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(Temporary) Blogs' Archive 2017-2018

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Nicola Ramsey, EUP & Academic Publishing

February 21st, 2018 by Madalena Cardoso | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Nicola Ramsey, EUP & Academic Publishing

“Every day is different because every book is different (…) it’s always varied, always challenging, but never boring”

Nicola Ramsey, Head of Editorial and Publisher of Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies at Edinburgh University Press, was the first visiting speaker of 2018. Nicola gave a warm, frank and interesting talk on the world of Academic Publishing, sharing insights on EUP and the particular dynamics of the sector, on the process of bringing a book to life and on her personal experience. Curiously, it was her 25th anniversary of being a student of the Publishing Studies course. If her clear passion for books was not enough to immediately captivate her audience, her common history and background with the listeners at the University of Stirling certainly was.

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Nicola started by explaining that Academic Publishing, i.e. publications by and for academics, is dominated by UK and US players, being characterised mainly by 3 types of operators – commercial academic presses (e.g. Taylor & Francis), university presses (e.g. EUP) and, more recently, new university presses that defend Open Access (e.g. White Rose). She emphasised the global nature of the sector, and the high-value of the books produced (that are consequently more expensive than the average book). Editorial work is the engine that drives the business, contrary to what happens in Trade Publishing, which is much more market-driven. The Edinburgh University Press, which falls within the Academic realm, is a well-known mid-sized house focused on publishing books such as textbooks and research monographs, and journals across a range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences. It was born in the 1950s as a mere department of the university. Since then, it has metamorphosed and grown immensely. Just this year it plans to publish more than 200 books.

One of the most intriguing things Nicola discussed was the positive relationship between print books and ebooks that takes place in the Academic sector. There is a symbiosis between the two formats, which are commonly perceived as adversaries and as cannibalising each other’s sales. The visiting speaker believes this is because people enjoy the discoverability/accessibility/searchability of an-ebook but opt for print when they need to do some deep reading. As so, it really seems to be all about the content rather than the format, with paper and digital co-existing in harmony.

The visiting speaker’s role in the EUP is one of great responsibility. As the Head of Editorial, she ensures the publishing program matches the press’ strategy, and that key targets are met (e.g. control of costs, etc.). She must also keep an eye on industry developments and on innovations that can potentially improve internal processes or reveal business opportunities. As a Publisher, Nicola is a list-builder, undertaking market and competitor research, building relevant networks, and meeting authors. Maintaining a good reputation is seen as preponderant for the success of the publishing house, because it translates into attracting both more clients and authors. Trustworthiness is core for the Academic sector.

A typical day at work for Nicola involves lots of tea and lots of emails – and it is never boring. Indeed, all books are different and so represent new challenges. The best parts of the job include making a difference in authors’ lives, the success stories (when a book sells), being invested and involved, and the constant learning.

All in all, Nicola’s lecture was extremely insightful. Exposure to industry professionals really is an invaluable opportunity, allowing us to get a fresh perspective, and to further develop our knowledge.

A Bibliophile’s Christmas Fantasy

December 18th, 2017 by Madalena Cardoso | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Bibliophile’s Christmas Fantasy
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IMG87382 Winter is here. There are magical light displays on the streets. Christmas markets are open. There is mulled wine and cinnamon treats, and large crowds of people wearing colourful reindeer jumpers shopping for presents. Snow has already made an appearance, with gentle snowflakes covering everything in white in Stirling.

Indeed, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. And everywhere includes bookshops. For our Marketing Management and Communication module, we were asked to look at current bookshops’ practices, and so I went to Edinburgh and did a small tour. It was during my trip that I noticed how retailers have really outdone themselves this season by employing creative strategies and introducing sensory elements to entice customers, from decorations to special offerings and fun events.

In Princes Street Waterstone’s, in Edinburgh, a gigantic Christmas tree has been set up. Green garlands are everywhere. Book displays showcase a selection of interesting themed titles – classics, crime novels, new releases, and more – and there are many promotions taking place. Other chains such as Blackwell’s, in South Bridge, have devoted great attention to their store windows, immediately capturing a passer-by’s interest.

Independent bookshops, being smaller in size and naturally more flexible, manage to design more unique and memorable experiences. At Golden Hare Books (established in 2012 and located in the Stockbridge area), for example, there is relaxing jazz music playing in the background, free delicious mince pies and tea, and a wood-burning stove is on to keep customers warm. There is a pleasant incense aroma in the air and you can buy already-wrapped books with mysterious labels to surprise yourself for Christmas. There is also a Christmas “book tree” on one of the tables. Touch, smell, sound, sight and taste. The interplay of the five senses is quite clever, contributing to shape a cosy, familiar and welcoming atmosphere.

Booksellers are finding innovative ways of remaining operational in today’s extremely competitive environment. Although online book shopping is perhaps more convenient and cheaper, it is only in physical venues where one can experience such wonderful things. There’s quite nothing like browsing in a bookshop, especially during Christmas time. But, it must be said that, as a Publishing student, my opinion might be (slightly) biased.

Writing Gender Violence

December 18th, 2017 by Diane Hill | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Writing Gender Violence
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In November, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Writing Gender Violence event at the University. Organised as part of Book Week Scotland, the event also coincided with 16 Days of Action to eliminate violence against women, running from the 25th of November to the 10th of December.

A crowd of us gathered in the Pathfoot Dining Hall, and at the front where a panel of four women visiting speakers who dedicated their time for this event. Technically, there was only three present in the room as the fourth was on the other side of the world. Thanks to a computer and a webcam, however, three became four. The panel was made up of crime writer Alexandra Sokoloff, author of the Huntress Moon series that goes against the norm with her female serial killer antagonist in her crime series. Then, there was Madeleine Black, author of the memoir Unbroken, a true depiction of the devastating aftermath of rape and the journey of forgiveness. Next was Lydia House from Zero Tolerance, a charity that campaigns to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and challenging attitudes that normalise violence and domestic abuse. Lastly, there was Lorna Hill, a Ph.D. creative writing student from the University of Stirling who has written a crime novel focusing on human trafficking and domestic abuse. This was our panel.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this event when I first sat down in the chair, however, my attention was captured throughout. Like myself, I don’t think many people have thought about the notion of writing gender violence. Even as a former journalism student, I had not given this issue much thought. However, what was made very clear to me throughout this event is that writing gender violence is a current, ongoing issue today. From Madeleine we learned that due to the very graphic details contained in her real life story, it was rejected 25 times before it was finally published, and even then there was some effort to tone down the graphic descriptions told throughout her story due to the fear that it could deter potential readers. The fact that someone would try to tone done the details of this story is baffling. Why would you try to dilute the true story and horror of the rape of a young woman? It would take away the true purpose of the story, to connect with others who had gone through similar experiences and to show them that they have a voice and that they have the right to be heard. This is Madeleine’s purpose for writing. She doesn’t see it as story writing but as story healing. Lorna also agreed with this. She also highlighted the importance of these voices being heard.

It is not just the publishing industry that struggles to grasp the importance of writing gender violence; journalists and the media are also responsible. Lydia House highlighted this. She explained the work her charity does to try and educate those in positions, such as journalists, to communicate with large amounts of people. They give them the skills to better equip themselves when reporting violence against women. Again, as a former journalism student, I cannot recall one instance where we were taught how to properly report such stories. We weren’t taught these skills and looking back, this is very surprising. Lydia highlights just how important a story’s language and pictures are to the representation of the article as a whole. They could inadvertently silence the voices of the women who deserve to have their stories told. Zero Tolerance offers journalists a Handle with Care guide that can help them when reporting these kinds of stories. They also offer a free range of photos that can be used to better represent the different crimes of violence and the victims, as the violence committed against women is not limited to just physical violence.

Moving on to Sokoloff, she wanted to create a character, a female serial killer particularly, to turn the tables, and the violence, against men. She wanted to explore the questions as to why women don’t commit serial murders, and why do men commit this kind of violence and women don’t? Women can be serial killers, but they normally don’t have the sexual aspect to the crimes compared to men. In the end, she creates a powerful character. Sokoloff highlighted that this kind of character, or story, couldn’t have been written ten, or ten fifteen years ago. Attitudes to these kinds of crimes have changed and people want to read about people’s experiences. One only needs to look back at the Weinstein scandal to see this.

Overall, this event highlighted the importance of writing about gender violence, and also the need for there to be a better understanding in certain industries in how to better handle this issue. Progress is being made, but as Madeleine said, there is still a long way to go to challenge the attitudes regarding wring gender violence. This event was informative and very insightful, and I would have recommended it to everyone.

What is the relationship between author and publisher?

December 11th, 2017 by Sofia Fernandez | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What is the relationship between author and publisher?
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A few weeks ago the author of 2016 Man Booker shortlisted novel His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet, and Saraband founder and owner, Sara Hunt, visited the University of Stirling to discuss the relationship between authors and publishers. The interview was held on a Wednesday evening, with tea and biscuits to accompany the charismatic talk for the creative writing and publishing students.

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His Bloody Project became the largest-selling book in the Booker shortlist after being shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize the past year. However, Burnet’s success first started with his union with Saraband when working on his first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau. Just like all good stories begin, Graeme submitted the manuscript of the novel to different publishers before Sara called him. 

The starting point of this magnificent story commenced with Burnet finding an agent who was willing to work on the manuscript. After some editorial work done, the manuscript was sent to different publishers, all of which rejected Graeme’s novel. That was the point when the possibility to send the novel to independent publishers arose.

He got interested on Saraband thanks to the description on their webpage about their new Contraband imprint, that was seeking crime fiction, “but not purely crime —  centering on the originality and quality of the narrative, either crime fiction, thrillers, mystery or noir”. He thought, “well, here you have a quirky novel, set in France and written by someone who’s not French”. Burnet describes The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau as a character study, “it is a sort of crime novel, but it doesn’t easily slot into a specific genre. It is all about the character”.

Saraband originally started in 1994, dedicated mostly to illustrated non-fiction books but, as publishing was evolving,in 2014 Sara and her team decided to create Contraband imprint, “kind of crime related but not genre crime particularly”, something different that would not fit into a publishing standard. She explains Saraband’s motto would be to provide books with quality or passion more than genre or fitting in a particular market.

Hunt found the manuscript impeccable and fitting into what she wanted for the new imprint so she decided to call Graeme, who was in that moment painting the ladies toilet of a building. He giggled while affirming “it is not easy to make a living as a writer”. Nevertheless, Graeme told us that all the recent events have had a very big impact on his life. After the shortlisting of his second novel by the Man Booker Prize he was immediately invited to a high profile events such as the London Book Fair. He explained that as a “newbie” in the field he decided to attend all events as they were all big and beautiful opportunities, but obviously it got pretty exhausting. However, despite all the social appearances, he already finished The Accident on the A35 published by Saraband this last October 2017.

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Then, the students were given the opportunity to ask the guests, and the eternal question arose among the audience, “why did you decide to set His Bloody Project in a city of Scotland that is not your hometown?” Burnet argued that imagination is emphasized when you are in a foreign place, “sit down in a place without a phone or a book and you’ll be surprised by all the things you can reckon”, he proposed.

When another student asked Graeme what moved him to write he advised to be authentic, “looking for commercial trends to inspire some writing might not work”.  And that is something he and Saraband share. Hunt explained, “if something is on trend that’s a bonus – for us it’s about quality and having passion for the book”.

An intrepid publishing student asked then whether, after all the success he’s been through, other publishers have offered him to publish with them. Graeme appeared very open to share it with us and Sara. He did receive other offers but “every relation with an author is different”.  He felt Sara had done an amazing job and built a great relationship. Burnet is very comfortable with Saraband. “It is very difficult to find someone that believes in your work at an early stage and holds the faith on it”. Moreover, Sara feels fine with Graeme moving to other publishers, “it’s not bad to have authors going to larger publishers because it gives you advertising. It is fruitful anyway”, she said.

The clock was marking the last five minutes of the hour, but Sara and Graeme kept telling us the most encouraging stories to make the work in publishing an amazing place:

Sara: “It’s important to have faith in the people you are working for”.

Graeme: “It is striking to have freedom to write about what you want”.

Sara: “Saraband’s thing is that with Contraband we are keeping authors, not trends of novels”.

Graeme finished the talk with profound feeling and advice to the audience “but do not to give your heart because then it hurts more. However, if it is your passion, it will never stop. It never crossed my mind to stop”.

Sofía Fernández Becerra

Between the Caribbean and the U.K.

December 11th, 2017 by Lucie Santos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Between the Caribbean and the U.K.
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“Create tastes rather than following them” Jeremy Poynting

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The best part of being a small and independent publishing company based in Leeds with a special interest in poems and Caribbean literature is that they can create taste instead of following trends.

Jeremy Poynting introduced a poetry small press: the Peepal Tree Press where two people are involved in full-time supported by six part-time helpers. Their aim is to encourage the authors and work with professionals in order to have the books in the hands of the consumer. This is why, currently, they publish fiction, poetry and general academic titles. The key point is to encourage books to be accessible to a more general reader. They publish writing directly from the Caribbean and this makes them actually the biggest publishing house in the United Kingdom for Caribbean literature. They operate because books should make a difference and take part of a dialogue about society as they think the process of working with authors is important and they can afford to take their time.

Because they are helped with funds from the Arts Council, they do not need to be market oriented. One of the objectives is to have “Great Art for everyone”: they do not only publish books but they are involved in social media events and one important part of a cultural company is the connection with people. The objectives are different than a big publishing house; they cannot have economy of scale but they try to keep the backlist alive.

So, one huge value brought by an independent publisher is the capacity of doing new things even if the audience is limited for a poet. Besides, because they are outside of London, they can develop a very international target market. They want to bring international writing into the country and to print diversity literary travel.

The story began in a garage and crossed the sea to the Caribbean

The objective is not only selling books in the U.K. but also selling books in the Caribbean because they want to nurture the roots from which they are coming from. The Caribbean’s literature is an essential part of British and Scottish culture.

Why is the area producing a Nobel Prize but does not have a publishing industry developed?

Shivanee Ramlochan explains “It is really difficult to be published in the Caribbean”. It is hard to get recognition of your work, and even harder if you write poetry because poetry is not old in the Caribbean. She is a poet from Trinidad and she wants to learn publishing skills from manuscript to print books and eBooks. Now she would like to teach others back to the Caribbean.

The publishing sector in the Caribbean is focused only on two parts of the market: university presses and professional but not fiction. Moreover the market size is very little and the number of booksellers is very small. There are few proper bookstores, the products are more focused on Christian books and schoolbooks.

The publishing sector is living through history of colonialism and there are a few people interested in Jamaican books; in Grenada for instance. There is no distributor in the Caribbean and it is difficult to reach every single island coming from the others. They transit through Miami to go to others islands and there are no direct flights.

But Shivanee Ramlochan shows us that it is not impossible to write poetry and to be published.

“Books should make a difference and be part of a dialogue.” Jeremy Poynting

So what about discovering poetry from Caribbean ? It is also a way for us to remember all the links we have with the Caribbean people. They are part of European history, indeed not the easiest part we’d like to face.

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By Lucie Santos

Laptop Guy the Comic Guy

December 7th, 2017 by Yuehan Chen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Laptop Guy the Comic Guy
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ddd We were so lucky to have a speech about comics from Sha Nazir who is the founder of “BHP Comics” on the afternoon of 16th November. BHP Comics is an innovative comic company which is based in Glasgow.

According to Sha Nazir, producing a comic book is more expensive than producing a fiction book, since you need to do the manuscript first then start to do the illustrations and colouring. Besides, the situation of comic sales in Scotland was not that good. So they came up with an idea to create a Glasgow Comic Con to sell their own products at 2011. Recently, there were 120–150 tables of different titles, all making their own content. In Glasgow, there are now 140 comic authors who create work. The trend of comics is like everyone making and creating their own work. Before, there was only one comic event in Scotland, but this year there were 45 comic events in Scotland.

sss BHP Comics publish “horror, romance, historical and academic,” almost everything except the superhero. And the reason why they don’t publish superhero titles is because Sha Nazir thinks that America is extremely good at creating successful superhero comics such as “Spider Man” and “ Bat Man”. Sha Nazir doesn’t want to try to do comics in the American way. Then he started to design his own unique stuff, such as Laptop Guy. This graphic novel is about a fast food worker Sha, who has a lot of enthusiasm towards his own comic “Laptop Guy”. One day he finds that his comic becomes a little real and influences his work, friendship and everything in his life. The really interesting thing is that the name of the main character Sha is from Sha Nazir. Actually, according to Sha Nazir, he totally doesn’t  mind it. On the contrary, he quite enjoys having a comic character who has the same name as him, he thinks it is kind of like designer’s rights.

The things I learned from Sha Nazir are that if you want to be a part of comic book publisher and you are interested in illustration and design, you should put your enthusiasm into this area. Sha Nazir taught himself in design. You need to practice your professional design abilities in digital and hand-drawing. Moreover, you need to be active in join publishing or comic activities, such as London Book Fair, which is also how Sha Nazi got the chance to make more publishing contacts. The secret of success is to make connections with some formal writers or television  people: it would be perfect if you could introduce yourself and make them remember you.

Therefore, you need to care about these kind of activities which will open  your horizons and help you know more and gain some experience.

If you are interested in comics or BHP Comics, you can go to their website to find out more.

Publishing Scotland – Marion Sinclair

December 7th, 2017 by Fiona Logan | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland – Marion Sinclair

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Marion Sinclair – Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland and a University of Stirling alumna – presented the Stirling publishing postgraduate students with an illuminating and insightful overview of the Scottish publishing industry.

She started off by reassuring us that we are definitely doing the right thing in terms of studying for a publishing degree. Stating that: “In terms of employability and the way that graduates are shaping the industry at the moment I think it’s a really good thing and you’re making a good move by coming to Stirling to study publishing.”

It was really interesting to hear just how much Publishing Scotland supports publishers. They help publishers professionalise and they scan the horizon for opportunities because publishers do not have the time and are obviously very focused on what they’re doing and their list. Also, a lot of them don’t have a huge amount of staff so they are really busy and tend to be focusing very much on the next programme and the next year so Publishing Scotland is vital in helping them to capitalise on opportunities that may otherwise go amiss.

“It is our role really to scan the horizon and look out for opportunities for them whether it’s funding opportunities or anything to do with facilitating trade links contacts, trying to find innovative ways to help them every year.”

Her talk was very informative and the class learnt a lot on the history of Scottish publishing. For instance, the first books published in Scotland are known as ‘The Chepman and Myllar Prints’. They were two printer publishers who began in Edinburgh in and around 1508 (they printed in Cowgate, Edinburgh and there is a plaque to honour them there). Walter Chepman was an Edinburgh merchant and he provided the money and Androw Myllar was the bookseller.

Fast-forward to what is happening today and it looks optimistic – there are more publishers, more chance of an author to be picked up by agents and more book festivals. As a student, it was really encouraging to hear Marion say that in terms of employability, now is a really good time to get into the publishing industry.

Marion pointed out though that the landscape of Scottish Publishing may change in the next few years, due to a little thing called Brexit. Right now, Scotland has a fairly stable and mature publishing industry but we may start losing some of our position due to Brexit – and we may lose out on some of the cooperation on the international front.

Her talk remained optimistic though, she stated that the industry will have to be open and receptive – and will need to maintain our outward facing stance to survive – it can’t close up. The Scottish publishing industry needs to move beyond our UK market. It needs to start counteracting the negative effects of Brexit that will come in the next few years. Marion then ended her fascinating talk with some really helpful tips to those trying to make it in the publishing industry.

Marion’s top tips:

  • Read the bookseller – get to grips with the understanding of the publishing business.
  • Be numerate! The publishing industry isn’t all about words, numbers matter too.
  • Network endlessly.
  • Get on LinkedIn and make your profile stand out.
  • Work in a bookshop.
  • Try London or New York – experience a new part of the world and gain valuable experience.
  • Think about being entrepreneurial – be bold.
  • Show initiative and constantly ask – “what else can I do?”
  • CV – don’t say you love books. Good spelling and punctuation is vital!!! Zero tolerance on typos.
  • Team effort – don’t forget to be collaborative and social.

Marion’s visit was informative and inspiring. I would like to thank her, on behalf of the class, for sharing her extensive knowledge of the publishing industry.

By Fiona Logan

Edinburgh Comic Art Festival 2017

December 4th, 2017 by Chenchen Li | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Edinburgh Comic Art Festival 2017
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The Edinburgh Comic Art Festival (ECAF), organised by BHP comics, was held at The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in 02 December. ECAF was full of exhibiting authors and artists, plenty of workshops, talks and events for comic book fans of all ages. In the festival,  40 illustrators, independent comic publishers, exhibiting artists and writers were involved.

webwxgetmsgimgl It is easy to walk the whole field. I was attracted by some amazing paintings and attractive graphic novels. Most of comics were self-published, the illustrators displayed their work on the comic market. Some comic online advertised the web though printed comic. The special comic artist who impressed me was MJ Wallace. The comics she created showed different styles. And she designed her cards in 5 different illustrations. The card itself is creative thing. The comic artist Steven Ingram introduced me his series Left. He has been putting comics on the web for years, but comic was not the only way for him to get income. He also worked as a graphic designer.

There were 1 exhibition, 5 workshops and 5 presentations in the whole day. On the presentation “BOAT: Indy Film to Indy Comic”, the short film was played. After the short film, the creators of the Boatgraphic novel series talked about the progress from the film to the comic books. They talked about how they put the film into comic type, then they chose the self-publishing way to publish the comic books. The series won SICBA awards continuously. ECAF also invited the Rachael Stott – the Best Newcomer at the British Comics Awards in 2015.Rachel Stott discussed her work on books such as Doctor Who (published by Titan Comics) with BHP publisher Sha Nazir. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a ticket for Rachael Stott’s talk so I didn’t have the chance to join it.

This is my first time joining a comic event in UK. When I talked to the man who introduced me the Capital Sci-Fi Con, he suggested me to explore more comic events in UK. He said that the comic events here were more focus on different type fans. Compared with the Asia comic events, there were more chances for different fans community to set their own events but the scales were not large.

Chenchen Li

Saltire Society judging experience

November 30th, 2017 by Marija Katiliute | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society judging experience

This October I got a chance to be a shadow panel judge for the Saltire Society. Every year, the society hosts a literary awards ceremony to celebrate the best of Scottish literature, be it books written by Scots, people living in Scotland, or stories that relate to Scottish people, their history and culture.

As shadow panel judges, applicants such as myself were split into different category groups – Fiction, First Book, Poetry, Non-Fiction – and were asked to read the shortlisted books with a critical eye. I was part of the First Book shortlist reading group, which included six books in a variety of genres including memoir, thriller and fiction: Fallow by Daniel Shand; Language of My Choosing by Anne Pia; Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers; The Caseroom by Kate Hunter; Goblin by Ever Dundas; and Beneath the Skin by Sandra Ireland.

We gathered in the Saltire Society office hidden just off the Royal Mile in November, where Catriona, the SYP Scotland co-chair, greeted us with biscuits, tea, and coffee. Overall, there were four other students that were part of the discussion, one studying English at University of Edinburgh, and three from the publishing course at Napier. Because of the diversity and our understanding of the book industry, the discussion felt very relaxed and friendly. It was also the very first time we were all involved in the process of judging books, and we enjoyed such an experience without much pressure. It was nice to finally meet some students from another publishing course and hear how they are getting along too.

As the discussion went on, we’ve established strong and weak contenders for the prize. We talked about each book individually, touching upon character development, storyline and ideas. We offered our own input on how the books could be improved and themes that could work much better in each context. These are some notes from our discussion:

We thought Fallow had a good representation of the Scottish landscape, and felt like a well-executed road-trip thriller. Mary’s the Name, similarly, provided a good look into Scottish culture and small-town life through the point of view of a child, and with plenty of humour involved. Goblin and Beneath the Skin had a lot of gory similarities when it came to the storyline, and although some of the scenes were a bit too gruesome and made us uncomfortable, both were books that we couldn’t put down. We agreed the historical research that was put into The Caseroom made the book feel very authentic. And lastly, Language of My Choosing had good pacing for a biography – Pia structured and separated it into themes rather than having a sequential story – which made it more enjoyable to read.

After the discussion, we got to cast our votes. We had to pick two books each: our favourite, and one that deserved to win. I think it made us think critically, and not only about our own personal preferences, but of each book as a whole, its and the author’s future potential in the market. We had three definite choices that we thought were great in their own ways. We managed to cut the choice down to two books that we in the end left tied for the top spot. One had a strong writing style and good story development throughout, especially considering it was the author’s first published book, and the other’s story left us engaged, and although it needed some improvement in certain areas of the story, we believed the author had great potential and would be a worthy winner of the First Book prize.

Sadly, the books we chose will have to remain a secret until the Saltire Society Literary Awards show on the 30th of November, where the real judges will reveal their pick for the First Book category. Until then, our shadow panel judge decision, although not being considered by the award judges, will have to remain a mystery.

What defines the best?

November 30th, 2017 by David Graham | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What defines the best?
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The experience of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire Society.

By David MacDonald Graham.saltire society sign

I had the honour of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire society, six books to read, take notes and ultimately decide which one was the best. The books ran the gauntlet from the emotional, political, heartwarming, the despairing and the disturbing.

 Judging and reading is an interpretive game and sometimes you need to separate the enjoyment factor and concentrate on craft, tone, intent and relevance. Perhaps, when all of those factors fail, the enjoyment factor remains the only aspect left to work with. It’s a challenge, thinking in and outside of literary factors, determining merits or lack of them. As a writer myself, I had to distance myself from the knowledge, that crafting a book, whatever the reason we choose to create, is not an easy task. A lot of work goes into the craft, a lot of doubt and second-guessing.
I know the work ethic, the difficulties and the attacks of doubt, and I owed it to the writers on the basis of knowing how aggravating and rewarding the process can be, to be as robust as possible in my analysis.
I spent the evening of the panel talking about books with my fellow shadow judges, which is probably how most of us would like to spend our evenings. The discourse and debate was lively, certainly well moderated and when the time came for a consensus, there was one question that challenged my perceptions and ultimately changed my decision.

“What is the best book, what deserves the award?”

Well, to me, these are two questions.

The best book is not necessarily the one that deserves the award. An award is a powerful thing, it creates visibility, it calls attention to both the author and the themes explored in the text. The question then becomes, who needs the award? There are, after all, some books that will always sell based on genre, subject matter and the author’s reputation. There are others that make important points, comment on society and explore culturally relevant issues that may not always be comfortable to read about. It’s possible these books may not find an audience without an award to champion it.

Another question is then raised, which is the most important book?

Bearing in mind, I had only been asked one question and my interpretation threw up four more in the space of seconds, including, is the most important book also the best book?
In a matter of seconds, I found myself asking internally if I had the right to judge, and mentally imagining myself saying to my previous decision;

“It’s not you, its definitely me. You’ll find your way.”

We all have a relationship with the books we read, and I essentially broke up with mine. Luckily there are plenty of books in the metaphorical sea. The book I eventually choose, quite simply, had a role to play that was beyond entertainment, it was a book that needed to be read.
The shadow judging was an invaluable experience, one I would be keen to repeat, armed with the knowledge that my preconceptions could be challenged by a simple question. I extend my thanks to the Saltire society; it will be interesting to find out on the 30th of November if our overall consensus matches up with the judging panel.

If you would like to get in touch, you can;

Twitter me @davidjonwinter

facebook me under David MacDonald Graham.

or LinkedIn me here:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-macdonald-graham-557605b1/

The Pathfoot printing press

November 20th, 2017 by Lea Intelmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Pathfoot printing press

It had been standing at the end of the room ever since we first came to the University. Strictly forbidden to touch but marvelled at every time we got into our computer lab in C7 – the Pathfoot printing press. On the 9th of November we finally got properly introduced in a printing press workshop with Kelsey and Dawn.

Adana

The Adana 8×5

The 19th century Columbian press, one of the first generations of iron printing presses, had spent some sad decades in the basement of the University’s library before it was rediscovered and brought to C7, only to dust in a little bit more. It was only this year that Kelsey Jackson Williams proposed the idea of starting a project in the course of which a printing press would have to be acquired. And so the press came into use again.

It is now in nearly constant use and several printing projects have been produced.

Next to the Columbian in C7 stands the newer Adana 8×5, a much smaller, self-inking press which was invented in the 20th century when the huge hand presses for books and newspapers became obsolete. Unlike the Columbian press, which has to be operated by two people, the Adana can easily be operated by one person, it is much faster, but the paper size is far more limited as it is designed to print mostly cards, like wedding invitations or, in this case, the Principal’s Christmas cards. Those are ornamented with a beautiful swan, the template for which had been custom-made for this occasion. So we watched the printing process. Well, that didn’t look too hard. Apply some ink to the press, even it out, put in the paper, bring down the handle and that’s it.

Type case

Typecase for Bembo 14pt

Well, obviously it’s not that easy. The most time-consuming part lies before the actual printing and that is typesetting.

When designing text on a computer, we have a nearly unlimited number of fonts, styles and type sizes at hand and they all change on a simple click, making it easy to test different styles and adjust the text over and over. The Pathfoot printing press came equipped with three typefaces – Caslon, Bembo and Plantin – all of which are available at a variety of sizes – but that is it. New sets of typefaces can still be bought – interestingly, they are bought by the number of a’s in a set – but they are expensive – keep in mind, it does not end with one letter in every size.

The process of typesetting takes its time. It starts with assembling the letters out of the typecase, where they are sorted by frequency of use. It takes a lot of practice to get to set type fast! Imagine sitting at a keyboard for the first time and having to find all the letters. Except here you don’t only have to press a key but take out the letter and put it in the composing stick in the right direction – a little nick on the side of the letter helps here. The type is then adjusted in a chase to build up the forme (there is a lot of terminology involved here). Once all that is done even the smallest change can mean, that the whole thing has to be taken apart and reassembled. Thus, it is crucial to know exactly what the text is supposed to look like before starting the process. The press itself has to be adjusted, the printing surface has to be evened out and the paper has to be adjusted in exactly the right position. And don’t even start thinking about printing in different colours, for that takes even more time as every colour needs its own printing step, with the type in the forme and the paper in the press being aligned in exactly the same position as with the first colour. Hand press printing is a craftsmanship that requires a high level of accuracy.

The Columbian press in action

The Columbian press in action

And the work is not over when the text is printed. Now, cleaning the press and “dissing” the letters start. This is the process of distributing the letters back into the typecase – and each letter in the right compartment.

It is a lot of work but it also is a fascinating craft at the end of which a beautifully printed product stands.

Man Booker Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

November 20th, 2017 by Kathryn Haldane | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Man Booker Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

The author of 2016 Man Booker shortlisted His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet, visited the University of Stirling on the evening of 15thNovember to talk at a literary event in conjunction with The Booker Prize Foundation University Initiative. This initiative involves first year undergraduate students being given a copy of a Man Booker winning or shortlisted book when they arrive at university, which several universities including Stirling participate in. It has the purpose of encouraging all students to read high quality literature, not only those studying humanities subjects, and gives them the opportunity to talk about the book with their friends, and then hear the author speak at an event later in the semester. The Man Booker Prize is extremely prestigious and the literary nature of the shortlisted books can make it off-putting to the ordinary reader, so this initiative aims to break down these myths and bring these books to a wider readership.

Graeme read extracts from His Bloody Project, which is a treat to hear an author read their own work, and it particularly brought out the darkly humorous aspects to his writing. His Bloody Project is an offbeat crime novel involving the murder of three people in a remote setting in the Scottish Highlands, and is published by the Contraband imprint of publisher Saraband. The rest of the session involved Graeme answering questions from Liam Murray Bell, a lecturer in Creative Writing at Stirling, and then taking questions from the audience. He discussed his writing process, saying he chose to present the novel in the format of found documents to give the reader a selection of points-of-view, which encourages them to come to their own conclusions about the story. Unlike many crime novels, His Bloody Project does not have an overarching ‘detective’ figure who guides the reader’s thought process, and in this way, the book is quite defamiliarizing, and certainly sets it apart from other novels in its genre. While the novel can be described as an exploration of morality and truth, Graeme explained that he does not try to intellectualise his writing as he writes it, and tries not to consider how the book may be analysed by readers after it is published.

The research process was clearly a significant element in the writing of this novel, and was, Graeme explained, at least partly influenced by his years as a TV researcher. The novel is set in 1869, so Graeme went to great lengths to achieve historical accuracy wherever possible, but did take creative license with some small elements. He said that authenticity to the reader was his goal, and to achieve that he tried not to make his research burden the narrative of the novel, but seem effortless. It is testament to the effectiveness of Graeme’s research process that some readers have believed His Bloody Project to be a work of non-fiction. While the novel has been acclaimed as a love-letter to Scottish literature, Graeme admits this is not really the case, although he did find inspiration from James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified SinnerGraeme said he does not find comparisons to other books to be particularly helpful, especially when in the process of writing a book, and gives the advice that originality should always be the goal for writers.

Another topic of discussion at this event was, unsurprisingly, the impact the Man Booker shortlisting had not only on His Bloody Project but on Graeme’s life. He discussed the opportunities that the book has been presented with as a result of the shortlisting, particularly its translation into many other languages, but also talked about his desire to avoid becoming, in his words, a ‘one-trick-pony’. For this reason, Graeme was eager to finish another book fairly quickly, and considering the many commitments put upon him by the Man Booker shortlisting, it is particularly impressive that his next novel, The Accident on the A35, has already been published in October 2017. There was some surprise, and even derision, that a book of a popular genre such as crime fiction would be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, but Graeme believes that crime fiction is becoming more accepted in the literary scene. It is also clear that His Bloody Project pushes the boundaries of traditional crime fiction, and its inclusion in the Man Booker shortlist was due to its extraordinary merit as a literary work, regardless of the genre into which it is placed.

This was a fascinating event for book lovers, offering an insight into the writing process and literary prize culture, but was also inspiring for publishing students, as an affirmation of the quality and strength both of Scottish publishing and Scottish writing talent. It proves that Scotland has a thriving literary scene that ought to be nurtured to ensure its success far into the future, and strengthened our convictions as future publishers to help this happen.

Prize winners 2016-17

November 10th, 2017 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Prize winners 2016-17

Gathering We’re celebrating the successes of our MLitt in Publishing Studies class of 2016-17, who will graduate next week.

This year, we have a number of awards sponsored by our Industry Advisory Board.

The first award goes to Rachel Kay, who wins the Routledge Prize for Most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies. Rachel did consistently well across the programme, and also contributed to the wider life of the university, including interning at the newly founded Pathfoot Press.

The Publishing Scotland Dissertation Prize goes to Stephan Pohlmann, for his superlative research, ‘The Paradigm of Bookishness: Digital Publishing Beyond Ebooks’.

The Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation goes this year to Caroline O’Brien, for her work on our PUBPP24 Digital: Process and Product. As her award, Caroline will visit the Faber & Faber offices to see their digital operations.

Finally, the Freight Books Prize* for Design goes to Shem Otieno, for his work in creating the prototype for a literary magazine in Kenya. After the MLitt, Otieno has returned to Nairobi, and is working as an Assistant Editor at Kwani Trust.

*The Freight Books Prize has been awarded for the final time this year; we will be looking for a new sponsor for our Design prize.

Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes

November 10th, 2017 by Mireia_Paune | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes
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On Thursday November 2ndPeggy Hughes, manager of Literary Dundee (but changing to Program Director of Writers’ Centre Norwich this month), visited Stirling University and enlightened Publishing and Creative Writing students in our future possible paths in the book industry.

Peggy Hughes

With a lot of enthusiasm, Peggy talked about her adventure in this sector, beginning with her English Literature studies at St Andrews. While studying, she knew that she didn’t want to become a teacher, so she applied for a job in the Edinburgh International Book Festival to get some experience in the book industry. She got rejected (as life is full of rejections) but she got involved with StAnza Poetry Festival, a very useful experience that helped her get into Edinburgh International Book Festival the following year.

West Port Book Festival

Then she graduated and started to work in the bookshop Armchair Books, located in Edinburgh, which the sitcom Black Books was based on. As a result of working there and seeing the potential of the area for housing a book festival (West Port had six bookshops and a nice pub), she set up the West Port Book Festival with some friends.

It was not easy to re-brand the area and start a project like this without funding, so they pre-crowdfunded the project (the clients of Armchair Books contributed to the cause) and learned how to develop a festival like this. West Port Book Festival was celebrated for five years (from 2008 to 2012), which is not difficult to believe, regarding that some of the authors of the first year were Ian Rankin, Ali Smith and Alison Louise Kennedy.

After that, Peggy worked for nine months in the Scottish Poetry Library (at one point the 4th most influential library in Twitter) and later in the press and marketing of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, where she got to promote unique events celebrated in Scotland. In 2013 she got a job in Literary Dundee, where she is currently working as a manager, as said earlier.

Literary Dundee

This cultural organisation, associated with the University of Dundee, celebrated Dundee Literary Festival for the first time on 2007. Since then, the organisation has organised lots of different and uncommon events, as talks with authors, involving music, biscuits, networking and a brilliant atmosphere. This October the festival had Laura Jones and Heather McDaid (404 Ink), Jenny Niven (Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland) and Laura Waddell (HarperCollins) among others.

This November, Peggy starts a new chapter in her career as the Program Director of the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall, a magnificent medieval building in Norwich that will become a literary centre and where she will be working within a team. She is very excited to start a new adventure in this dreamy place.

Peggy Hughes Literary

Some final tips and book recommendations

Apart from seeing Peggy’s steps and how her career has brought her to Ireland again, one of my favourite moments of her visit and, probably not only mine, was when she gave us some top tips for working and getting into the book industry:

  • Keep calm and love spreadsheets: have a good relation with numbers and with Excel, as being confident with it will benefit employment opportunities.
  • Look for a mentor.
  • Live and learn how to prioritize.
  • Do your research: be accurate when applying for a job and think about the person that is in the other end and receives your email (as there are people there).
  • Read, read… read: if someone asks you “What are you reading?” you should be able to answer.
  • See an opportunity and do it: this is what 404 Ink did.
  • Say yes, and yes: the first time is frightening, but you have to try. Only if you know for sure that you can’t do a good job say no.
  • Just be nice.

She also gave us two book recommendations: Align me by walking by Sarah Bomb, a novel that shows you how to stay motivated and remain hopeful, and The faraway nearby, by Rebecca Solnit.

She finished her visit in the best way possible: with free books to a lucky winner and the quote “how you spend your days is how you spend your life”, affirming that we had to feel like a cat with balloons, meaning that what we do has to make us feel happy. The truth is her visit and her enthusiasm (and its terrific end) made us feel really happy.

