Tag Archives: Postgraduate Publishing

London Book Fair: of getting lost and getting things done


When you arrive at the London Book Fair, everyone around you seems to know exactly where they are going and why. They are at a business fair, and they are there with a purpose.

I, the Publishing student, a little less so.

As I made my way through the crowd on the first day I fidgeted with my badge, which so clearly stated “student”, wondering if there was a way I could hide it and make it less apparent that I wasn’t part of the bustling, business-savvy crowd around me. At the same time, I was trying to figure out where the Literary Translation Centre was hidden, because the first of the many seminars I planned to attend would take place there.

In the weeks prior to the fair, I had combed through the dense programme event and had emerged victorious with a list of all the seminars, talks and events I wanted to attend. The objective was one: narrowing down the vast array of possible dissertation topics floating through my head and coming out of the London Book Fair with a clear plan in mind.

Since my initial idea was to write about literary translation, I more or less lived my three days in the corner hosting the Literary Translation Centre – which was just as well, because, tucked away from the main crowd routes, were several tables and chairs, a hard-to-come-by commodity at the fair.

While there, I found out with pleasure that my student badge was not as much of a black mark as I’d feared: if you gather up the courage to just approach the professionals attending the talks, they’ll be more interested in what you have to say rather than in your badge. After the first few talks I began to recognize a few familiar faces, and some of them got used to seeing me there and took me for one of the gang. I was not about to contradict them.

It was thanks to one of the random conversations that I ended up attending, on the Wednesday morning, a talk that was not on my list: Publishing: Meet the Innovators. The London Book Fair is a great place, but the quality of the seminars depends mostly on the quality of the panellists, and although I have to say most talks were engaging, some topics that looked interesting on paper were just not that much once you actually attended the talk.

Luckily for me, I was convinced to go to the Publishing: Meet the Innovators seminar, because that was the talk. Twenty minutes into it, I was so engaged by the panellists and the topic they were discussing that I knew I had my dissertation topic. At the end, I made my way trough the crowd and approached the speakers, now relaxed in opening my introduction with “I’m a Publishing student”. They were charming and willing to chat with me for a while, and more importantly agreed to answer a few emails in the future, once my dissertation was under way.

After that, all the seminars I attended were focussed on gaining more information about the topic I had chosen, and getting contacts in the industry who might help me come research time.

It was just when I left that it occurred to me that, although not a member of the industry (yet), I had come there with a plan, got business done, and was leaving London satisfied of what I had accomplished. Just like someone who knows what they want from the fair and go get it.

Meadows Marathon Madness!

Sitting down, with a cup of tea and my feet up, I would like to say a big congratulations to all the fun runners, half marathon and full marathon runners who took part in the Meadows Marathon today! Despite the recent sunny spell not lasting, there was a great atmosphere with hundreds of people actively raising awareness and money for their chosen charities and causes, in fancy dress choices from bananas to bathroom taps!

Myself and Juliane chose to take part in the fun run to raise awareness of Merchiston Publishing’s latest live projects – Olalla by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Glorious Thing by Christine Orr. As well as talking to many individuals about the projects today, we also contributed promotional material to the runners bags that all participants received at the finish line giving the link to our publishing by degrees website – publishingdegree.co.uk.

ImageIt’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it!

ImageTwo hundred and seventy goody bags ready to go!

Sweets may seem like a strange choice to include in a marathon runners bag, but there was a significance for this decision, apart from runners needing a good sugar boost of course! The vampire fangs and gummy teeth were chosen to represent Olalla, a novella of gothic theme that tells the story of a mysterious family with a strange penchant for human blood! Now for a fun fact that will hopefully help you in future table quizzes – jelly babies were originally called ‘peace babies’ to celebrate the end of the First World War! Which is fitting to represent The Glorious Thing as it is a novel set in the home front of Edinburgh during this very war.

ImageThe beautiful finish line.ImageTwo tired and smelly publishers. (L-R): Niamh O’ Brien and Juliane Schmidt.

Apart from having a great morning out and realising how unfit we are, it was really great to raise some awareness for our projects in a ‘novel’ way and inspiring to see how many people were interested in what we were doing, as well as hear some of their stories as well. Simoné Hinrichsen, a journalism student at Edinburgh Napier University, filmed our experience and a video of how we got on will be available to view in the near future, so stay tuned if you want to see us seriously struggling around the meadows and learn more about the projects!

Vagabond Voices: An Author’s Perspective

During my placement with Vagabond Voices, I had the fortune of attending two of their launches:  Allan Massie’s Surviving (to conclude a memorable first day) and The Lost Art of Losing by Gregory Norminton, the second book of aphorisms to be published by Vagabond Voices.

After the latter event, I approached Gregory to ask about the unusual form of the aphorism, and why we haven’t seen more of them in print, to which he replied, “I suppose the perception that no one would purchase a book of aphorisms is the main reason we don’t see more in print.” Among those who had arrived to pick up a copy of Gregory’s “little book” were Alasdair Gray, Bernard MacLaverty, and another of Vagabond Voices’ writers, Chris Dolan.

The seemingly irresistible little volume is perfectly proportioned to be picked up and dipped into for moments at a time; as Gregory summarized, with his characteristic concision and style,  “After all, when should the book be read if not in snatches: on the Tube between proximate stations, or for a moment while brushing your teeth?”

When asked about his experiences with Vagabond Voices, Gregory lauded the creative support and personal touch which developed through working with a small publisher, and described the benefits of the intimate author-publisher collaboration which could be achieved in this setting: “Working with a small publisher, specifically Vagabond Voices, I find an attention to detail, a care and a commitment to each book, which can be missing from bigger publishing houses. The former has to nurture, within its limited means, every hatchling” – a statement with which, as an intern of Vagabond Voices, I can readily identify.

Men assert, women know.

Toleration should not be confused with respect. Of course you are entitled to your opinion – as am I to treat it with contempt.

Fearless” is an epithet which bigots apply to themselves. An open mind grapples constantly with dread.



A Date for your Diary

Edinburgh Napier University Publishing students printers visitMSc Publishers spent the afternoon at Letts printers. They are the largest print maufacturer in Scotland and as the market leader, they produce over 20 million diaries a year.

The students were impressed with the sheer scale of production and the specialist processes used in Notebook and Diary manufacture.

Thanks to Graham Ellis and and his team for a highly informative tour.

See their website: www.letts.co.uk/

Ask the experts: careers in magazine publishing

Avril_gray_webAvril Gray joined a panel of experts to provide careers advice for The Guardian readers. The Q&A – ‘Careers in magazine publishing’ – advised on the different careers available in the sector, and the skills and qualifications required to secure these sought-after positions.

Publishing is the UK’s largest creative industry. It is a popular career choice for many graduates, and is incredibly hard to get into without appropriate work experience, or a relevant qualification. Avril leads the only industry accredited publishing programme in the UK.

The blog can be viewed on The Guardian website: http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-in-magazine-publishing