As part of our publishing course we have the opportunity to apply for practical placements in the second trimester. Thus, in December began the hunt for internships. The first people I e-mailed were Vagabond Voices, based in Glasgow, and I got a quick response from the person who runs the publishing company, Allan Cameron. I was beyond excited to hear from him and after a few more exchanges they took me on board and I began my placement in the middle of January.
Vagabond Voices are an amazing, small, independent publisher focusing on publishing translations and literary fiction. They recognize the importance of translated literature and the stories of different people and cultures. The publishing industry is currently discussing the issues of diversity and inclusivity and Allan has been trying to tackle all these problems for the last 10 years by translating a variety of stories into English.
I am also very interested in the power of the translated voice so this seemed like the perfect placement for me. I started my first day with great enthusiasm that has not waned since then. I utterly enjoy spending my Fridays there doing a variety of tasks. Dana, Allan’s right hand woman, understands how important this placement is for us and does her very best to make sure we make the most of it. She lets each intern try a bit of everything.
I started by helping out with the social media. I have always been a bit afraid of social media and marketing but I found out that tweeting and creating posts can be fun and engaging. I also realized that it takes much more time than I had thought.
I was also allowed to dip my finger into the submissions, an activity that I am still doing. I think this has been the best part for me so far. The sheer volume of submissions that a small publisher receives is staggering. There is always so much to read but I have found out that I really enjoy doing it. There is rarely a hidden gem in the pile of pages but every manuscript teaches you something new and I am started to understand how to separate my own literary preferences and the text itself. I have learnt that objectivity and decisiveness are key when reading submissions and practice indeed makes perfect.
With practice in mind, Dana let the interns proofread a manuscript that is to be published this year. This was an incredible and valuable experience as we were allowed to see quality writing and exercise our judgment in tweaking the manuscript. The amount of work that goes in editing and proofreading a piece of writing is amazing and a person needs to pay attention to every miniscule detail. It is definitely a task that appeals to me. I put into practice everything I have learnt so far from my course and definitely enjoyed the feeling of holding a manuscript and doing my best to make it even better if possible.
As a whole, I can only recommend Vagabond Voices. Allan and Dana are amazing people with a lot of knowledge and it is a privilege to work with them, pick their brains and have a chat about books and publishing as an industry. I have tried a variety of publishing tasks and I have come to understand a bit better how a publishing company works on a daily basis. What I would like to emphasize in the end is the way interns are treated at Vagabond Voices. Both Allan and Dana fully realize that interns are not paid and they do their best to make up for this fact. The hours I do on Fridays are flexible and Allan always says that we are to come and go as we please since we are not getting paid. This flexibility and way of thinking is vital for publishers who open their doors to unpaid interns. Dana has played a major role in my placement so far. She is the one that usually gives the daily tasks and she always tries to give us something new because she realizes that we are there to learn. She has offered us a range of work and at the moment she is preparing a feedback on our editorial job and all of this is on top of her actual work. This understanding and effort have really impressed me and I really urge everyone to go and check Vagabond Voices out as the work their doing is amazing.