London Book Fair and the Publishing Trends in 2018 and 2019

When I first entered the London Book Fair, I got a mixed feeling of excitement and stress. The place was huge, and there were so many exciting things to see that I felt overwhelmed at first. After making sense of the Olympia (and that took me most of the first day), I started to enjoy everything that the Fair had to offer both as a Publishing student and as a reader.

photo.jpg
London Book Fair as seen from the first floor

Even though I spent most of my time in the Fair stuck in the Literary Translation Centre, listening to many inspiring translators and publishers about the day-to-day business of bringing books from all over the world to the UK, I had time to rush to the first floor of the Olympia and listen to one of the most interesting talks of the Fair, and this article will be about that particular talk, which I think is very interesting for both students and publishers as it is about something that, whether we like it or not, we have to deal with: Continue reading “London Book Fair and the Publishing Trends in 2018 and 2019”

Advertisements

#SYPConf19

Building Bridges and Breaking Walls

In our current times of political and social uncertainty, SYP’s focus for this years conference was on how we can bridge gaps in the publishing industry and break down barriers that provide obstacles for young publishers starting out. The title of this years SYP Conference hinted at the diverse range of topics that were to be discussed. The day started off early and upon registration we were greeted with the prospect of a tote bag filled with many industry necessities; a copy of The Bookseller and The Skinny along with a few free books – a publisher’s dream.

The talks were soon on their way where we were privileged to hear from the keynote speaker Marion Sinclair, talking about her time in the industry and how it has changed over the years. Then it was onto our first panel Elsewhere, Home: Scotland Meets the World where there was interesting discussion on the international approach that can be applied to publishing. Scottish publishing appears to have an international appeal where certain books have the power to travel across the continent and beyond. Scotland’s vibrant culture fuels international interest of Scottish novels where publishers can latch onto the attraction to our rich culture and promote Scottish writing worldwide.

After a short coffee break to mull over the benefits of international publishing and also the challenges   such as visas being rejected and the high financial cost to go worldwide we had a decision to make. The conference offered us our first choice of panels  between How to be Both: Transcending Genre or The Trick is to Keep Breathing: Managing img_0763your Time.  If only we could be in two places at once. As I’m a bit of a lost cause in terms of time management (and as How to be Both references a novel by one of my favourite authors Ali Smith) I decided to go with the former – and I wasn’t disappointed. The panellists engaged in discussion about what genre means to them, how it both helps booksellers yet can also be restrictive for publishers.  Francais Bickmore was right in saying that genre is a ‘necessary evil’ in that it simplifies book categories yet can inhibit the reach and appeal of that book. It seems the way genre is used and recognised is constantly changing.  As Ann Landmann suggested ‘genres are like trends, they will come round again, eventually.’ We can’t escape genre but maybe we can use it in new and innovative ways to make people more interested in different books and to celebrate the kinds of reading we do enjoy.

Next up was The Driver’s Seat: Sales Representation in Scotland which asked the question ‘What makes the ecosystem of Scottish publishing tick?’ It was interesting to have different perspectives of the bookselling process from both a publisher and bookseller’s point of view.  The art of bookselling continually changes with the rise in social media altering how we as consumers are attracted to different books and different mediums of reading.   We were then treated to an inside look into what owning your own publishing company is actually like.  Heather McDaid and Laura Jones from 404 Ink and Samuel McDowell from Charco Press joined us and gave honest insights into the trials and tribulations of owning your own business. They didn’t make it sound easy but it was refresimg_0774hing to hear individuals willing to share their low points and it made me even more excited in seeing what projects and ambitions these publishers will follow next.

To round off our panels for the day we heard what industry experts thought about diversity in publishing. Wish I Was Here: Inclusivity in Children’s Publishing raised some important questions as to what is being done in the industry to ensure publishing is more representative of its readers. Whilst the results of the diversity reports don’t paint the industry in a good light, it is encouraging to see that some publishers are challenging the ways in which they hire staff and commission work. As bleak as diversity in publishing can look, the panel had an optimistic approach that it can be improved if all aspects of the industry can work together.img_0777

To finish off our day we had an inspiring closing keynote from Perminder Mann of Bonnier Books UK sharing her experience of how she got into the publishing industry. In telling her story, it is evident the amount of drive and passion she has put into her work and it is clearly paid off.  One of her top tips was to ‘always remember you have the right to be there’, a statement I’m sure many of us will take away and hold on to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#ScotTradeFair with The Wee Book Company

It’s fair to say that we were all a little grumpy as we made our way to Hanover Street at 7am on a chilly January Monday. As interns at newly formed publishing house The Wee Book Company, we had been offered the chance to attend Scotland’s Trade Fair with Susan, the Managing Director. Of course, we had jumped at the chance, but when the time actually cam for us to force ourselves out our beds at 6am, we were all beginning to wonder what we had let ourselves in for. Fortunately, coffee is a marvellous thing, and by the time we reached Glasgow, our excitement about the day had begun to reignite.