By Mireia Pauné

6×6 With PublishED and SYP Scotland

November 10th, 2017 by Ana Tratnik | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 6×6 With PublishED and SYP Scotland
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Published People

October’s event organised by SYP Scotland introduced six speakers who work in publishing sphere. The six minute talks were on Editing, Right Sales, Production, Publicity and Marketing, Sales and Bookselling. Each speaker talked about their roles and responsibilities they are facing every day at work.

The first speaker was Rosie Howie, Publishing Manager at Bright Red, talking about her editorial role. It is very important to build a relationship with all colleagues if you want the work to go as smoothly as it can. An editor is involved in content creation from the moment a manuscript has been delivered to proofreading, and has to be able to produce quality material with limited sources.

Laura Jones is a freelancer and co-founder of 404 Ink, an independent publisher of books and literary magazines. Her talk was about her first success, magnus opus and the first mistake, she was talking about importance of style and design, and how easy is to make ebooks ugly.

Laura was followed by Jamie Norman, Campaigns assistant at Canongate and writer, who showed us the importance of marketing and publicity for publishers. His work is to promote books in magazines, newspapers and blogs, be sure to market them soon after they are published and to keep in contact with partners and try to meet them face to face. Canongate also keep talking about their books on social media and create big physical ads, which are expensive but make a huge difference. To make them effective it is important to engage people with design and think who is going to look at the advert.

Vikki Reilly energetically took us to the world of Sales. She happily works for Birlinn Ltd, daily talking to book buyers and booksellers, who are passionate about books as much as she is. She organises author events in bookshops, where she gets a feedback about a book from readers. Working in sales she gets to know everything, what formats work for specific books, design, she has to stay in contact with editors to really know the book etc. If deadlines change, she has to let bookstores know. When she gets a book report, numbers make sense to her, because she knows the story behind them. So, her answer to a published book is not I cannot sell it but how can I sell it, whilst being imaginative and honest with booksellers.

The talk I was looking the most forward to was by Rights Manager at Black & White Publishing, Janne Moller. Her role is to know the taste of as many commissioning editors around the world as possible. She sells translation rights at book fairs and via email by selling catalogues. Since book fairs are very expensive it is good to get funding or fellowships. She was also talking about how meetings at book fairs look like, what is the role of subagents and literary scouts and why are they important.

Mairi Oliver beautifully concluded the evening with sharing her passion for the Lighthouse, the Radical Bookshop in Edinburgh. There they organise events, festivals and book fairs. It is an independent bookshop which brings new voices to the market and aims to hold 15 % of female writers and 15 % of black or minority–it curates the world that is out there.

All the speakers interestingly described their daily publishing world and perhaps encouraged students to try themselves in a role they had not thought about before.

SYPD Scotland People

Photo credit: SYP

The Invisible Crowd – Ellen Wiles

November 3rd, 2017 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Invisible Crowd – Ellen Wiles

The-Invisible-Crowd-cover We congratulate PhD researcher Ellen Wiles on the publication of her novel The Invisible Crowd, published by HarperCollins.

The Invisible Crowd focuses on the experiences of Yonas, an Eritrean asylum seeker in the UK, and Jude, a British human rights lawyer who takes up his asylum case.

Ellen, who was previously a human rights barrister in London, is also the author of Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts: Literary Life inMyanmar Under Censorship and in Transition (Columbia University Press, 2015). She directs Ark, an experimental live literature project, which ties to her PhD research into live literature, funded by the AHRC.

The Invisible Crowd is available to buy in bookshops and online.

Floris Books – Chani McBain & Sarah Webster

October 30th, 2017 by Kate Bailey | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Floris Books – Chani McBain & Sarah Webster
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Our visiting speakers in week five were Chani McBain and Sarah Webster (a graduate from our MLitt) from the marketing department of Floris Books in Edinburgh. 70% of the books Floris publishes are children’s books, making them Scotland’s largest children’s publisher. The other 30% of their output are books for adults based around Rudolph Steiner education, philosophy, and holistic living. Floris likes to keep most of their work in-house, so they use very few freelancers and the people that work there usually work on all of their titles. The exception is that they have one person working exclusively on the adult books because he has specialist knowledge of the subject.

Chani explained to us that all the departments in Floris work very closely to make sure that all the elements of a book related to one another. For instance, the content needs to be reflected in the blurb, in the cover design and in the marketing materials. Apparently this can lead to some very strange tasks being shared across departments! Chani told us that the week before she came to visit, she and one of the production controllers had been scribbling on a copy of their new sticker book to see if the paper used in it was also suitable for a colouring book they would like to release next year!

Ferryman Sarah’s day-to-day work in the marketing department is quite varied. She writes and proofreads marketing materials such as ebulletins to be sent out by email telling people about their upcoming or newly-released titles. Sarah warned us not to write this kind of marketing off – it is still one of the most effective forms of marketing that Floris uses! Design also plays a big role in Sarah’s work, as she uses programs such as InDesign or PhotoShop to create posters for events, catalogues or other promotional material. One of the new marketing strategies that Floris tried for the first time this year was having a Snapchat filter available for visitors to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where users could put their silhouette on the cover of Claire McFall’s Ferryman, which was published in June (see left). However, because Snapchat does not have live data analysis, they were not sure if it was a successful experiment or not!

When starting a new project, Chani says she finds it is helpful to imagine who her target consumer is for the book she is trying to market. She thinks about who they are, why they might be buying the book, how they might like to be contacted and where they might hear about the book. This helps her it market it towards this person in the most effective way. These things are obviously quite different for the children’s list and the adult’s list. For one thing, children are not the main consumers of children’s books, their parents are! So the children’s marketing is actually aimed at parents that might want to find their kids something to do on a long drive or while they are on holiday in Scotland. Whereas the adult’s books are more niche and the main consumers might look for them in speciality bookshops or hear about them online on community forums.

 Overall, Floris sounds like a really positive place to work and I am sure I was not the only person to leave Chani and Sarah’s talk to think seriously about a career in marketing!

 Picture credit: Floris Books

The Twitter War

October 25th, 2017 by Hollie Monaghan | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Twitter War
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Now that the dust has settled, wounds have healed and friendships have been, somewhat, repaired it is a good time to write about the social media training class on the 5th of October; or as it is now dubbed ‘The Twitter War’. As part of the MLitt Publishing Studies course, we had a class in which we set up Twitter accounts in order to network and establish contacts. All of that may sound nice and harmless but a hardback copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant (yes that Kazuo Ishiguro) was announced as a prize for whoever had the best tweet and that was when all hell broke loose.

We were to tweet using the hashtag #stirpub and within minutes Twitter was inundated with our very vocal and vicious fight for the book. As fellow publishing students Laura and Katie put it: 

Twitter1

Group B was the first group to have this class and a normally chatty class was rendered silent during this Twitter battle with all that could be heard being the furious tapping at keyboards and the occasional chuckle. Nothing will get a class of book-lovers more motivated than the incentive of a free book. There were some fantastic and hilarious tweets and there were also ones that very much advocated for violence as this tweet shows (a deserving winner I shall say from a completely unbiased viewpoint…)

Twitter2

Our professor Claire had put up a document on Google where we could see everyone’s Twitter handles and follow everyone on the course. This meant that we could all find each other easily and interact, yet it also meant we could attack each other in our bid for a free book! Additionally, a list of Twitter handles of influential and interesting people in publishing was made available to us as a starting point in who to follow in order to gain a wider understanding of the relationship between publishers, authors and social media. Then, many puns, insightful comments, insults and cat pictures later a winner was chosen:

Twitter3  

So well done to Marija for her excellent tweet (and the cat picture from her other tweet which surely helped towards her win)! As amusing, and brutal, as the Twitter session was it did help us all to actively use our Twitters and interact not just with one another but with our lecturers and other people in publishing. An entire group of people were made social media savvy in just a few hours.  Looking at Twitter recently the social media class seems to have worked its magic as so many of the 2017/18 publishing students are still using the platform to interact with authors and publishers and even bookshops. There has even been a book club Twitter made for those on the course at stirpubclub. In essence, the social media class worked well, but perhaps just a bit too well.

Credit goes to:

iamlauraod

KT_CHAR_ELL

kat_marija

HollieMonaghan4

Hollie Monaghan

Professional Publisher’s Association – Laura Dunlop

October 23rd, 2017 by Megan Carney | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Professional Publisher’s Association – Laura Dunlop

Laura Dunlop

On Thursday October 19th, visiting speaker Laura Dunlop, Business Manager at Professional Publisher’s Association (PPA), injected our class with a new enthusiasm for the magazine industry. Admittedly, magazine publishing is not an area that I myself had considered greatly prior to this presentation. To my shame, I found that I had been completely unaware of the industry’s magnitude and significance in the UK, an ignorance which Laura certainly has remedied.

The magazine industry in Scotland is far bigger than I had anticipated, with PPA representing over 700 magazines. This industry, valued at a whopping £154 million, employs approximately 1300 full time staff, 560 part time staff and 4400 freelancers. PPA does an immense amount of work within the industry, such as promoting members, organizing events (such as the PPA Awards), lobbying the government on issues which affect the magazine industry, giving advice to people both working in the industry and those looking to break into it, as well as supporting new magazines. One area which PPA works in which particularly caught my interest was environmental regulations. As part of their services PPA do green audits for companies and show them how they can be more environmentally friendly and efficient in their business. Bearing this in mind, one would be forgiven for thinking that PPA had large offices, filled with workers who were all run off their feet. Laura informed us however that this is not the case at all, and that she does the bulk of this work, impressively claiming “I am PPA”.

Along with her, Laura had brought a box filled with an array of magazines, from The Skinny to Hot Rum Cow. From looking through these, we were able to see how differently each magazine is designed, in terms of both layout and materials. For example, while The Skinny very much resembled a newspaper, Hot Cow Rum seemed far more highbrow, like a luxury buy for the reader. These were quite different to the classic idea I had of magazines, with glossy covers and celebrities on the cover page. Many of these magazines had varying types of paper, beautiful photography, humorous satirical articles and interesting typefaces. A magazine which stuck out for me was Controlled Demolition, which featured very little text coupled with interesting modern art and photography. Each of the magazines Laura showed us fell into one of the three areas of periodical publishing, these being consumer, business to business (B2B) and contract. However, we were primarily looking at consumer publications.

We were shown a list of the top twenty selling magazine publications in Scotland, and I will admit I was surprised by the top-dogs in the industry. The top three, in order, are ADSA, Tesco and TV Choice. Laura explained to us that often magazines which do not charge their readers, such as ASDA or Tesco, have the biggest readership, as people can idly pick up the publication without considering whether or not they wish to purchase it. These magazines would be subsidized by companies advertising in the magazines or sometimes by content marketing, which is when journalists are paid by external bodies, such as the government, to write an article. I found it interesting to learn that print magazines are making a come-back in a big way against the tide of online magazine publishing. Laura explained that this was a reaction to the unreliability of the context in which your magazine might appear on someone’s newsfeed, it could be alongside inappropriate material, which might affect someone’s inclination to click on it.

The presentation ended with a lively discussion, where Laura gave us a chance to come up with our own idea for a magazine as a class, and consider how we might go about publishing it. We came up with an idea for a magazine aimed at the Polish community in the UK, wittily named ‘Pol-ish’. We considered our target audience, the contents, where it would be sold, how it might be designed, what the price might be, and how it would be distributed. In doing this, we covered some of the major components of magazine publishing, giving us an enthusiasm for the work. Certainly, I found that after Laura’s invigorating talk I was considering working in the magazine industry for the first time, and I am sure I was not alone in this. On behalf of the class, I would like to thank her for sharing her enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity with us all.

PPA logo

Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter
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I must admit that when we were first told that interacting on Twitter was essential to the development of our professional life in the publishing industry, there was a part of me that considered pursuing an immediate career change. I was never the one to thrive on social media, even my Facebook account felt like too much at times. However, seeing as I didn’t really have much choice (one of our assignments on the course involves live tweeting), I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later I found myself joining a spontaneous bookshop crawl organized by complete strangers…and all because of Twitter.

It was through following the Twitter account of Edinburgh’s City of Literature that I found out about 7 October being Bookshop Day. Then, using the traditional Google search I tried to look for related events in Edinburgh. Imagine my disappointment when I found none. Reluctantly, I turned towards Twitter. Imagine my surprise when in seconds I had a potential outing organized. All it took was one search and two hashtags.

Snapchat As it turned out, fellow publishers-to-be from Edinburgh Napier University were going to celebrate Bookshop Day in the best possible way, that is with a Bookshop Crawl. A brilliant concept that transforms the infamous British tradition of pub crawls into a nerdy day of rummaging through piles of books. Lea, my friend from the Stirling course, and I both loved the idea – it was an opportunity not only to indulge our predilection for buying new books, but also a great way to explore Edinburgh for the first time.

To begin with, we met the Napier students at the Edinburgh Bookshop. Definitely a good starting point: we arrived just in time to see the bookshop owner Marie put on a bright orange “Books are my Bag” T-shirt (BAMB is a nationwide campaign promoting reading and bookshops). She was clearly responsible for giving the whole bookshop a very friendly air – running to and fro, attending to individual customers with lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of humour. A quick browse through the shelves revealed that the bookshop had a very good selection of intriguing and thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction. The owners have put it this way: “If ‘Radio 4’ was a bookshop, it would be like this…”

The next bookshop we visited – Edinburgh Books in West Port – despite a close name resemblance, had a very different aura to it. It is one of the city’s most recognizable second-hand and antiquarian bookshops. The first thing you notice inside is an imposing head of a water buffalo hanging on the wall, a very characteristic hallmark. There is an incredible range of books on offer, but that’s not all: downstairs in the basement you can even purchase sheet music.

room with books

Clarence the water buffalo

West Port is also home to another one of Edinburgh’s second-hand bookshops that we visited as part of the bookshop crawl – Armchair Books. The abundance of books offered by Armchair was astonishing. Volumes were stacked to the ceiling and shelves squeezed into every possible nook. Also, the place was surprisingly busy, swarming with book lovers, who could not resist spending their Saturday among piles of antiquarian jewels.

woman reading book

The joy of finding old-time favoutites

books

Antiquarian jewels on display at Armchair Books

From Armchair Books we bookshop crawled to Transreal, a haven for science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Not being one myself, I decided to skip it and conclude the day in Blackwell’s bookshop. As an aspiring academic publisher I was astonished by the sheer size of the scholarly section. An enormous part of the shop was reserved for serious studies ranging from philosophy to marine biology.

All in all, the day was a great success. The event was certainly low-key, but that’s what made it special – from the bottomless sea of meaningless Twitter interactions we managed to fish out something sincere and worthwhile. At the end of the day, sitting on the steps of the Scott Monument – apparently the largest monument to a writer in the world – I thought to myself: Edinburgh really is a city of literature.

My week-long internship at Palimpsest

May 24th, 2017 by isabella_pioli | Posted in BlogInternships | Comments Off on My week-long internship at Palimpsest
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palimpset logo

In all honesty, this was my first internship. Understandably, I was nervous, so much so that my internal monologue on the way to the first day of my internship was, “You cannot possibly mess up so terribly that they don’t want you to come back.” I prepared myself for all the clichés of internships, but I must be the luckiest person because my internship was a godsend. Everyone was so nice and friendly and encouraging. It wasn’t the coffee-fetching nightmare most internship stories seem to prepare you for – I was the one offered tea. So aside from the societal niceties, the internship was a learning experience. I asked questions about the programs and how they were used. I asked about day to day stressors, personal motivation, and whether the work was rewarding. I had the mind-altering revelation that when so many people are working on a book, a lot of people have to keep the plot a secret, and are usually legally obligated to do so. Overall, the best thing I learned is that my past work experience and my education can easily be applied to many aspects of the work done at Palimpsest. Learning that I am actually employable is a huge relief. So what exactly is it that Palimpsest does? I figure the best way to explain that is to tell you about my week.

Monday was typesetting. Not the old fashioned kind that I had training in from undergrad, but typesetting digitally via InDesign. The page layout is specified by the publisher (margin measurements, line count, where the page number should be). The text is then inserted into the document and it is then that the text is formatted (paragraph styles, flush-left openers). I forgot to bring a notebook the first day, which was a huge mistake because learning from someone who knows the ins and outs of typesetting like I know the plot of Pride and Prejudice means that there was a lot of detail and shortcuts that I could have been writing down. That was the first big lesson. BRING A NOTEBOOK. You may look like an overachiever, you may look too eager, but you will be the most prepared. Thankfully, I already knew the basics. After a one-on-one lesson, I was given a desk and a job spec and sent off to try and apply what I had just learned. Again, I must repeat this would have been easier had I brought a notebook. Palimpsest has paragraph styles for every inevitability and they are a time-saver. It’s just figuring out which one to use and when to use them that was a struggle. By the afternoon, I was given a massive manuscript full of editor’s corrections and had to input them into the text of another project. That was quite a bit of fun. Deciphering an editor’s handwriting is a new form of code-breaking. The standard editor marks are used, but text insertion is just a lot of eye-squinting and hoping for the best. But really, if the editor’s handwriting cannot be understood, the proofreaders can usually figure it out, and if the words are still unintelligible, an email is sent to the editor to clarify. That was my first day done.

Tuesday was digital publishing, and yes, I brought a notebook. There is certainly a more technical aspect to the digital publishing process, but my describing it would be lacking. My brain may have gone into overload as soon as I realized that coding was involved. What I can explain is the process of checking the document before and after uploading it to ePub conversion website. Trying to explain this makes me feel extremely inept, but I’ll forge on. While the original typeset document was made in a more recent version of InDesign, the file gets converted into an IDML so that it can be read by earlier versions. The file is then opened in an older version of InDesign. The paragraph styles are checked. The copyright page is double-checked for being the e-book version, not the physical edition. URLs are hyperlinked, images are embedded, and the color is checked as RGB not CMKY. After all this, the file is then uploaded and converted to ePub. Then the ePub is checked for errors and if there are any the process is done again. Digital publishing is an involved process and while it was being explained, it sounded doable. I am one of the most technologically inept people ever. I’m not a grandma who doesn’t understand the internet or how to use “The Facebook”, but I struggle. This is a process that I could eventually learn, but it was certainly the most trying part of the week, well outside my comfort zone. In the afternoon, I went to work with customer service and it was here that I realized that my past work experience is applicable to publishing. Emailing vendors, inputting job information, staying on top of incoming emails – been there, done that. The nicest part of this form of customer service is that there is no person-to-person aspect of it. No fake smiles, or earnest customer service personas, just emails and data entry. It’s like raking a zen garden for me.

Wednesday was proofreading and I was given a checklist. I love checklists. It was an ebook checklist. Basically, the ebook creation of Tuesday was then corrected on Wednesday. Is the copyright page accurate? Is there a hyperlink to the publisher’s website? Is the body text justified? Does the linking in the book work? When you click on a footnote does the ebook take you there? When you get to the footnote can you go back to your place in the text? Do all the formats work on the differing devices: Kindle, ePub, Apple? Like I said, I love checklists. In the afternoon, there was more proofreading. It was nice, but the level of attention to detail is certainly a learned skill. Also, trying to not read the books I was proofreading was really difficult. The easiest way to not read the book was to realize that if I had a choice, I would never read some of these books. Once the plot was dismissed, it became easier to pay attention to hyphenation, spacing, and stacking. I also learned that proofreaders have to depend on the aesthetic decisions of editors. To all, widows are never welcome, but orphans are fickle things (please read this as the typographical terminology, not humanitarian terminology). Some editors don’t mind if three lines end on the letter e whereas other editors circle every stack they see. Double stacks are forgivable if only one word, triple stacks are unacceptable. So on and so forth. It is a lot of detail and when I closed my eyes that night, I dreamed of stacks I had missed.

