Postgraduate Publishing studies at Edinburgh Napier University. INDUSTRY APPROVED Publishing courses (accredited by the Professional Publishers Association and Creative Skillset). MSc Publishing was the first Publishing programme in the UK to be approved by the Professional Publishers Association. It is one of only two UK courses to be accredited by Creative Skillset. MSc Magazine Publishing is the only course of its kind in Scotland.
At the beginning of this course the placement module always seemed exciting, but when the time came to actually organising one, it all felt a bit more daunting. I had no direct experience in the industry, and although you’ve got to start somewhere, getting that first bit of experience is always tricky. It’s difficult to put yourself into a situation where you don’t really know the day-to-day workings of a publishing house and are wondering what you can bring to the table. Of course, as it turns out, I had far more to offer than I thought and those transferable skills everyone talks about really do come in handy.
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. Continue reading “My internship with Ringwood Publishing”
The opportunity to complete a placement as part of my degree was one of the deciding factors in my decision to undertake an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. Having the chance to put theoretical skills into practice in a real professional environment is obviously valuable for any student. When the time came to choose a placement I knew that I wanted to learn more about magazine publishing, particularly drinks magazine publishing, so Ferment, the UK’s No.1 Craft Beer Magazine, seemed like the ideal candidate.
I first came across Ferment at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Scottish Magazine Awards in 2017 where they won Best Customer Magazine. Having expressed an interest in magazine publishing after completing my case study on another drinks magazine, I was fortunate enough to be offered this opportunity through the MSc Publishing course. It was a really helpful insight into Scottish magazines, giving me an overview of what was out there and who were the ones to watch. Plus, it introduced me to Ferment and gave me the perfect opportunity to force myself into the dreaded territory of networking.
The opportunity to complete a work placement as part of our degree is definitely one of the most exciting aspects of the Publishing course. At the beginning of this year, I was delighted to secure a ten-week internship with the Marketing and Publicity department of one of my favourite UK publishers, the “fiercely independent” Canongate Books. Canongate works to unearth and promote the most diverse and exciting voices – and after a couple of months on the team, I have come to admire how much planning, effort, and creative thought happens behind the scenes to ensure the success of every new title.
With two full days per week, my internship was an intense and invaluable learning experience. Although I had received a list of potential tasks, I quickly found that working in Campaigns involves doing something new and exciting almost every day. One morning I would be drafting Twitter moments based on the newest reviews or pitching upcoming audiobooks, another – accompanying a Canongate author on her visits to local bookshops. If there is anything I know for certain after my time on the team, is that Marketing and Publicity is an excellent choice for anyone who dislikes routine.
Throughout the placement, I had the chance to practise my design skills by learning how to create effective promotional materials. I designed and put together showcards for festival and bookshop events, created press releases, and used Adobe programs to design quote card templates or put together pack shots. One of the highlights of my internship was seeing a showcard I designed in the local Waterstones – it was easy to be enthusiastic about the ongoing campaigns with the knowledge that my work is of actual use to the team, and that I take an active (if small) part in promoting the books that I am genuinely excited about.
I also appreciated the opportunity to use various industry-specific software and online tools. Whilst the Publishing course provides us with many practical skills, there are some aspects that can only be learned in a professional environment. Once I start a full-time publishing job within marketing and publicity, it will be invaluable to know Biblio and NetGalley or to be able to create effective newsletters on MailChimp.
Besides helping with the ongoing campaigns, I was glad to assist with the activities that are part of daily department work. I mailed out hundreds of review copies and catalogues to journalists and bloggers (allegedly becoming a master of folding press releases). I searched through piles of newspapers and magazines to scan any Canongate mentions. While these tasks might sound mundane, it is ultimately not only a necessary but also a rewarding part of Publicity work – sending review copies is crucial for building relationships with journalists and bloggers, and seeing the resulting reviews and social media engagement reminds that this work is always valuable.
As Canongate has offices in both Edinburgh and London, every two weeks I would participate in weekly department meetings that gathered all Marketing and Publicity employees to discuss the ongoing promotional activities. During a larger, monthly meeting, I had the fantastic opportunity to learn how book campaigns come to life, with all the details, challenges, creative ideas, and teamwork involved in the planning stages. On two occasions, I also sat in the meetings of the Production department and could observe the impressive team effort involved in delivering the final product.
