The Northern Fiction Alliance has launched a cross-company mentorship scheme for early-career publishing professionals based in the region, with the first pairings already announced.
The alliance, led by independent publisher Comma Press, will match up early-career staffers with industry experts and peers, to provide mentees with “additional support and guidance as they establish themselves within the industry, and also to enable them to expand their networks,” an Alliance spokesperson said. Each mentorship will last for 12 months.
Becca Parkinson, engagement manager at Comma Press, will be mentored by Tara Al Aziz, senior marketing manager at 4th Estate.
Jordan Taylor-Jones, community coordinator at Dead Ink, has been paired with Natalie Shaw campaigns executive at Granta while Eleanor Kent, editorial production manager at And Other Stories, is matched with John Normansell, production director at Manchester University Press.
With two of these mentorships bridging publishing houses between the North and London, the NFA hopes that establishing such relationships will continue to narrow the gap between Northern independent publishing and the London-centric industry.
“I found it incredibly difficult to get a work experience placement while living in Manchester, as I had no friends or family in London,” Aziz said. “This barrier to entry precludes a huge talent pool from entering the profession, and reinforces privilege across the industry. We talk about diversity in publishing but region and class don’t always factor in those discussions.”
She added: “Mentoring is a fantastic way to mitigate that discrepancy, and to share knowledge across regions. The NFA mentorship scheme is a creative and vital initiative to bring new voices into the mix, and I’m delighted to be a part of such a positive and progressive scheme.”
The news comes a month after it was revealed that the NFA is collaborating with Penguin Random House, to explore a possible collective editorial presence in Manchester, potentially with support from the Arts Council Manchester City Council and Arts Council England (ACE).