In my second trimester as a postgraduate in the MSc Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier, I’ve had the privilege to work with not only one Scottish independent publishing house, but two. The first is at Jasami Publishing, where I am guided through the exciting world of worldwide sales rights by the lovely Michèle Smith, as well briefly by Paula Weir. The second is at Leamington Books, where I am shown the ‘ins and outs’ of the publishing world by the brilliant Peter Burnett.
I know what you might think – how is someone able to juggle two placements during this busy trimester? Well, I will start with saying that it isn’t a juggle at all. I’ve been incredibly lucky with how patient and flexible both publishing houses have been, and how happily they have accommodated me through my journey. Not only have both companies accommodated, but they have taught me so much that I’ve felt slightly spoiled. Being able to put what we’ve learned from our course into action has given me invaluable experience.
To begin, I was given a specific role for the Jasami Publishing placement. After a guest lecture during the first trimester of my course that focused on the colourful world of book rights, I expressed an interest in it during my Jasami interviews. I was intrigued by how rights were sold between languages and companies, and by how a book could travel the world in any language or be adapted to the screen as a film or a television series – and how it all began with sales rights. Jasami put me to work quickly.
I was given questions to research about the rights of books that had been tirelessly translated by my fellow interns into their first or second languages, to their respective countries. Under Michèle’s calm guidance, I reached out to a few companies that specialised in selling rights to the countries I was interested in – Norway, Brazil, France and Greece – and was given the chance to ask a few questions. Admittedly, I had a few of my own among the list, just for my own curiosity. A few companies found the time to have a call with me, and for that I’m extremely grateful. It is very easy for companies to lose the time for a small intern that doesn’t have much to offer; but for those who did, I was treated with as much respect as I feel that they would have given anyone else.
While these calls were at most half an hour each, a small fraction of the day for these companies, it was enough for me to gather as much information as I felt I needed, along with a little bit more. The world of sales rights opened up to me, and I realised very quickly just how big the tip of a large iceberg it is.
For my placement with Leamington Books, I had a less structured approach. Peter instead asked for what I would like to focus on, and what I might like to see in practice that I hadn’t had the chance to before. While I loved the structured approach to Jasami, I equally loved this open way of learning too as I am someone who learns by doing. There are only so many notes I can take in lectures, but my mind will not fully comprehend until I see it happening before me and am able to attempt myself.
I was given this bridge in Leamington Books and am incredibly thankful for it. Peter showed me everything from the very first point of contact with an author through submissions, through the editing process, typesetting, the design of the cover, contacting distributors and how to upload these items onto Nielsen BookData and Amazon.
Through my placement at Leamington, I have been given amazing chances to speak to a range of people within the industry, such as government officials, authors and other publishing hopefuls. Just as those in the previous companies for the Jasami placement, these individuals found the time to speak to me and went so far as to express their own interest in my development. I cannot express just how uplifting something like that is. Within an industry such as this, it is so easy for busy people to decide who is worthy of their time based on their experience levels – neglecting that they were once in a similar position to mine. However, instead I have found people to be patient, interested and open to any questions that I’ve thrown their way, answering them all in full.
That is why I am incredibly thankful to Michèle and Paula from Jasami Publishing, as well as Peter and Ambrose Kelly from Leamington Books. Not only am I thankful for their acceptances of my placement, or their patience during my time with them, but also because they have opened up a world to me that I found difficult to enter on my own for quite some time. They have provided me learning and given me paths to follow for myself.
I am still not sure what part of publishing I would like to pursue – whether that be editorial, sales rights or something else – but I can say with confidence that I now know more about what each department entails and how that might help me come to a conclusion in the future.At this moment in time, I excitedly look forward to the vast amount more I can learn.
By Caitlin Flowers