We were very pleased to attend our guest lecture last week by Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland.

Her opening comment was that she believed that we were doing the right thing in taking a publishing degree because publishers get more applicants for a job than they can interview. Having a publishing degree can increase your chances significantly when it comes to landing a job.  That was certainly the case for Marion, who has over 20 years of editorial experience within the publishing industry.  She received her lucky break soon after graduating with a publishing degree from Stirling University. Because of her own and others’ experiences, she encouraged us to think about working for small publishers as that is often a good way to get hands-on experience from day one.

Moving onto the bigger picture, Marion gave us the specifics of the size of the Scottish publishing industry and then summarised the facts and figures by saying that it is equivalent in size to the salmon industry and the cashmere industry. A student remarked afterwards that it sounded like her perfect night in, reading a book, wearing a cashmere jumper whilst enjoying smoked salmon. All that was missing was the whisky but that industry is far larger than any of the aforementioned put together!

Marion went on to talk of the role and function of Publishing Scotland and how big their remit really is as a champion of publishers. We were told that the publishing sector in Scotland is very healthy and of course that publishing sits squarely between the arts and business. This, and the fact that Edinburgh is the biggest publishing centre in the UK, after London and Oxford, keeps the staff at Publishing Scotland very busy. The networking body, which provides support, training, funding and advocacy for the book publishing sector in Scotland are celebrating their 40th year in existence. In March this year they launched their Bookspotting app, which promotes Scottish books and was shortlisted for a FutureBook Innovation Award 2014 for best use of digital in a marketing campaign.

She spoke at length about how small publishers can carve a niche in the market, which protects them from larger market forces and used Edinburgh-based publisher Floris Books as an example of a small publisher beautifully filling their niche as a Scottish children’s book publisher.

We heard a lot more about publishing in general and Scotland in particular and heard how, although the industry could be bigger in Scotland, that small publishers were growing, taking on new staff and producing more books. Her example of a growing publisher was last week’s guest Adrian Searle from Freight Books.

Marion is an engaging and sympathetic speaker and her message was one of encouragement, She was very supportive of the students and one could feel her genuine love of the industry and interest in the new generation of would-be publishers designers, editors and agents.