Thursday started with operational management. If you think about what keeps a company going, operational management is that. Keeping the office supplied, mailing and receiving packages, scanning in books, dealing with outsourcing, and general office management. It was a lot of singular responsibilities that culminated into a very busy job. Having to juggle multiple responsibilities can be exhausting, I learned that a few years ago being the bookkeeper/office manager/customer-service person at a small company. I was taught the various aspects of the job and then got to scan in a book which would later be outsourced for keying. Then I went back to proofreading where I went through a few more manuscripts. I found most of the mistakes, but I still need a lot more practice.

Friday, I was supposed to start in proofreading and then go back to typesetting later in the day to enter more editor corrections. However, Friday was chaotic and very stressful in the office. But that was another kind of learning experience. How a company handles pressure and treats its employees during stressful times is important. I’ve had jobs where the stress in the office impacted everyone negatively. If anything, I thought that was how stressful moments were typically handled in a work atmosphere. Palimpsest seemed to become stronger. They were kinder, more considerate towards one another. They took a step back, re-assessed, re-prioritized, and pulled through. It was impressive to say the least.

After a week of working at Palimpsest, I realized that I could be very happy working in book production. However, I’m still going to keep my options open. Trying new things can be scary, but asking questions can help mitigate those fears. Honestly, the hardest part was waking up early to make the bus on time. The people at Palimpsest were what I hope to find in my future employment – kind, supportive peers. The work was stimulating and feeling like a part of a bigger picture was the ultimate reward.

by Isabella Pioli

Publishing Showcase 2017

May 17th, 2017 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Showcase 2017

MLitt1617_cohort We’re delighted to invite you to the 2017 Publishing Showcase on Monday 22 May to see some of our MLitt in Publishing Studies students’ coursework, and celebrate the conclusion of the taught part of the programme. The Showcase will be held in the Pathfoot Building. The schedule will be:

2.45-3.45pm Industry Advisory Board round table. Our IAB will discuss current issues in publishing.

3.45pm-5pm Informal networking, drinks and showcase of student work, with brief speeches.

If you would like to attend, please drop us a line via our Contact page to let us know.

When the Swedish Academy got to meet Bob Dylan

April 21st, 2017 by anna-corrine_egermo | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on When the Swedish Academy got to meet Bob Dylan
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Only half a year has passed since Bob Dylan was announced winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature and he has already managed to go pick it up. This past weekend he had a concert at Waterfront in Stockholm so on Saturday evening, before the concert, he had a private meeting with twelve of the Swedish Academy members. According to attending sources they drank champagne and spent some time looking at the back of the prize medal. It’s all hush-hush and no media was invited. Personally I think a sense of mystery is the best marketing strategy one can use, under the right circumstances, and I even imagine Dylan might have watched some The Young Pope.

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Modern version

Another student already wrote about the prize when Dylan was announced winner; and there was a lot of opinions going around in general. There is nothing we love as we love some controversy. Hence, as a publishing student I still feel the need to think about the questions his win raises.

First of all: what is literature? Dylan does not write what we commonly associate with literature – he writes songs. The Swedish Academy acknowledges as much, and this is what they rewarded. On the one hand, one could argue that they take the sense of tradition to an extreme, considering that my education in literature taught me that the troubadour tradition belongs within literature. It is basically poems about love with music composed to it, and some people do like to argue that the same goes for contemporary lyrics.

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Less modern version (Guillaume IX d’Aquitaine)

Without going into detail, this is an argument which could be made and it may be convincing. But why is it so upsetting? For one of our recent seminars we read an article by the sociologist Joel Best called “Prize Proliferation”  (Sociological Forum, 2008), on the topic of the title. Best states that award giving is the “want to recognize and reward exceptional performance, to bestow esteem on the deserving”. It “affirms and embodies the group’s values”, meaning that we as a social group are affirming Dylan as the most deserving within the category of ‘people making literature’. Subsequently, we have a problem with our collective values not being reinforced if we don’t agree on the basic premise that Dylan is, in fact, making literature. Do we even belong together? Can the Nobel Prize continue to represent our collective idea of literary taste?

Since Dylan never used to be seriously considered to be making literature, the debate was easy to predict. Some people called the Academy’s choice “brave”, but I am not convinced bravery is what it took. Rather, we got a wonderful show in the media and all over Twitter which implanted the Nobel Prize in the minds of millions of people. This will not be forgotten, it will be written about and remembered as a highlight in the history of the prize. We will see it on encyclopedia pages forever after and ride off into the sunset. It is hard to imagine that for example Herta Müller’s win in 2009 will be remembered as a landmark, but this might.

So when Vanity Fair wrote that “Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize has been something of a saga”, I agree. It has been a wonderfully entertaining marketing trick allowing us all to be more emotional this year than usual (at least in Sweden), and publishers got to sell more books. But most important of all: the Swedish Academy finally got to meet Bob Dylan.

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Let’s toast to that!

Visiting Speaker – Rights Director Andrea Joyce

April 3rd, 2017 by rachel_kay | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker – Rights Director Andrea Joyce
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Stirling’s MLitt Publishing students were recently delighted to hear from Andrea Joyce, who spoke to us about her role as Rights Director at Canongate, and what it takes for a book to successfully transcend geographical borders.

Canongate logo Canongate Books is one of the biggest publishers in Scotland, currently employing about 40 people in Edinburgh and London. It has been an independent publisher since 1973, and aims to “unearth and amplify the most vital, innovative voices” with a strong international focus encompassing countries from Albania to Vietnam.

Keeping Pace

Canongate’s aim to “publish authors, not books” involves a tailored approach for each project as their authors continue to explore. Matt Haig, for instance, had published two novels before venturing into non-fiction with the wildly successful Reasons to Stay Alive. Now, with A Boy Called Christmas, Canongate is delving into children’s publishing, including their first visit to the Bologna Book Fair. These kinds of challenges keep things interesting for the rights team, who are constantly expanding their networks to keep pace with an author’s needs.

Outside the publishing house, foreign markets also continue to evolve. What worked five years ago does not work now; for instance serial and book club rights are much less lucrative than they used to be. Joyce says that this time of change and uncertainty can be both exciting and frightening. Working in rights means continuously working to develop and maintain contacts and to stay up-to-date with other publishers’ lists. According to Joyce, it is essential to have an idea of who, down to the editor, a book is likely to appeal to before approaching to make a deal.

Choosing Wisely

Not every book is suitable for licensing abroad, and Canongate needs to be selective. It is important to think about a book’s potential international audience from the start, even those which are not immediately obvious. For instance, The Radleys, superficially a YA book about vampires, can also be read as a story about teenage experience, or the burial of a wild youth in middle age. As a result, this story effectively transcended geographical borders, underwent a 9-way auction for the German rights, and was ultimately published in over 26 territories.

Joyce says it can difficult to boil down the formula for major international success, but that “the common ground is universal themes and great fiction”.

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Making Changes

Successfully selling rights to a book is only the first step in a process which then involves many changes before a physical copy is produced. In the majority of cases the text needs to be translated, and the cover also redesigned to appeal to its local readers.

Flexibility over a book’s contents can be crucial. For The Novel Cure, international publishers wanted permission to customise the concept to suit their regional markets, including adding different “ailments” that needed a literary “prescription”. The outcome of negotiations was that foreign publishers were allowed to change up to 33% of the content. On the other end of the spectrum, no changes were allowed to be made to Letters of Note, a carefully chosen collection of 100 unusual and inspiring letters, due to the curatorial aspects at the core of this book.

Working in Rights

Rights selling can fit in at any stage of the publishing process, from acquisition to post-publication. However, it is usually ideal if international editions can be published simultaneously. This allows foreign publishers to anticipate demand in their area and also to harness the hype generated by Canongate’s marketing team. Thus, a rights seller needs to be kept in the loop with other departments, and attuned to the stages of a book’s development.

The role doesn’t require law training, but does entail lots of contracts work, an eye for detail, and an aptitude for selling. You don’t need to be bilingual, but it certainly helps, and travel is often involved. Looking at Canongate’s 2016 rights sales by value suggests where frequent destinations might be: last year the USA and Canada held 45%, Germany held 16%, and Asia held 8% of their market.

Many thanks to Andrea for an informative talk!

by Rachel Kay

Working @ Oxfam

April 3rd, 2017 by mette_olesen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Working @ Oxfam
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oxfam logo

While attending some of the LBF17 seminars on ‘how to get into publishing’ we were told (again and again) that hands-on work experience meant more than having a degree in publishing. And though this sentiment was devastating, frustrating, and anxiety inducing to hear as an in-debt publishing student, I do see the merit of it. Getting your hands dirty (from new ink) will definitely provide us with insight that the course, for obvious reasons might be lacking in. For though we have access to Nielsen data and we have visiting speakers from book shops, we won’t gain the experience of actual customers coming in and asking for book recommendations etc. And working in a book shop will give us that new and different perspective to the things we learn in classes. So, I decided to jump right in.

Since that decision was made, I have started to volunteer at the Oxfam bookshop in Stirling. And though I have not worked there that many hours yet, I have tried a bunch of tasks related to book sales. On my first day, I was helping with book pricing, till service and rearranging book shelves. Firstly, pricing books, and seeing how a books value is changed as it passes to another person, was really interesting. It dawned on me, to a greater extend than it had before, that books keep on selling, when they leave the high street shops. But seeing their price reduced, to sometimes extremes in my opinion, made me happy. I kept thinking: “This is so great! Lower prices on all of these amazing books will mean that people might be more prone to buy more books.” And we all know, that anything that makes people read more is a huge plus!
Secondly, working at the till enabled me to see what customers actually bought, and what they were looking for in the shop. For though Oxfam is second-hand, the sales in that shop still reflect the trends of the overall market. The figures and features genres in the bookseller is also what is reflected with Oxfam sales. In the future, I am hoping to do some work on the shops social media pages and to enhance both their visibility and my skills on that score.

Ultimately the things I’ve learned through the course and the things I’ve experienced in Oxfam and hope to experience and build up in the future, will deepen and broaden my understanding of the publishing industry, which will in turn, I hope, help me further my career.

Also – I have to be honest – working in the storage with all of the more expensive and old books is definitely a dream of mine, though I’m tempted to spend all my money on them – which I guess is the danger of a book lover working in a bookshop.

book shelf

by Mette Olesen

Visiting Speaker: Philippa Cochrane

March 31st, 2017 by shaunna_whitters | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Philippa Cochrane
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scottish book trust Call me biased but I believe every child should be read to from an early age. It’s fun, it’s key to development, it’s educational and it’s also a great way to establish relationships.

After today’s visiting speaker, I can’t highlight that enough. We were joined by Head of Reader Development at the Scottish Book Trust, Philippa Cochrane and I’ve never been so thankful for the support in Scotland for readers and writers.

Their main aim is to change lives through reading and writing with an incredible number of programmes such as Bookbug, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story and Reading People. It is obvious that the Scottish Book Trust are working hard to achieve this but Philippa was quick to point out one frightening fact: children who are not read to from an early age have a language deficit of 50,000 words compared to a child who is. It’s not meant to frighten parents to read to their children or be controversial, it’s true. Every child should have the same opportunities and help in their early development but sadly it’s not always the case.

I have my mother to blame (or love) for my book addiction. She pretty much had a bookshelf of baby books for me before I was born and for most of my life books have been an important part of our household. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so adamant that reading to a child is important: it helps to give a child the best start in life and helps develop skills necessary for educational and social purposes. It certainly helped me. These types of programmes and opportunities were not available when I was growing up and it’s amazing to see the support for readers and writers in Scotland has grown so well but it also needs to continue to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to grow and develop by reading.

The Scottish Book Trust is responsible for a number of programmes such as Bookbug, First Ministers Reading Challenge, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story, Book Week Scotland, Annual Story Campaign, book tours, author tours, live sessions and interactions with authors/readers. It faces challenges, as do most arts based charities, but they do receive donations, sponsorship and funding from not only the Scottish Government but also individuals, companies, trusts and foundations.

One of their most recognisable campaigns is Book Week Scotland which held over 1000 events across Scotland with a 150,000-book giveaway, a Scottish book-to-screen-adaption competition and even a book dare where a reader is given a book themed dare to complete (Philippa proudly displayed the tattoo she had done because of her dare but don’t worry they aren’t all like that!). It’s a fantastic event and is gaining more popularity every year to the delight of the publishing industry.

The Scottish Book Trust want to make sure that children are developing by reading, helping aspiring authors gain help and advice they need to achieve their dream, help people (not just children) who struggle with reading or loneliness by interacting with them and aiding them but not by shoving a handful of books at people or a leaflet offering advice – through several events, programmes and campaigns.

For me, reading is important especially at a young age and hopefully these events and campaigns continue to help families across Scotland develop.

Enter the Chinese Publishing Market

March 31st, 2017 by yangrui_wu | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Enter the Chinese Publishing Market
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In this semester, I was lucky to attend the 2017 London Book Fair. This is a big festival for the whole publishing industry, I learned a lot from it, and I was surprised by the achievement of Chinese Publishing Market in last year discussed at the Book Fair.

The Chinese Book Retail Market

Firstly, there were 215,000 new books published in 2016 (4.3% increase), and total retail book sales exceeded 834 million GBP. Physical stores made up 63% of sales, while online Stores accounted for 37%.

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Further, 1.3 million titles sold through physical stores, 1.2 million titles sold through online stores, amounted to 20 billion Yuan, continued growth since 2010.

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Chinese E-book Market

The Combined revenue from e-books, online periodicals, and digital newspapers was 6.2 billion Yuan, that means the average annual revenue increased 78% between 2006 to 2013. In addition, 50.1% of Chinese readers prefer reading in a digital format. The most popular platform in China is DangDang website. There are over 15 million users on it, who spend on average over 50 minutes per day. In this website, they have more than 200,000 e-book titles available, and sold 66 million books in 2014, 20 percent of total book sales.

What Sells in China?

The most popular types of book are biographies, best sellers, award winners and famous authors and new technical developments.

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American, British and Japanese books all sell well in the Chinese market. Further, the bestseller classification of foreign books is Children’s books, second is literature, next one is biographical books.

I think all the data shows that Chinese Publishing Market is entering a blooming time, an increasing number people start to read, no matter whether the books are Chinese or foreign language books, and that means Chinese publishing industry will grow. From the speech, there are a lot of people around the world who notice the Chinese Publishing Market.

        by Yangrui Wu

Visiting Speaker: 404 Ink’s “Nasty Women”

March 30th, 2017 by katharina_dittmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: 404 Ink’s “Nasty Women”
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books

On March 23, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and the Stirling Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies organised a launch event for 404 Ink’s first book publication, Nasty Women. We welcomed our very own Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, founders of alternative indie publisher 404 Ink, as well as Claire Heuchan and Laura Waddell, two of the authors featured in Nasty Women. They came to talk about the idea behind the book, discuss issues of class and diversity within the publishing industry and offered some advice on working in publishing.

404 Ink’s Nasty Women 

Nasty Women is 404 Ink’s first book, published on International Women’s Day 2017. It is a collection of essays on the experiences and the issues women face in a world in which right-wing populism, racism and misogyny seem to be on the verge of becoming socially acceptable once again.

Heather and Laura talked us through the idea behind the book and the adventurous publication process: The essays in the book are meant to “celebrate and showcase women’s voices” and to give a platform to those women whose experiences are often marginalised in the mainstream media. The idea was to represent current issues (especially in the light of Donald Trump being elected as President of the United States), which led to a heavily shortened publishing schedule. Setting the publication date on International Women’s Day left Laura and Heather about four months to commission, fund, edit, and produce the book. The overwhelming demand for a book that gave voice to the experience of contemporary women became clear when the project was fully funded on Kickstarter within three days and widely exceeded the initial goal.

Panel Discussion

After Claire Heuchan and Laura Waddell read extracts from their essays titled Black Feminism Online: Claiming Digital Space and Against Stereotypes: Working Class Girls and Working Class Art, respectively, the panel discussed possible crises of confidence and the feeling of imposter syndrome. This was related to both the issue of diversity in publishing as well as Nasty Women’s unconventional publication process.

In publishing, following your intuition is almost always a good idea, and if your gut (and experience) tells you that there’s a market for your project, seize the opportunity and get to work! From an author’s point of view, Claire says that faith in your own work is derived from how it is received in the public context and that the commission for Nasty Women was “incredibly validating”. When it comes to the relationship between publisher and author, trust is the most important factor. According to Laura Waddell, it is very reassuring to work for a publisher who believes in the project and is committed to their authors. Basically, everybody suffers from imposter syndrome from time to time, you just have to push through it and keep learning.

On the subject of tackling issues of class and diversity, the panel discussed the problems of gatekeeping and how it can narrow the level of representation within publishing. When commissioning the essays for Nasty Women, Heather and Laura were careful not to tell their authors what to write, but to respect their voices and to interfere with the content as little as possible. Their policy is to put the author first and to give the whole publishing process a sense of transparency, which benefits both publishers and authors alike. Claire says that writing for Nasty Women has given her the opportunity to “hold the doors open for other people” and encourage other marginalised voices to make themselves be heard as well. While gatekeeping is still a big issue in the publishing industry, 404 Ink shows that it is possible to have a relationship of equality between publishers and authors.

Some final advice

After answering questions from the audience, the discussion ended with Laura, Heather, Claire and Laura offering some advice for starting out in publishing:

  • Don’t do the work all on your own! It is easier to share responsibilities and take advantage of other people’s skillsets.
  • Look at the structure! If you want to make an impact in editing, start by paying attention to how things are composed.
  • Be authentic! Be true to yourself and keep your main objectives in mind.
  • Things will go wrong! People make mistakes, so don’t take anything to heart and just work through it.

By Katharina Dittmann

Internship: Scottish Book Trust

March 30th, 2017 by therese_campbell | Posted in BlogInternships | Comments Off on Internship: Scottish Book Trust
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Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the Scottish Book Trust’s editorial board for their new online magazine, What’s Your Story?, which focuses on supporting and developing the creative writing talents of young people in Scotland. What’s Your Story? offers free support and advice to those under 18 who have an interest in creating content, be it poetry, short-stories, plays, or illustrations.

The internship is undertaken remotely, and as one of six editorial board members, it entails reading over submissions, offering feedback on each, and choosing a select few to be included in the magazine. My role on the editorial board mostly involves reading young people’s work and offering critical, yet encouraging feedback. For each creative piece I receive, I am required to comment on two things the writer or artist did successfully, while also highlighting a ‘wish’ which refers to something the author or artist could alter to improve their work. It is my responsibility as an editor to express my feedback in a way that will not deter or upset the author or artist, but rather that will encourage them to persevere and keep creating. The Scottish Book Trust hopes that What’s Your Story? will inspire and encourage young writers and artists who may not receive support elsewhere, and it is definitely eye opening to read submissions from young people from all over Scotland.
book trust
The training day for the role, which was held in Edinburgh on the 5th November, was particularly insightful and helped me understand the aim of the magazine and my role as one of the editorial board members. Organised by Nicole Brandon – Young Writers Co-Ordinator for Scottish Book Trust – we were guided through all that was required of us, and were given talks by YA author Keith Grey, as well as author and journalist, Kaite Welsh. While Keith Grey spoke of creativity outside educational boundaries, Kaite Welsh focused on how we might craft our feedback effectively when critiquing submissions. These talks were thought-provoking and definitely essential for us as new editorial members.

