Vagabond Voices Placement

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As part of our publishing course we have the opportunity to apply for practical placements in the second trimester. Thus, in December began the hunt for internships. The first people I e-mailed were Vagabond Voices, based in Glasgow, and I got a quick response from the person who runs the publishing company, Allan Cameron. I was beyond excited to hear from him and after a few more exchanges they took me on board and I began my placement in the middle of January.

Vagabond Voices are an amazing, small, independent publisher focusing on publishing translations and literary fiction. They recognize the importance of translated literature and the stories of different people and cultures. The publishing industry is currently discussing the issues of diversity and inclusivity and Allan has been trying to tackle all these problems for the last 10 years by translating a variety of stories into English.

I am also very interested in the power of the translated voice so this seemed like the perfect placement for me. I started my first day with great enthusiasm that has not waned since then. I utterly enjoy spending my Fridays there doing a variety of tasks. Dana, Allan’s right hand woman, understands how important this placement is for us and does her very best to make sure we make the most of it. She lets each intern try a bit of everything.

I started by helping out with the social media. I have always been a bit afraid of social media and marketing but I found out that tweeting and creating posts can be fun and engaging. I also realized that it takes much more time than I had thought.

I was also allowed to dip my finger into the submissions, an activity that I am still doing. I think this has been the best part for me so far. The sheer volume of submissions that a small publisher receives is staggering. There is always so much to read but I have found out that I really enjoy doing it. There is rarely a hidden gem in the pile of pages but every manuscript teaches you something new and I am started to understand how to separate my own literary preferences and the text itself. I have learnt that objectivity and decisiveness are key when reading submissions and practice indeed makes perfect.

With practice in mind, Dana let the interns proofread a manuscript that is to be published this year. This was an incredible and valuable experience as we were allowed to see quality writing and exercise our judgment in tweaking the manuscript. The amount of work that goes in editing and proofreading a piece of writing is amazing and a person needs to pay attention to every miniscule detail. It is definitely a task that appeals to me. I put into practice everything I have learnt so far from my course and definitely enjoyed the feeling of holding a manuscript and doing my best to make it even better if possible.

As a whole, I can only recommend Vagabond Voices. Allan and Dana are amazing people with a lot of knowledge and it is a privilege to work with them, pick their brains and have a chat about books and publishing as an industry. I have tried a variety of publishing tasks and I have come to understand a bit better how a publishing company works on a daily basis. What I would like to emphasize in the end is the way interns are treated at Vagabond Voices. Both Allan and Dana fully realize that interns are not paid and they do their best to make up for this fact. The hours I do on Fridays are flexible and Allan always says that we are to come and go as we please since we are not getting paid. This flexibility and way of thinking is vital for publishers who open their doors to unpaid interns. Dana has played a major role in my placement so far. She is the one that usually gives the daily tasks and she always tries to give us something new because she realizes that we are there to learn. She has offered us a range of work and at the moment she is preparing a feedback on our editorial job and all of this is on top of her actual work. This understanding and effort have really impressed me and I really urge everyone to go and check Vagabond Voices out as the work their doing is amazing.




Weegie Wednesday


From the very first day in the Publishing postgraduate course in Edinburgh Napier, we were encouraged to make the most of our time and network as much as possible. Go to events, book signings, SYP chats, anywhere that you might meet people from the industry and forge relationships. That is a dreaded idea by many students but all of us understood the importance of networking and thus began a term of events, new encounters and awkward smiles.

One of the events I attended this term was The Weegie Wednesday in Glasgow. I am particularly proud of going to this one because I went on my own and I even talked to people. Weegie Wednesday have been going strong for the last 10 years. It happens once a month, on a Wednesday (guess you didn’t figure this one out), and it is a gathering of writers, booksellers, publishers and book lovers, basically anyone infatuated with the written word. They focus on networking and highlight available business opportunities so it is a brilliant place for students dreading the prospect of finding a job in the future and forming industry connections. The people behind Weegie Wednesday also gather a number of hosts, writers, publishers, artists, etc. who give a short talk and start the discussion for the night.

So, I made myself go and arrived on a wet and cold November evening in the CCA, the Centre for Contemporary Arts. I am guilty of passing by this building for years and never really going inside it. It is a lovely place that is the hub for creative activity so for anyone in Glasgow, go and visit it. It is brilliant; they are open till late, hosting a number of events and they have a brilliant bar that serves liquid courage for those of us scared of meeting people. So there I was, in the CCA, went to the bar and realized that I am an hour earlier for the actual Weegie Wednesday. I found myself attending their annual meeting where they discuss finances and choose new board members. I sensed I should not really be there. However, everyone was incredibly nice and they did not mind me staying for the formal part of the evening. I got to find how they get sponsored, who is in charge and what the future holds for them. What was even nicer was the fact that they generously provide you with a coupon for a free drink and who does not like a wine on the house. I managed to meet a few writers, talked about their projects and was nicely surprised because they turned to be as interested in me and my course as I was in them and their writing.

The guest speaker for the evening was John Farman, writer and founder of Vital Publishing. His main field is comic books and he told us about the various phases of comic book production and the creative process of writing one. He is responsible for almost all aspects of the publishing from lettering and editing to finding the best artists for each project. It was fascinating to hear about the management of a publishing company and the way one person can handle all of this work. His comic books are not the usual superhero ones but focus more on exploring the dark edges of the human mind. He was kind enough to bring some of his works such as The School of the Damned, Purity Ring, as well as the highly controversial British social satire, Royal Descent. His talk was genuine and he openly talked about the challenges of writing and publishing and the fact that most of the time you do it for the sheer enjoyment of it rather than the money you get in the end. With his talk finished, I stayed for a while and listened to the discussion but being a poor student, I had to run and catch the last bus home.

That was my first Weegie Wednesday. I met some brilliant people, overcame my fear and realized once again how lovely and kind everyone is in this industry. I got some first-hand insight in the works of a publishing house and the challenges of the job and had a lovely chat with some Weegie Wednesday member. From writers and publishers to artists and readers we are all united by our love for books and Weegie Wednesday is the perfect place to meet some like-minded people who will greet you with lots of enthusiasm and put your worries about networking at rest.