Work Placement at Edinburgh University Press

When trying to crack the publishing industry, I think work experience does you a world of good. For me, MSc Publishing’s focus on giving students the opportunity to go out and put into practice what they’ve learnt was one of the main attractions prior to joining Edinburgh Napier way back in September.

As soon as the time came to organise a placement, Edinburgh University Press (EUP) was at the top of my list. EUP is one of the leading university presses in the UK, and specialises in producing academic books and journals across a wide range of Humanities and Social Sciences subjects to the highest standard. As a History undergraduate, I regularly used EUP’s books, so relished the chance of getting to help the team produce its latest titles.

Whilst working at EUP, I was based in the Production department where I was supervised by Ian, the Head of Production, as well as Gavin, Digital Production Controller and MSc Publishing alumnus. Over the course of my ten weeks as a production intern, I worked closely with Ian and Gavin as they taught me the ins and outs of the production process, whilst fuelling me with an abundance of tea, leaving me with what I believe is a more well-rounded understanding of production than simply typesetting and cover design. Consequently, I was able to get well and truly stuck into the production process, and learnt new skills such as converting covers from Hardbacks and PPC (Printed Paper Case) to Paperbacks and how to send books to print. Whilst adding to my new skills every week, I put into practice existing ones like proofreading; a personal highlight for me was being able to work on two sets of proofs for the Scottish Historical Review, where I was completely in my element.

But, as important as production is, editorial and marketing are equally important functions to the publishing process. During my placement, I was able to spend time with both Anna, the Head of Marketing, and Nicola, Head of Editorial where I was able to obtain a better grasp on their roles within the company. It’s invaluable to be able to pick the brains of those who make everything at EUP happen, and by having an almost mastermind-esque conversation where the special subject is EUP, I believe I’ve come away with a more solid understanding of the day-to-day running of a company.  These opportunities gave me the chance to develop a more holistic understanding of the publishing process as a whole which was hugely beneficial, especially when departments work so closely together in modern publishing.

EUP’s nomination for Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year for the 2018 British Book Awards shows there are few better to learn from in Scotland. I’ve had a brilliant time on placement at EUP, a company full of lovely people who’ve been incredibly helpful and supportive from week one, no doubt a great place to have got my first taste of publishing.

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Edit or not to edit, that is the question

One of the age old questions that students dread hearing whilst at University is “So what are you going to do after you finish?”

When I arrived in Edinburgh, I was fairly certain I wanted to be an Editor once I graduated. If you’d asked anyone else the same question during the first few weeks of the course, I’m more than confident they’d have given you the same answer – an Editor. Whilst Editors are at the heart of the publishing industry, the greatest lesson I’ve taken away from my first semester so far is that there’s more to publishing than being an Editor.

Despite not being the most creative person, the Publishing in Practice workshops have been a personal highlight of the course to date. This is where the magic happens, where the slaved over manuscript is crafted and shaped into the books we endlessly peruse in our nearest bookshop. After chipping away at our first assessment and creating my AI sheet, the thought of being an Editor moved further to the back of my mind and I start to get the inkling that maybe Production is the way to go.

However, as the guest lecturers come and go, they all leave an impression on you from their evident passion for their own department, whether it be Editorial, Marketing, Production, or Rights. Whilst Production had temporarily wrestled its way to be my number one preference for a job after graduation, Kirstin Lamb from Barrington Stoke decided that wasn’t to be the case. Following Kirstin’s enthusiastic introduction to the role Rights Management has to play in the publishing house, I began to reconsider whether production was really the direction I wanted to move. The importance of the contract and the exploitation of rights are essential for reaching a wider audience for your book, so naturally performs a vital role in any publishing house. Even though being a Rights Manager may not be as glamourous as an Editor, its significance to a publishing house’s success cannot be overstated.

So, guest lecture over, and it’s back to square one – what am I going to do after I finish? Maybe it’s rights, maybe it’s production, or who knows, maybe I’ll graduate and be exactly where I was when I came to Edinburgh, wanting to be an editor. What I do know is that I’ll change my mind every other day until I finally think, “Yeah, this is what I want to do”. But fingers crossed I’m not the only one who’s changing their mind like the weather.