My Placement at EUP

‘I can confirm we would be happy to take you on for a two-week work experience placement’. I couldn’t believe it when I received Rebecca’s email: they had a free spot in June and they wanted me. I was finally going to do a placement at Edinburgh University Press. Scaring as it might seem, on the 4th of June I put on my brightest smile, took a deep breath, and started my first day. Little did I know that day that this would have been one of the most intense and formative experiences of my year here in Edinburgh as a publishing postgrad student. Should I tell all the things that I’ve done during my placement, two more weeks wouldn’t probably be enough. So, I’ve decided to list the highlights of my experience at EUP, a sort of a personal ‘best of’ of my internship.

 

Most rewarding achievement

I designed two promotional showcards that were meant to be shown at conferences. Given the time constraint – I had just a couple of hours to complete each one of them – I wasn’t really sure that the results would meet the marketing team’s expectations. To my surprise, not only did they like it, but also they decided to actually use them at the conferences.

 

Most surprising finding

Did you know you can work in Editorial and not have to edit, proofread, or copyedit? I did not know this…I’ve always thought that working in Editorial was all about commissioning, copy-editing, proof-reading, which was the reason why I’d never considered a career in this area in the UK – as a non-native speaker I thought I wouldn’t have any chance. As it turns out, some editorial positions do not require you having native speaker ability in English. As an Editorial Assistant, for example, you might find yourself mostly dealing with contracts, royalties and liaising with authors rather than copy-editing a manuscript. A brand new world was opening up to me, thanks to these wonderful people who explained to me how an Editorial department actually works.

 

Most challenging task

It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I had to push myself to the limits and accept challenging tasks, testing myself with things I did not feel comfortable doing – the famous ‘stepping out of the comfort zone’ which basically brought me here from Italy in the first place. But I knew it would be worth it.

All of the tasks I was asked to fulfil were stimulating and somehow challenging for me, but there was one in particular that made me think ‘Okay, that’s it! Call yourself out and reveal to everyone you’re not able to cope with it.’ That was when I was asked to create a copy for a postal subscription campaign. Despite being provided with several examples and access to the immense, resourceful internet, I couldn’t help but think I couldn’t make it. Turned out I can write copy, too! Okay, might not have been the most convincing and nicely written letter anyone’s ever done, don’t even know if they actually ended up using it, but I was happy enough to have at least completed the task! And yes, I’d do it again.

 

Most inspiring person

During these two weeks I’ve met people from different departments, had the opportunity to hear from them about their jobs and get advice for my career. They were all super professional, but also extremely friendly to me. I started making a list of the people to whom I’m mostly grateful and from whom I’ve learned more.

I have to mention Rebecca, first and foremost, Journal Publishing Assistant and my guide throughout the entire experience. But also: Kirsty and all the editorial team; Ian, Ann and the wonderful production people; Carla, Naomi and the funny guys at marketing; Sarah and everyone at the journal department.

To answer the question ‘Who’s the most inspiring person you met?” I would say that each one of them has been inspiring to me: they gave me different perspectives on the company and on the industry and shared their experience and knowledge. I believe the thing that made this experience valuable is what I would call “the human touch”: this opportunity I had to link on a professional and personal level with all these wonderful people, their openness, the passion they communicated for their jobs, their making sure I felt like part of the team, even if only for a short time.

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A Cracking Placement

From day one of the MSc Publishing course at Napier I knew that I wanted to try and get into the wonderful world of children’s publishing. Personally, I can’t think of a more vibrant and fun industry to work in, possibly swayed by the fact that I just adore children’s books. So, when my email and cv approaching Barrington Stoke about a placement was accepted, I was very excited to see how a children’s publisher operates.

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Barrington Stoke is an Edinburgh-based publisher that specialises in books for dyslexic children. They were set up in 1998 by Patience Thomson and Lucy Juckes, a mother and daughter-in-law team, who had personal experience with how reading difficulties can isolate a child. Spotting this gap in the market they set up Barrington Stoke with core objectives to publish books that were dyslexia friendly and inclusive for children with this reading disability. Another key aspect of their intentions was to publish well-known authors and illustrators so that the ‘super-readable’ books were similar to those being already published for the age group. With a unique easy-to-read font and an amazing array of authors and illustrators working on the books, Barrington Stoke has become a pioneering, award-winning company that has changed the children’s books industry for the better. They have a wonderful list of books encompassed in their impressive array of series, all that cater to children’s different abilities and interests.

