National Creative Writing Industry Day

Creative Writing student or graduate? Or just interested in a career in creative writing? Not sure how to go about exploring your options? Struggling to make connections in the publishing/commissioning world? This is for you.

The National Creative Writing Industry Day, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, is returning for its sixth year as the National Creative Writing Industry Day Conference, a week-long online event. 


The conference will run from the 26th-30th October, opening with a free keynote speech by award-winning author Irenosen Okojie and continuing with free daily panel discussions with industry professionals. There will be 2 two-day ticketed packages available which will include 1 workshop and 1 meeting with a literary agent for paying attendees (27th + 28th or 29th + 30thOctober). Designed to help and inspire you as begin your creative writing career, we have assembled a brilliant line-up of authors and publishing professionals to advise and encourage you on your way to being published.


Irenosen Okojie is a Nigerian British writer. Her debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Observer,The Guardian, the BBC and the Huffington Post amongst other publications. Her short stories have been published internationally including Salt's Best British Short Stories 2017 and 2020, Kwani? and The Year's Best Weird Fiction. She was presented at the London Short Story Festival by Booker Prize winning author Ben Okri as a dynamic talent and featured in the Evening Standard Magazine as one of London’s exciting new authors. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular, published by Jacaranda Books was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her new collection of stories, Nudibranch published by Little Brown's Dialogue Books was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. She is the winner of the 2020 AKO Caine Prize For Fiction for her story, 'Grace Jones'.


Full programme and tickets are to be released later in September. Visit the official website for more information. 

Free events will be streamed to YouTube and paid events will take place over Zoom (or an alternative video call software for one-to-one meetings).


Comma Press have conducted interviews over the years with some of the guest agents and publishing insiders, to help you find out more about their roles, top tips and opinions on prevalent publishing issues. We have uploaded those videos to our Youtube channel and, whether you attended a fair or not, you can learn more about literary agents, booksellers, editors, pitching your manuscript and more by watching the videos, which are collected in a NCWGF playlist on our Youtube channel.

Interviewees include:

Julia Silk (MBA Literary Agents)
Jemima Forrester (David Higham Associates)
Jessie Botterill (Janklow & Nesbit)
Rebecca Carter (Janklow & Nesbit)
Samar Hammam (Rocking Chair Books)

Nicholas Royle (Nightjar Press & Manchester Writing School)
Joanna Dingley (Canongate Books)
Kate Feld (Openstories & Manchester Literature Festival)
Catherine Cho (Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency)
Emily Yau (Ebury Publishing - Penguin Random House)
Philippa Milnes-Smith (LAW Literary Agency)
Kerry Glencorse (Susannah Lea Associates)
Becky Thomas (Johnson & Alcock)
Tilda Johnson (Golden Egg Academy)
S J Bradley (Strix Leeds)
Sandra Sawicka (Marjacq Scripts)
Luke Kennard (University of Birmingham)
Naomi Kruger (University of Central Lancs)
Lucy Morris (Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency)
Livi Michael (Manchester Writing School)
Laetitia Rutherford (Watson Little)
Kit Caless (Influx Press)
Molly Flatt (Futurebook)
Matthew Frost (Manchester University Press)
James Draper (Manchester Writing School)

Kavita Bhanot (The Literary Consultancy)
Katie Greenstreet (C & W)
Philippa Sitters (David Godwin Associates)
Ludo Cinelli (Eve White Agency)
Nika Cobbett (WGM Literary)
Natasha Salter (WGM Literary)
Jonathan Ruppin (The Ruppin Agency)
John Berlyne (Zeno Agency)
Jacob Ross (Peepal Tree Press)
Nathan Connolly (Dead Ink Books)
Giles Milburn (Madeleine Milburn) 
Hayley Steed (Madeleine Milburn)
Debbie Taylor (Mslexia Magazine)
Steve Ince (writer & games designer)

You can also view the keynote speeches we're had over the years including: 

The Art of Trespass, delivered by best-selling author Kit de Waal in 2016, where she explores issues of appropriation, class, gender, and race in literature.

Selected Failures, delivered by Luke Kennard in 2017.

And finally the acclaimed short story writer Eley Williams in 2018. 



How do the pitching sessions work?

Every delegate was assigned two appointments with publishing professionals, having made a first, second and third choice preference of genre when they booked their place. They were given their appointments the week before the event so that they had time to prepare for their specific pitch.


At the appointment, delegates had 15 minutes to pitch their work. It is up to delegates how to approach this but a few short extracts, and an overview summary of your work would do nicely. If delegates didn't feel that their work was ready to pitch, many used the time to pick the brains of their matched professional. They live and breathe publishing - it was a great opportunity to ask those questions people didn't want to ask in front of anyone else! 



Hear what it was like from the delegates themselves

Hull-based writer Shellie Horst wrote about the Grad Fair for Futurebook.
Helena Fairfax guest-blogged her experience for us.
Lorna Riley likewise walked up through her day at the Fair on our blog.

From the National Creative Writing Graduate Fair 2018:

Emily Oldfield of 'HAUNT Manchester' and 'I Love MCR' reported on the day for The Manchester Writing School.

Yasmin Chopin walks us through her experience in a guest blog.

Helen Taylor, previous delegate turned published panellist, blogs about how she came 'Full Circle', with advice for writers in her past position.