Since the training day, I have worked on two magazine issues for the What’s Your Story? website, with each issue covering a different theme. While this is a remote internship, we do get paid for each issue we work on (yay!) and I have found the process engaging. Each submission has made me realise that creativity is boundless, with each piece offering refreshing and unique perspectives. I have also been able to read submissions with an editor’s eye and offer helpful, yet direct comments which will – hopefully – help the authors improve their work and encourage them to continue writing. Each submission I have read has exposed me to a variety of genres and subject-matter, and by delivering useful feedback and advice, I am helping guide young writers who are just beginning to realise their potential.

What’s Your Story? is a new magazine for the Scottish Book Trust and it has been exciting to be a part of the project from the beginning. It has allowed me to exercise my editorial skills – such as proof-reading, editing and critiquing – and this will aid me in my chosen career. It has also taught me not to have preconceived ideas regarding authorship and writing, and that, no matter how young an author or creator may be, they can offer a variety of different perspectives, experiences and styles of writing. I often find myself surprised by the submissions I read, which present ideas and life-experiences in comical, shocking and often eloquent ways, and being exposed to a variety of creative writing has definitely been the highlight of the internship.

by Therese Campbel

2017 LBF : “Copyright under Threat?”

March 30th, 2017 by ruoqi_sun | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 2017 LBF : “Copyright under Threat?”
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I just finished my travel to London Book Fare (LBF) two weeks ago and it was totally a new experience for me to get involved in the publishing industry in this way. Anyway, that was a busy and unforgettable time for me.

I attended “Copyright under Threat?”, a seminar in LBF 2017, which was held in the afternoon on 15th March. It lasted for an hour and consists of 3 speakers. I will focus on the first two:

lecture

William Bowes

General Counsel and Company Secretary at Cambridge University Press who also assists other departments on a range of Intellectual Property, Brand and Policy issues.

He mainly summarized the copyright situation in 2016, the development of copyright in recent years and British copyright issues etc. In the speech he mentioned that the social purpose of copyright is encouraging learning, and as publishers, we believe that  is achieved by supporting editorial impartiality, a fair days pay for a fair days work, access to high-quality education, the value of high-quality learning materials and a global framework for the exchange of knowledge, learning and research. In my opinion, it is because copyright has such a social purpose so that it has the value of being explored. Of course, this requires not only the publisher’s dedication but also need the government to actively promote this development process in order to achieve this purpose. Publishers should also help the government to solve these problems which may be encountered in the process because we all understand that copyright can be complicated to understand and manage. In addition, William is also involved in the current situation, like for the consumer, copyright prevents people exercising their “right” to learn, share, crate, collaborate and network. Indeed, when copyright protects the rights of authors, it also makes sharing less flexible. Compared with the consumer, copyright means more for the author and this problem is particularly reflected in the field of education. The limitations of copyright narrow the scope of educational reference and have a negative impact on better education. Therefore, we should also look for ways to ensure the definition of copyright can be more flexible.

Sarach Faulder

Chief Executive of Publishers Licensing Society, she was a partner at city law firm, specializing in copyright.

She gave the practical example of what exactly is going on at moment around copyright issues. Her speech was based on the Canadian education. In 2012, the Canadian government included education in the concept of “fair dealing” so that it quickly has a catastrophic impact on the educational publishing market in Canada. In just 2 years, the value of educational publishing sector dropped by 16% and since then, the number of imported US materials has continued to grow.  For an industry, such fluctuations are really worrying and I think whether it is “fair dealing” in Canada or “fair use” in the US, this is a new stage for copyright development (as they expanded the copyright exception). However, in the early stages of development, we still need to think about the risks of change and whether we have enough power to compensate for the loss caused by fluctuations when making decisions otherwise it will bring disaster to the industries involved, just like Canada. Educational publishers were forced to lay-off staff and Access Copyright (an institute in Canada) established a large fund to supporting this industry as a return.

Nowadays copyright does face a threat to some extent especially the development of digital technology also causes the positive and the negative impact on copyright. The three speakers set out a very professional explanation from the field of their work and left us with more thought.

by Ruoqi Sun

Internship at Saraband

March 27th, 2017 by claire_furey | Posted in BlogInternships | Comments Off on Internship at Saraband
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I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to land an internship with Saraband. Cream of the UK indie publishing world in 2016; perhaps due to a book called His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Man-Booker-shortlisted title?! (If you haven’t already, go read it; it’s wonderful.) This internship involved mostly working from home, which has benefits (working in pyjamas! No travel!) and drawbacks (not so easy to ask for guidance, written instructions are more open to interpretation than face-to-face). Plus, as it is my very first internship, it would have been nice to have an office presence. On the other hand, I ultimately want to be a freelancer, so having the experience of motivating myself from home is invaluable, as well as learning to communicate in that instance.

The task I learned the most from was one of the novels I proofread. It was a new, unpublished manuscript and I carefully read through it and marked off all the things I believed should be changed using MS Word Track Changes and sent it back quite satisfied with myself. After some time, I received an email: could I check all the proposed changes had been made to this manuscript when it was typeset? There it was. A shockingly long list of things I’d missed that another proofreader had picked up.

Some were genuine mistakes, like ‘proceed’ instead of ‘precede’. Others were changes I would not have made. For example, ‘carpark’ I had left as one word. It was now changed to two words. After looking it up, (I live to find out small details like that. No seriously. My mom says I’m cool…) I found out the two-word version is the more common one, particularly in the UK. Who knew? Not me, clearly.

Buildings in the UK have ‘two storeys’ not ‘two stories’. That was news to me. Some of the dialogue, written in a heavy Scottish accent, was altered, which at first I thought was outrageous but then I could understand why. To an extent. It was mostly a case of out-of-place apostrophes, but I do feel the accent of the character concerned changed in a way that I wouldn’t have wanted it to with certain changes.

There were one or two things that niggled at me slightly at the time of reading, but I didn’t flag them. The experienced proofreader caught them. For instance, the metaphor ‘… the anger coursed through his veins like cancer.’ That just doesn’t make sense. But grammatically – how I was looking at it – it’s fine.

I learned so much from this mystery proofreader, even if I was rather indignant with the changes at first! But internships are a learning curve and this was a fantastic chance for me to realise the sheer level of detail and thought I need to put into a proofreading task. Nothing can be left to chance. This was a fantastic experience and Sara herself has been incredibly patient and supportive throughout the internship. I really couldn’t have asked for a better first internship.

by Claire Furey

Unearth Your Inner Editor at London Book Fair 2017

March 27th, 2017 by Amalie Andersen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Unearth Your Inner Editor at London Book Fair 2017
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Having been up since 3 in the morning and realising upon arrival in Glasgow Airport at 5 am that our flight wasn’t as early as we had thought, I was exhausted when I eventually landed in London and went straight to the Book Fair. With its glass roof and the energy from the thousands of people gathered there, Hammersmith Olympia was an overwhelming greenhouse full of tiny networking and rights selling ants.  However, after a well-deserved coffee break and a Dairy Milk bar sponsored by Harper Collins, it was with renewed energy that I attended my first seminar of the Fair; Unearth Your Inner Editor by Cornerstones founder Helen Corner-Bryant.

Cornerstones is a literary consultancy which offers editorial services to authors hoping to get published. Authors send them their manuscript and Cornerstones edits and improves these manuscripts to the point where they will (hopefully) get picked up by a publisher or a literary agent. On a very practical level this means looking at:

  • The structure and plot of a story – if this doesn’t work, Cornerstones and the author will go back to the drawing board together.
  • Characters and their development – are all characters unique and relevant or could some be cut or merged?
  • Dialogue vs description – dialogue brings the story to life in a way that description doesn’t. Helen Corner-Bryant was adamant that a good story puts the reader in the centre of events by using dialogue and an active voice rather than describing previous conversations and events.
  • The three (or five) act graph – how are suspense and obstacles distributed throughout the story?
  • Finally, and perhaps most important, is a story’s pace. To keep the reader reading, superfluous words, chapters or characters must be cut to make every word count. Secrets must be revealed slowly and not all at once to create and keep tension.

These all make up an editor’s tool kit.

Helen Corner-Bryant emphasised that, as editors, we should be directional but honour the author’s vision. If an author insists on keeping a character that you don’t see the point of, you must, in cooperation with the author, make this character work.  She also made the point that if she skims over a paragraph she knows that something isn’t working. However, this can be difficult to communicate to the author as “I just got bored” isn’t very constructive. An editor must therefore rely on their instinct but always back up their argument with their editing tool kit. So, instead of communicating to the author that their paragraph just couldn’t keep your attention, back this up by saying that the pace was too slow or that there was too much passive description rather than active dialogue. This is constructive criticism and suggests ways to improve the paragraph.

Finally, Helen Corner-Bryant reminded us that if you read back over a draft and nothing is missing, you’ve made a good cut in the first draft. Every word should count.

by Amalie Andersen

Net fiction, and the business behind the Wuxia World

March 24th, 2017 by biyan_gu | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Net fiction, and the business behind the Wuxia World
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Since my last blog about net fiction, it has been 3 months and I have kept eyes on this. In China, people are so used to net fictions. Some successful authors became millionaires overnight as their work become popular and the adapted rights for games and films were sold out. More and more young people try to start their own net fictions both for the high income and popularity.

But we Chinese are still are pleased surprised that our net fictions were so popular overseas (especially when some big social media reported this phenomenon and made this news so reliable).poland

And during my trip in London Book Fair, I was so surprised to find the China Reading Limited, an authorized digital reading platform and literature IP incubator. China Reading has a renowned collection of content brands of digital reading APPs and websites. This company has published over 10 million digital works, hosted 4 million authors. With over 600 million users in China, this company showed their ambition for the nationwide market.space

When communicating with the CEO of China Reading, it was clear that the news about the Wuxia World popularity had made him more confident about the overseas trade of Chinese net fictions.

However, this company is too cautious to expand a market which it is not familiar with, at present, they just want to sell translation rights of their works. books For example, Wuxia World is supported by volunteers who are net fiction buffs. They translate Chinese net fictions into English, Thai, and other languages. The readers could donate to their voluntary work as well. And this will result in a cycle: more updates => more viewers  => more donations => more updates. It is clear and obvious that the authors are not involved in this cycle, and the authors’ interest and right are ignored and damaged.

The thing China Reading wants to do is to sell the translated rights to these websites, so readers can read these fictions legally via the website. And China Reading is also looking for collaborations, it authorizes the website to use these net fictions which it owned, and China Reading can publish these translated editions of net fictions and sell them through Amazon.

Till now, for Chinese publishers, the national publishing business is under-developed, they still try and try to find a way to collaborate and win-win trade. Net fiction trade can be seen as an attempt by Chinese publishers.

But during the further communication, we all think that translation rights are the first stage for China Reading business actives. In future, Chinese publishers might keep on trying.

Scottish Book Trade Conference: Launching a Debut on a Low Budget

March 23rd, 2017 by nicole_sweeney | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Scottish Book Trade Conference: Launching a Debut on a Low Budget
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Next up at the Annual Scottish Book Trade Conference is Sam Eades, Editorial Director at Trapeze Books, an imprint of Orion. She tells us that to make a book sell, you don’t necessarily need a big budget or a large marketing department in order to get good sales. She lists there tips for launching a debut on a low budget:

1. Be Creative!

Eades suggests that one of the most important things, is to be creative as possible. Newspaper stories are a fantastic way to promote a book, and rejection stories sell far better than ‘author has a new title.’ Come up with a story surrounding the book such as ‘Cancer Survivor gets million pound book deal’ to ensure the paper will run the story.

2. Look For Trends!

Eades highlights the importance of watching the various creative industries and their on going trends – particularly in film and television. She also highlights how crucial it is to watch the market for what new titles are coming out, and see if you can spot any similarities, or trends. She tells us of one campaign for a psychological thriller, released around the time of the buzz surrounding the hugely popular The Girl on the Train. Eades gave her debut author a reading list of titles in the genre, and pitched an article on upcoming psychological thrillers to a newspaper, with the article being written by the debut author. This coverage helped to raise coverage for the author, and resulted in 15,000 copies sold.

3. Partnerships!bookaice sculpture

Partnerships are a great way to promote a title, and they don’t always have to be paid for. With The Snow Child,
Eades was given very little marketing budget, but persuaded two sculptors to provide ice sculptors for free, and they were installed in Waterstones to promote the book.

Eades tells the audience to contact tourist boards, restaurants and as many different places as possible. It’s amazing what you can get for free. Be creative and try your luck!

4. Try some Stunts!

Lane_sign ‘PR the PR that you already do’ states Eades. She gives us two examples of stunts that she organised in order to promote a title. Firstly for Neil Gaiman’s Ocean At the End of the Lane she managed to get a street name changed to the title in his home town, creating newspaper stories and buzz in his local area.

Secondly for debut thriller Ragdoll, the Trapeze team bought a mannequin and dismembered it, hanging it from the
ceiling at a publicity party, creating a buzz and sense of mystery around the title. This helps to spread word of mouth, and creates excitement about the title.

Finally she highlights some top tips:

– Spy on the competition, know what others in your sector are doing.
– Be aware of the trends, help to create a new one.
– Collaborate with your authors, allow them to come up with ideas and stunts.
– Be opportunistic!

by Nicole Sweeney

A Starter Guide for Students at London Book Fair

March 23rd, 2017 by marian_perez-santiago | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Starter Guide for Students at London Book Fair
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The London Book Fair is overwhelming, to say the least. It’s full of scary business people making, what I assume are, lucrative business deals with other scary business people. If you’re a student (or just a normal person with insecurities) it can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first-time attendee. Here are my top five tips for staying sane at LBF. Or, you know, as sane as any student can be.

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1. Have a game plan. Look at the full list of talks and seminars beforehand and decide which ones you want to attend. See which publishers will be there and decide whose stands you want to visit. Gather your bearings before you get there. Make a list of where you need to be and when you need to be there. Save yourself the anxiety and plan ahead.

2. Divide and conquer. If you’re going with friends, don’t be afraid to split up. There are a multitude of interesting seminars at LBF and a lot of overlap. Unless you have a time-turner, you won’t be able to catch all the ones on your list. Instead, talk to friends to see if they’re attending any seminars you wanted to go to but can’t make and vice versa and ask if you can swap notes afterwards.

3. Know that people can be mean. There are people who will tell you that this is untrue to make you feel better, but I’m here to tell you that those people are liars. The very first stand we walked up to was a big five publisher and the Editorial Assistants manning the booth were dismissive and unkind. While we didn’t expect royal treatment, we were sort of hoping for basic human decency. This experience made us want to cry and also turned us off networking for the rest of the day. I hope it never happens to you, but know that it’s a possibility.

4. Know that people can be nice, too. For every mean person, there are at least five nice people.* You won’t find them if you don’t keep networking. The next day, we dusted ourselves off and mustered up the courage to talk to some other publishers. It went infinitely better and we had only good experiences. Networking is still the worst, but it’s less terrible when people are nice. Cherish the nice people!

5. The best place to network is after seminars. If you’re looking for the least painful place to network, look no further than seminars. Usually, speakers hang around afterwards to talk. It’s pretty easy to start (“Hey, I’m so and so and I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed…”) and the benefits are many. If you’re shy and don’t want to ask questions during the Q&A part of the seminar, this is your chance to do it. The few precious business cards I got weren’t actually from networking with publishers at their booths, but from talking to people after seminars.

There’s also the obvious stuff: wear comfy clothes/shoes, buy your lunch from the Tesco across the street, walk a block to avoid paying the ridiculous coffee prices in the convention hall, etc. Use your common sense. LBF is a good introduction to the publishing business world, I think (learn to time manage, people are nice/mean/somewhere in between, coffee is expensive, the future is terrifying, books are wonderful). As a student, my best advice is to not worry too much. You’re not there to make some lucrative business deal, you likely won’t land your dream job, and you won’t meet JK Rowling. However, LBF is a great place to learn about the publishing industry and the people in it. Get some ideas. Take it all in. This time, you’re along for the ride. One year, who knows? You might be driving.

*This statistic is entirely made up, but I hope it’s true.

The Cookbook: Fundamental or Fad?

March 23rd, 2017 by amandasarahbain | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Cookbook: Fundamental or Fad?
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Wonky Books

Penguin Random House imprint Michael Joseph has just announced its 20th cookbook collaboration with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. The book Jamie’s Quick & Easy 5-Ingredient Food is to be released in conjunction with a new channel 4 tv series of the same name. Oliver, having previously topped the Christmas bestsellers list for three consecutive years between 2010 and 2012, has generated £149,383,819 in revenues from the sales of his cookbooks according to Nielsen Bookscan data. Despite Rux Martin, editorial director of Rux Martin books once suggesting that “nobody is going to be using cookbooks again”, the cookbook industry has been enjoying an impressive resurgence with unit print sales in 2016 rising 6% on the previous year, demonstrating the demand for cookbooks is still strong in the UK sales market.

This resurgence can be attributed to numerous factors. The prevalence of health and wellness gurus such as Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella) and Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) has undoubtedly contributed to the growing popularity of the cookbook, with the former’s debut Deliciously Ella: A Bible for Plant Based Living becoming the fastest-selling debut cookbook on record. Such cookbooks have become a gold mine for publishers and with impressive social media followings – Woodward and Wicks boast 171,000 and 263,000 twitter followers respectively – both authors have reinvented the traditional cookbook making cooking accessible to a new generation with little time and great expectations. Joe Wick’s debut Lean In 15 sold 77,097 in its first week, outselling Delia Smith’s 2008 bestseller How To Cook. The health-food craze has created demand for a new kind of cookbook and the food blogger has willingly filled the gap in the market. Alice Liveing (Clean Eating Alice) is a qualified personal trainer and nutritionist who overhauled her lifestyle and is now an instagram sensation, boasting 525,000 followers. Liveing’s debut cookbook The Body Bible: Feel Fit and Fabulous from the Inside Out has sold an impressive 50,644 copies since its publication on May 19th 2016 and it has outsold Mary Berry, Deliciously Ella and Jamie Oliver. The rise of “clean-eating” has forced the cookbook industry to become multi-dimensional and publishers are now beginning to see the benefits. The modern day cookbook author has to become a brand in order to be successful. Food bloggers turned authors have vast social media empires which guarantee a ready-made market of fans eager to buy their titles and with the health-food craze showing no signs of slowing, this seems to guarantee the continued growth of cookbook sales.

