Back in Germany with Napier’s publishing postgrads

Last week I had the opportunity to fly back home to Germany as part of an exchange of our publishing course at Edinburgh Napier University and the Mainz University. Early this year I already had the chance to meet some of the Mainz students while they were visiting our University. It was great to see them again and get to know each other better.

We arrived late at night on the 1st of May and started on the 2nd of May with a day at the Mainz University. We got the chance to listen to a lot of interesting topics and learn about the German book market, which was also new to me since I studied something different in my undergrad. The day ended with us seeing the Archives of the University and having a get-together with all students and speakers of the day. This obviously included some traditional food for the region, which I have to admit really missed back in Edinburgh.

On our 2nd day we had the pleasure to go to Heidelberg and not only see the beautiful city but also visited the Springer Nature office. The staff was very nice and showed us many presentations about Springer Nature’s history, future visions, and their complex looking production workflow. Thank you so much to Melanie Lehnert, Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Viktoria Meyer and Renate Bayaz for the amazing time!

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Melanie Lehnert, Communications Specialist
Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Chief Book Strategist at Springer Nature
Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Chief Book Strategist, Springer Nature
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Viktoria Meyer, Team Leader STM Book Production, Springer

Day 3 took us back to Mainz. After visiting the federal state government we had a wonderful sightseeing tour throughout the city which one of the German students Maike Malzahn organized. 

Of course, we couldn’t resist hopping in the Gutenberg museum and see the highly protected Gutenberg Bibles and other amazing books from the past.

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Our final stop was at the music publisher Schott Music. We were lucky to see the Wagner room and many first prints of Mozart and Beethoven. As I used to play the piano when I was younger I was amazed by their evolving techniques to print sheet music. They were so welcoming and even put us (the Edinburgh Napier postgrads) up on their welcome board next to their important artists who visited for that day.

Our trip ended with all of us – the German students included – meeting up in a traditional German pub the ‘Eisgrub Bräu’ in the evening. I had a really fun time and enjoyed every part of this trip. Thank you so much to all the students and teachers from Napier and Mainz for making this exchange so amazing!

I had a really fun time and enjoyed every part of this trip. Thank you so much to all the students and teachers from Napier and Mainz for making this exchange so amazing!

 

 

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Highlights from Napier’s Publishing Trip to Germany

Last week I hopped on a plane to Mainz with a group of my fellow publishing postgrads. The trip was absolutely fantastic. We had the chance to meet interesting people, explore new places and learn about the publishing landscape in Germany.

We spent a day at the university in Mainz, listening to lectures and touring their publishing archive. We enjoyed a walking tour of the city, ate delicious local cuisine and even got to tour the archives of Schott Music, a leading publisher for classic and contemporary music. As a former band geek, I was ecstatic to learn a bit about the history of music book publishing and completely enthralled to be in the same room as original work by Mozart and Wagner.

My personal highlight of our visit was a day trip to Heidelberg (aka my new favorite city). We did some sightseeing (I convinced a few classmates to join me in climbing the 313 steps up to the top of the city’s castle) and then spent the afternoon listening to presentations at Springer Nature’s headquarters.

Springer Nature is the world’s largest academic publisher, renowned for research, educational and professional and publishing. The staff made us feel extremely welcome, providing coffee, snacks and some really interesting presentations from staff in their communications, strategy and production teams. It was fascinating to hear about the publisher’s history and brand. Springer Nature has a global reach, so it was very cool to be inside such an enormous office and learn about the publishing history and process for such a large-scale company. They publish 13,000 books per year. Our group sat in awe at the complex production workflow each book passes through before being published. Even with the PowerPoint slide zoomed in at about 300%, I was still squinting to try and see all the tasks listed along the production schedule.

My favorite presentation was given by Dr. Niels Peter Thomas, Springer Nature’s Chief Book Strategist. He shared about his vision for the future of books. He discussed innovative ideas for new book formats and business models. Springer Nature is at the forefront of research and academics, so it makes sense for them to push the boundaries of what a book really is. Thomas discussed the possible use of virtual reality to provide spatial representation that helps students retain information and customized content and formats to aid readers’ learning process. The presentations provided great insight into what goes on in a major academic publishing house. It was incredibly interesting and inspiring to think about how books will evolve and how publishers will adapt to technological advancements.

