After what felt like a stagnant year of on-and-off working, furlough, and making my way through my crammed TBR list of books on my shelf, I was eager and driven more than ever to get back out into the ‘real’ world and gain knowledge and practical skills which I not only could apply to publishing, but to any professional work setting. Initially, I think what most attracted me to Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Publishing course was the exciting opportunity of a work placement. From what I could gauge, Napier’s MSc Publishing was the only course that promoted a work placement as an integral part of the learning which each publishing student should at least get the chance to experience before breaking into the industry. For this, I am extremely grateful to our programme leader, Avril, because, without the experience, I think stepping out into the vast and competitive industry as a fresh, wide-eyed publishing hopeful would undoubtedly be a lot more daunting!
Admittedly, my CV going into the placement module was painfully outdated and in need of a professional revamp. Fortunately, with a helpful one-to-one CV meeting incorporated into the module, my CV was updated and finally industry-ready to start sending off to different publishers. With the positions for placement quickly being filled everywhere and the number of rejection emails slowly creeping up in my inbox, the anxiety surrounding securing a placement began to set in and I actually found this the hardest part of the whole experience. As much as I was initially disheartened by the setbacks of securing a placement, I think it definitely aided me in broadening the scope of potential areas of publishing I’d like to explore. If there’s one key piece of advice to take away from this process, which I would give to anyone looking for a placement in publishing, it would be: be proactive and persevere. Stay open-minded, don’t limit yourself with any preconceptions, and reach out to places you wouldn’t necessarily have placed yourself prior to beginning your search – you never know what opportunities could present themselves to you!
With that said, after some reassuring and insightful discussions with Avril, I was encouraged to refresh my approach, and this is when I branched out and emailed Interpret Magazine. Interpret is a new magazine of international writing, publishing short stories, poems, and translations from across the world. They appear first in the native language of their author, alongside their English translation. What appealed most to me about Interpret was their ethos: ‘We’re open to anyone, anywhere, writing in any language.’ Given the verdict of the 2020 Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing report that the cultural and creative industries in the UK neither reflect nor cater to the communities in which we live and work, inclusivity and diversity are qualities that I believe are imperative in the publishing industry and ones which every publisher, like Interpret, should champion.
To my delight and surprise, James Appleby, the editor and primary translator of Interpret, arranged an in-person interview with me straight away and discussed the terms of my internship. To say I was overjoyed and relieved is an understatement! Though I was made aware of the remote format of my placement, I really appreciated and valued the face-to-face experience of a professional interview as an indication of what to expect going forward in publishing. Each week, James has kindly sent me a detailed document of my tasks and some of these so far have included: contacting bookshops across the UK for potential new stockists of the magazine; designing a ‘Call for Submissions’ post for Interpret’s social media platforms; sourcing new writing through different cultural organisations across the world; and identifying and remedying weaknesses across the website, social media sites and marketing strategy. Interpret is now gearing up to publish its sixth issue of the magazine at the end of April, and this excitingly includes interviews with award-winning Catalan writers and translators, Irene Solà and Bel Olid. I really am in awe of the work James undertakes as a one-man band to make his dreams in the magazine a reality and admire his dedication to showcasing new voices and writing of people all over the world.
Though, of course, I would have liked to experience the more ‘traditional’ office environment of a publishing house, I think the remote style of working has served as a valuable tool during my internship and suits the dynamics of the press extremely well. It has certainly made for a really cohesive and enjoyable time at Interpret. Working remotely has allowed me to fully harness the time allocated to the placement and has given me the flexibility and freedom to work around my own personal
schedule on the tasks provided each week with my own creative and editorial judgement, maximising my overall experience. It’s been so lovely to see the magazine in its early stages and even get a glimpse of how it is flourishing in the literary scene, and, for this experience alone, I can’t thank James enough. Publishing internship: success!