Bagpipes and Books: Luath Press Placement

I’d heard that Luath Press was hard to find. Luckily, I knew exactly where to turn off the Royal Mile to find the entrance to my home for the next fortnight. After being buzzed in, I anxiously climbed the stairs to be greeted by a perplexed-looking Chris, part of the small Luath team. Turns out I was bit eager to start and had arrived an hour early!

Slightly abashed, I was introduced to Luath’s Director Gavin MacDougall and briefed on the history of the company, from its inception in Ayrshire (where I’m from) to where they are now. Next I was given a run down of the publishing process at Luath, from manuscripts to distribution. Gavin emphasised the enduring need for publishing houses, despite the rise in self-publishing:

‘It’s easy to sell the first 100 copies of your book – publishing houses are here to do the rest.’

It was comforting to hear, as self-publishing seemed to be the hot topic at London Book Fair this year. After being presented with a checklist of possible tasks to complete during my time here, I was ready to get started.

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My desk for the fortnight

Chris gave me a copy of their current title list for 2015, as he showed me around the shared drive. Accustomed to having interns, they have a comprehensive Luath Wiki set up, which helped enormously with the tasks I was given. Throughout my placement, I got the opportunity to draft AI sheets, compile blurbs, design event posters, and compose press releases – all of which helped to have templates and examples to follow. Rosie and Jennie, two more members of the Luath team, were always happy to help with any other queries I had. I was particularly excited to have a go at putting together a supplementary ‘Reader Offers’ handout on InDesign, which is to be featured in the Scotsman later this year.

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They’re a friendly bunch at Luath

I was also fortunate enough to get hands-on editorial experience, as I am most interested in this field. After being equipped with the Luath House Style, I got to edit a new Walter Stephen text on the life of Patrick Geddes. Likewise, I was given the opportunity to read through a selection of manuscripts and assess them. I found a gem, which I hope will see the light of day! The text I got to know best was The Tycoon and The Bard by John Cairney (referring to Andrew Carnegie and Robert Burns), which I got the chance to proofread and suggest changes. I was invited to sit in on a meeting with the author’s daughter Jane, who was a pleasure to meet. I was asked to read through the text with her and clarify any changes, which I was then able to update on the manuscript. With my knowledge of the text, I was able to confidently produce a blurb and work on a press release for it.

My time at Luath Press was an enjoyable and rewarding experience, accompanied by the sound of bagpipes every day from the Royal Mile! As a small publisher, there was always something to be doing and I was pleased to get involved with so many tasks. I was well prepared to attempt everything I encountered, and felt reassured that the skills I have learned on the course are practical and applicable in the real, fast-paced world of publishing.

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