated by various organisations to allow those who are unable to afford the ticket fee to attend. Please check our list of sponsors to see if you are eligible.

We are offering a select number of reduced price places to those on means-tested benefits or grants, and those who are single-parents. Please email for more information.


Comma Press, with the Northern Fiction Alliance and The bks Agency, are pleased to announce their inaugural ‘Get a Job in Publishing’ conference, partnered with The Publishers' Association and Manchester Metropolitan University, which will take place on Saturday the 27th April 2019.

The bks Agency is a team of three experienced publishing professionals: Jason Bartholomew, Jessica Killingley and James Spackman (more information below). This event will be a positive, enabling mini-conference demystifying publishing for new entrants of all backgrounds, and offering practical guidance.

With a series of in-depth talks, the publishing 'ecosystem' will be explained, and career paths including editorial, marketing, sales, publicity and rights will be described by industry experts, before breaking off into interactive workshops on how to write the best CV and how to hone your interview technique. 

Special guest speakers include Hilary Murray Hill, CEO of leading publishing house Hachette’s Children's Group, who will be talking through editorial careers in children's publishing, Sara Hunt of Saraband, a Northern independent publisher providing a platform for emerging authors and underrepresented voices, who will talk through editorial careers in fiction, and Katie Brown, commissioning editor for fiction at Trapeze, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, and formerly an award-winning publicist at Headline and Riot Communications, who will lead the talk on book publicity.


Overview of the day:

Overview of the UK publishing industry & anatomy of a publishing firm - The bks Agency 

How a book gets published - The bks Agency 

What a successful book looks like - the financial model - The bks Agency 

Editorial careers (fiction) - Sara Hunt 

Editorial careers (non-fiction) - The bks Agency 

Editorial careers (children's) - Hilary Murray Hill 

Marketing - The bks Agency 

Sales - The bks Agency 

Publicity - Katie Brown

Production & Design - The bks Agency

Rights - The bks Agency 

CV hack / Interview sessions - The bks Agency 

Routes into publishing and networking/trade organisations - The bks Agency 


Guest Speakers

Hilary Murray Hill is the CEO of Hachette’s Children’s Group.Her first job in publishing was at Hamlyn, then became part of Reed Books. Hilary left Reed in 1992 to work for Carlton Books (now the Carlton Publishing Group), leaving in 2000 to take up her first role in children’s as a Marketing Manager at Usborne.  In 2005 she moved to Scholastic Children’s Books as Sales and Marketing Director, and was made Managing Director in 2009.  She took up a new position as Managing Director of Books for Egmont in 2014 but left later that year when she was appointed CEO of the newly formed Hachette Children’s Group.


Katie Brown is commissioning editor for fiction at Trapeze, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group. Formerly an award-winning publicist at Headline and Riot Communications, Katie has spearheaded campaigns for global bestsellers Neil Gaiman, Eowyn Ivey, Mary Berry, Kate Mosse and BJ Novak, and has won industry recognition for her work with Sarah Winman, Anthony Horowitz,  and Instagram chef, Miguel Barclay. Katie is currently the co-chair for the All Together Network at Hachette UK, which promotes regional and socio-economic diversity across the company.


Sara Hunt is thefounder and director of independent publisher Saraband, inaugural winners (2013–14) of the Saltire Society Publisher of the Year award and 2016 IPG Publisher of the Year finalist. She worked in publishing in London, including at Penguin and Octopus, and New York before founding Saraband in 1994. Saraband has extensive international experience and is a member of Publishing Scotland, the Northern Fiction Alliance and the Independent Publishers’ Guild.


The bks Agency are a Literary Management Agency based in London with over sixty years' experience between them, who additionally run events as the Book Skills Collective, helping to make getting a job in publishing as demystifying as possible.

The bks Agency team

Jason Bartholomew: Originally from America, Jason Bartholomew spent ten years working in New York publishing, primarily for Hachette Book Group USA. He moved to Hachette UK in 2008 where he was the Rights Director across Hodder & Stoughton, Headline Publishing Group, Quercus Books, and John Murray Press. In addition to the Rights Director role, in 2015, he also became the Publishing Director of Quercus US in New York.

Jessica Killingley: Jessica spent 20 years working in Marketing for a number of the divisions within Hachette UK and Penguin Random House, where she ran high-profile & award-winning campaigns across all genres, from debuts to brand names such as John Grisham, Stephen King, David Mitchell, Michael McIntyre and Stephen Fry. She now runs a Publishing Consultancy, coaching and supporting authors and entrepreneurs who recognise that a book is an obvious extension of their already thriving brand.

James Spackman: James is an alumnus of the Bloomsbury Publishing Graduate Scheme (the post room). His publishing career progressed through sales and marketing roles at Bloomsbury, then at John Murray and Hodder & Stoughton, helping create bestsellers from authors as diverse as JK Rowling, Ben Schott, Stephen King, Freddie Flintoff and Kate Fox. James is Publisher of Pursuit, Profile Books’ cycling imprint, coaches book trade people in presentation skills under the brand The Book Pitch Doctor and is founder of The Spare Room Project.



Founded in 2016 by four of the UK’s leading independents, including Manchester's Comma Press, the Northern Fiction Alliance is a radical publishing collective devised to showcase the creativity, diversity and spirit of risk-taking that sets publishers in the North of England apart. Together we are reshaping and redefining the UK's literary landscape, commissioning bold new works, and providing alternative platforms for underrepresented authors. With the support of Arts Council England, the Alliance has exhibited the output of Northern indie presses to new audiences and publishers around the world.