I’m really happy I went on the trip. I didn’t know about it when I first enrolled at Edinburgh Napier, so it was a great surprise when they invited students to sign up for a publishing themed tour of Germany. I learned a lot and got to see some incredibly beautiful new places in the world.

Shout-out to all the amazing postgrads and professors (from Mainz and Napier) who made the trip so unforgettable.

 

 

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.

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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/

Festivals on Your Doorstep

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about UK publishing outside of London, thanks to the dedication and the hard work of organisations such as the Northern Fiction Alliance to get the voices of publishers outside the bubble of London heard. Unfortunately, before my time at Edinburgh Napier and studying my MSc in Publishing I didn’t even know that companies outside of London or Edinburgh even existed, let alone ones so close to me in the Yorkshire city I did my undergraduate degree in.

Hull.

Aside from the fact that I am now following all the right people on twitter to hear about such companies, one thing that helped me discover the literary scene in Hull was the urge to get a placement. It seemed fitting that I would head back to the place where I first learnt that publishing could be an option for me as a career path and started my journey to Edinburgh. To have my first placement with Wrecking Ball Press it completed a nice narrative circle for me, and as I learnt more and more about working in a small publishing company I also learnt about something else.

There is a thriving literary scene surrounding the area that had simplly seemed to pass me by before, and I like to claim that literature is what I love the most. I was beginning to hear of festivals because of the fact Wrecking Ball Press often helps bring such events into reality. Such as Lyricull, which celebrates music and song writing in Hull, and Humber Mouth a literature festival that focuses on literature and draws attention to the city of Hull and its passionate people.

Hull and Wrecking Ball pooled so much into their literature, art and culture ventures in the past year as they also celebrated being the City of Culture for 2017, (something I was gutted to have missed out due to the fact I graduated a year before this took place). With events happening every day to help spread the awareness of the city’s thriving culture, it simply proved that Hull has such a large wealth of talented people committed to the arts.

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Weeping Window – an art installation during the City of Culture 2017 (25th March -14th May on the Hull Maritime Museum), originally held at the Tower of London. A poppy tribute to those who served in the army.

However, learning all this got me thinking, what other cities have such thriving publishing, literature and arts scenes that are simply hidden by the size of London’s stake in the pool of festivals and companies? I was surprised at how much happens in Edinburgh when I moved here 8 months ago and it’s a capital city, so what else is out there that I simply didn’t know about before because I didn’t have the knowledge to find them and check them out?

Literature festivals help publishers, writers, readers, and even people who don’t count themselves as readers, to connect and share in their love of literature. It is platform that has helped Wrecking Ball showcase their works to a wider audience and I’m proud to know that these things were, and are still, happening in Hull. So now, wherever I end up, I will be on the look for festivals and events that will help keep me connected to literature as I pursue my career into publishing. There’s always something on your door step, you just have to look.

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”

#NapierBigRead book launch on 1 March

As you might have seen, the #NapierBigRead is well and truly underway and we are ramping up activity in the lead-up to our book launch on:
World Book Day – Thursday 1 March.

Copies of Detective McLevy’s Casebook will be available for all students and staff across the whole university!

More details can be found on our website: www.napierbigread.com, where you will see information on our recent activity, including an event at the National Records Office, a presence at the ALIEN conference, and even a mention on the BBC.
Our most recent endeavour, the #bookstohomeless initiative, is also proving to be a great success. See the video below for more details.
All books are going to the Edinburgh charity, www.streetreads.org.
Thanks to all of you who have donated your books!

 

We have a very special event planned for our book launch on
Thursday 1 March (World Book Day) – so please watch out for further details.

 

 

Publishing 6×6

On 26th October 2017, The Society of Young Publishers Scotland and The University of Edinburgh’s publishing society, PublishEd, held an evening with six speakers from six publishing companies. The aim of the evening was to provide a six-minute insight into each speaker’s role within the publishing industry.