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Don’t believe me? … check out this advert I designed for them!

I joined the team at Walker Street as a design intern. I went into the placement with an open mind and enthusiasm to try anything. I felt extremely fortunate to find a placement that was design based (as I have heard they are harder to come by) and was determined to make the most of the experience. I very quickly settled in having such a warm welcome from the lovely staff.

My daily tasks were varied, mainly revolving around design work. However, I was keen to do any job as I knew it would all feed into a well-rounded experience. My placement at Barrington Stoke has enhanced my design skills greatly, whilst adhering to quick turn arounds and a variety of briefs. I was working mainly in InDesign and Photoshop creating press releases, shareable graphics, blog banners, shelf slips, postcards, stickers, posters, showcards, review sheets and fliers … a huge array was entrusted to me.

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I have become a dab hand at press releases

I became familiar with their house style and extremely intimidating server (I had a map to find my way through the many folders) and I quickly developed a strong work system and relationship with Kirstin and Freya who would check my work and highlight changes to be made. I have learnt so many InDesign tricks and shortcuts that will stand in me in good stead for future work and now understand the different file types and specifications that are determined by the documents purpose. What I think has been most rewarding is seeing the work I have been producing being used – be it on the company’s social media pages and blog, by authors at events or being mailed out.

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A summer banner for their social media pages

Alongside the design work I have lended a hand where needed. I had the chance to do some database work, fair amounts of mailing (which I actually find oddly satisfying) and creating content and images for blog posts. Every single task I have undertaken has revealed so much to me about the industry and how a publisher is constantly working to get their books the recognition they deserve. One such book is their new title by Meg Rosoff, McTavish Goes Wild. This has become my personal favourite as I have grown rather fond of the little dog whilst making the various marketing material!

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A variety of marketing materials I designed for McTavish Goes Wild

I have had the most wonderful experience during my 10 day placement with Barrington Stoke. I have learnt an unbelievable amount and feel that I have a much deeper understanding of how a children’s publisher operates. The team at Barrington Stoke could not have been more welcoming and supportive and I am delighted to announce I will be continuing my work with them one day a week. I would like to thank all the staff for such an enjoyable placement and I look forward to what is to come!

 

All images are used with permission from Barrington Stoke.

Lizzie’s List of Postgrad Pointers

Recently I was contacted by someone possibly undertaking the MSc Publishing course later this year, looking for some answers and reassurance about what the course entails. I was immediately reminded of my own nerves prior to postgrad life, having had many of the same questions myself (but not taking the smart step of finding the answers, as this person has done). Whilst I’m one who’d only call themselves wise ironically, and definitely don’t have all the answers, perhaps this post will help relieve some stress, even if only for one person! Now, all aboard the train to Tip Town.

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Don’t panic (as any good hitchhiker will know).

Generally good advice for life, but especially on an MSc. Whether you’ve gone straight into an MSc from undergrad, or are returning to education after however many years, it can be a shock to the system with how it differs from what you’re used to – whether that be assessments, the level of independent study, etc. Don’t panic! The tutors on this course are happy to answer your questions, no matter how stupid the questions may seem to you. We’re all here to learn, and they’re here to teach us.

Help others, and let others help you.

The peer support throughout this course has been spectacular. At the beginning of the year someone set up a Facebook group for all of us to join, and it’s a great way to check if your small queries can be answered before emailing one of the tutors who are undoubtedly very busy. In class it’s also super handy – everyone has different experiences which lend varying skills, for example I used to be an English tutor and therefore have a keen eye for grammar and can glance over pieces of writing. Others have more technical experience, and can help in an InDesign or Photoshop crisis. Helping your pals as you go is also a great way to cement what you’re learning in your brain, and ensure that you’re remembering the new skills being taught.

Get online (or rather, get MORE online).

