From the very first day in the Publishing postgraduate course in Edinburgh Napier, we were encouraged to make the most of our time and network as much as possible. Go to events, book signings, SYP chats, anywhere that you might meet people from the industry and forge relationships. That is a dreaded idea by many students but all of us understood the importance of networking and thus began a term of events, new encounters and awkward smiles.
One of the events I attended this term was The Weegie Wednesday in Glasgow. I am particularly proud of going to this one because I went on my own and I even talked to people. Weegie Wednesday have been going strong for the last 10 years. It happens once a month, on a Wednesday (guess you didn’t figure this one out), and it is a gathering of writers, booksellers, publishers and book lovers, basically anyone infatuated with the written word. They focus on networking and highlight available business opportunities so it is a brilliant place for students dreading the prospect of finding a job in the future and forming industry connections. The people behind Weegie Wednesday also gather a number of hosts, writers, publishers, artists, etc. who give a short talk and start the discussion for the night.
So, I made myself go and arrived on a wet and cold November evening in the CCA, the Centre for Contemporary Arts. I am guilty of passing by this building for years and never really going inside it. It is a lovely place that is the hub for creative activity so for anyone in Glasgow, go and visit it. It is brilliant; they are open till late, hosting a number of events and they have a brilliant bar that serves liquid courage for those of us scared of meeting people. So there I was, in the CCA, went to the bar and realized that I am an hour earlier for the actual Weegie Wednesday. I found myself attending their annual meeting where they discuss finances and choose new board members. I sensed I should not really be there. However, everyone was incredibly nice and they did not mind me staying for the formal part of the evening. I got to find how they get sponsored, who is in charge and what the future holds for them. What was even nicer was the fact that they generously provide you with a coupon for a free drink and who does not like a wine on the house. I managed to meet a few writers, talked about their projects and was nicely surprised because they turned to be as interested in me and my course as I was in them and their writing.
The guest speaker for the evening was John Farman, writer and founder of Vital Publishing. His main field is comic books and he told us about the various phases of comic book production and the creative process of writing one. He is responsible for almost all aspects of the publishing from lettering and editing to finding the best artists for each project. It was fascinating to hear about the management of a publishing company and the way one person can handle all of this work. His comic books are not the usual superhero ones but focus more on exploring the dark edges of the human mind. He was kind enough to bring some of his works such as The School of the Damned, Purity Ring, as well as the highly controversial British social satire, Royal Descent. His talk was genuine and he openly talked about the challenges of writing and publishing and the fact that most of the time you do it for the sheer enjoyment of it rather than the money you get in the end. With his talk finished, I stayed for a while and listened to the discussion but being a poor student, I had to run and catch the last bus home.
That was my first Weegie Wednesday. I met some brilliant people, overcame my fear and realized once again how lovely and kind everyone is in this industry. I got some first-hand insight in the works of a publishing house and the challenges of the job and had a lovely chat with some Weegie Wednesday member. From writers and publishers to artists and readers we are all united by our love for books and Weegie Wednesday is the perfect place to meet some like-minded people who will greet you with lots of enthusiasm and put your worries about networking at rest.