Comma Press and Manchester Metropolitan University unveil Publishing Conference

Comma Press and Manchester Metropolitan University unveil Publishing Conference

Comma Press and Manchester Metropolitan University have revealed plans for the Publishing Conference 2021, a two-day online event taking place next month “to make the industry more transparent” for aspiring and early-career publishers. 

Comma will hold the conference on 24th and 25th April in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University.

“The two-day conference is designed to make publishing more transparent for those who are looking to forge a career in the industry, and to increase accessibility to the sector, particularly for those in the North of England where the conference would usually take place,” organisers said. The weekend will see two free events stream live to YouTube, including ‘An introduction to publishing’ delivered by publishing consultant James Spackman, co-founder of The bks Agency and The Spare Room Project founder. There will also be a ‘How to break into the industry’ panel including Anne Ashworth, head of employee apprenticeships at Pearson Plc and m.d. of Inspired Selection, Suzy Astbury, to be chaired by Society of Young Publishers North.   

In addition to the free events, the ticketed package will allow attendees access to eight presentations from industry professionals across departments and publishers, covering the basics of editorial, production, sales, publicity, rights, marketing, audio and starting up a press, as well as a CV and interview skills workshop. These will all take place in closed Zoom sessions and places will be limited.  

Speakers include Marianne Tatepo, commissioning editor at Ebury Publishing and and Pop Press and founder of the Black Agents & Editors’ Group (BAE) along with Pushkin Press’ publicity director Poppy Stimpson and Kit Caless, editor and co-founder of Influx Press.  

Spackman said: “The Northern Fiction Alliance, Comma Press and Manchester Metropolitan do amazing work fostering a strong publishing culture in the North, so despite being a stereotypical London publisher myself, I'm proud to be involved with this new conference.” 

Olivia Michael, senior lecturer and MA Publishing Programme leader at Manchester Metropolitan University, said “We are absolutely delighted to be working with leading independent Comma Press on The Publishing Conference. Comma Press are our partners in our MA in Publishing and have done a stellar job, providing resources and guidance for our students. They are great ambassadors for publishing in the North and we are really proud to be working with them.”  

Zoe Turner, publicist and editorial assistant, at Comma Press, commented: “It’s really exciting for Comma to be able to present this new conference in an online capacity in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan and so many publishing professionals. We hope that this event can help those who might have previously felt that a career publishing was out of their reach to understand how the industry works and find their way in.”  

Tickets for the weekend package will be £25, with limited sponsored tickets for aspiring publishers under-represented by the industry and limited free tickets for Greater Manchester residents. General tickets will be available to order through Eventbrite and individuals should apply for sponsored tickets and Greater Manchester tickets by emailing