As mentioned in the previous point, Facebook is good for keeping in sync with your classmates. In terms of having a professional benefit, Twitter is the way to go. The publishing world is super active on Twitter, and it’s a great way to get a feel for the general temperament of the industry (spoiler alert: everyone’s lovely). You can also begin to establish your own online presence by engaging in discussions. Also be sure to check out the course’s hashtag, #PublishingPostgrads, to see what we’re up to (and give us all a follow). Additionally, LinkedIn is fab for keeping track of who you know and what they do.

Go to London Book Fair – it’s free for students!

Along with Twitter, LBF is a way to keep in touch with the publishing industry, by attending talks and seeing what’s being discussed – for example, this year it was great to see that more and more people are encouraging the industry to be less London-centric. It’s also good to get a feel of how LBF works, before possibly having to go there as a professional yourself.

Join the SYP (Society of Young Publishers).

Throughout the year SYP run events for publishing newbies, both to entertain and educate. One such event that I found incredibly helpful was their 6×6 in October – six people from the publishing sphere, each talking for six(ish) minutes about their roles. This was a great way to find out about the different areas of publishing which, plot twist, is more than just editorial (not sass by the way, editorial is one of my interests). 

You don’t need experience before the course.

One thing that the prospective student was concerned about was lacking any experience in publishing. You don’t need existing knowledge prior to the MSc – our tutors put us at ease on the first day by saying they’ll assume that we know nothing. Phew! However, if you are concerned about not having any, a great way to ease in is by getting a job as a reader. This is where you’re sent manuscripts by a publisher, and give a report on whether you think it’s worthy of publishing. For you it’s a way to gain knowledge of the ins and outs of a publishing house, and for them it’s free opinions and advice. Win-win. 

Proofread your work! Trust me.

Do it. Multiple times. Take it from someone who had put Chapter Four in her book file twice, instead of Chapter Three and Chapter Four. That would’ve been just a little bit of a mistake. Yikes.

Read The Bookseller.

Speaking of work – researching can be daunting. The Bookseller is a magazine that, as is evident from the title, focuses on the book trade. With both articles and bestseller lists, it can serve as both inspiration if you need a topic to focus on, and provide the data when you have decided on one. They do a great subscription deal for students, but the course also has copies available to peruse on campus.

Don’t panic! (Again.)

Yes, I know I said it already but really, don’t panic.

Last, but by no means least – don’t forget to relax.

As with any course, you need to have a work-life balance to prevent burning out. You can always make your procrastination productive(ish), by watching films with loose representations of the book trade. For example The Holiday, in which Jude Law is an editor, or You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan depict the struggle between chain and indie booksellers. It counts as education, guys. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.

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Tom approves Jude isn’t convinced by my justification, but Tom’s on board.

Good luck to all prospective students! It’s a great course. Hopefully I’ve eased some worries, but feel free to message me on Twitter, @elisabethgreeno, if you have any specific questions – as a fellow worrier I’m always happy to help.

Back in Germany with Napier’s publishing postgrads

Last week I had the opportunity to fly back home to Germany as part of an exchange of our publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University and the Mainz University. Early this year I already had the chance to meet some of the Mainz students while they were visiting our University. It was great to see them again and get to know each other better.

We arrived late at night on the 1st of May and started on the 2nd of May with a day at the Mainz University. We got the chance to listen to a lot of interesting topics and learn about the German book market, which was also new to me since I studied something different in my undergrad. The day ended with us seeing the Archives of the University and having a get-together with all students and speakers of the day. This obviously included some traditional food for the region, which I have to admit really missed back in Edinburgh.

On our 2nd day we had the pleasure to go to Heidelberg and not only see the beautiful city but also visited the Springer Nature office. The staff was very nice and showed us many presentations about Springer Nature’s history, future visions, and their complex looking production workflow. Thank you so much to Melanie Lehnert, Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Viktoria Meyer and Renate Bayaz for the amazing time!

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Melanie Lehnert, Communications Specialist
Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Chief Book Strategist at Springer Nature
Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Chief Book Strategist, Springer Nature
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Viktoria Meyer, Team Leader STM Book Production, Springer

Day 3 took us back to Mainz. After visiting the federal state government we had a wonderful sightseeing tour throughout the city which one of the German students Maike Malzahn organized. 