IMG-20190122-WA0011Once we arrived and saw the stall occupied by The Wee Book Company, we were raring to go once again. The Company had kindly invited Angus, Alison and I to the trade fair for one day, in order to get an insight into the purchasing and distribution process. It was a fascinating experience, and made me consider employment in areas of the publishing industry which I previously knew nothing about. Continue reading “#ScotTradeFair with The Wee Book Company”

Starting the Network

Networking…

The dreaded term that instils an immediate sense of unease… While chatting to like-minded people may seem like the easiest thing in the world, the actuality of approaching someone unknown and introducing yourself is nothing less than daunting. Is it the age-old fear of rejection? The inadequacy of being surrounded by successful people in the industry? Or perhaps just the general anxiety at the thought of making conversation with a stranger. My first encounter with networking was to be at Magfest 2018, the international magazine festival held in Edinburgh. As one of the first publishing events I had ever attended, I was filled with equal parts excitement at learning more about the magazine industry and apprehension at meeting new people and networking.

magfest panel
Magfest panel

Thankfully I wasn’t going it alone, many of my new publishing class would be at Magfest which served as a relief – we always had each other. While our aim was to branch out and make publishing contacts, it was also nice to get to know our cohort. Looking around my new classmates, I suddenly realised we were already making contacts. As the new age of emerging publishers, we were important assets to each other. We are (hopefully) going to be successful components of the publishing industry so the networks (and friendships) we make now are just as significant as those all-important industry contacts. I had started networking and I hadn’t even realised it. Continue reading “Starting the Network”

London Book Fair: A First Impression

A publishing student talks about her experience tackling #LBF18

There has been a lot of talk, both in my classes and out of them in the last few months, about London Book Fair. Talk about how big it is, the idea that it might be overwhelming when you first see it, that there will be a lot of publishers there: not just from the UK but worldwide. Where will you stay? How long are you going for? What panels are you planning to go to? Which stalls do you want to visit? Do you have any meetings set up? No- do you?

Honestly by the time I got on the train last Monday morning I was sick to the back teeth of talking about London Book Fair (LBF). I just wanted to see it. Continue reading “London Book Fair: A First Impression”

MagFest 2017

DSC_2158
MagFest Programme (Photo Credit: Grace Balfour-Harle)

On 15th September 2017, a group of Edinburgh Napier publishing MSc students were lucky enough to attend MagFest at Central Hall, Edinburgh. MagFest is a Scottish Magazine Festival for professionals (and students) to hear about and appreciate the developments in Scottish Magazine publishing. Organised superbly by PPA Scotland (Professional Publishers Association Scotland), the day was full of guest speakers, workshops and culminated in an interview with self-professed magazine-enthusiast and novelist: Ian Rankin. The theme for this year was ‘heroes of the magazine industry… some of their visions for the future of magazines.’

As well as Ian Rankin, there were many other leading experts in the magazine publishing field speaking throughout the day, including Zillah Byng-Thorne, the Chief Executive of Future PLC, Ruth Mortimer, the director of the Festival of Marketing and an interview with John Brown, the founder of Brown Publishing. These industry-leaders were only too happy to explain their vision for the future of publishing, which can be summed up with the phrase: ‘Be open to the unexpected.’ (Zillah Byng-Thorne)

The organisers of MagFest stayed true to the theme of Visions of the Future, with speakers from four new magazines in Scottish publishing: Boom Saloon, Cable, Marbles and Word-O-Mat. Each of these magazines had a unique point of view, and filled a gap in the market, whether it be by democratising art, discussing taboos like mental health, giving Scotland a voice in international affairs, or by simply making tiny little books filled with beautiful content. Vice Publishing talked about a way forward using technology to maximise the brand of a magazine, and that ‘all that matters is great storytelling’ whatever the medium. The future of magazine publishing remains strong.

However, the PPA Scotland also strived to ensure that although magazine enthusiasts look to the future for inspiration, we must also understand and value the past. A talk from the magazine archivists, Mark Hymen and Tory Turk, from The Hymen Archives, the largest collection of magazines in the world, showed us how magazines ‘were your internet’ and how much of a resource they are still today which we must preserve and protect.  The Audience of the Future Panel discussed the tactility of magazines and that children, despite being known as the technology generation, appreciate the feeling of reading a traditional magazine. And Mark Neil showed us how using inspiration from the past can give a fresh take on the future at his talk Cover Versions.

DSC_2156
Fringe Event: Paul getting Lucie to spill all the gossip (Photo Credit: Grace Balfour-Harle)

As well as the day full of speakers, I was lucky enough to attend the Fringe Event the night before, which was an interview of Lucie Cave, the Editor of Heat Magazine conducted by Paul MacNamee, the editor of The Big Issue. As well as spilling a bit of gossip, Lucie illustrated how she used multi-level platforms to maximise the brand of Heat, and how important it is to understand what the readership wants. She also highlighted the importance of following your instinct and turning a challenging task (like an difficult interviewee) to your advantage, and to always engage with your audience.

Overall, MagFest 2017 was a very informative and exciting event for all who attended, especially for the large group of young student publishers who just can’t wait to get started in telling their own story. As Ian Rankin said in his interview: ‘Do your research, but have fun with it.’

DSC_2173
Ian Rankin and Barry McIlheney (Photo Credit: Grace Balfour-Harle)

Diversity, equality and representation in London Book Fair

Conspicuous by its absence – where was the LGBT+ representation in the 2017 programme?

When I went to London Book Fair (LBF), I thought long and hard about which talks I wanted to attend. I was determined to learn as much as possible in the time available, but that meant making every moment count. While attending talks I couldn’t network – and vice versa. So I needed to focus. I decided to target talks focusing on diversity above all else, while fitting in as much about children’s and YA, technological innovation, translation and fantasy as I could.

So what was on my shortlist for diversity? There was a wide range of talks to choose from, but due to… Continue reading “Diversity, equality and representation in London Book Fair”