Nine Days at Luath Press

Walking up the Royal Mile on the first morning of my placement at Luath Press, I had a dreadful feeling that I’d forgotten everything I know about publishing. Would I have to bluff my way through the next two weeks? Would I be exposed as a clueless fraud? Turns out I didn’t need to worry…

The first thing I learnt was how unfit I am, and after walking up what felt like hundreds of stairs, I found myself sitting breathless in Luath’s office, learning all about the company’s history from director Gavin MacDougall. It was a relief to find another student starting work experience at the same time, and we were each given a very helpful checklist of tasks we were likely to complete during our time. As Luath host work placements regularly, they were well prepared, and reading through the list I was excited to complete a range of marketing, publicity, and editorial tasks.

DSC_0706
A sunny walk up to Luath

 

During my nine days at Luath, I got the opportunity to see how a small team work so hard on multiple books at once. Everyone always seemed so busy, and there was always work to be done. I had the chance to work on so much, from drafting marketing plans, AI sheets and press releases, to putting together a newsletter, to creating events posters and invites. Some of this felt familiar to me, and some of this was completely new, but with access to the shared drive, featuring Luath’s super extensive Wiki, and templates for pretty much everything, getting down to work was made fast and easy. The feeling that I would be out of my depth soon faded.

Of course, there were challenges – they’re part of the experience. The placement wouldn’t have been very fulfilling without them. So, when I was given a draft of an upcoming book, Scottish Parliament at Twenty, to proofread and suggest changes to, I immediately thought, ‘I can’t do that!!!’ I could certainly look for typing errors, etc., but could I really form an opinion on this strange text that I was to quickly read through? Could I really suggest which areas weren’t working? What right did I have, as a humble intern, to advise some chapters didn’t seem to have a point? Being a bit unsure when it comes to sharing opinions, I felt the fear and did it anyway. And I was happy to see that the team were genuinely grateful for the time I spent looking at it.

A highlight was spending a day working in the back office of Main Point Books with Jennie, who is responsible for Luath’s typesetting. Finally, a chance to show off my InDesign skills! Depending on your outlook, typesetting can either be stressful and frustrating, OR it can be a fun, active task, filled with problems waiting to be solved. Working on the upcoming Mollycoddling the Feckless, I discovered how much I enjoy stress and problem-solving, and I was happy to have been given the opportunity to exercise my logic (and share more opinions, which by now I had become much braver doing).

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the placement came to an end. I had an interesting, educational two weeks, and I’m pleased to report there was no bluffing involved.

Check out Luath’s wide range of fiction, history, politics and travel guides on their website!

Advertisements

Publishing Others

You’re going to need a bit of backstory to get through this post.

When I was fifteen years old, I was selected to be in a “young writers” program back in Spain. This program taught us, kids from ages 9 to 20, a series of writing techniques and an introduction to poetry and all the necessary tools to one day become writers. The lessons were taught by some brilliant authors like Fernando Iwasaki, Pablo García Casado, Eduardo García and Rosa Montero, who made us write stuff and then read it aloud in class. That’s how I got to know what my friends were writing, and how many different voices fit in a classroom. The Andalusian School for Young New Writers made me realize that although I liked writing, what I really wanted was to get those voices to the public. And thus, when the journalists came to air a piece on us, I claimed on national TV that what I truly wanted was to be an editor and to publish all the people who deserved to be heard.

That philosophy has stayed with me and it’s what made me start this MSc in Publishing. After all the lessons and seminars and different events, I can understand a lot better how publishing works and how marketing, design, editorial and all other components are parts of a whole: an industry that makes money out of IP and that has strategy and numbers and an awful amount of both math and uncertainty of what the future brings. But underneath all that I saw echoed what my fifteen-year-old self thought publishing was – how what truly matters, in the end, is to bring stories and voices to people everywhere. Continue reading “Publishing Others”

London, The Spare Room Project, and Me

The Spare Room Project offers people from outside London who want to do an internship the chance of having a place to stay free of charge for some or all of their time there. To make it even more appealing the people who offer to host work in the publishing industry themselves. It aims to ease the financial barriers that people outside of London may be faced with when taking up an internship opportunity in London, the hub of publishing in the UK.

After not having much luck with finding a placement locally in Edinburgh I turned my sights to London. Countless emails, cover letters, and CVs were sent across every publishing house I could find and just as my hope dwindled Abrams & Chronicle offered me a two-week internship in their marketing and publicity department. After my “OMG YES YES YES” email, only slightly more formal the reality set in. Pound signs flashed before my eyes like I was a cartoon character, as I did my research. Accommodation, food, train to London, the Tube all began piling their costs on my calculator. As the numbers inflated so did my panic. I needed this placement. I needed to gain industry experience. It was my chance to test out my skills from my MSc and to really experience publishing first hand.

Knowing I’d probably left it too late, I applied to the Spare Room Project on a whim thinking I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I continued to scour websites trying to find a hostel that was reasonably priced, had no bed bugs, and passably clean toilets – more of a struggle than I ever really wanted to know.

Just as hope dwindled, an email notification dinged early one morning. It floated into my inbox titled “Spare Room Introductions” and I about squealed with joy. Someone was willing to host me for my first week of placement. Suddenly the pound signs and panic deflated at the prospect of only needing to secure accommodation for a week. But then the unbelievable happened! About a week from my start date, another email titled “Spare Room Introductions” landed in my inbox. I now had somewhere to stay for my second week of placement! It felt too good to be true, suddenly the hundreds of pounds I needed for accommodation were a distant memory, floating out of sight.

