Nielsen Seminar comes to Scotland!

Nielsen Book is hosting a Publishing Seminar in Edinburgh at Edinburgh Napier’s Craiglockhart Campus.

Working with Publishing Scotland, MSc Publishing is delighted to host this event and to support our students and publishers by sponsoring free places.

Nielsen is a leading global information & measurement company, providing market research, insights and data about what people watch, listen to & buy. They are an essential part of the publishing industry. (@nielsenbook)

This is a must attend event for any publisher who wants to learn more about Nielsen’s services and how they can help ensure your books are widely available and easy to discover!

View the agenda here:

This is a ‘Free Event’, but you do need to book in advance to reserve your place as space is limited.

A light lunch will be provided for delegates.

We are delighted to host this event – the first of its kind in Scotland!


Editorial at JPAAP

I started my first day with JPAAP without any clear idea of what goes on behind the curtains of academic publishing. I will shamefully admit to having been too tempted by the glamourous fiction market to have spent much time thinking about academia.

All I knew was that I was going to be working in the editorial team as a proofreader/copyeditor on their next issue. So, on my first day I took the lift up to the seventh floor feeling slightly intimidated by the thought of being a not-even-graduated student having to proofread the works of wise old men.


Kirsteen met me and my fellow student on placement and gave us a brief but thorough introduction on the project, introduced us to the staff and showed us where the tea and cookies could be found.

The next issue’s topic was Student Transitions, such as: transition between different levels of education, in to education and out of it, as well as international transitions, and the challenges these transitions bring. Safe to say it is a topic I am familiar with and have opinions on; making the editorial process interesting and interactive, both as a student reading and as an copyeditor. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variation of papers, from theory based articles to opinion pieces and ‘On the Horizon’ papers, which report on emerging projects and emerging work.

I also got a small taste of html and Dreamweaver before I finished, something I’ve worked with before, but definitely needed a little reminder of.

Not only has the placement helped me enhance my skills in editorial, it has also given me a confidence boost for when I start looking at my dissertation’s bibliography. When I sit down to work on my own reference list and bibliography, I will be chanting: Even professors make mistakes!

Thank you to Kirsteen Wright for making me feel so welcome and for the chocolates I got on my last day! (They were delicious!)



You can find the issue here on JPAAP’s webpage.

Tonje H.

Twitter: @tonjehefte
Instagram: tihefte

My Placement with JPAAP

PrintFor the last few weeks I have been on placement with JPAAP – the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, based at Edinburgh Napier’s Sighthill campus – which “aims to provide a supportive publishing outlet to allow established and particularly new authors to contribute to the scholarly discourse of academic practice.” The online journal publishes several issues a year, and the May/June issue I worked on had a special focus on student transitions, discussing topics such as: transitions from high school, college, or full-time work to university; from undergraduate to postgraduate studies; from overseas education systems to UK higher education; and the re-adjustment faced by students returning to university degrees after mandatory long-term work placements or internships.

I have long had an interest in academic publishing, which, together with my desire to focus on my editorial skills this year, meant I was delighted to secure the placement with JPAAP, but without knowing exactly what to expect. It proved to be an excellent learning experience however, providing first-hand industry experience, considerable editorial practice, a lot of learning and a great environment to work in. Journal Manager Kirsteen Wright was extremely supportive and made sure myself and the other intern were made welcome, and always felt challenged by the work but never overwhelmed.

My main responsibilities included proofreading and copyediting articles submitted to the journal, as well as dealing with layout and formatting to help get them ready for publication in both pdf and html formats. I also helped out with some administrative tasks, such as conducting surveys and emailing contributors and reviewers, and also sat in on Kirsteen’s Skype meeting with students looking for information on how to set up their own academic journal. Armed with templates and house style guidelines, I worked extensively on Microsoft Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat, which I was already familiar with, and also did a lot of html coding on Dreamweaver, which was not something I had used previously but was great to get experience with. Kirsteen also introduced us to OJS, the Open Journal Systems that JPAAP uses to organise and publish its content, and showed us how to work and navigate it.

My placement with JPAAP gave me a chance to develop my editorial skills and offered an excellent overall grounding in the processes behind academic publishing; it was also fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the sort of journals that I have used to inform my thinking and coursework at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Not only did I learn a lot but it was also a genuinely nice environment to work in, so many thanks to Kirsteen for making us feel so welcome and giving us chocolates on the last day! I would highly recommend a work placement with JPAAP to anyone interested in academic publishing or editorial work in general.

