Lizzie’s List of Postgrad Pointers

Recently I was contacted by someone possibly undertaking the MSc Publishing course later this year, looking for some answers and reassurance about what the course entails. I was immediately reminded of my own nerves prior to postgrad life, having had many of the same questions myself (but not taking the smart step of finding the answers, as this person has done). Whilst I’m one who’d only call themselves wise ironically, and definitely don’t have all the answers, perhaps this post will help relieve some stress, even if only for one person! Now, all aboard the train to Tip Town.

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Don’t panic (as any good hitchhiker will know).

Generally good advice for life, but especially on an MSc. Whether you’ve gone straight into an MSc from undergrad, or are returning to education after however many years, it can be a shock to the system with how it differs from what you’re used to – whether that be assessments, the level of independent study, etc. Don’t panic! The tutors on this course are happy to answer your questions, no matter how stupid the questions may seem to you. We’re all here to learn, and they’re here to teach us.

Help others, and let others help you.

The peer support throughout this course has been spectacular. At the beginning of the year someone set up a Facebook group for all of us to join, and it’s a great way to check if your small queries can be answered before emailing one of the tutors who are undoubtedly very busy. In class it’s also super handy – everyone has different experiences which lend varying skills, for example I used to be an English tutor and therefore have a keen eye for grammar and can glance over pieces of writing. Others have more technical experience, and can help in an InDesign or Photoshop crisis. Helping your pals as you go is also a great way to cement what you’re learning in your brain, and ensure that you’re remembering the new skills being taught. Continue reading “Lizzie’s List of Postgrad Pointers”

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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/

Discovering Jane Findlater

For this trimester’s publishing project, we were given a list of Scottish out-of-copyright authors to choose from.  I was quickly drawn to Jane Helen Findlater, as upon researching her I was astonished at how little information was available online on the life and work of a woman who was apparently, along with her sister, quite commercially successful in her time. I thought she’d be neglected long enough, and thus I took on the challenge of working from a 1906 scanned American copy of The Ladder to the Stars – there was no alternative option (so hard to hunt down this book!) and I was really set on doing this book although I expected it would be a devil to edit. (And I was right.) So who was Jane Findlater?

The youngest of three daughters, she was born in 1866, a year and a half after her sister Mary. Their mother herself an avid storyteller as well as a translator, the girls grew up to love words, and soon enough they started writing their own stories. Growing up in rural Lochearnhead was quite restrictive, and there was little else to do other than play and read. There was a third, older sister named Sarah (who went by Mora, the Gaelic version of the name) but their bond with her was incomparable to the bond they shared with each other. Mary described them as ‘halves of one whole’: Jane’s gentle, compassionate nature was quite complementary to her sister’s, who was much more impatient and fiery. Continue reading “Discovering Jane Findlater”

My Placement with Luna Press Publishing

One of the qualities I most wanted to work on at the start of my MSc Publishing course was time-management and organisational skills. I loved the idea of being responsible for finding a placement by myself and choosing a publisher that best suited the sort of skills that I wanted to improve. It seemed as if smaller publishers tended to give their interns more responsibilities and autonomy over their duties whilst on placement. I also wanted to better understand the running of and issues that affect smaller, niche publishers both due to personal interest for a future career and to assist in the writing of my dissertation on that topic.

Luna Press is a small company dedicated to the publishing of science fiction, fantasy and academia; it is run by the author Francesca Barbini. Before myself, Luna Press had never taken on a student on placement due to having only been founded in 2015. Despite this, Luna Press has already produced books that have been shortlisted for awards. I met with Francesca to discuss whether I would be a good fit for Luna Press and whether Luna Press would be able to offer the sort of work experience that would be useful to me.

My placement consisted of mostly work from home with a few in-person meetings to check in. I think this sort of structure helped me to learn to prioritise my work for university and deadlines for my placement. I kept Fridays free to work on my weekend blog posts for Luna Press and this gave more structure and enabled me to keep on top of both. I really enjoyed being able to have a creative outlet and have importance placed on my opinions and advice which was the basis for many of my articles. My placement with Luna Press had a great deal of emphasis on bringing together work and my MSc Publishing education; consolidating my skills by making them transferrable was very useful for me. For example with InDesign, I was able to show my new skills learned whilst at university and be given advice on how to hone them whilst on my placement.

