Meet our PhD research students – Helen

HSW ID photo 001Helen Williams is currently undertaking PhD research on Scotland’s regional print economy in the nineteenth century, investigating aspects of the circulation of personnel and knowledge across Scottish print union networks in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at Edinburgh Napier University’s Scottish Centre for the Book.

Helen is the Secretary of the Scottish Printing Archival Trust, and was the Programme Manager for the celebrations of ‘500 years of printing in Scotland’ in 2008.

She holds a Masters degree in Librarianship and has worked for the London Library, the British Library and the National Library of Scotland.

As part of her research, Helen recently attended the annual meeting of the Bibliographical Society of Canada / La Société bibliographique du Canada (as part of the Canadian Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences), at the University of Calgary). Helen also attended the Moore Institute at the National University of Ireland in Galway for the much smaller 2016 Print Networks Conference.

Watch this space for her reports on both.

Small but mighty: Work Placement at Freight Books

Freight Books is an award-winning independent publisher, founded by Adrian Searle as an offshoot of sister-company Freight Design. The company focuses on championing Scottish literary talent, both in their published titles and Gutter, a literary magazine of new Scottish writing. There were a lot of reasons I was determined experience working at freight; the quality of their fiction and non-fiction titles, the opportunity to contribute in a small way to a publisher based in my own city, and of course, their notoriously cute office dog, Archie.

I’d originally hoped to have the opportunity to work within the design department of Freight Books but after discussion with my supervisor, Laura Waddell, my placement was tailored more towards the marketing side of the business. This ended up being hugely interesting, as I got to witness first hand the resourcefulness that goes into marketing a range of very different titles effectively without the marketing budget of a major publisher.

Much of the marketing strategy for the titles I worked with focused on identifying interesting opportunities for creating content for relevant media so my research tasks involved such varied subjects as: L’Eroica communities, feminist online media, crime fiction book blogs and luxury travel sites. I also worked on publicising events like the Celtic: Keeping the Faith relaunch by exploring existing fansites and forums to reach an audience that may not already be engaged with Freight’s existing social media. I even got to indulge my interest in design by developing some social media graphics for a couple of upcoming titles.

Most of my most recent experience has occurred within a graphic-novel specific publisher, so it was really useful to go outside my comfort zone and gain some perspective from a very different publishing culture. I’m just diving into my post-postgraduate job search and it the seemingly inevitable pull of London can be disheartening but my 6 weeks at Freight have only reinforced my excitement about independent Scottish publishing, and my desire to be part of it.


Do you know anyone who is unemployed and from the UK book industry? We are sponsoring new workshop!

HOW TO JOB SEARCH IN BOOK PUBLISHING (Edinburgh) and The Book Trade Charity BTBS will be bringing their popular “How to Job Search in Book Publishing” course to Edinburgh, thanks to the support of Publishing Scotland and the MSc Publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

If you are unemployed* and meet the requirements your place will be sponsored.

“How to Job Search in Book Publishing” covers all aspects of job hunting – from writing a CV and covering letter that publishers want to read to where jobs are advertised, interviews, branding, social media, and everything else you ever wanted to know.

It takes a comprehensive look at all things job hunting and employment and even the most experience job-hunter is likely to learn something new. Previous candidates have described this course as “The best help ever!”. A number of long-term unemployed have already attended this course and secured new employment in a matter of weeks; they informed us that this course was instrumental in them getting a new role.

To apply for a sponsored place:
– You must be currently unemployed and have been job hunting in book publishing
– Completed a Masters or First Degree in Publishing in the UK in 2015 or earlier
– Worked in the UK book industry (publishing, bookselling, distribution) for at least 6 months, whether one employer of through a variety of freelance work or internships

NOTE: We will look at all applications on a case by case basis. All sponsorship is at our discretion. Our aim is to help the most relevant candidates first, in particular those who have experienced redundancy and been unable to find new employment, but we will be more likely to accept people than turn people away if they’ve already got some publishing experience. 

We will consider Publishing students from 2016 and those with less than 6 months experience if we have spaces available, but our priority are those who have been unemployed for a while and who are committed to a career in the book industry.

We also may have places for sale available for those who are currently employed elsewhere and who wish to receive this training, again priority will be for our core unemployed.

*unemployed = people not in regular work. An internship is not regular work. Someone whose contract is coming to an end is not in regular work. A freelancer who doesn’t have enough work is not in regular work. If you are employed and on a low income, sponsorship may be available for you too. Please apply and let Bookcareers make the decision.

To apply for a place please email your CV and a recent covering letter in respect of a job application to Suzanne Collier at


Marketing on the Mile: Interning at Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity promoting books, reading and writing to the people of Scotland and I was thrilled to secure a two-week placement with their Marketing and Communications team. Hidden just off the Royal Mile, Scottish Book Trust operates from the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Being there in August, the streets were flooded with crowds and activity but down Trunks Close, Scottish Book Trust drives on as normal, promoting their campaigns such as Bookbug, Read Write Count and Book Week Scotland.

I was looking to gain some experience with PR and communications within the arts industries and my placement certainly delivered. I worked with the team on contributing to the development of pro14139347_10210190387653231_271968437_omotional material. The Edinburgh Book Festival was in full swing and so the team were filming author interviews for their website. On my second day, I was entrusted with taking part in interviewing comedian and author, Susan Calman: a fantastic opportunity and my first experience of the press area in Charlotte Square. I also transcribed the interview videos of lots of brilliant authors, which has added lots of books to my ‘to read’ list. I took part in contacting bookshops about this year’s Book Week Scotland campaign, encouraging them to provide book recommendations.

Not only did I gain lots of industry knowledge and new skills at Scottish Book Trust, but also thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The whole team were absolutely lovely and couldn’t have been more welcoming. And yes, of course there was tea. And cake.

Find out more about the brilliant work of Scottish Book Trust here.

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.