Diversity, equality and representation in London Book Fair

Conspicuous by its absence – where was the LGBT+ representation in the 2017 programme?

When I went to London Book Fair (LBF), I thought long and hard about which talks I wanted to attend. I was determined to learn as much as possible in the time available, but that meant making every moment count. While attending talks I couldn’t network – and vice versa. So I needed to focus. I decided to target talks focusing on diversity above all else, while fitting in as much about children’s and YA, technological innovation, translation and fantasy as I could.

So what was on my shortlist for diversity? There was a wide range of talks to choose from, but due to timing constraints and moving swiftly from room to room between talks  I ended up with the following:

  • Religion – ‘Publishing for Muslims: Representing their Experience Authentically’
  • Race and ethnicity – ‘Megaphone: Introducing New Voices of Colour in Children’s and Teen Literature’
  • Different approaches to literacy levels, education and technology in other countries – ‘Leveraging Mobile Technology for Early Childhood Development’ and ‘Digital Nation: Beyond the Book in Indonesia’ and ‘Experience from Poland: Children’s Books and Educational Learning Resources Supported with Technology’
  • Disability and accessibility – ‘Creating an Inclusive Bookshop’ and ‘Making Books Accessible: Collaboration between the Publishing Industry and the Accessibility Community’
  • Female representation – ‘An Equal Share: Women’s Writing from Poland’
  • LGBT+ representationer… well, surely there must be something… did I miss it?

As far as I could tell, nothing in the programme featured any keywords indicative of LGBT+ themes or issues, and the few ambiguous titles that I looked into turned out to have nothing to do with this either. Perhaps some of the talks I didn’t have chance to attend may have touched on LGBT+ matters, but none of them appear to have been advertised as doing so. This is a serious omission and one that I hope will be rectified in future.

Now, it’s important to note that LBF recently started a whole conference titled ‘Building Inclusivity in Publishing’, and its programme for the inaugural conference in November 2016 contained ‘Make You Think Snapshot’, a talk by Stonewall‘s Joey Hambidge on LGBT+ inclusion. Clearly they’re willing to start conversations about LGBT+ representation and inclusion in publishing… but more needs to be done.

One can argue that it’s not enough to just put a single talk on offer in the dedicated inclusivity conference. Aiming for coverage within LBF itself will have more impact, since the event is so huge. On the official website, LBF is described as “the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels”, where “more than 25,000 publishing professionals arrive in London for the week of the show to learn, network and kick off their year of business”. That’s a huge potential audience that could benefit from talks about LGBT+ representation and inclusion… And clearly the programme is built to take advantage of this for other areas of diversity, so the people who organise it must be aware of the power they hold to raise awareness and generate discussion.

If there isn’t increased visibility and awareness-raising discussion going on during LBF itself, how are the kinds of people who most need to learn about this going to have it brought to their attention? Going to a conference about inclusivity is a deliberate effort to become more aware of relevant issues – it implies a willingness, or even determination, to learn and adapt one’s best practice accordingly. As such, it’s more likely to attract people such as myself, who already take an active interest in diversity, equality and representation within media. For someone who’s comfortably ensconced in their mindset of ‘oh, that’s nothing to do with me – it’s not my problem’, or worse, in a more bigoted mindset, it’s less likely they would invest the time and money to travel to a conference that they feel has little or nothing to offer them. And it is people such as this that are complicit in maintaining the status quo of inadequate representation, or even deliberate lack of any representation, in mainstream media. It is people such as this who we need to get into conversations about why accurate, adequate and respectful representation is important if we want to change the culture both in publishing and beyond.

So how could we reach them? Well, I would suggest that adding clearly marked LGBT+ talks to the LBF programme would be a good way to start. It would signal that this is ‘important enough’ to be discussed in a huge event such as LBF. Furthermore, it would be taking place in an event that very high-ranking professionals with limited time are likely to attend for their own commercial gain, rather than simply turning up out of a sense of altruism or curiosity. This is almost certainly a different audience from those who choose to attend a conference on inclusivity – though of course there’s likely to be some overlap, as LBF is such a major event that it’s highly likely to attract the attendees of the inclusivity conference it helped to deliver. If LBF could deliver content to make publishing professionals at every level think more about the current state of LGBT+ representation in media, surely this could help to build a culture within the industry where more people would be willing to speak out in favour of equal treatment for LGBT+ individuals, both in the workplace and in the content we publish.