Although the health craze is largely responsible for the rebirth of the cookbook, there is still demand for more traditional titles. The Great British Bake Off is perhaps one of the most influential factors in the cookbook’s resurgence. Ratings for the 2016 final won by Candice Brown peaked at 14.8 million viewers, a vast increase on the 2015 final which recorded 13.4 million viewers. Such popularity has meant that the series has spawned no less than 18 cookbooks since its inception in 2010, yielding an impressive £14,032,553 whilst restoring the nation’s love for baking. Despite a book deal seeming likely for any Great British Bake Off Winner, it does not guarantee commercial success. Whilst content is indeed extremely important for any best-selling cookbook, the likeability of the author is also paramount to success. 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain is arguably the most popular of the shows alumni and her cookbook Nadiya’s Kitchen has sold 38,927 copies since its publication on the 16th of June 2016. The book offers innovative twists on traditional classics alongside her favourite bakes and has been billed as full of perfect family recipes. Nadiya’s Bake Me A Story was then published by Hodder Children’s Books on September 8th 2016 and has since sold 33,870 copies. The cookbook’s premise is to encourage families to enjoy baking together by introducing children to baking through storytelling, inspiring a new generation of bakers. Hodder and Hussain have tapped into a new consumer group in the cookbook market which is sure to see the demand for such titles to continue to grow.

Since his discovery by the BBC in 1997, Jamie Oliver’s authenticity and easy to follow recipes have propelled him into stardom and he is now the best-selling non-fiction author of all time in the UK. It seems that regardless of the competitive cookbook market, Oliver appears set for success in 2017 and beyond given that his 2016 title Super Food Family Classics has already sold 156,241 copies since July 14th 2016. Oliver announced his excitement for the publication of his new book via twitter where he regularly interacts with his 6.4 million followers. There is no doubt that social media is effective at marketing books. Authors such as Jamie Oliver can utilise online interactions with fans to aid sales by reaching a wide audience without the need for expensive marketing and Oliver’s 22,400 tweets suggest that such strategies are beneficial.

The nation’s obsession with food has made cookbook’s a profitable commodity once more. However, it is author likeability and interactivity that have propelled cookbooks to the top of best-seller lists and thanks to the social media age it seems that the cookbook is here to stay.

by Amanda Bain

‘India at 70’ at the London Book Fair, 2017

March 22nd, 2017 by Kanika Praharaj | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on ‘India at 70’ at the London Book Fair, 2017
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stand_alone_logo 14th March, 2017: It’s my birthday and I’m at the London Book Fair. I am also nursing a horrible headache. I make my way to the English PEN Literary Salon for what is the first seminar I will be attending at the LBF. Friends and classmates OtienoKatharina, and Lenka come along with me. I sit up front and psych myself up for what I think will be a drab discussion. Boy, am I wrong.

Chaired by Jonathan Morley, the ‘India at 70’ seminar had doctoral researcher Somrita Ganguly, writer and activist Bidisha Mamata, poet Mohan Rana, and translator and editor Arunava Sinha as speakers. The aim of the talk was to discuss the multilingualism that characterises India and the role of literary translation in the Indian publishing sector.

Mohan Rana started off the seminar by talking about growing up in one language and living in another. While he writes in Hindi, he believes that the translation of his poems opened up new worlds for his words. His poems have now been translated into Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, German, Dutch, Marathi and Nepali. He lives in the UK now, and is comfortable with “being a Hindi poet in a space that is totally occupied by English.” He then read out a section of his poem ‘This place is enough’, which is now available as a part of a collection in a bilingual chapbook.

Bidisha took the floor next as she stressed the need to “honour the variety of the world” and a contemporary Indian writing which panders to no stereotypes. She talked of the recent drive amongst Indian writers to write in Indian languages instead of privileging only English. She then cited the examples of writers such as Rushdie and Naipaul who write in English not because they’re trying to increase their readership but because their privileged upper-class educations have made English a language of their own. She also talked of the Indian writers of yore who are now being reclaimed and put back into the Indian literary canon. However, she warned against creating a new hierarchy that replaces English with a chosen few of India’s many languages. According to her, the question that needs to be answered here is “what do we want to say and how do we want to say it?”

Arunava Sinha then provided a history of the sub-continent and its languages, essential for those in attendance who weren’t that well-versed in the same. He pointed out the fact that India is extremely diverse when it comes to its languages and people and that it would make more sense to say the “literatures of India” instead of Indian literature. India makes for a large market for English language content, which brought in major international publishers into the picture. These publishers began by translating Indian writing into English, which isn’t happening that often now. According to him, publishing works with a more utilitarian perspective now, changing books into what he calls “book-like objects”. He believes that smaller publishers (such as Seagull Publishers, whom he works with), however, can afford to be more “whimsical” in what they publish. He finished by saying that English is a very convenient “bridge language”, which makes it the language that is generally chosen when it comes to translation.

Next, Somrita Ganguly picked up where he left off as she talked about the politics of the mother-tongue. English, she claimed, is her first language. While it is important to promote Indian languages in the country, it isn’t an act of betrayal if one chooses to speak in English. We need to be wary of the politics of assigning a mother-tongue to a child who grows up in a region where another language is the lingua franca, as many do in India. She pointed out that English is considered by many to be a “caste-less” language, which meant that marginalised sections of the Indian populace decided to opt for it instead of Sanskrit which they were not allowed to speak. English is no longer considered to be a foreign language in India, with plenty of upwardly mobile people using it in their day-to-day lives.

The session was brought to a close with Mohan Rana reading out another poem of his, ‘The Photograph’.

What all the speakers agreed on was the fact that a single, cohesive India doesn’t exist. Neither should it. The complexities and contradictions that make up the country make it a fertile ground for all sorts of writing and publishing to thrive. While we may not agree with all that the speakers have said, it is important to keep the discussion going. There is plenty of potential in the creative industry in India to fuel decades of successful publishing, if we choose to work towards fulfilling this potential.

Chinese Publishing Companies on 2017 London Book Fair

March 22nd, 2017 by Yun HAO | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Chinese Publishing Companies on 2017 London Book Fair
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London Book Fair (LBF) is a large international book fair that pools worldwide ambitious publishing companies and institutions. However, it is also a West-dominated activity, and this can be vividly illustrated by looking at the proportion of the exhibitors’ countries. The top ten countries exhibiting on the LBF are Britain (586 stands), the US (245), France (76), India (69), Germany (64), Poland (56, which is Market Focus country of 2017 LBF), Italy (35), Canada (30), Romania (29), and Russia (28). The only Asian country, India, is also an English-speaking country by and large. According to the data, we can see that companies from Asian countries took up only a very small proportion on the LBF. To find out characteristic of the publishing companies from periphery countries on the LBF, I conducted an investigation of Chinese companies.

Firstly, Chinese government plays an important role in Chinese publishing industry’s involvement in the LBF. 18 Chinese companies and institutions appeared on the 2017 LBF. Among them are twelve publisher institutions, four printing companies, one international rights agency and one book fair host. Ten publishers in the twelve are large state-owned publishing groups, which indicates a strong government background and presence. For example, Confucius Institute Headquarters is affiliated to Ministry of Education. China Universal Press is the organizer except for a publisher. One of its duties is organizing state-owned publishing companies to attend all kinds of book fairs in various countries. On the LBF those big state-owned publishing groups were placed in large, eye-catching stands in the center of various halls according to their categories. Only two of the twelve, China Reading and SendPoint, are civilian-run independent publishers. China Reading is the largest platform of digital reading and writing, as well as a publisher of successful self-publishing works. SendPoint is an art publisher. Most of their books are in English and are faced to English-speaking countries. The two civilian-run publishers could occupy only very small stands in periphery positions as many other small independent publishers.

Secondly, Chinese culture display and ideology propaganda are the main purpose of Chinese publishers on the LBF. Most books on display are about Chinese language learning, typical Chinese culture, and propaganda of Chinese politics. A staff of Confucius Institute Headquarters said that the revenue of the books in display certainly cannot cover their costs since the main purpose of the books, to put it simply, is culture importing. One phenomenon resulted from the motivation is that the staffs in the stands were young people who had little experience in the industry and not in charge in most times. The junior staff don’t have the power to decide anything. The only job for them is introducing the company and culture if any foreigners are interested in it. For instance, the young staff in China Education Publishing and Media Holdings were very nervous and did not know what to do when a Slovenia publisher came to ask possible cooperation in China. She also felt lost when an author came to promote her book. China Universal Press and Publications even recruited volunteers to look after their stand. I found nearly half of staffs of Chinese publishers could not clearly tell their purpose other than culture communication on the LBF in my interviews.

To conclude, Chinese publishing companies had a strong presence but weak involvement on the LBF. This is not very strange considering the strong government background of the Chines publishers. Language is another main barrier for Chinese publishing companies. Many of them looked nervous when talking in English. These characteristics were not confined to Chinese publishing companies. Strong government presence, culture display rather than book trade as the main purpose and language barriers can also be seen in other periphery countries such as countries in the Middle East. This proved my hypothesis that the London Book Fair is mainly an international book trade platform for Western countries, especially English-speaking countries. The periphery countries still have a long way to learn how to take full advantage of the platform.

by Yun Hao

LBF: East Meets West on Mobile Storytelling Platforms

March 22nd, 2017 by Puyu Cheng | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on LBF: East Meets West on Mobile Storytelling Platforms
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I went tLondon BookFair 2017 March o London to attend The London Book Fair from March 14th to March 16th, held at Olympia Exhibition Center. It was my first time to participate in such a grand publishing event, I felt so excited. And I have to say, I really learned a lot from this event. I took part in a lot of interesting seminars that gave me a better understanding of the publishing industry.

“East Meets West on Mobile Storytelling Platforms” was one of the most impressive seminars for me. The seminar has four panelists, including: Octavio Kulesz, a director of a digital publishing company called Teseo and a researcher on digital culture; Kat Meyer, representing Radish (twitter), a mobile storytelling platform; James Pullin, Digital Marketing Manager for Oolipo (twitter) and is interested in emerging platforms, storytelling and big ideas; and Alicia Liu, she runs a communications agency that works closely with publishers in China. The chairperson of this panel was Sophie Rochester, who is the founder of The Literary Platform, and she explores digital literatures in the UK and China. At the seminar, they talked about that whether readers in the East and the West respond in similar or distinct ways when it comes to the consumption of mobile stories.

In recent years, with the rapid development of mobile reading in China, the West had always watched talk 5 people China’s mobile reading phenomenon with interest. Alicia Liu said: “the Chinese publishing market includes government-led educational content, but teenagers want romantic fiction, sci-fi etc.” Therefore, in China, young people prefer to use mobile devices to read novels they are interested in through some literature platforms such as Qidian and Cloudary. The stories published on these platforms are serialized stories. On these platforms, everyone can become an author, as long as you can write wonderful stories. The platform will sign contracts with potential authors. The authors will publish their novels according to the chapters, first few chapters available for free, but when you are interested in the novel, you need to pay to read the following chapters. And these readers are paying for stories in new and interesting ways,they are making micro-payments through their phones. It is really convenient for readers.

The interesting publishing model has attracted the attention of many Western Publishers such as Radish. Radish thinks this model can also run in the west, and they want to bring this revolution in storytelling to the West. Meyer told us that Radish will be launching a new mobile storytelling platform where you can write, share and monetise bite-sized serial fiction stories for smartphones – and writers get paid. So it can be seen that Radish believes that this mobile reading model has great potential for development. And in addition to Radish, Oolipo is also trying to reach smartphone users with ‘serialised, media-driven storytelling’. Therefore, I think the West may also have a mature mobile storytelling platform in the future.

Nowadays, digital reading is still evolving. So in my opinion, the phenomenon of China’s mobile reading indicates that the model still has a great development space. And for some readers, payment by chapter may be a good way to read some novels, which allows the reader to have more choices. So I believe that in the future, mobile storytelling platform will become an important part of the publishing industry.

You can find more information about The London Book Fair 2017 on their website and twitter.

8 simple rules to survive Comic Con

March 21st, 2017 by michail_tsipoulakos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on 8 simple rules to survive Comic Con
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Comic Con in Edinburgh is less than a month away and we have to be prepared for what’s coming my fellow nerds. Am I a comic convention veteran? Hell no! I’m coming from Greece where comic related festivals are nonexistent. Actually my first serious experience was a couple of weeks ago when I attended the capital sci-fi con in Edinburgh, which marked my first official experience at a nerdfest. Everyone was there, from Stomtroopers and Han Solo, to Chewbacca, Doctor Strange, Wolverine and Harley Quinn. Given the chance, cosplay as well my fellow nerds. That chewbacca will give your con experience some extra fun. But whether you cosplay or not, you need to remember a few things that I will mention briefly in a while.

First of all, you need to understand that comic con is not a VACATION!!! OK, that was over dramatic. Actually it is like vacation but in a more nerdy way. Do you have chills when someone whispers the word Batman? Then yeah that will be some awesome vacation for you, otherwise don’t bother going there. And now it’s time to mention the rules I promised you about.

Rule number one, choose comfort over style. You will have to stand still for many hours so style is not an option, you need to be as comfortable as possible.
In case you are cosplaying, then I’m sorry for you, but everyone will find you super cool so it’s totally worth it!
Fotor Advice number 2, embrace the lines. Seriously, there are lines everywhere, even when visiting the bathroom. And we’re talking about really loooong lines. Sorry pal but you can’t do anything about it. On the plus side, lines are a great way to make new friends and meet new people. So, accept the lines and try not to whine about them.

Advice number 3, have an extra phone battery with you (sorry iPhone people, you can’t have that!) or at least a power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying in the middle of a selfie with Dr Strange (a fake one obviously, not Cumberbatch) or the moment you take a video of the Game of Thrones panel. You need power!

Fotor2 Advice number 5, bring money with you.  Yeah I know, you don’t need a weirdo to tell you that! What I mean is that you need actual-physical money and not a debit card. You’re going to a comic con convention not the Opera. So, bring money with you and don’t neglect the change, you need them as well.

Advice number 6, bring food with you. The alternative is you starving or dying of diabetes due to the food they serve there. Really it is that bad! We are talking about hot dogs (literally speaking!), or nachos with what they claim to be melted cheese, which I know for a fact that it isn’t. Just wake up an hour earlier and make some food. You don’t have to win the Michelin prize, do something simple.

Advice number 7, don’t get super frustrated if you can’t attend every single panel. You are only human after all. Try your best and choose carefully the ones you prefer more. That’s why we have YouTube after all, something will inevitably be leaked on-line a few hours later.

Finally, advice number 8, be prepared to get sick right after. No, I am not joking. There are hundreds of people there which means millions of germs. Even if you rub your hands with a sanitizer every 5 minutes or eat the whole bottle, it makes no difference. You will get sick eventually. My experience left me with sore throat, low fever and sneezing. But hey, you can now say that you have the con-flu and this is a big achievement within the nerd community!

And that’s pretty much it, follow my advice and you’re gonna have one hell of a time! I forgot to say “have fun” because you’re gonna have fun anyway! See you there in a few days my fellow geeks and remember to wear comfortable shoes. Seriously, If I hear you complaining about your feet hurting, you will feel my nerd rage! Unless you’re huge and intimidating… deadpool

London Book Fair 2017 — Self-publishing Discussions

March 21st, 2017 by yao_huang | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on London Book Fair 2017 — Self-publishing Discussions
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kindle talk I was honoured to participate in the London Book Fair 2017. Publishers from many countries grabbed this opportunity to show their shining projects and conduct rights trade to each other.

On 15th March, there were two discussions about self-publishing. The first one, two speakers talked about the current situation of self-publishing and some problems people who want to involve with had to be aware of. The following discussion invited three bestselling authors to share their interesting experiences of self-publishing and what they did for the success. They are Rachel Abbott, L J Ross, Mark Dawson and Keith Houghton. All of them agreed that they wrote for themselves at first, not for meeting readers’ expectations. Rachel mentioned that editing for professional editors was really important because she edited her manuscript 30 times altogether without editors, the number surprised me. And she emailed her first hundred readers, each of them. I suppose that this behaviour can make readers know their reviews and opinions are valuable, are considered by the author. Also, it is a good way for the author to close the distance between readers and herself. L J Ross pointed out that binding was crucial because people judged by the cover. Although Keith published books via traditional publishers, he still enjoyed self-publishing. He could completely control the process, especially how and when to promote, and he was satisfied with the final version. Finally, authors were expected to give some advice for other authors, Mark only said one word: “Professional”.

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Self-publishing has been a popular choice that could not be ignored and more and more writers would like to do. Challenges and opportunities exist at the same time. Traditional publishers think they are so professional that can make the package right, know the distribution and market but most authors do not. So if an author wants to self-publish, you have to know the industry as much as you can, do lots of research.

I appreciate Mark’s advice, everything should be professional although it would take a lot of time and energy. The more carefully you treat, the more returns you obtain. For a self-published book, the competitors are not only books published by traditional publishers but also by thousands of independent authors. So be professional, let yourself be a strong “publisher”.

by Yao Huang

Publishing 101: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

March 20th, 2017 by ailsa_kirkwood | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing 101: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
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publishing 101

The Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland held their second Scottish publishing conference in Central Hall, Edinburgh on Friday the 3rd of March. Its debut in 2016 was so popular that they decided to bring it back in 2017, bigger and better than before.

Keynote speaker Jenny Brown, of Jenny Brown Associates, took to the stage to give us young aspiring publishers a motivational, inspirational and very memorable speech. She started by describing the publishing industry at present as an “interesting and important field, at the best time in history.” I found the manner in which she discussed the differences between being labelled as a Scottish or UK Publisher of great interest. Branding a company as “Scottish” generally limits its reach of publication; Scottish publishers tend to only publish for a nation of 5 million, which is much smaller than that of the English book market, a nation of roughly 60 million people. Although, she mentions that regional books from publishers tend not to reach further than their region, Scotland and Scottish literature has international reach unlike other small nations. She claimed the reason behind Scotland’s wide reach is that “we can stand on the shoulders of those literary giants [like Stevenson, Scott and Burns] and share our voice to the world.”

society of young publishers

In 2002 Jenny established her own literary agency, Jenny Brown Associates, which since then has become one of the UK’s leading literary agencies. She stressed the importance of passion and innovation to get ahead, “passion costs nothing, but counts for everything” and “making your voice heard, take risks and innovate.”

Jenny’s keynote speech was one of my personal highlights of the conference; she was truly inspiring to listen to, full of positive insight of the publishing industry. It is no wonder her writers think so highly of her, “you are really in a job of making dreams come true.”

The second event of the day was the The Brexit Questions Panel. Alby Grainger of comic store Little Shop of Heroes kicked off the Brexit debate, by describing the exit result for him as “catastrophic increase in costs.” Alby’s business mainly relies on imports from outside the UK, roughly 90% of his products are imported from US sources. Brexit was a nightmare for him, within 3 days of the result the cost to import products rose a staggering 26%, resulting in him having to let a member of staff go. Janet Archer, the chief executive of Creative Scotland, highlighted this growing anxiety on the topic of job security in light of this specific political decision. Derek Kenny, of UK printing company Bell & Bain, agreed that nationally there is currently a prominent theme of “uncertainty in an uncertain world”.lecture  He did however, mention that along with the negative implications there are also positive effects and opportunities being created within the UK, for instance larger UK publishers looking for a stable UK printer and distributor. Bell & Bain have witnessed a 9-11% growth in the last 3 years and are even considering crossing the Atlantic, to open an office in America. Timothy Wright of Edinburgh University Press, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Edinburgh, experienced a completely different impact from Ably at Little Shop of Heroes. EUP are mainly an export led business, with a significant amount of business in America, so since the Brexit result they witnessed a 20-25% increase in business, mostly due to the strength of the dollar and weakness of the pound. Gráinne Clear explained that post Brexit, disaster struck for Little Island Books, an Irish publishing company with a UK branch, which is apparently pretty common for Irish publishers, when they converted their pounds sterling into euros this resulted in a massive financial hit. Overall the general message of this panel was that quite honestly, no one has any idea on what to expect economically or socially, it’s just going to be a case of wait and see.

