Before I started at Freight Books, I had never even heard of the company. This may seem slightly worrying for a publishing student but, to be fair, it had only published five books by the time I had started. Freight Books is a very young and very small publisher. Based in Glasgow, it is run by Adrian Searle as a sister company to Freight Design, a creative company responsible for campaign branding for organisations such as Glasgow Life and the University of the West of Scotland. Freight Books publishes a range of English-language fiction, including novels, short story collections and occasionally poetry, with a strong focus on the quality of both the writing and the design of its titles. It also produces its own journal of new Scottish writing, named Gutter, which has featured writers including Louise Welsh, Ewan Morrison and Christopher Wallace.
On starting at the company, I was informed that it played host to several other interns, who all visit the office on different days and are responsible for different elements of the Freight Books portfolio. These interns, along with some of the Freight Design team and a range of freelancers, provide most of the practical work for the company. This knowledge immediately put my mind at ease, as it made it obvious that the company not only welcomed those looking for work experience, but it could clearly find work for them to do. If I wanted to be anything on my placement, it certainly wasn’t bored.
It turns out there was no chance of that. In my ten days at the company, I managed to experience most areas of the publishing process. I dealt with contracts, updated the website, and researched social media marketing opportunities, as well as participating in some more traditional editorial work. I spent a large chunk of time completing several rounds of editing on Toni Davidson’s new novel My Gun Was As Tall As Me, which has just been launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Although I frequently questioned what right I had to be editing an award-winning author, this turned out to be my favourite task, as I could see the work progressing from scribbled-on manuscript to typeset novel.
Much like launching a new publisher, starting a placement at such a young company originally seemed like a risk, albeit one I was willing to take. It definitely paid off. The size of Freight Books meant that I had the opportunity to be involved with a range of projects in a variety of roles. The placement provided the perfect balance of using my current skills and picking up some new ones, making it a valuable learning experience. Adrian was friendly, supportive and didn’t seem to mind too much when I couldn’t work the printer. The rest of the combined Freight (Books and Design) team were really welcoming, while a special mention also has to be given to Archie, the office’s resident dog, who contributed to the relaxed atmosphere.