At the time of writing, LBF has not yet released its programme for the 2018 conference’s talks. Let’s hope that this year there will be something to address diversity, equality and representation regarding LGBT+ people.

Work experience at Luath Press

Luath Press – learning about marketing, editorial work and the importance of day-to-day tasks in a small publishing house.

After a space opened up on the Luath Press waiting list at short notice, I found myself preparing to go on placement a few days later. I was delighted to get the opportunity to see what Luath Press was like for myself, since a friend of mine had really enjoyed a placement with them a while beforehand. When she showed me the A4 checklist of varied tasks that the team gives to people on work experience, I became determined to apply for a placement with them and experience it first-hand. Over the course of my two weeks at Luath Press, there was certainly a lot to do.

I had no previous experience with marketing, but they encouraged me to build up my skills by drafting blurbs and AI sheets for books they were working on. I also found myself researching hiking groups around Scotland and ceilidh dancing groups worldwide to create spreadsheets of their contact details, since they would be potential target markets for niche books. In addition, I faced the somewhat daunting task of calling up a popular TV programme about the UK countryside to ask whether we could get some coverage for a relevant non-fiction book – it turned out that, although it took me a while to get connected to the right person, they were very friendly and helpful once I had explained why I was calling. Initially I was surprised that someone so important and high-profile was willing to listen to the request, but it really boosted my confidence to realise that such ambitious marketing strategies might actually pay off. (Besides, the worst that could have happened was that they’d say ‘no’, losing less than 20 minutes of my time. Definitely worth the effort to try!)

I also read, assessed and wrote a brief report about an unsolicited manuscript. This was a task I was familiar with from previous work experience, but the oddity of the manuscript I read really made an impression on me. It wasn’t so much the quirky content as the fact that the author had seriously mistaken which genre it fell into, so their cover letter felt completely mismatched with the story itself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good match for Luath’s list and it would have required far too much editorial work to be viable. This was my first experience of being involved in the rejection process. I was surprised by the use of standardised rejection letters at first, since I wondered how any author was supposed to improve their work or select more appropriate publishers to target without constructive feedback. However, it was explained to me that many authors would only be upset or offended if we gave them more details about the reasons for rejection, or would get the impression that it was now a dialogue which they could persuade the publishers to change their mind about – which would only be a drain on the publishers’ time and give a negative impression to the authors in question. I’m still not sure that I agree with the use of standardised rejection letters, but I can appreciate that the issue could get very complex if personalised ones were used.

As a word of advice to anyone considering going on placement there: Luath Press is great, but since it’s just off the Royal Mile there is a tendency for nearby bagpipe music to reach the office, so consider bringing headphones with you. I found that doing so let me focus a lot better on my work, but I really wish I’d known to bring them on my first day!

There were also more mundane tasks, such as carrying boxes of books downstairs, filling envelopes for mailouts, answering the telephone and even taking a sack of mail to the Post Office. I also volunteered to fetch a handful of display books from a different part of the city, which was certainly no hardship on a glorious sunny day – and better still, I was saving Luath’s actual employees a trip, enabling them to get on with more urgent tasks. All these little things highlighted the realities of being a small team with limited time and lots of physical books and mail to move between locations. It demonstrated the positive attitude and teamwork of everyone involved as they stepped away from their desks and usual workloads to ensure that the practical side of things was also handled smoothly and efficiently.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Luath Press. My colleagues (including another person on work experience) were all very friendly and supportive, helping me feel like part of the team in no time. They took care to get me as wide a range of tasks as possible during the time I was there (including meeting an author and editing his manuscript from start to finish) and the two weeks seemed to fly by.

Nerdism, Escapism and Low-Quality Entertainment – A Fantasy Reader’s Foray Into the Publishing Industry

I’ve been a great admirer of the fantasy genre ever since my mother first read Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” to me back when I was still a wee bairn (as they say in this beautiful country).

Growing up, I had a lot of friends who shared my enthusiasm; not all of them identifying as “geeks” or “nerds”, who are often stereotypically associated with fantasy literature. While not everyone enjoyed those strange tales about magical objects, far away countries and foreign creatures, it was never something I felt the need to keep a secret. It was merely regarded a matter of literary preference or personal taste.

