On Tuesday 24 February 2015 some of the MSc Publishing students had the chance to attend the annual Publishing Scotland Conference, held at the COSLA Conference Centre Edinburgh.
The day consisted of presentations from various publishing professionals form all areas of the industry, and many tea breaks that gave everyone, not just students, the chance to network.
Chaired by Jenny Brown, from Jenny Brown Associates, the day began. The first guest speaker was Charlie Redmayne, CEO at HarperCollins UK. Charlie discussed how he came to be CEO of such a prolific publishing house. What was interesting is that he never studied publishing, like many of the speakers who came after him. His speech was very motivating and insightful, his best gem of information being “publishing is fundamentally about great editors working with great writers.” Something many of us in the room could take comfort in hearing.
Taking over from Mr Redmayne, Steve Bohnne, UK Research Director at Nielsen Book Resources, took to the floor. Steve shared with us many facts and figures coming from an analysis of the industry over the past year. The majority of these figures were reassuring and meant only good things can continue to happen within publishing. The main point taken from his speech is the fact that print publishing is not declining despite the growth in digital. It is nice to hear information like this coming from an expert in the field of research and data analysis. A point raised by some speakers was that print and digital books should not be compared at all. In essence they are too very different products and appeal to very different audiences.
Next to take her place and present was Sam Missingham, head of audience development at Harper Collins. Sam has headed some amazing marketing campaigns for the company. In August 2014 she ran a virtual Sci-Fi festival with the BFI. This festival involved space scientists, authors and screenwriters. Margaret Atwood was also involved by means of an interview and on Twitter the #BFI Voyager reached up to 83 million accounts. Impressive.
Following a wonderful lunch, students attended a Q+A session organized by the Scottish SYP team. The panel consisted of the afore mentioned Sam Missingham, Rosie Howie of Bright Red Publishing and Katy Lockwood- Holmes of Floris Books. Chaired by Leah McDowell of the SYP and Floris Books, this panel answered questions from the floor as well as overarching questions from Leah. The session was extremely beneficial and definitely was of benefit to students who had burning questions needing answers.
The experience of attending an event such as this, and of this scale was amazing and is something that I would not have dreamed I’d be in attendance of this time last year. It is just one of the benefits this course has provided me and one I am grateful for. Being in a room surrounded by people with the same interests is truly great and a reminder that I chose the right path – finally!