Another memorable feature was the Marketing 5 x 5 session which quite honestly was one of the most enjoyably parts of the SYP Scottish conference, apart from the free wine and pizza obviously. It wasn’t until I started the marketing module of my publishing postgrad that I started to find marketing of greater interest. Out of the panel of 5 marketing gurus, each demonstrated completely different and innovative whilst very successful campaigns. Unsurprisingly a prominent component in most was the importance of utilising social media, for not only the publisher but also the author’s online presence. Social media has become so important to marketing because it offers a free platform. It is quite common for most publishers to have little or no budget, so it is vital to achieve as far and wide a reach as possible. Flora Willis from Serpent’s Tail, an imprint of Profile Books, was in charge of marketing for the republication of Chris Klaus’s novel I Love Dick, which was originally published in American in 1997. Her campaign mainly consisted of grass roots marketing, with badges, stickers and of course #ilovedick on Twitter. Unsurprisingly Willis thinks the utmost and foremost important part of working in publishing, more specifically marketing, is to have and use a sense of humour when trying to engage with your audience, a sentiment that resonates throughout this particular campaign.

The Publishing 101 conference was packed full of industry insight and inspirational speakers. I would like to thank the SYP for organising and hosting this event. I walked away feeling happy, motivated and truly part of a community.

– by Ailsa Kirkwood

Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group

March 20th, 2017 by helene_fosse | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group
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witherby logo When I first decided I was interested in publishing, I knew very little about the business, and – as many laymen do – thought that trade fiction was the only way to go. It was the only thing I wanted to do, because it was more or less the only thing that came to mind when I thought “publishing”. And I wanted to be an editor.

In my final year of undergrad, I had made some inquiries about the publishing course at Stirling, and consequently was updated by email about publishing events that I could attend. The visiting speaker sessions was one of these events, and I went along.

When I emerged from the talk two hours later, my whole conception of publishing was shattered and all the little pieces had reformed into something entirely different. Publishing is so much more than trade fiction, and if it is publishing you want to do, I have come to realise that the nature of the content isn’t always that important. And so I went into my Masters with much more of an open mind, thanks to the lovely Gillian Macrossan and (Stirling alumna) Jo Marjoribanks.

Sitting through the talk for the second time, I could remember some things from the previous year, but being almost two semesters into my degree this time, things made a lot more sense. The importance of things such as carbon footprint, living wage and paid internships are examples of things that I could not put into context two years ago, but now I know how important these things are for the health of the publishing business. Also, cheaper isn’t always better if you want a good quality product, and it might actually turn out not to be cheaper at all. For example, production might be cheaper in China, and you’re sitting in your office rubbing your hands together … but then the shipping bill comes and evens it all out.

Something else that becomes apparent in this talk is the importance of editing. It can literally be a case of life and death if a mistake is printed. Witherby publish marine literature, manuals, guides, training literature for mariners (not seamen, we do not like that word!) among other things. They might be massive bricks about one particular part of a ship, and laymen wouldn’t look twice at them, or their price tag. But can you imagine what can happen if a mistake went unnoticed when it comes to something as massive and heavy as a ship? Death isn’t actually that far-fetched.

One other thing that I took away from this talk (both times) is how important it is to network, apply for internships, be openminded and to not shy away from opportunities. This inspiration I mainly got from Jo, as she landed the job at Witherby through an internship that kept on getting extended until she finally was given a full-time job. I will admit that my brain was exhausted just listening to all her different responsibilities, ranging from fighting pirates to editing to doing copyright work. But imagine getting a job like that where you can do so many different things! That has to be the dream.

All in all, this visiting speaker session is something that everyone, if you’re interested in publishing and want a real boost of inspiration and energy, should attend. Gillian and Jo are two very talented women who make the publishing business a much less scary place to a mere mortal.

And remember: Editing kills.
witherby books

– by Helene Fosse

Visiting Speaker: Vikki Reilly, Birlinn Books.

March 14th, 2017 by Rachel | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Vikki Reilly, Birlinn Books.
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birlinn logo

Last Thursday we welcomed Vikki Reilly from Birlinn Books, one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers. The talk covered her experience working in a sales team, getting into the publishing industry, and advice about internships.

Birlinn and being part of the Sales team

Although Birlinn are a fairly small publisher with a team of around 20 employees, they punch significantly above their weight, publishing around 160 titles a year. One of their more  distinguishing features is that they proudly publish books that tell the stories of all of Scotland – not just the central belt. This leads to a more national conversation, which can only benefit the book industry in Scotland.

Vikki works specifically in the sales department, and provided us with some valuable insight into working in this sector:

  • Nurture your relationships with booksellers.
  • Be trustworthy – people can tell when you’re lying.
  • Know what market a book sells best in.
  • The best way to sell a book is face-to-face, and sales teams are developing more now as publishers begin to recognise this (hooray!).

Getting into the industry

Vikki talked us through her experience of getting into the publishing industry, including completing the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling University and interning for several publishers, including Canongate. But her presentation emphasised that it is crucial to expand your frame of reference. One of her main pieces of advice was to “never underestimate what you can learn on a shop floor.” Taking on jobs in music shops and bookstores is useful, and will enhance your ability to relate to other people’s interests, which is useful in publishing. Additionally, her presentation stressed that people rarely have a singular career path in publishing now, so be flexible and don’t let good opportunities pass you by.

Internships

Birlinn offer an internship programme where interns spend 3 months at a time with them, and Vikki informed us that they have a space coming up in April. During these 3 months interns can get the most out of the experience and gain new skills. Vikki offered some useful advice for all the existing and future interns out there:

  • Don’t go in there with a sense of entitlement, (there’s nothing wrong with making a cup of tea occasionally).
  • While it can be difficult, try not to be too shy! You will get more from your experience by asking questions and being enthusiastic – people like it when you take an interest.
  • Remember that everyone is still learning, not just you. Meaning, no question is too stupid (this was definitelybirlinn ltd  reassuring to hear).

At the end of the presentation we were provided with lovely catalogues of Birlinn’s titles as of 2016 (and cake). Overall, the presentation was lively and engaging, and I think most people left the room feeling really inspired.

– by Rachel Patrick

So, You Want to Be a Publisher?

March 14th, 2017 by barbora_kuntova | Posted in Blog | Comments Offon So, You Want to Be a Publisher?
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We can all picture it – a guy or a revolutionary woman (because, let’s be honest here…) 50 years ago, in an office where the walls are bookshelves, smoke is curling up at the ceiling, there’s an old typewriter, and piles upon piles of (unread) manuscripts. This is the idea of what a ‘publisher’ does. This is the romanticised version of the job from times long gone.

typewriter

Fast forward to the present, and adjust your image of a publisher:

  • bookshelves are still cool to have if you’re a publisher, though there has to be some order, and also, you need space for more vital things so keep it down to one or two
  • smoking is a big no inside the office
  • typewriters? Not even computers older than 7 years. You have to move with the flow if you want to make it in this business. With the flow and the technology, really.
  • you may still have piles upon piles of manuscripts – though, sadly, they are now mostly emailed, because who can afford to print what is basically a book, and pay shipping for that on top of everything?

Then there is the word ‘publisher’ – who is she, really (see what I did there)? Is a publisher one who works in a publishing house? One who replies to your emails with ‘sorry but your manuscript does not fit well with our image, keep trying though’? One who finds the next big thing in the world of bestsellers? One who puts together the layout and design of what is soon to become a book? Or the person who makes you notice that there is an interesting title being released this spring, through the media campaign? Or one who tweets and updates other social media on behalf of the publishing house?

books wallpaper

All of them are publishers, one way or another. In order to have a successful publishing house you need several things:

  • time and space (it can be your bed, indeed)
  • a budget (we’ve learned at the latest SYP Conference that things can be done well on a very small budget)
  • a good team

People are essential in this business. You need them to read the manuscripts, pick which one will make it (which sounds like a scary but very exciting thing to do), edit it, edit it, edit it, proofread it, typeset it, design it, market it, print it, sell it. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like a one person job to me. And like with everything in your life, you need people you can rely on.

So, you want to be a publisher – a vague term, though often mistaken for a very concrete job description. If you want to be a part of the world of publishing, you need to find a cranny, get yourself in there, and know that you might end up doing whatever is needed to be done. You need to know that publishing books is a time-consuming, exhausting process, often not really appreciated by the public – nobody cares you were the one who made the book happen. The important thing is that it did happen.

As publishers (editors, marketing teams, sales teams, proofreaders, copy-writers, designers, typesetters, interns, etc) we are invisible to the world, working to get the best of writing out to you, the reader. We don’t have our names on the book covers. We rarely even have them printed anywhere inside the book. But we love what we do, we believe in the process, and we are very passionate about our jobs.

Oh and, if you are a writer, keep writing those words. Keep sending manuscripts. Don’t let us destroy your dreams with rejection emails. We want your words, heck, we need your words. We would not exist if it weren’t for those who write. So write.

Yours sincerely, 

Barb Kuntova

 

Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101

March 13th, 2017 by rachel_mccann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101
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syp_banner  The Internships Anonymous panel at the recent SYP Scotland’s Publishing 101 conference (3rd March 2017) provided some valuable insight into ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of publishing internships.

Unfortunately, paid internships are hard to find in publishing, which is problematic as it limits the number of people who can afford to undertake unpaid internships. However, it can’t be denied that internships are vital in gaining experience, and give you an edge in applying for publishing jobs so it is helpful to try and do as many as possible.

Luckily, the Internships Anonymous panel provided a number of tips to help you secure that all-important internship:

  • Get in touch! Some places such as the Scottish Book Trust don’t advertise their internships, so there is no harm in sending an email to enquire;
  • Attend as many events as possible: this way you can keep up to date with everything that is happening in the industry. Most importantly, use these events as networking opportunities and talk to as many people as you can. Who knows where a simple conversation could lead?
  • Volunteer where and when you can: book shops and book festivals are excellent opportunities to learn more about the industry. If you have any free time, then you have time to find some relevant experience;
  • Remember: all experience is relevant experience, so just keep volunteering and applying for everything.

The following are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your internship, once you’ve managed to pin one down:

  • Remember that you are not there to do someone else’s job for them: you are supposed to be learning, not replacing a paid position;
  • Stuffing envelopes, making tea and walking the manager’s dog are not publishing skills, and therefore are not acceptable for an internship (no matter how cute the dog is);
  • Show off your talent and passion. Make the most of your time with the company and they will remember you;
  • The Scottish publishing industry is small and it is important to remember that everyone knows each other and talks to each other about their interns. That means if you impress in an internship, it could lead to something else. Likewise, if you make a bad impression, it could impact further internship and employment opportunities;
  • Proper guidance and feedback is crucial because you won’t learn anything otherwise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you are being asked to do something you are unfamiliar with. It’s better to ask for help than to mess up completely.

In some instances, an internship can result in a paid job, but does that make a bad internship worth it? The final, and most important, piece of advice from the Internships Anonymous panel was that it is ok to say no, especially if you feel like you’re being exploited, or what you are being asked to do makes you uncomfortable.

– By Rachel McCann

Luath Press Internship

March 9th, 2017 by emma_morgan | Posted in BlogInternships | Comments Off on Luath Press Internship
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I went to work at Luath Press for a week during the University’s reading week, and it was definitely a different experience to other office experience that I had.  Operating from a house on the Royal Mile, with a window looking up to the Castle, it’s about as central as it’s possible to be.  I got there early on day one, thinking that it would probably take me a while to find it and this was a good idea because I took the most awkward, indirect route to get to the office, made even worse by the fact that I walked by the entrance twice before I found it.

Luath Press is a Edinburgh-based publisher of generally Scottish-centric fiction, non-fiction and they have produced a wide range of titles and genres in their decades of operation.  I was keen to find out how they operated, since the breadth of their titles and the length of time they had been in business seemed quite unique to me.

I was interested to see what this particular publishing office would look like, and it involved as many piles of books as I had hoped.  The staff were lovely, and busy, and so it was straight to work on day one.  I had hoped to gain some experience in editing since this was something I had quite enjoyed this during the publishing course.  I got to read multiple manuscripts, and mark up changes to be made in them.  There was also a few envelopes to be stuffed with invitations and promotion, which I have plenty of experience in from various past internships (publishing and otherwise).

I think what this internship highlighted for me was the importance of paying very close attention and double-checking your work.  While this was obviously something I knew before, I got to see the level of personal attention which can be offered by an editor on staff of a small publisher to an author and a book, and the importance of being willing to pay this level of attention and devote that time was clear throughout the week at Luath.

I also enjoyed the broad range of duties and roles which were taken on by the people involved.  I liked the idea of working with a small publisher because of the ability to gain experience across a range of departments, and I think this was clear at Luath.  Everyone was involved and their opinions considered, and while each person had a clear role that they were tasked with, I liked the supportive atmosphere which I think is far more common at small publishers than large businesses.

It was lovely to work in Edinburgh, but I was very quickly aware of the hidden cost of working on the Royal Mile, right next to the castle.  Bagpipes.  Hour after hour of bagpipes.  This was however, a small price to pay for a really fun and hands-on internship in which I learned a lot about manuscripts and the role of editor.  It was great to see how a publisher of this size and scale related to their authors and how they operated.  I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to do this internship and feel like I got chances to do a lot more and sample far greater areas than I would have expected in just a week.

New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling

March 1st, 2017 by Sharna | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling
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Okay, to start, a disclaimer: I wasn’t originally going to cover this section of the Scottish Book Trade Conference, but I was so inspired by Crystal Mahey-Morgan, that I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity! I mean, it could just be because I was so enamoured with her South London accent during the  presentation (we all miss home in different ways!) but beyond that, she made some really important points. So here goes.

How many debut authors in Britain do you think were black males last year? Definitely a few, right? At least a handful?

Just one… Mahey-Morgan announces. I’m shocked, I look over at a few people and they’re clearly a bit shocked as well. You hear about publishing trying to branch out diversity-wise, but it’s pretty evident from this statistic that it’s just not happening all at once.

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Rewinding a little, Mahey-Morgan then shows a presentation about her company’s (OWN IT!) recent project Don’t Be AlienDon’t Be Alien started life as an interactive book, incorporating text, animation, and music for a fully immersion experience. This version retails at 99p. But it doesn’t stop there. As Mahey-Morgan explains, it is important for OWN IT! to cover a range of platforms in order for it to reach its target audience; those who would rather download a song or video onto their smartphones than a book (16-24). Therefore, you can buy the Don’t Be Alien track from iTunes for 79p and corresponding t-shirts for £30. Cross-platform! It’s a really well thought out way to get a younger audience to connect to the story. As well as this, when OWN IT! were releasing Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man, they put on a launch event at Hackney Empire, which just so happened to sell out its 1300 ticketed seats. Pretty good going and is also proof that people are interested! People will pay for these things and they want to see these authors at events and buy these books.

OWN_IT_logo Mahey-Morgan also explains the difference in the OWN IT! business model from regular publishers. Instead of paying their authors an advance, they split the profits of every outlet 50/50 with the author. The average annual income for an author is about £11,000. That’s less than minimum wage, which is quite frankly ridiculous. But this different business model would explain why No Place to Call Home author JJ Bola chose OWN IT! over several other publishers in a high-stakes auction.

When asked about branching out her storytelling lifestyle brand, Mahey-Morgan insists that she wants her company to publishing diversely throughout the country as well as globally, and in spite of their .london domain, they are not London-specific.

The most important point (in my eyes) that Mahey-Morgan made during her presentation is that publishers shouldn’t be publishing BAME authors because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. I mean, it is the right thing to do but publishers should be championing these authors; they should be publishing BAME works because they want to and because they believe in the content, not just because they’re obligated to!

You can follow Crystal Mahey-Morgan and OWN IT! on twitter @CrystalMMorgan and @OWNITLDN or you can check out their shop and support them (do support them, because they’re doing great things!) at their website: ownit.london

Scottish Book Trade Conference: Barry Cunningham’s Keynote Speech

February 27th, 2017 by Stephan Pohlmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Scottish Book Trade Conference: Barry Cunningham’s Keynote Speech
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For the book trade, or indeed, any trade conference in February 2017, there are certain topics that simply cannot be avoided – both in the light of recent developments and in the foreshadowing of events still in the making.

When this year’s Scottish Book Trade Conference began on 22nd February in Edinburgh’s Central Hall, shortly after 9.30 AM and what must have been the third coffee for several delegates (this being inferred from personal experience), one could hardly be surprised to hear statements more of a socio-political relevance than what would have been the norm. Literary agent Jenny Brown, in whom Publishing Scotland had found a remarkably passionate chair for the event, opened the conference by emphasising the cross-national power of the written word, and Publishing Scotland’s chief executive Marion Sinclair subsequently took a similar line, speaking of no less than the book trade’s adaption to a possible new world order, while also stressing the catalyst power of hope as an engine of the book trade.

The keynote speech of the day, however, was given by Barry Cunningham, managing director at Chicken House, and widely known in the industry as the editor who signed J.K. Rowling for Bloomsbury. A children’s publisher – an interesting choice in the preceding context, but one that was proven the absolutely right one. Capturing the essence of the conference, he began by stressing the overall success which the children’s sector is currently experiencing, and he explained how to encourage (and financially support) new authors. Cunningham also peppered the keynote with socio-cultural undertones: While stories were being read in many different ways around the world, it was always the villains who “make the most difference – whether it is a situation or Lord Voldemort.”

The speech did not fail to grasp long-term changes in a genre that was once highly educative, moralising, and always teaching children “about good deeds” – something Cunningham later contrasted with the “more real issues” in children’s books today – where, for example, adults are no longer patronising and infallible moral institutions, but instead appear as they really are: “interesting and flawed.”

Addressing successful formulas of the present and challenges of the future, Cunningham pointed to the growing significance of reader connection: the existential importance of browsability and discoverability as well as the rise of fan fiction. For the stories themselves he gave a slightly more concrete advice: the “enormously important way to secure an audience is the sense of humour.” (The speaker himself had absolutely won his audience at the moment he cited J.K. Rowling who, when asked why Cunningham had taken on a book that many others before him had turned down, allegedly described him as “the only publisher who was a giant costumed character himself.”)

Overall, Cunningham did not disappoint in the least, delivering a speech that was informative and trade-specific as well as inclusive of wider socio-cultural trends – perhaps no less important, it was entertaining and humorous enough to set the tone for what was to be a diverse and interesting conference up until the end. And if one was to reconstruct the chord in which the keynote was given, they may be reminded of how Cunningham quoted a young girl that, when asked in school about the reason for reading a book, replied: “We read so our own story does not have to end where it began.”

– Stephan Pohlmann

By Its Cover: Suzanne Dean on good cover design

February 27th, 2017 by caroline_obrien | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on By Its Cover: Suzanne Dean on good cover design
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Suzanne Dean Suzanne Dean, the creative director for Penguin Random House, took the stage at this year’s Scottish Book Trade Conference to tell us all that, against a childhood’s worth of well-intentioned advice, we should, in fact, judge a book By Its Cover. Although much of her advice will be familiar to most of us at Stirling University from our design classes like all good advice it doesn’t hurt being repeated, and there was also much which was new and just as helpful. She was also able to offer an insightful and oftentimes very funny first-hand account of the frustrating, nerve-wracking, but ultimately fulfilling world of book cover design.

