My internship with Ringwood Publishing

When I first began my MSc Publishing degree I had no experience of working in the publishing industry. However, having had various jobs since my undergraduate degree working in sales, social media and customer service, I had developed transferable skills that helped me a lot coming into publishing as I got to grips with networking, the publishing community on Twitter and marketing. By the time trimester two came around I was eager to get started on the placement module which had appealed so much to me when I was applying for publishing courses the previous year. I was excited for the opportunity to combine the skills I had learnt in class with some practical experience in the industry.

When it came to securing an internship, I didn’t think twice before contacting Ringwood Publishing. Ringwood are a small, independent publishing house based in Glasgow and focus on publishing both fiction and non-fiction around the themes of sex, politics, football, the outdoors and more. With such a varied list I knew I wouldn’t tire of reading Ringwood submissions (something I can vouch for now), and having researched the company for my case study in trimester one I knew that they have a fantastic relationship with interns who take on key responsibilities and have more independence over the tasks they carry out than they would in a lot of larger publishing houses – it is easy to see why Ringwood has been quite a popular choice among some of my fellow publishing students this year. I was also drawn to Ringwood due to their dedication to new authors writing on niche subjects, and who are often overlooked by larger, more mainstream publishing houses.

I began my internship with Ringwood as a Marketing & PR Assistant which was very exciting – I didn’t have a lot of marketing experience at the time apart from what I had learnt in class so this was my chance to think strategically about events, target audience and promotion within a professional environment. Almost straight away I got involved in planning events and creating PR proposals, and I quickly found that in this role there is a strong emphasis on communication skills as you are the person generating interest around an event and ensuring its promotion. Being comfortable approaching potential collaborators and media contacts is crucial, and an aspect of the job that I have thoroughly come to enjoy – there is something satisfying about receiving a positive response from the perfect collaborator to your event. Along with this there were also opportunities to take on reader and proofreading tasks.

A highlight of this internship for me was becoming one of Ringwood’s Submission Managers. In this role I am involved in every aspect of the submissions process from considering manuscripts at every stage, to communicating with authors and liaising with readers. This has also been a great opportunity to sharpen my skills in reading and get into a copyediting mindset and I have really enjoyed taking an active role in such an interesting area of the publishing process.

Overall, my experience interning with Ringwood has been a great insight into different areas of publishing within a small, independent publishing house. It has given me a taste for learning as much as I can about the way that different publishing houses function and the different roles that are available in publishing leading me to take another shorter internship with the brilliant Think Publishing. This experience has been indispensable to me and I would truly recommend Ringwood as a fantastic publishing house to intern with for anyone who takes an open-minded, practical approach to learning and really wants to get stuck in.

Ringwood image

Photo: One of the best parts about my internship has been creating an event to promote Ringwood’s Scots-Irish backlist titles. Above are some of the books that will feature in the event.

Check out more of Ringwood’s vibrant backlist titles at http://www.ringwoodpublishing.com/

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Margaret Oliphant: a force to be reckoned with

When I first began exploring titles for my Publishing Production project I was really struck by how many of Margaret Oliphant’s works I had never heard of before, and speaking with peers, family and friends I realised I wasn’t alone. When I came across the powerful and driven voice of the central character in Oliphant’s novel Kirsteen (1890), I knew I had to help bring this largely forgotten story to readers today.

Set in the early 19th century, Kirsteen tells the story of a refreshingly feisty Scottish woman who rejects the conventional path which had been laid out for her before she was even born. Described by the narrator as ‘one of those who make a story for themselves’, she was determined to shape a future for herself through her trade and natural skill; a sentiment echoed in Oliphant’s own life, herself a woman who wrote to support her large extended family.

Oliphant was an unstoppable force – her work being abundant and widely popular in its day, even favoured by Queen Victoria. It is easy to see why – Kirsteen celebrates complex and interesting women, with a powerful narrative driving the novel that makes it impossible to put down. She was truly a force to be reckoned with.