Of course, we couldn’t resist hopping in the Gutenberg museum and see the highly protected Gutenberg Bibles and other amazing books from the past.

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Our final stop was at the music publisher Schott Music. We were lucky to see the Wagner room and many first prints of Mozart and Beethoven. As I used to play the piano when I was younger I was amazed by their evolving techniques to print sheet music. They were so welcoming and even put us (the Edinburgh Napier postgrads) up on their welcome board next to their important artists who visited for that day.

Our trip ended with all of us – the German students included – meeting up in a traditional German pub the ‘Eisgrub Bräu’ in the evening. I had a really fun time and enjoyed every part of this trip. Thank you so much to all the students and teachers from Napier and Mainz for making this exchange so amazing!

I had a really fun time and enjoyed every part of this trip. Thank you so much to all the students and teachers from Napier and Mainz for making this exchange so amazing!

 

 

My Placement at Entangled Publishing

Since day one of the Publishing course at Napier, it was mentioned that Twitter is a great tool to connect with others in the industry and keep an eye out for possible internship/job opportunities. Funny enough, it was through this very platform that my internship with Entangled started.

Entangled Publishing is an independent publisher of romantic fiction, in the adult and young adult markets. They’ve released more than 1,200 titles, including the YA novel Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout which was signed for a major motion picture. They have 13 imprints which range from a variety of ages and topics and the novels are released in digital and printed form. Approximately 20 to 35 titles are published in digital form and 4 in print and e formats simultaneously each month. Furthermore, 57 of their books have made it to the USA Today Bestsellers list and 17 to the New York Bestsellers list.

The position being advertised was for readers to help with submissions. As well as reading a bunch of manuscripts, which sold it for me already, they were offering to give editorial workshops. Along with production, one of my areas of interest within publishing is editorial, so this was just what I needed.

As a reader, you are tasked with reading the manuscripts assigned to you and fill out a report regarding key editorial aspects and your reading experience. Afterward, you must decide whether they should take it on or decline it. During my first reports, I was very hesitant to straight out say no. But after a couple more reports, I started to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t for the publisher.

You have to get into a state of mind that is a bit more critical and aware, without forgetting to enjoy the read. No two stories are the same. Each author draws inspiration from different places, creates characters with various backgrounds, and arranges the plot in distinct manners.

As mentioned before, I was really looking forward to the editorial workshops and they have been beyond amazing. I’ve learned about the numerous aspects that make a good story and the work that goes into each of them.

Overall, my experience as an editorial intern for Entangled has been an incredible learning experience and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming submissions and workshops.

-Damarys S. Campos

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Highlights from Napier’s Publishing Trip to Germany

Last week I hopped on a plane to Mainz with a group of my fellow publishing postgrads. The trip was absolutely fantastic. We had the chance to meet interesting people, explore new places and learn about the publishing landscape in Germany.

We spent a day at the university in Mainz, listening to lectures and touring their publishing archive. We enjoyed a walking tour of the city, ate delicious local cuisine and even got to tour the archives of Schott Music, a leading publisher for classic and contemporary music. As a former band geek, I was ecstatic to learn a bit about the history of music book publishing and completely enthralled to be in the same room as original work by Mozart and Wagner.

My personal highlight of our visit was a day trip to Heidelberg (aka my new favorite city). We did some sightseeing (I convinced a few classmates to join me in climbing the 313 steps up to the top of the city’s castle) and then spent the afternoon listening to presentations at Springer Nature’s headquarters.

Springer Nature is the world’s largest academic publisher, renowned for research, educational and professional and publishing. The staff made us feel extremely welcome, providing coffee, snacks and some really interesting presentations from staff in their communications, strategy and production teams. It was fascinating to hear about the publisher’s history and brand. Springer Nature has a global reach, so it was very cool to be inside such an enormous office and learn about the publishing history and process for such a large-scale company. They publish 13,000 books per year. Our group sat in awe at the complex production workflow each book passes through before being published. Even with the PowerPoint slide zoomed in at about 300%, I was still squinting to try and see all the tasks listed along the production schedule.

