SYP Scotland Copywriting Workshop at Canongate, November 2018

It may be February now, and this blog post might be coming a little bit late but if you can, cast your mind back to last November. It’s cold and blustery on the Royal Mile but down a wee alcove lies Canongate Books, a safe haven waiting to welcome you in. Thanks to the generosity of SYP Scotland as well as Canongate themselves, a few of us lucky individuals were able to go along to a Marketing and Advertising Workshop run by Vicki Watson, Head of Marketing. Jamie Norman, Co-Chair of SYP Scotland and Campaigns Executive for Canongate, was also sitting in, and welcomed us to the workshop at the beginning.

canongate
Canongate Books, Edinburgh

Vicki began by defining copywriting, exploring the different kinds required when targeting different audiences. She talked about the importance of tailoring what is written and how it is written to the product, the audience and the company.

We were then asked to evaluate blurbs and talk about why they worked or didn’t. Our own attempts at writing a blurb for a book of our choice were read out and discussed by the group. Luckily, it was a really supportive atmosphere filled with people who were not reluctant to speak up but also listened to the contributions of those around them.

Vicki talked about her time at VINTAGE in London before coming to Edinburgh and working for Canongate, and talked us through billboards, tube posters and other marketing campaigns she produced. The choices that shaped and connected the campaigns for Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet were explained in detail. The evolution of Robert Webb’s How Not to Be a Boy was used as a case study example of when marketing changes between hardback and paperback editions, with the cover, blurb and campaign being tailored to the new way of selling the book. 

When the workshop finished, I left feeling a lot more clear on what copywriting entails and how to make sure every word counts, as well as gaining a more general insight into marketing books successfully and creatively. It was such a helpful and informative evening in a lovely building with supportive people. I wanted to say (a very belated!) thank you to Vicki, Jamie, SYP Scotland and Canongate Books for the opportunity!

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An Evening with Jason Reynolds and Kayus Bankole

Cover of "For Every One"On November 27, I was able to attend an event hosted by 404 Ink at the Scottish Poetry Library, where author Jason Reynolds was interviewed by local musician Kayus Bankole.

The topic of conversation was Reynold’s most recent publication with 404 Ink, For Every One. With purchase of a ticket to this event, everyone got a copy of the book to take home with them, and some wine, which was wonderful (who doesn’t love free books and wine?).

The night was overall just an enjoyable and inspirational time. Reynolds and Bankole covered For Every One, what it is like to be a dreamer, honesty, and politics, somehow fitting it all into two hours. It also provided an interesting insight into publishing from the perspective of an author, and how publishers work with artists to make dreams come true. Here are the highlights of the night!

For Every One is a letter that Reynolds wrote about being a dreamer, what that feels like, and the unknown of success. Anyone who has ever had a dream that they were reaching to achieve, creative or not, will be able to relate to the beautiful poem he has created. Continue reading “An Evening with Jason Reynolds and Kayus Bankole”

Train Strikes and Penguin Random House’s Job Hack Event

It was an early 5:00 a.m. start (and probably the only time I was excited for my alarm to go off so early) as I eagerly boarded my train for my trip to Penguin Random House’s JobHack event in Blackpool (thankfully avoiding any strikes or delays!). I had been excitedly awaiting this day since I received an email saying I had been selected to join the event back in October.

On arrival everyone from the PRH team was so friendly and, after a quick registration, the day began. img_3603We started with an ice breaker called Human Bingo to diffuse any awkwardness and to get to know each other before diving into our first activity. Here, we had to organise the chain of events involved from the acquisition of book to its publication and the steps in between and, wow, there were even more than I had realised from classes.  

Our first main workshop on a specific role was in Editorial given by Sharan an Editor in the Children’s team. In her talk she really broke down her role into three key tasks: acquire, edit, and publish. Continue reading “Train Strikes and Penguin Random House’s Job Hack Event”

Starting the Network

Networking…

The dreaded term that instils an immediate sense of unease… While chatting to like-minded people may seem like the easiest thing in the world, the actuality of approaching someone unknown and introducing yourself is nothing less than daunting. Is it the age-old fear of rejection? The inadequacy of being surrounded by successful people in the industry? Or perhaps just the general anxiety at the thought of making conversation with a stranger. My first encounter with networking was to be at Magfest 2018, the international magazine festival held in Edinburgh. As one of the first publishing events I had ever attended, I was filled with equal parts excitement at learning more about the magazine industry and apprehension at meeting new people and networking.

magfest panel
Magfest panel

Thankfully I wasn’t going it alone, many of my new publishing class would be at Magfest which served as a relief – we always had each other. While our aim was to branch out and make publishing contacts, it was also nice to get to know our cohort. Looking around my new classmates, I suddenly realised we were already making contacts. As the new age of emerging publishers, we were important assets to each other. We are (hopefully) going to be successful components of the publishing industry so the networks (and friendships) we make now are just as significant as those all-important industry contacts. I had started networking and I hadn’t even realised it. Continue reading “Starting the Network”

‘The Minute You Play It Safe, You’re Done’ – MagFest 2018

MagFest 2018 is the biggest (and arguably, the best) magazine festival in Scotland and acted as the first main event on the postgraduate publishing calendar. If I’m speaking honestly, I haven’t read a magazine since Mizz and Blush circa 2003. However, after a talk from Laura Dunlop, who came into university to tell us about the event, I was really excited for MagFest and the opportunity to learn about this area of the publishing industry that I have never before explored.

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I made it to Central Hall in Edinburgh bright and early for registration and the atmosphere was already buzzing. I was worried about looking out of place but I soon found some familiar faces from the course and, after a much-needed caffeine hit, I was ready for the day. The schedule was broken down into different talks and Q&As held in the main hall. Throughout the day we heard from some very prominent figures in the publishing industry as well as many new, up-and-coming publishers which was great to see. The theme of the day was ‘Ideas Factory’ and many of the keynote speakers touched upon what some might call the ‘uncertain future’ of magazine publishing. It was encouraging to hear that, despite differing opinions, everyone felt optimistic and committed to working harder towards maintaining the future of the industry. Continue reading “‘The Minute You Play It Safe, You’re Done’ – MagFest 2018”

Welcome, Class of 2018/19! (Be prepared to work hard, with laughs along the way…)

This is a lovely time of year when we have two cohorts of students!

We have our current class of 2017/18, who have just completed their dissertation (and no doubt breathed a huge sigh of relief), and our new class of 2018/19, who are about to join us in September!

For our current students – here are some photos to remind you of the good times.

For our incoming students – be prepared to work hard but, as with any good publishing career, be assured that there will also be many laughs along the way!

We hope you all – current and new – enjoy your time with us!

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