This book will be edited and designed by Elizabeth Eagan. Find and follow me on Twitter 

Inspiring Women

For me, one aspect since beginning the MSc Publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University that has inspired me the most is the many women speakers at events and lectures that I have had the opportunity to attend, not to mention the wonderful industry women I have had the pleasure of communicating with directly. In their own way, each of these women have not only helped me to better understand the industry that I am just entering into, but have inspired me to really seize every opportunity, whether it be by providing valuable advice, an insight into their role or an opportunity.

The thing that has stood out to me this trimester is the strength of the women I have come across in the industry. One of the first events that I attended, Magfest, opened with speaker Zillah Byng-Thorne, Chief Executive Officer at Future Plc. She encouraged, ‘be open to the unexpected’ – impacting advice considering how dubious climbing the career ladder can be in an age where many top positions are filled by men. Not for Byng-Thorne, her advice was unflinching, frank and encouraging – don’t think there is only one path for you; take every opportunity; go for it. That there are many different roles in publishing, often unexpected or intertwined, is a message which has since been recurrent throughout this course. What has become increasingly clear to me, is the importance to have confidence and to be open to taking chances.

Each one of the many guest lecturers that have visited have imparted experience, knowledge and advice in indispensable, unique ways. Most of these guest lecturers were women, and strikingly for me, inspirational in their passion. Ann Crawford, spent the day with us on two separate occasions, giving an insight into the progression of her career in publishing through the years and the power of give and take as she delved into publishing house dynamics. At the forefront of everything, however, was her love for what she does. Helen Williams, another guest lecturer, inspired with her passion and expertise in Print Production – this industry is certainly not lacking in passionate, expert women.

Susan Kemp’s masterclass was particularly motivating. From her experienced position as a freelance editor and as Publishing postgrad alumni, her insight made me think not only about where I might fit into publishing, but to value the skills that I have as well as the efforts of others. Kemp’s understanding and compassionate air with her unwavering resolve shows that you do not need to have one or the other – there is strength in each of these qualities. Knowing my own worth in whichever area I decide to go into, being open to continuous development, having empathy for authors and clients, and the importance of an entrepreneurial attitude stood out to me as invaluable advice going forward.

Whether it be from a visionary outlook, expertise or an entrepreneurial perspective, each of these women have carved a place for themselves in authoritative, creative and innovative roles.

There is also an element of shared experience and support among many women in the industry. My first-hand experience of this has pleasantly surprised me. The readiness of various women who I have been in contact with, most of whom have been in managerial roles, have amazed me with their support and willingness to provide opportunities; from providing me with an open and honest insight into the inner workings of their company, to being open to my input, to providing reading and writing experience. In each case, the insight and skills I have gained have been invaluable, and the opportunities to get involved have strengthened my belief that the publishing world is where I should be. Indeed, I believe that these women, selfless in their support and encouragement, pave the way for future generations of publishers.

Of course, it is not simply industry professionals and guest speakers who inspire me. Most of my classmates who I have had the pleasure of learning with since September are women, and not only share a love of books and creativity, but in my experience, are supportive and encouraging of each other (as are the men) – a great sign as one day we may be colleagues.

However, I must add, these are just a handful of the many women who have inspired me in trimester one, and I am positive there are many more to come.

Overall, I am feeling optimistic about the variety of jobs that are out there for women that are achievable through hard work, and encouraged by the supportive community of women who make the industry seem less daunting for newcomers like myself. Of course, seeing an aspect of the industry that is working well – inspiring, supportive and motivating – those areas which are truly lacking have become glaringly obvious to me: many top positions are largely occupied by men and a recent survey shows that there is still a gender pay gap at 15.7% (bookcareers.com). There is also a striking lack of diversity in the industry which publishers don’t seem to have the answer to yet. Luckily, I have next trimester to explore these pertinent issues further!