My favorite presentation was given by Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Springer Nature’s Chief Book Strategist. He shared about his vision for the future of books. He discussed innovative ideas for new book formats and business models. Springer Nature is at the forefront of research and academics, so it makes sense for them to push the boundaries of what a book really is. Thomas discussed the possible use of virtual reality to provide spatial representation that helps students retain information and customized content and formats to aid readers’ learning process. The presentations provided great insight into what goes on in a major academic publishing house. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to think about how books will evolve and how publishers will adapt to technological advancements.

I’m really happy I went on the trip. I didn’t know about it when I first enrolled at Edinburgh Napier, so it was a great surprise when they invited students to sign up for a publishing themed tour of Germany. I learned a lot and got to see some incredibly beautiful new places in the world.

Shout-out to all the amazing postgrads and professors (from Mainz and Napier) who made the trip so unforgettable.

 

 

A placement at Floris Books – what I learned about publishing (and had thought to ask).

Having undertaken a qualification in secondary English teaching, I am familiar with the concept of a work placement. As a student teacher you are required to undertake three separate placements, two lasting 6 weeks and one lasting 4 weeks. These are full-time, and you can feel like they go on forever. In publishing, when completing an MSc at Edinburgh Napier, you are hoping to take on a part-time or temporary placement, not required,but the aim of each is to provide valuable experience. For me this time, instead of teaching Curriculum for Excellence English lessons to teenagers in north Glasgow, I was packing my bag and heading to Floris Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher in Edinburgh. The opportunity to work at Floris Books as their Sales and Marketing intern is a rare and exciting one. Floris take on one intern a year, usually advertising the position from about October to university students at Edinburgh Napier and Stirling, before the role commences in January. This year, they’d chosen me.

 

Upon arrival and my first cup of tea (always trust a company that offers you tea immediately) I was given an introduction to the whole team. The office is open-plan and the resultant feel is that of collaborative effort and interdepartmental co-operation. The editorial team are at the back of the office, near the huge west-facing windows that showed the approach of any inclement weather (very important for later in the placement when a gigantic weather bomb hit and we stood in awe as snow swept in and hid the city behind sheets of greyish yellow cloud and tumbling white flakes), the design and production department are located in the middle, then sales and marketing with the head of publishing are closer to the front of the office. Having met everyone straight away, I was made to feel welcome instantly.

 

My role as intern had already been made fairly clear to me. Floris used a very detailed and useful job advert when looking for their intern and it was with this in mind that CJ Cook (sales and marketing executive) and I sat down to talk about my duties. Floris are very democratic in their approach to interns and their role. No one on placement is asked to complete a task that would not be expected of a member of staff – so no sorting post and making coffee that can be the case in some internships. Equally, CJ and other “marketeers” were keen to utilise the skills that I brought; being well-versed in teacher-speak, I could develop materials for use in the classroom with their books. Furthermore, as a Scots speaker I could help in creating specific resources for The Teeger that cam for his tea, the Scots version of the well-loved children’s classic. It felt like a very personal approach; Floris knew what I could offer, and my placement duties were tailored accordingly. I felt valued and a part of the team.

 

Over the course of the ten weeks, I worked with each of the various departments. I assisted in editorial on proofreading and Scots language. I helped to judge some of the submitted manuscripts for the annual Kelpies Prize. I learned from design and production what goes into the process of producing an illustrated children’s books (very useful in terms of my own live project at university!) and I created marketing materials for the promotion of that book. I applied skills gained from my MSc such as when html mapping and took ones from placement back to university to use on various aspects of coursework. The opportunity to see how a publishing house was run was thrilling, but beyond the acquisition and enhancement of my abilities was the joy in realising that this is an industry in which I truly want to work. I was welcomed, treated as an equal even though I was a complete newbie, given so many opportunities to contribute and have my voice heard. It may seem that all this is par for the course and I shouldn’t be surprised but honestly, after some of my teaching experiences, it wasn’t something I automatically expected. Floris Books treat their interns well, all members of staff are patient and will answer questions or give advice. They have monthly staff lunches where we all sat together for a bring-a-dish lunch. I feel I made friends and connections that will last long past the end of my internship and I am so grateful. If you ever get the opportunity to join them, you can be sure of a warm welcome, much like the teeger that cam for his tea.

 

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A teeger display in Waterstones.