So when I walked into class on my very first day at uni (probably wearing a Lord of the Rings jumper or something of the kind), I was quite surprised to discover that being a recipient of fantasy literature was a seemingly shameful thing to be as a “serious” member of the publishing industry.
Words like “escapism” and “low-quality entertainment” were uttered by both my Book Studies peers as well as my tutors, and I quickly realised that most of them had never even read a fantasy novel.

Rather than continuing what seemed like a fruitless debate, I decided to choose an academic approach (this was uni after all, not a high school playground) and dedicated numerous term papers and essays to my cause.
Tolkien himself had addressed the issue in a number of academic papers such as his essay “On Fairy Stories”, which proved to be most insightful.

At the same time I began to wonder whether that view was specific to my course, or the German publishing industry in general.
Science Fiction and Fantasy literature makes up roughly 5,9% of the German book market (2014), which may not be a very impressive number, but is still the equivalent of several thousand new titles per annum – titles that have to be published by people who do not share the opinion of my Book Studies peers.

The question was: Where were they and where did they come from?

I decided to continue my research and found Frankfurt Book Fair to be one of the most peculiar events imaginable.

Unlike London Book Fair, it is open to the public and has become an annual gathering of CosPlay enthusiasts who use it to honour their favourite writers by dressing up as their beloved fictional characters – something I had always enjoyed doing myself.
But all of a sudden I found myself caught between two worlds: The grateful fan who came to honour the artist’s work vs. the Book Studies student who was on a mission to secure a job and gather relevant information.
The irony was – in a lot of ways it was a typical fantasy novel situation.
Choose to keep or destroy the ring. There was no middle way. All of a sudden I had to live in fear of Elric of Melniboné (one of my preferred costume choices) having an encounter with the editor of Rowohlt (one of the most renowned publishing companies out there). Or worse: a tutor.

When I moved to Edinburgh to study publishing, I was a lot more wary of people’s reactions and opinions, but to my great surprise they were a lot more open-minded. Whether this is due to the great success of Scottish works such as Harry Potter I do not know, but it filled me with hope.
I was also very much surprised to discover that quite a few talks at London Book Fair were dedicated to fantasy-related topics, and while the opening statement of the person giving the talk on “RPGs – The Quest for the Real Fantasy” (“I don’t really know anything about RPGs”) may not have been terribly encouraging, I am beginning to think that I may have finally found a place where I can be both – a publisher and a fantasy reader.


My work experience with Alban Books

An important part of our publishing degree is securing and conducting a placement with a company in the industry in order to gain hands-on experience. I was lucky enough to arrange six weeks of work experience with the Edinburgh-based distribution service, Alban Books. Initially wary of how I would juggle the placement alongside my studies, it ended up serving as a perfect accompaniment to the theoretical and design based work I was being introduced to during my course.

My own mentor for the six weeks, Elaine, kindly arranged a meeting with me at Waterstones to provide a quick brief of my on-going role as well as to answer any questions. This one to one chat beforehand, a much more relaxed version of an interview, allowed me to understand what was expected of me before I started. This open, helpful environment remained throughout the six weeks. It was a great comfort to know that I could ask advice regarding my course as well as well as the industry at any time.

Additionally, Elaine and the whole of the Alban team were very open to supporting my own learning by encouraging me to pick tasks that I had little experience of but wanted to master. For example, I was interested in the marketing aspects of publishing and wished to know more about how it’s carried out by different publishers. I was then given insight into how Alban conducted their own market research using online data.  Alban Books Pic

 What was great about my placement at Alban was the flexibility. I was given the chance to pick days that best accommodated my university schedule. Having my lectures and classes at the beginning of the week and then being able to inquire about what I had learned during placement hours was a perfect arrangement.

 As a newbie to the design aspects of publishing, having to create sales flyers at Alban alongside delving into the ways of InDesign in class provided me with a thorough and well-rounded understanding of a skill I had little experience of before my course began.

My placement at Alban Books proved informative and essential for my professional and personal development. It was also encouraging to be constantly surrounded by a supportive network of people. As previously expected, publishing is an industry full of helpful professionals on hand to offer advice at any time.  My time at Alban is still something that I reflect on during my studies, and I regularly apply the skills I inherited from it.