The Wonderful World of Canongate Books

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Foreign editions of Canongate titles

With no previous publishing experience out with the MSc publishing course, I was eager to delve into the foreign world of rights, contracts and royalties.

Founded in 1973, Canongate Books remains one of the oldest established independent Scottish Publishers. With a renowned reputation (both in Scotland and internationally) and a vastly dynamic front and backlist, I was delighted to hear that I had secured a 10-week placement within the Rights Department.

The Canongate office is charmingly situated just off the famous Royal Mile, down the historic Tweedale Court close. Eagerly stepping through the original wrought iron gates, I crossed the cobbles to enter the welcoming office. Greeted with a somewhat cave like reception with exposed brick work, shelves upon shelves of books, smiling faces and the warm aroma of freshly brewed coffee, I was welcomed into the world of Canongate.

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The cosy cave-like reception

The Rights Department at the Edinburgh office has 3 members (with one other in London), and it was this small team that I joined for the duration of my placement. My first task was to make myself acquainted with Biblio – the publishing software used by the majority of publishing houses in the UK. This involved learning how to log information on authors, contracts, reviews and payments. Having never heard of Biblio before, the opportunity to learn how to use this system will prove extremely valuable for my future career in publishing.

Week by week I was given a variety of tasks from organising and logging royalty statements, creating a catalogue of Canongate’s backlist music titles (that will be sent to foreign publishers), sourcing book reviews, researching authors and much more!

Perhaps the highlight of my placement was the opportunity to sit with Caroline during several of her meetings at the London Book Fair in April. This was the first book fair that I had attended, and I was very keen to find out what was being discussed at these meticulously planned meetings! I was kindly invited to sit in on conversations with publishers from Japan, Israel and Poland. Hearing how to push titles, learning about the market in that specific territory and the terms used in rights negotiating, is something that I found extremely rewarding, and I am very grateful to Canongate for this opportunity.

Now nearing the end of my placement, I can without doubt reflect upon this positive experience and say that I have been given a truly great first hand experience of what it is like to work within a Rights Department at an award winning, independent publishing house. I will be leaving Canongate with a much greater understanding of what is involved in the buying and selling of rights (both within the UK and internationally), the importance of communication and keeping on top of your royalty statements!

I would just like to thank Andrea, Caroline and Lina for welcoming me into your Rights Department, and to everyone at Canongate for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you!

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