Earlier this year I was fortunate to be offered a placement with the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA). While they are not a publishing company as such, they do publish a variety of books and song books in association with publishers such as The Hardie Press, an Edinburgh-based music publisher, and Collins.
During my placement I got the opportunity to work in a variety of different fields – I conducted extensive market research for the upcoming event calendar, drafted social media posts and press releases for the new “101 Songs – The Wee Red Book 2” DVD, edited the DVD booklet, and even translated promotional material that will be used to market the TMSA’s publications as well as the association itself on the European mainland.
However, one of the most interesting experiences was the co-operation with The Hardie Press, a small, but successful company that has been in business for over 30 years.
Thanks to the great number of guest speakers who visited Edinburgh Napier University and the numerous publishing events I attended during my time in Scotland, I got a fairly good grasp of how most modern publishing companies operate, what their priorities are and how they choose their content.
Some of it can be quite daunting – for example the fact that quite a few publishers seem more interested in an author’s ability to build an author platform, engage with an audience or, to be brutally honest, their physical appearance (all of which has been mentioned on multiple occasions), rather than the actual content of their work.
While I understand these publishers’ rationale and am aware that the publishing industry is a commercial business – whether they want to admit it or not – I fear that this attitude will mute the voices of people who have important and beautiful things to say, but are unable to meet the aforementioned criteria due to mental or physical disabilities, an unwillingness to bare their lives on social media (which has been proven to have a negative effect on a great number of people’s mental health), or their inability to meet popular beauty standards.
It was therefore quite refreshing to work with a publisher who operates on a more traditional basis. The Hardie Press has no social media presence, maintains a very straightforward website and their decisions are rarely based on market research. While I am aware that this may not always turn out as well as it did for The Hardie Press, it is encouraging to think that a combination of the two may be feasible. The Hardie Press are currently attempting to bridge that gap.
It was one of my tasks to advise them on how to build a social media presence and improve their website. For this I designed a number of new logos for the company and even created a potential new website layout, which was a most educational and interesting task.
It will be exciting to observe how the company develops and I am glad I got the opportunity to be a part of the project.
I would like to thank my placement supervisor, Fiona Campbell, and everyone at The Hardie Press for making this placement a wonderful and instructive experience.