The Year of the Publishing Postgrad – a summary

This time last year, I was cramming preparing for my final exams as an English Literature undergraduate at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. I was also reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood as it was the only thing able to distract me from my anticipation of hearing back about my application to Napier’s MSc Publishing course. Yes, grizzly murder was the antidote to my constant nerves. (Reading about grizzly murder, that is.) I didn’t have a Plan B for my life after graduation, so it was essential that I was accepted as a Publishing Postgrad. And thank goodness, I was.

The first official week of classes after induction cemented my commitment to the course and the publishing postgrad lifestyle, into which I was happily thrown. Magfest took place on the Friday of the first week, and to hear from giants of publishing (Vanessa Kingori! John Bird!) as an induction into the industry was incredible. It was also a great chance to network (a word that doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to) and meet with new classmates, who would become friends, hostel roommates, and publishers that I genuinely admire.

Following the first week of introductions, we quickly got stuck into trimester 1 projects. With a live market research group project, individual product reports and case studies, the next few months would fly by in a whirlwind of paper, paragraph styles, and publishing news.

A personal highlight of trimester 1 was being part of the social media team for our market research project on the Martin Rattler Activity Book. Our research took us to Gorgie City Farm, the National Museum of Scotland, and fascinating, bookish corners of Twitter. More significant than the goats and galleries, though, was the opportunity to see how market research comes together on social media. I’ve taken away a lot from the experience, which has since helped me gain a social media internship with Linen Press.

While the first trimester ended with a festive whimper of proud exhaustion, trimester 2 began with the sound of a starter’s gun. It was all go from the first day back. With a placement module, a live book project, and a magazine to publish, January to May were incredibly busy, and so rewarding.

In the midst of all the madness was a trip to London for The London Book Fair, which I can honestly say was one of the most fun, hectic, and surreal experiences I’ve had. Walking into the Olympia, I was instantly consumed by the electric atmosphere of meetings between publishers, authors, illustrators, book buyers and everything in between. For the next three days, I soaked up as much publishing genius as I could, including talks from Penguin Random House on branding, and Michael Morpurgo on his new children’s book.

Back in Scotland, it was back to business. Over the course of the next two months, I achieved what I thought was beyond me. Three amazing classmates and I published KNUT magazine (DIY or Die, baby), a product and brand of which I couldn’t be more proud. I secured a placement with freelance editor Jennie Renton, who has since become an editorial inspiration. And finally, I edited, typeset, designed and published a book. A whole book.

As I write this approaching the end of an exhausting but exhilarating year, I have nothing but gratitude for the MSc Publishing course at Napier. It has given me so many new skills, enhanced my existing ones, broadened my knowledge, and given me some incredible experiences within and without the classroom. It has also introduced me to people I hope to continue to work with for years to come.

For any prospective students thinking of applying, I 100% encourage you to do so. Throw yourself into the course, take advantage of every opportunity, and by the end of trimester 2, you will surely have found your feet.

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Author: Jenna Robertson

MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University

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