When I found out that part of our MSc Publishing course involved undertaking a professional placement I was excited and absolutely terrified in equal measures. Although I had completed an Editorial Internship in Paris in 2016, I was really nervous at the prospect of completing a work placement in Edinburgh – the city where I wanted to settle and start my publishing career. I was desperate to make a good first impression and get a foot on the extremely competitive publishing ladder.
Since arriving in Edinburgh in September to start the course I had been researching the Scottish industry and was thrilled to see all the amazing work being done by independent publishers. When I was asked to complete a Case Study as part of a module in semester 1 I knew I wanted to focus my research on Canongate who is a force of nature in the publishing industry. I had already read (and loved) a number of Canongate’s books and admired their determination to seek out and publish ‘the most vital, exciting voices’. Soon after starting my Case Study I heard about the opportunity to join Canongate’s Campaigns and Sales department for a 3-month internship. I couldn’t believe the timing and jumped at the chance! I sent in my application as quickly as possible and was thrilled to be invited for a telephone interview. Somehow I managed to keep my nerves under control and was delighted when Jamie, Campaigns Executive at Canongate, emailed to let me know the internship was mine! With two full days per week, the internship was going to be both intense and invaluable and I couldn’t wait to get started.
I arrived at the beautiful Canongate offices in the Old Town one misty November morning. Edinburgh was giving all the gothic, literature vibes and I was LOVING it. I was really nervous ringing the bell and wanted to make the best impression possible. Jamie met me at the reception and introduced me to the whole team. Unsurprisingly I immediately forget everyone’s names but the faces were friendly and that’s all that mattered! I settled down at my desk, logged into my computer and thus began a whirlwind 3 months as part of an incredibly successful and inspiring team.
Throughout my placement I worked on a number of different tasks and no two days were the same. One day I was creating Press Releases and POS material for national bookshops, the next I was writing event copy for the website and using InDesign to put together pack shots for upcoming titles. One of the best things about my internship was the opportunity to work with industry-specific software, such as Biblio and Gorkana, and I really think this will be invaluable when I head out into the industry full-time. As with any internship I was also drafted in to help with a number of admin tasks. Whilst this might be seen as the ‘boring’ side of internships, I loved it! I mailed out hundreds of proof and review copies, pulled together lists of press contacts and searched through the weekly newspapers to find any mentions of Canongate titles. The tasks were repetitive but I didn’t mind as it gave me the chance to handle new releases, see covers for the first time and share the excitement in the office when amazing reviews were published in national newspapers!
The highlight of my internship was the opportunity to draft a campaign plan for an upcoming 2019 title. At first, I was absolutely terrified and suffered from a massive bout of self-doubt. I needn’t have worried though as Jamie was there to help me every step of the way and give feedback on the various things I was pulling together. I assessed KPI’s (and actually knew what that meant), researched competitors, drew up a list of potential press contacts and drafted a publicity plan including channels for promotion. Working on this project from start to finish was really rewarding and being able to hold my campaign plan in my hands at the end of the internship was a really great way to finish a fantastic 3 months.
Interning at Canongate was an incredible experience. It was exciting, fast-paced and at times stressful – so pretty much an accurate insight into the world of publishing! I learned so much and I know this experience will be invaluable as I progress in my publishing career. The atmosphere in the office was always welcoming and friendly and I was never made to feel like ‘the intern’, I just felt like part of the team!
If you want to see what Canongate’s been up to this year check out their new releases: