Ten days in educational publishing: My placement with Bright Red



The first thing that I noticed about the Bright Red Publishing office was its size: one room, with five desks within it, and that’s all it takes to run this award-winning company (it won the UK Educational Publishing Company of the Year at the Independent Publishing Awards in 2010 and 2011, and was a runner-up for the UK Independent Publisher of the Year Award at the Bookseller Industry Awards in 2011 and 2014, to name just a couple). One of the desks looked imperiously bare, with minimal stationery on one side. This was the editorial tasks desk – when you’re working through a comparison of two sets of unwieldy proofs, you need all the space you can get.

I spent a good deal of time at this desk over my ten days at Bright Red, working up some valuable editorial experience. All of the professional work I’d undertaken previously had been electronic, so I was excited to get out my red fineliner and get a bit of practice with proofreading marks. One of my first tasks involved ‘translating’ the author’s notes into professional proofreading marks so that they made sense; another job involved making sure that all proofreading marks made by the freelance proofreader had been correctly implemented, and marking up any mistakes I found on the way. The whole process was thorough and painstaking, and all went toward ensuring the result was as high quality as you would expect an educational study guide to be.

I was also trusted with copyediting the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Higher PE portion of the Digital Zone – a task I was itching to get into, as it gave me a good degree of editorial freedom. I was set to smoothing out dozens of pages, and settled right into my editing bubble for two days, clutching a Bright Red style guide and dictionary.

I learned a lot from my time at Bright Red, covering far more than I could hope to cover here. I enjoyed it immensely, too. And only a small part of that was due to the free lunches.

Working on the N5 Accounting study guide

One week at Canongate Books


As an Italian expat and a Modern Languages graduate, it is safe to say I have a penchant for international literature, and a strong one at that. That, coupled with a deep fascination with the exactness of contracts, made me think that rights would be the most exciting department for me to work in.

Little did I know, when I made that decision, that I would have the chance to intern for one of the most successful Scottish publishers, and one of the biggest independent imprints in the UK: Canongate Books. With their variety of titles from around the world and their wonderful backlist, I jumped at the possibility to work with them for a week!

Having to fly back to Edinburgh from Italy in order to attend, the most challenging aspect was organising and scheduling the internship. Once this was settled, fear started to kick in: this is, after all, a majorly successful publishing house, and I was nervous that all the practice and hard work I had put into the course would still not be preparation enough for the challenges of a real-life publisher.

Luckily, these proved to be mere fears, as the whole team was very welcoming throughout my stay, and helped me understand their processes while giving me responsibilities: I had the chance to learn how to use Biblio, their title database, to input and process royalty statements, and to work very closely with contracts. It was a very positive work experience, as it gave me insights into the world I soon hope to enter.

As my Master’s degree approaches its end, this internship made me more confident of my career choices, while allowing me to meet a lot of lovely people.

Work experience at White Light Media

White Light Media logo

Since I moved to the UK from France, I have wanted to work on my design skills and my creativity. I started by being Art Directors for both Buzz magazine and my book project, A voyage to Arcturus. These experiences were greatly rewarding, but I wanted to gain more industry specific experience. This is the reason why I reached out to Eric Campbell, Managing Director of White Light Media and Creative Director of the magazine Hot Rum Cow and brilliant designer, whom I heard speak during the SYP Conference, Odyssey 2020, for a meeting, that turned into a 5-day work experience.

White Light Media is a design agency that launched in 2001. They have produced award-winning print and digital products for companies such as Standard Life, Tesco, London Wine Fair and Equiniti. They also launched their own well-written and beautifully designed magazine, Hot Rum Cow in 2012.

It was a bit nerve-wracking to come in into the agency, as this placement was very important to me. But, as I could have expected, the White Light Media team was very welcoming and I was a bit more at ease by the end of the day.

I was given a chance right from the beginning to think about what I wanted to do with my placement and we were able to tick off every task on that list. Interning at White Light Media showed me that design was what I wanted to do and that, with a little more training and experience, I could do it. 

Just found some photos of past Burns Night!

Working in Publishing means you can always find a task that’s a little more fun to do. It’s the same with teaching Publishing. While marking is splendid fun (!), it’s good to have a distraction and at such times even tidying files can be appealing… While sifting through some folders on my desktop, I found some lovely photos from a Burns Night we held with students and our industry partners in 2013.


(Back to marking!)

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Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word

TwoCoversAs a student new to the publishing industry at the beginning of the course, formerly a psychology graduate, the publishing placement was one I was avidly looking forward to. Desperately divided between my love of books and magazines, I chose new magazine Four Letter Word as the placement to be. Four Letter Word is a magazine that discusses what it is to be human in the 21st century, looking at gender, transhumanism and augmented living (e.g. technology’s impact on our conceptions of being human), food, fashion, arts and culture. It celebrates gender and sexual diversity, and nothing quite like it exists in the magazine market right now. As students on the course last year, the women behind theFLW are proof that the course works, so of course I wanted to learn from them. As a company dedicated to celebrating diversity, and magazine design that kills, this was the company for me. Continue reading “Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word”

Interning With Four Letter Word

When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

TwoCoversDuring the second trimester of my MSc Magazine Publishing course, the creators of new Four Letter Word came to speak at Edinburgh Napier. When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

Before coming to Edinburgh Napier University to pursue my MSc in magazine publishing, I worked as an associate editor for a B2B publishing company in the United States. Prior to that, I did several internships at various consumer and trade publishing companies. They all had one thing in common – that was that they had been in business for decades.

There are lots of pros to being with a longstanding, established company, of course, of which I won’t go into detail.

But the defined structure that exists and helps a company to thrive also presents a few challenges for a newcomer. Continue reading “Interning With Four Letter Word”