I was given one-on-one feedback and a real insight into the day-to-day running of a small publisher. I mentioned that I would find looking over some contracts interesting as we had looked at some in class and I was curious to see how they would differ at a smaller company. At the next in-person meeting I was shown a few examples and Francesca offered to go through them with me and explained some of the more complicated clauses and spoke about the negotiations and process that those involved went through to arrive at the final contract. This led to a discussion about how Luna Press conducts business and the ways they offer authors something different to larger publishers. Francesca wants everyone that works with Luna Press to be able to feel like family. This was a huge incentive for me when I was researching publishers to do my placement with. When I came across the website for the company, I was very interested in the “Luna Family” page and the dynamic there. I felt very much as though this rang true to my placement because I was always asked what would best help me and what responsibilities would most fit in with my schedule. I cannot wait to see what Luna Press achieve next and hope to stay in contact to see those well-deserved successes in the future.

 

Check out Luna Press Publishing!

https://www.lunapresspublishing.com/

Photo: One of our in-person meetings to discuss the placement progress. These took place in cafes and bars and were informal.

What’s the craic with Northern Irish Publishing?

Any undergraduate student hopes for a job in their field of study. But what about Masters students, who pay a lot of money they don’t have to study something they are passionate about, but then discover their country doesn’t have a strong voice in their field of study?

When I wanted to apply for Publishing, I adamantly searched Google, almost twenty pages deep, in the hopes of there being a course here at home, in either Ireland or Northern Ireland. However, it was never God’s plan for me to study at home because I have learned so much here and love the city of Edinburgh and the people in it. Still, I did wonder, why isn’t there a course at home?

I was told, once people heard about me moving here, that I would never come back home because if I wanted to join the publishing industry, I would have to stay on the mainland. Since I rarely listen to other people, I wasn’t put out by their comments, because I knew I would be home again. And I am going to be because I know there are many publishers in Northern Ireland – you just have to look for them, because their voices are small.

It was through looking for Northern Irish companies that I got a job. Ever the inquisitive, I began emailing the ones that caught my interest back in October, in the off chance someone might have an opening, or simply, for them to bear me in mind when I returned in April. All were lovely in their responses, as so many are in this industry, and one company even told me they had a part-time, work from home, opportunity opening, which is exactly what I needed, with not being at home. To make it even better, they were a Christian Publishing House.

Since February, I have been editing and proof-reading for them, and it is so refreshing to be doing something I love. I am continuously building up my skills and gaining vital experience for the future.

Last week, I attended the London Book Fair (LBF), which has 1500 exhibitors displaying their publishing businesses, and I discovered something – out of 1500, 1 was Northern Irish. And the only reason it was being represented was because it had recently been bought by a bigger Irish company. Even the Irish publishers only had one stand. In the back of my mind, Northern Irish publishing and its status in the publishing world, has always plagued me. Since discovering this at LBF, it has spurred me on to write my dissertation on my little home country and where it stands in the publishing industry and how it can be improved.

I remain optimistic that Northern Irish publishing has a big future, not only in the UK, but worldwide.30784610_10213226848560554_1647210126_n

Photo: Mussenden Temple, Downhill, Co. Londonderry – which used to be a library where the master of the house (left) used to go for peace and quiet while reading – a fancy book nook!

International Women’s Day: Violet Jacob

A little about Violet Jacob for International Women’s Day

There is little I can think of that is more tragic than a fantastic story that gets lost in time. For this reason, I have decided to reproduce Flemington by Violet Jacob for my Book Project this term.

Violet Jacob was a Scottish poet and novelist who lived between 1863 and 1946. She holds a special place in my heart not only because she was a born and bred Angus girl, like myself, but also because Flemington was surprisingly ahead of its time for a novel published in 1911. I know that that’s a phrase that we use all too often at the moment, but Flemington is a novel about a Jacobite and a Crown Spy who meet and after one night together have a connection so strong that the spy, Archibald Flemington, abandons his loyalties.

It was claimed to be ‘the best Scots romance since The Master of Ballantrae,’ by John Buchan, and while I haven’t read The Master of Ballantrae but I am happy to vouch for Flemington as the best romance I read in 2017. The fact that it was an Angus woman writing gay Jacobite romance only makes it something fonder to my heart.

Upcoming Release: A Hardy Woman by Violet Jacob

“She was a hardy woman now,” Violet Jacob writes in her story “Thievie,” describing the character Janet: a woman “unremarkable in feature, yet remarkable in presence,” determined to take her future in her own hands. As part of my Publishing Production project, I decided to collect seven short stories and a novella by this wonderful – and largely forgotten – twentieth-century Scottish author, all featuring her most unconventional and fascinating female characters. Titled A Hardy Woman, this collection will include fiction from The Fortune-Hunters and Other Stories (1910), Tales of My Own Country (1922) and The Lum Hat (published posthumously in 1982).

The book will be edited and designed by Alice Piotrowska. Feel free to contact and follow me on Twitter and check out my Goodreads profile.