The first speaker was Rosie Howie from educational publisher, Bright Red. Rosie explained her role as an editor throughout the processes of book production. Her useful tips were to do structural editing first in terms of formatting and style before the first draft of the final typescript is ready for a detailed copyedit. She stressed the importance of peer reviewing the author’s work, particularly in educational publishing, and in working through changes with the author to get the best results for an educational book. The next stage is where copyediting takes place before being sent to production for typesetting. Another tip I learned was that up to five proofreads of the manuscript should be carried out before signing it off as error-free and sending it to production – signing your name against poorly proofread copies is not good for your reputation as an editor! It was extremely helpful to hear the daily tasks and challenges of the editor and the importance of their overarching role within a publishing house.

The second speaker was Laura Jones, a production freelancer and one half of The List 100′s number one publisher, 404 Ink. Laura opened up the idea of production as a possible career option which before now, no one had really explained to me. She described her role in producing and designing the books for 404 Ink and the benefits – and challenges – of working as a freelancer. It was very insightful to hear how someone in my position just a few years ago has become so successful in creating her own company, and the enthusiasm she has for her role within the publishing industry was inspiring. Laura also very helpfully explained that you don’t always have to know what aspect of publishing you want to work in from the outset and that this can often be determined from trialling different areas within a smaller publishing house to discover your strengths, which was very encouraging.

Jamie Norman, campaigns assistant for Canongate, was the third speaker of the evening. Jamie discussed the importance of pitching to the marketing and publicity of a book and of having a strong hook to your pitch to really capture and hold your buyer’s attention. A useful tip I learned from Jamie was how to tailor emails to the outlet or brand that you are trying to reach and to keep email pitches succinct, leading with the most relevant information for maximum effect. Jamie discussed some of his best tried and tested marketing techniques; competitions with unique prizes saved for publication week, extensive social media campaigns for top titles, and physical advertisements which, although expensive, can be invaluable with the right design. Most importantly, I learned how crucial it is to be prolific in your marketing.

Speaker number four was Vikki Reilly from the sales team in Birlinn. Vikki really opened up the option of sales to me as a career choice in a way no one had really done before. Her passion for sales and bookshops was infectious. She described her role as being at the centre of everything, liaising with people of all departments because she was in the position of having the most market knowledge through working with book buyers on a daily basis – and spending most of her time in bookshops. She also explained her responsibilities in organising and running promotional events, traveling, and working with non-traditional outlets like whisky shops. The variety in this role was really appealing to me and was something I had never really considered before but will definitely think about now. Another top tip from Vikki; just try new things and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself!

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Slide by Vikki Reilly

The fifth speaker of the night was Janne Moller who has the very interesting job of travelling the world and selling rights for Black and White Publishing. Her key role is in selling translation, audio, and large print rights which means she has to know as many commissioning editors and publisher’s lists as possible to know who to sell to. She has the exciting role of travelling to major book fairs around the world and liaising with new people from all countries. She also described the challenging aspects of her job such as back-to-back meetings with literary agents and commissioning editors. One thing I learned from Janne was about the use of literary agents who are a type of sub-agent some publishers may utilise to sell their books in other territories much more easily. Another was literary scouts who know their clients (publishers) very well and can pick out books they would want to publish to save publishers time. It was interesting to find out about these sub-roles in publishing which I had never been introduced to before, as well as the extensive role rights managers have to play within a publishing company.

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Lastly, Mairi Oliver took the opportunity to discuss the issues of diversity within bookselling. Mairi works for the radical and diverse bookshop, Lighthouse Books in Edinburgh. She discussed the importance of her role as a bridge between the publisher and customer and the need to know your books and customers really well to get the right books to the people who’ll love them most. As a diverse bookseller, she expanded on the necessity for publishers to rethink their lists in order for minority groups to be given a larger platform within the book industry for their voices to be heard. She spoke about the need for publishers to include more women in their lists and argued for more female writers to be put forward for literary awards. It was genuinely uplifting to hear someone so passionate and dedicated about these necessary changes within the industry promoting them to fellow publishers and publishing students who are in the privileged position to make them.

Overall, the evening was completely inspiring for me, a new publishing student, in broadening my understanding of the different roles within the industry from a bunch of excited, enthusiastic, and extremely friendly people and instilled in me that same enthusiasm for a future career alongside them in the publishing industry. I’ll definitely be going to more events hosted by PublishEd and the SYP!

Images: Hannah McGeechan