Dean was the one responsible for the Vintage logo update and some of her cover designs may be familiar to many of us, especially the work she did for Haruki Murakami’s novel. The simple, yet eye-catching, black white and red circle designs quickly became quintessentially Murakami. But, as any good designer will tell you, break your own rules. Dean certainly did, in an exceptionally well thought out way, by adding colour to Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.

With quite a hefty bit of experience under her belt Dean is more well-versed than most on what effective design must be. Namely eye-catching, engaging to a reader, and thought provoking. After all, as Dean reminded us, we only have a few seconds in which to catch a browser’s eye and encourage them to pick our book up over all the others. In today’s world where books are increasingly becoming commodities like any others, sold on shelves between groceries and cleaning products, good cover design is more important than ever.

Through her work with Vintage Classics Dean is very well aware of this. Not only are classic books subject to the same fight for attention that new ones are, murakami logo  but they have a further added problem. As Dean asked, how do you convince someone to buy a book that’s probably freely available online?

Dean’s answer was simple.

By making them beautiful and desirable collectable objects.

Dean also found that a cover which hints at the contents receives a better reception than one which spells them out too heavily. Remember, with classics, the potential buyer has probably already read it, or at least is aware of the general plot, and so are more prone to spot and appreciate any little subtleties in the cover which, with a new novel, might only be appreciated after being read.

Of course, even while the contents of these classic books are well-known and familiar to many it is as important, if not more so, to keep the covers fresh and new. With content that has so many past covers it’s important not to become too similar. With their new Vintage Future editions Dean has managed to avoid this very pitfall. Using only a sheet of acetate and some line based designs this set of nine futuristic classics feature animated covers. The bold colours and psychedelic shapes combined with the animated feature and juxtaposed against the classic, black bordered layout perfectly capture the essence of these texts which, although written in the past, were always looking far into the future.

This seems to be a key theme brought by Dean to all her covers. Whilst they vary widely, and are each intricately tailored to suit their contents, there appears to be an emphasis on keeping them relevant, not just to our times but to all times.

But to achieve such beautiful, evocative, and timeless designs there is first a long process which must be traversed. As Dean revealed, one of her covers went through over seventy redesigns before it was finally accepted. It can also be very difficult to read a manuscript with the expectation upon you that a beautifully designed cover will simply emerge fully formed from your head. You must ‘rely upon the spark to happen’ and to keep on happening the next time and the next and the next. You must experiment, and engage with all forms of media. As Dean put it, ‘go out and see things,’ as many things as possible. You never know where inspiration will next come from.

And, most importantly, practice. For designers ‘just like dancers’ must practice before they can create something beautiful.

By Caroline O’Brien

PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!

February 27th, 2017 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!
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The Big Issue’s UK editor, Paul McNamee, took up tenure as Chair of the PPA Scotland on Wednesday evening (15thFeb) in Glasgow, in front of a strong gathering of over 100 people from magazine and newspaper publishing in Scotland.  At this special reception for the new Chair, Neil Braidwood of Connect Communications gave a lively introduction to McNamee as he handed over the reins used to guide the organisation for the last two years. In his acceptance speech, McNamee painted a vivid picture of himself when as a young man of potential, he was keen to get access to the world of publishing and communication.

better literacy Bringing the scenario up to date, he pinpointed what was wrong with the industry now – and echoed public statements and report findings produced by the book publishing industry, and indeed many other sectors including marketing and advertising.  He spoke passionately about the lack of diversity in the newspaper and magazine industry, the lack of young people joining the sector from less advantageous backgrounds. “If kids don’t have money behind them, you’ve got to put money in front of them,” he told us and our response was wholeheartedly positive. With the backing of the PPA Scotland, he wants to see the industry supporting disadvantaged young people who have potential and a desire to enter publishing.

Listening to him, I was reminded that in the late Seventies/ early Eighties, I was one of the last to benefit from a full grant for further and higher education, a luxury not available to many in the UK these days.  Now, if someone from a disadvantaged background does decide to become a student (taking on the psychological and practical burden of debt required to do so) and graduates in due course, they will frequently find that to break into their chosen business sector, they are expected to work for nothing often for long periods in the hope that this trial will end in paid-for employment.  Who can afford the luxury of an unpaid internship, where often not even travel is reimbursed? Only those already blessed with some degree of family financial support?  Is it right that entrance to the creative/ knowledge/ communication sectors across the UK can be based on an individual’s financial resource? Surely this must change or the work produced, whether in a newspaper, magazine, book, app or website, will become increasingly irrelevant to most of the population.

It is not wise to have a minority controlling cultural communication.  A monoculture does not reflect society and should not be imposed. Publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented.  Looking forward to seeing how the new Chair and the members of PPA Scotland tackle this initiative.

Links:

PPA news link to Paul McNamee’s Chair Reception evening

Guardian article: Penguin Random House – publishing “risks becoming irrelevant”

The Big Issue: latest issue on reading and libraries

Miffy creator Dick Bruna dies aged 89

February 20th, 2017 by siqi_cai | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Miffy creator Dick Bruna dies aged 89
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dick bruna

“Some people live, he was already dead; some people died, he’s still alive.”

——Kejia Zang, a Chinese poet

Last year, the subject of my blog was about the death of Leonard Cohen. Unfortunately, today I have to tell more bad news- Miffy creator Dick Bruna died on 17th February.

nijntje

photo: https://www.nijntje.nl/

Miffy Rabbit (it is called Nijntje in Dutch) is a famous character created by Dutch painter- Dick Bruna. Dick Bruna came from a publishing family and his father had the largest publisher in the Netherlands. He is a successful and one of best-selling fairy tale creators whose works are translated into thirty-three languages around the world. The sales volume reached up to 30 million. He always liked to use simple lines and several colors to create the fairy tale world in his mind. The legacy of the Miffy Rabbit  lasted for half a century, in the author’s insistence, Miffy’s shape has always maintained a simple and easy principle, and Bruna never changed clothes and jewelry because of festivals or for any reason. This super-fresh image, perhaps the most obvious reason why Miffy is always popular today. Miffy Rabbit’s surrounding derivatives includes stationery, toys, clothing and children’s accessories. As an Asian, I have to say that I once used Miffy’s stationery and watched Miffy’s cartoons when I was a child. Such is the power of the cartoon figure.

I have read some sources and materials about children’s picture books recently, and I summed up roughly some reasons why the great pictures books appeal to children:

  • The subject is clearly highlighted and easy for children to understand.
  • The book includes a simple structure, an interesting plot, and rich imaginations.
  • Lively language to meet the needs of children’s visual ability and auditory ability, and thus cultivate children’s interests to know the world.

In the end, when some famous people passed away, people always mourn them by various ways. I think the most important reason is that they change the world, make the world a better place, and bring a huge impact on people. Dick Bruna’s Miffy is the one. The cartoon character will still be exist in the future.

-Siqi Cai

Visiting Speaker: Rosemary Ward, The Gaelic Books Council

February 10th, 2017 by claire_furey | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Rosemary Ward, The Gaelic Books Council
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The second guest speaker of semester two was Rosemary Ward, Ceannard of Comhairle nan Leabhraichean. That’s Director of The Gaelic Books Council to most.

gaelic book council Gaelic is an indigenous language, with 1.7% of the Scottish population having some Gaelic skills, while 32,400 can read, write, and speak the language. There are also Gaelic speakers abroad. 24% of the Council’s online sales are shipped abroad. Surprisingly, Germany is a large market – due in no small part to Michael Klevenhaus, founder of the Gaelic Academy in Bonn.

The first Gaelic book was published in 1567 but until the 20th century most publications were church focused. Things changed in 1951 with GAIRM magazine, which introduced a new generation of Gaelic writers and created a demand for an organisation. Hence the Gaelic Books Council was set up in 1968. They have charity status and are publicly funded.

1985 was another turning point with the opening of the first Gaelic Medium School in Glasgow, creating a demand for Gaelic textbooks.

The Gaelic Books Council have three goals:

  1. Support writers and publishers

The Council commission books, give grants to publishers and attend literary festivals. Rather than having just one special Gaelic literary festival, the idea is to normalise Gaelic by having a presence at all the big festivals. They also support writers and publishers through talent development and training. For instance, there was a real delay getting Gaelic books published because of the lack of editors. The Gaelic Books Council have produced intensive courses to fill the skills gap.

  1. Capacity Building

There are two annual prizes for new Gaelic writers and the Council also has several partnerships and scholarships, such as the biannual Gaelic scholarship at our own University of Stirling.

  1. Sales and Marketing

They have a shop in Glasgow, An Léanag. Check it out if you’re passing! (Mansfield St, just off Byres Rd.) In addition, there is an online shop and they are active on social media and in reaching out to schools and communities, to expose people to Gaelic.

Challenges Rosemary identified were the small number of publishers, AMAZON! (always), negative perceptions of Gaelic in the media and funding.

On a more positive note, developments and opportunities that were outlined included

  • Lasag, a series of novellas for learners and young people.
  • Children’s co-editions and originations.
  • Donald Meek award, which is only for unpublished works.
  • New talent.
  • Leugh le Linda. Linda McCloud is their reading ambassador and does reading sessions, which the BBC are now planning to film as a series.
  • Steall, a new Gaelic magazine, a new version of the pivotal GAIRM, which is no longer in publication.

We must say móran taing to Rosemary for an engaging, interesting and informative talk on Gaelic publications. If this has peaked your interest in Gaelic, head over to learngaelic.scot to get started!

@LeughLeabhar

Gaelicbooks.org

The Popularity of Book Events Across the UK

February 8th, 2017 by chiara_bullen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Popularity of Book Events Across the UK
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The launch of a book, especially one that kick starts an author’s writing career, is undoubtedly a special occasion. This was certainly the case on the 2nd of February when Cranachan Publishing, who began their publishing journey in early 2016, launched Ross Sayers’ ‘Mary’s The Name’ to a room filled with a bustling crowd and festive atmosphere.

To celebrate the book’s release, which follows the story of an 8-year old girl on the run with her Grandpa, Cranachan Publishing hosted a lively night of music, food, drink and a charismatic interview with the author. The night was a sell-out, demonstrating that small publishers can certainly put on a big show.

This is a scenario you’re likely to come across in venues across the UK, as book events are increasingly popular. In the next couple of months there are at least 260 book events taking place across the country.* Of course, there always have been events to pull in crowds, but with the introduction of technology that encourages virtual events- such as Twitter Q+As with authors and online tours- it’s encouraging to see how physical and digital events fall hand-in-hand with each other instead of one coming out on top.

The success of #ScotLitFest, the largest online-only book festival launched in 2016, shows there is clearly a demand and an audience for virtual book-events, most likely because of how convenient and easily accessible they are. Thankfully, the popularity of physical events doesn’t seem to have wavered despite the demand, and last year’s launch and immediate success of Harper Collins’ ‘BookGig’ illustrates this.

BookGig is an online resource that allows you to enter your postcode to see what bookish events are coming up near you,  allowing you to buy tickets and find out more about the event. This makes it easier to find events close and convenient to you, helping spread the word and drawing crowds to events they might have potentially missed out on. The importance of the prominent presence of physical book events is demonstrated in a comment from Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest:

‘Although today’s virtual world allows authors to connect with their audience without ever leaving their house, virtual communication cannot replace the physical experience of sharing your book and knowledge with a room full of real people at a book signing. Successful book signings help drive word of mouth, move books, built your credibility and platform as an author, speaker and expert in your field and allow you to get a true-life sense of your audience.’

The roaring success of the Mary’s The Name book launch in Stirling truly represents the popularity of physical book events across the UK. With the introduction of successful and easy to use resources making them more accessible, it’s a positive sign of times to come for events in the publishing industry.

Cranachan publishing can be found on Twitter, as well as BookGig.

*Stats from BookGig

– Chiara Bullen

SYP Scotland: Agents Uncovered

February 6th, 2017 by jo_ripoll | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland: Agents Uncovered
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SYP event

Photo credit: @SYPScotland Twitter

After missing my train (by one minute!), I arrived late to SYP Scotland’s event Agents Uncovered. Even with my public transportation debacle, this panel was definitely worth the trouble and the run from the train station. Agenting isn’t a topic heavily covered in the program, so it was beneficial to get a more in-depth overview about what being an agent truly entails.

The panel consisted of two agents: Judy Moir, who owns her own small literary agency, and Taran Baker, and was moderated by SYP’s Kirstin Lamb. The running advice of their panel, that we seem to constantly be hearing, is network and socialise. Taran, who started out in bookselling, got her first job as an agent by just being nice and talking to someone at an event. Judy emphasised as well to get to know people your own age in publishing because we are all the future of the publishing industry.

An agent is the mediator between the publisher and the author, but is always working towards the best interests of the author. Some general advice the two shared and important skills an agent needs are:

  • Know your way around a contract. Take a class about contract knowledge because this is absolutely essential to being a successful agent.
  • Know how the publishing process works. Have some general, all-around knowledge of each aspect (editorial, production, marketing, etc). Everything you pick up along the way is helpful.
  • Be able to sell. You have to be able to make a good pitch to a publisher, and an author at times, and sometimes hassle to get the best for your client. Get to know people in the industry, and learn how to work with and sell to them successfully.
  • Have a good nose for talent. Know where potential lies; sometimes it just needs a bit of editing. Along the same lines, have a good eye for visuals—being able to look at covers and marketing plans and recognizing their strengths and weaknesses will definitely come in handy.
  • Have patience. Agents deal with a lot of different types of people throughout the course of just one day (authors, publishers, etc). They do a lot of checking and chasing, and that takes an abundance of patience at times.
  • Honesty is the best policy. Relationships with authors and publishers is the core of being an agent. Managing their expectations with what kind of agent/agency you are takes trust and a healthy professional relationship.

Besides all of these skills, I, personally, learned a few things from this panel. Agents are not necessarily built-in editors. There are some agents who like to have a polished manuscript before taking it to an editor or a publishing house. But, that is not all agents, and acquisition editors should not expect a fully-formed book from an agency. Sometimes you have to go fishing for the talent; it won’t always find you. However, don’t completely under-estimate the slush pile.

And, the best advice, for everyone out there, not just for potential future agents: Don’t try and do it all; you’ll never sleep.

By Jo Ripoll

Academic Book Week visits Stirling

February 3rd, 2017 by Aleksander Pęciak | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Academic Book Week visits Stirling
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academic book week poster There are not many opportunities to get to know something more about academic publishing outside the course, so I enthusiastically attended the workshop “Academic Publishing – Routes to Success” organised on Monday, 23rd of January. Although the whole event was aimed at postgraduate students interested in pursuing their academic careers, publishing students also found it helpful, as discussions and talks given by speakers explained the processes of communication between researchers and publishers.

Academic Book Week is a week-long celebration that focuses on the issues around academic publishing and relationships between academic books’ authors, publishers and readers. Started in 2015 as a centerpiece of the Academic Book of the Future Project, Academic Book Week continues to deliver essential information and tools that can positively aid all parts in the area and creates space for lively debates.

“Academic Publishing – Routes to Success” was the first workshop organised in this year’s edition of the event – it was arranged by researchers on the Peer Review project, Professor Claire Squires, Dr Simon Rowberry, and Dr Dorothy Butchard. The workshop was divided into five sessions, covering different aspects of academic: Monograph Publishing Round Table, with Dr Andrea Schapper, Dr Timothy Peace, and Dr Kelsey Williams (University of Stirling), Peer Review and the Postgraduate Experience, Open Access with Dr Betsy Fuller (University of Stirling), Journal Publishing, with Dr Chris Gair (University of Glasgow), Social Media and Blogging to Develop and Communicate Research, with Nicola Osborne (EDINA, University of Edinburgh). The sessions took nearly seven hours and between them, attendees received a proper lunch and beverages.

The Monograph Publishing Round Table was a panel discussion moderated by Professor Claire Squires – researchers representing different scientific backgrounds, who were already experienced with publishing their monographs, shared their views on the topic and advice for current PhD students. Then, in the second session, Dr Dorothy Butchard introduced the audience to the ideas behind peer reviewing and revealed how the whole process looks like in practice. The session was finished with a discussion about the most current issues in academic publishing, where the audience was first shared into smaller groups and then presented their opinion on the topic. The Open Access workshop delivered by Dr Betsy Fuller clarified the concept of OA, explained differences between its models, presented possible ways of being published and where to find funds for that.

The part of the workshop that I found most useful and informative for publishing students was presented by Dr Chris Gair from the University of Glasgow, editor of Symbiosis: A Journal of Transatlantic Literary and Cultural Relations. His whole presentation shed a light on journal publishing and explained how to maintain a perfect strategy to have your article published.

During the last session, Nicola Osborne, Digital Education & Service Manager from EDINA, demonstrated the way of effective scientific communication on social media platforms, as well as how to use blogs to share and sell researcher’s ideas. From the perspective of a publishing student who wants to work in academic publishing in future, researchers popular on social media and representing a decent and engaging style of writing would make perfect authors to be published and promoted.

All the workshops and discussions clearly proved that to be successful nowadays researchers should be not only skilled in writing and researching the areas of their studies but in maintaining their own brand and effective communication on social media as well. With dynamic changes around academic publishing, they need to take care of their image and its recognition in the community of academics and publishers.

My Internship with Barrington Stoke

February 2nd, 2017 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in BlogInternships | Comments Off on My Internship with Barrington Stoke
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barrington stoke

2017 could not have started better for me, as I was offered an internship at Barrington Stoke. Barrington Stoke is a children’s and YA publisher, founded by Patience Thomson and Lucy Juckes, a mother and daughter-in-law team with personal experience of the way that dyslexia can lock children out of the world of books and reading. They came up with the idea of books that would open the door to more young people.  They developed a dyslexia-friendly font, pioneered the use of tinted paper and began to commission short, achievable books from an amazing range of authors.

books

The Perks of Being a Publishing Intern!

Over the years, the company has gained many awards, such as Children’s Publisher of the Year, and many supporters due to their collaborations with exceptional and award-winning authors and illustrators. Working for a children’s publisher for 5 weeks is an amazing experience. Currently being in the middle of my time there, I received valuable guidance, advice and the chance to develop my editorial, social media and design skills, as I’m responsible for updating the company’s blog to a great extent, using WordPress.

Working in an office is one of the best experiences I could have gained, because I always wanted to work in this environment, collaborating with other workmates and get an insight into working for a publisher. Barrington Stoke  is small but very friendly company, with many tasks and responsibilities for the staff. As an intern, I’ve undertaken various tasks so far, helping by completing office administrative tasks such as mailing the new book catalogues to booksellers such as Waterstones. My favourite task was definitely blogging, because I own my own food and lifestyle blog, so it was interesting to create blogs about book titles and mini author interviews called ‘Five Questions’.

books desk

Working on blog posts for the book titles!

During my internship so far, I’ve been using Indesign and Photoshop tools, to edit pictures and create banners for the blog posts I was responsible to create. This helped me very much to practise my design skills and familiasize myself with design tools, which will help me in my future career. At Barrington Stoke, I’ve also been responsible for proof-reading some of the book catalogues and stock lists, and have explored the editorial department.

I consider myself lucky to have worked at Barrington Stoke and I believe this internship strengthened my passion for social media and digital marketing, helping me pursuing a career after my postgrad.

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