The National Creative Writing Industry Day 2021

5 Nov 2021 - 5.00PM

Friday 5th November

Manchester Metropolitan University

Are you a new writer aspiring to publication? Would you like the opportunity to make connections with the publishing/commissioning world, learn how the industry works from its experts and hone the creative and practical skills needed to enter it? 

Comma Press invite you to attend their National Creative Writing Industry Day, in partnership with The Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. Taking place at Manchester Met on the 5th November, this conference is committed to providing participants with a unique introduction to the publishing industry and its professionals.

The day will run from 9.30am-5pm on Friday 5th November, and this conference will offer a keynote speech from a prominent author, a panel discussion, 1 x one-to-one session with an agent per attendee, and a choice of two workshops. 

Featuring a brilliant line-up of authors and agents, we tailor to every type of writer across levels, forms and genres. 




Tickets are £40.

Limited £15 bursaries are available for Greater Manchester residents. If you are eligible, please email with your postcode. First come first served.

Limited £15 bursaries are available for underrepresented writers (writers of colour, disabled writers, LGBTQ+ writers and low-income writers). Please email to confirm your eligibility. First come first served.

A small number of £0 sponsorships are also available for underrepresented writers - please email to confirm your eligibility. First come first served.



Keynote speech + Q&A
by Caleb Azumah Nelson

The author of debut novel Open Water will open the 2021 conference with a keynote on his journey to publication and his advice to aspiring writers.

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 27-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. His photography has been shortlisted for the Palm Photo Prize and won the People's Choice prize. His first novel, Open Water, was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize.


The Paths of Northern Writers 
with Kya Buller, Désirée Reynolds and Richard Smyth

Three North-based writers discuss their varying career paths, how they have each nurtured their writing practice, and how they have worked to make their voices heard within the industry, while also giving advice on how aspiring writers might propel their own work.

This will be a 1hr panel with an audience Q&A.

Kya Buller is a Mancunian writer, host and the founder/Editor-in-Chief of Aurelia Magazine, a double award-nominated publication dedicated to uplifting the personal stories, opinions and creativity of marginalised genders. Kya has written for Stylist, Time Out, gal-dem and more, and co-hosts the Close-Up with Aurelia Magazine podcast. She has hosted events both online and in-person, the most recent of which was for Manchester International Festival. She often appears as a guest speaker on panels and podcasts.

Désirée Reynolds is a writer, editor and creative writing workshop facilitator. A south Londoner up north, she lives in Sheffield. She started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner and the Village Voice. She has written film scripts, short stories, poetry and flash fiction. Her stories are in various anthologies, both online and in print. “Seduce” her first novel was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2013 to much acclaim. Her fiction is concerned with Black women, internal landscapes and a continuous struggle against the white, male gaze, notions of beauty, race and being, Black British Gothic and speaking story to power. Committed to anti racism and intersectionality, she draws on her experiences of these to make creative work.  Currently Guest curator at Off The Shelf and writer in residence at Sheffield Archives. You can find her on socials @desreereynolds and Instagram @desiree_reynoldsu2. Website

Richard Smyth is a writer, critic and author of The Woodcock (Fairlight Books, 2021). His work has appeared in The Guardian, The New Statesman and The Times Literary Supplement, and he is the author of five books of non-fiction. He lives in Bradford, West Yorkshire, with his family. He is a BBC National Short Story Award 2021 shortlistee. 


Self-editing Your First Draft
with Sarah Schofield

Acclaimed author and Creative Writing Lecturer Sarah Schofield – who this year will publish her debut short story collection – will lead a session on how to make sure your work is the best version it can be before sending it to agents and editors. This workshop will focus on an author’s editing skills, exploring ways to make space between yourself and your work, what kind of problems to look out for in first drafts, and what techniques you can employ to fix them.

This will be a 1hr 30-minute workshop with audience participation/interaction.

Sarah Schofield’s stories have been published in Lemistry, Bio-Punk, Thought X, Beta Life, Spindles, Conradology and The New Abject (all Comma Press), Wall: Nine Stories from Edge Hill Writers (EHUP), Best of British Short Stories 2020 (Salt), Spilling Ink Flash Fiction Anthology, Back and Beyond Arts Publication, Litfest’s The Language of Footprints, Synaesthesia Magazine, Lakeview International Journal, Woman’s Weekly and others. She has been shortlisted for The Bridport Prize and the Guardian Travel Writing Competition and has won the Orange New Voices Prize, Writer’s Inc and The Calderdale Fiction Prize. Sarah is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Edge Hill University and runs writing courses and workshops in a variety of community settings. Her debut short story collection, Safely Gathered In, is published by Comma Press in 2021.


Finding Your Form
with Jenn Ashworth

Prolific author and Professor of Writing Jenn Ashworth – who has published five novels and a memoir-in-essays – will lead a session in finding shapes, forms and structures for your fiction or life writing ideas. This workshop will explore different techniques to use when searching for the right form for your ideas, encourage experimentation with a range of starting points and introduce fresh directions to your practice.

This will be a 1hr 30-minute workshop with participation/interaction from you - bring something to write on and with and ideas for the projects that matter to you.

Jenn Ashworth’s first novel, A Kind of Intimacy, was published in 2009 and won a Betty Trask Award. On the publication of her second, Cold Light (Sceptre, 2011) she was featured on the BBC’s The Culture Show as one of the UK’s twelve best new writers. In 2019 she published a memoir-in-essays, Notes Made While Falling which was a New Statesman Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. Her latest novel is Ghosted: A Love Story. She lives in Lancashire and is a Professor of Writing at Lancaster University.


Agent One-to-Ones

All attendees will be allocated a one-to-one meeting with a literary agent, matched by genre. You can choose whether this will be a pitch of a final manuscript or an informal chat/advice on a work-in-progress when you buy your ticket. 

For a list of agents please see the website here.