My first week I was placed out in Totteridge and Whetstone. It was about an hour commute into Abrams & Chronicle but that meant I could grab some early morning reading, never a negative! I was staying with a lovely family and their two cats. They made me feel so welcome from the moment I arrived, they invited me to join them for dinner every night and again for breakfast. It was so wonderful to know that I wasn’t alone in a hostel eating by myself every night. Instead I had conversation, laughter and amazing home-cooked meals to look forward to every night.

My second week I was transported to the complete opposite side of London over near Stratford. New Tube line and new area to discover. This time, I stayed with a young couple in their amazing newly renovated house, and first time hosters for The Spare Room Project. Once again, I was welcomed with open arms, warm meals, friendly conversations, and invitations to join them in their Netflix watching. What more could a newbie to London hope for? I loved getting to peek inside the world of audiobooks at Penguin Random House from listening to my host and learning something that didn’t come up during my classes.

Without The Spare Room Project I don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of my placement. I know if I had been living in a hostel with the constant reminder of pound signs flashing in my head every day, it would have caused constant anxiety and stress. Instead, it allowed me to put all my energy into learning and enjoying my placement and make connections in London as well as the publishing world.

Before I sign off, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to everyone who works on the Spare Room Project to help people like me from outside London have a viable option of completing a placement. As well, a huge thank you to both of my hosts who were so welcoming and generous enough to allow me to stay, and to Abrams & Chronicle for giving me such a great first-hand introduction to the publishing industry. It is such a fantastic initiative and I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it, it made such a huge difference to my everyday life and perception of London and the publishing industry. So please make sure you sign up whether as a host and help someone out!

 

Year of Conversation, Start with a Day

Together with @ayearofconversation2019 (and their Creative Director Tom Pow) we have been awarded funding to organise events around ‘Culture of Encounter: Creative Community Conversations’.

Working with Scottish Book Trust, the University of St Andrews, the University of Glasgow and the University of the West of Scotland, our project will raise awareness of the value of reading to help us understand ourselves more and enhance connection with others.

Look out for details of events soon.

Meantime, why not take time out to talk this weekend.
Saturday 11 May 2019 is ‘A Day of Conversation’.
Find out what’s on and how to get involved: https://www.ayearofconversation.com/whats-on
#AYOC2019

Find out more:

https://www.ayearofconversation.com/

A Year Of Conversation For Scotland

Scotland launches A Year of Conversation

London Book Fair and the Publishing Trends in 2018 and 2019

When I first entered the London Book Fair, I got a mixed feeling of excitement and stress. The place was huge, and there were so many exciting things to see that I felt overwhelmed at first. After making sense of the Olympia (and that took me most of the first day), I started to enjoy everything that the Fair had to offer both as a Publishing student and as a reader.

photo.jpg
London Book Fair as seen from the first floor

Even though I spent most of my time in the Fair stuck in the Literary Translation Centre, listening to many inspiring translators and publishers about the day-to-day business of bringing books from all over the world to the UK, I had time to rush to the first floor of the Olympia and listen to one of the most interesting talks of the Fair, and this article will be about that particular talk, which I think is very interesting for both students and publishers as it is about something that, whether we like it or not, we have to deal with: Continue reading “London Book Fair and the Publishing Trends in 2018 and 2019”

Discovering the World of Rights

A few months before coming to Edinburgh, I had my first experience with the publishing industry in Mexico. I happen to know a young writer whose first novel was about to be published, and luckily for me he let me help in the process. One of the main things I noticed after reading the manuscript, was its intertextual quality. To create the rhythm of his writing, he constantly quotes other authors, poets and philosophers. As a consequence, the book is full of ‘hidden’ references, only noticeable because they were set in italics. As stated by the author, his intention was precisely that the identity of his own words and the ones borrowed became blurry by not mentioning any sources within the text nor in any reference list. At that time, we weren’t aware of any copyright norms, other than the academic way of referencing. Of course, we understood the importance to give the appropriate credit to IP, nevertheless the editor didn’t mention any copyright issues. Actually, he told the author that referencing to the original texts was optional and that no further action was required.

Fast-forward to the present and I’m halfway through the MSc Publishing course. During the last few months I’ve been able to learn about the different areas of the publishing industry, one of them being rights management and acquisition. Learning about rights in publishing was overwhelming, since I never imagined it to be such a complex and exploitable area. Continue reading “Discovering the World of Rights”

The Challenges of Creating a Magazine

If someone told me that I would be making a magazine a year back, I wouldn’t believe it. And here I am, almost completing a literary magazine that has been both enriching and a delight to create.

When our course leaders informed us about creating a book or a magazine as part of our module this semester, I immediately decided to do a magazine. I always have loved reading visually appealing magazines designed to perfection. Though I decided to do a magazine, it was not long when a train of self-doubting thoughts troubled me. Questions like – Where will I find writers for my magazine? What about the design? The content? Will anyone be interested in my magazine? I felt overwhelmed.

I spoke to Nikki Simpson, Founder & Director of the International Magazine Centre and a die-hard fan of magazines herself, who encouraged me to take the leap. It is amazing to see how complex aBold Cover Designn idea may look in your mind but when you start working on it, you somehow put together different elements piece by piece, completing an entire project.

My first obstacle was to understand the objective of making a magazine and for what kind of a reader. My ideas kept changing multiple times until I finally found one after researching and talking with various people who have published or worked with a magazine. Creating the cover design and researching the USP’s for my magazine as assessment one coursework helped me immensely in visualising how to proceed with internal pages.

But wait. How do I approach people for submissions? My way of approaching may not be a comfortable one, but it indeed gave me an opportunity to connect with strangers online. Continue reading “The Challenges of Creating a Magazine”