As much as the Publishing course aims to give us the knowledge and skills to enter any publishing sector, it is also a lot about discovering what makes us tick – and over the last few months, through various projects that involved managing events and social media and finally through my placement at Canongate, I came to realise that Marketing and Publicity really is one of “my” areas, allowing me to use creative ideas, writing, and design to bring the books I love to a wider audience.
Interning at Canongate was a great experience and I couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone looking to gain valuable skills and insights into the campaigns process. The wonderful Publicity team were always friendly and ready to answer my questions – and I got to work in the same room with Sylvie the (cutest) Dog!
Go check out some of Canongate’s amazing latest (and upcoming) releases (click on the cover to learn more):
Branding plays a key part in the publishing industry today. As a young professional, you have to stand out from the crowd in order to get jobs, so a part of doing this is branding yourself. If you decide to do freelance work, you are essentially setting yourself up as a branded company that contracts work. And obviously for publishing companies, having a distinctive brand that sets you apart will help you to sell books.
During the MSc Publishing course, we had a short exercise from Susan Kemp (@susanroslynkemp), a freelance corporate and publishing service provider, which means she is a freelance editor, proof-reader and project manager. Therefore, she has had experience in branding herself as a company. During her workshop, we each had fifteen minutes to create a brand name for ourselves, which would present us as our professional selves. We also had to create a logo to go along with this brand, presenting an image which would extend us as a brand into a physical image. Although a short exercise, it was incredibly beneficial to use our gut instinct to realise what was personally important to present as a professional.
As part of my placement at Connect Communications, I was tasked with creating and branding a mobile application targeted at University-affiliated Dance Societies/Sports Clubs. It essentially would replace a digital magazine, with multi-media and instant content. I had to produce the concept for the app, who the audience was, and what it was aiming to do. Here are a few things to consider when branding a company that I have learned throughout my placement. Continue reading “The Importance of Branding”
When you want to get your foot in the door of an industry, it’s often advised that you carry out a substantial period of work experience with an appropriate company; undertaking an internship not only allows you to experience first-hand, the environment you hope to someday work in, but it also looks great on your CV. However, the prospect of working unpaid for a length of time can be incredibly daunting and this is why it’s particularly important the company you’re working for recognises that and does everything they can to help you in other ways.
When I responded to Fledgling’s advert for Editorial work experience, I was not initially aware of what the working hours would be, I just knew that I wanted to apply and if successful, do everything I could to commit to the hours asked of me. I’d been aware of the publisher beforehand and admired their commitment to publishing debut authors as much as possible.
‘Fledgling Press are an independent publisher in Edinburgh, committed to publishing work by debut authors, emerging talent and new voices in the literary world.’
They also state on their website that they ‘have a healthy intern programme where [interns] don’t just have to make the tea.’ I in no way expected to be successful, having (I’ll admit) missed my initial interview slot because I went to the entirely wrong address. So, after the rescheduled interview and heading home annoyed at myself, I was shocked and delighted when Clare Cain emailed me to offer me the placement.
What I want to share the most about my experience so far is how completely and utterly accommodating and understanding Clare has been from the outset. When she emailed me offering me the position, she stated that it would be around six months long (February to September), but that the hours were one day a week on Wednesdays, 9:30am-3:30pm, 45-minute lunch break inclusive. That though the placement itself is unpaid, travel expenses would be taken care of and that come September, if I don’t want to leave or am looking for a job and feel it beneficial to stay, then I certainly can.
In addition to this flexibility, on a weekly basis Clare asks me how my course is going, what my workload is like and if I’d rather not come in the following week in order to focus on my studies. Though I have not yet felt the need to take any time off, it is incredibly comforting to know that I need only phone in, to let Clare know I won’t be able to make it, and that it would truly be okay.
Fledgling Press is run from Clare’s home in Portobello, by herself, husband Paul and designer Graham. Myself, Clare and a fellow intern spend our Wednesday’s sitting around the kitchen table, drinking copious amounts of tea (always offered to us by Clare) and trying our best not to get distracted by her beautiful dog, Charlie. Clare’s family are also often around, equally as welcoming as Clare, and with one daughter at university herself and another at the end of high school, it’s easy to relate and chat away about all our different career goals.
In terms of my involvement with the work itself, I cannot commend Clare enough for the access and control she gave me right from the beginning. On the first day, I was given login details to submissions, encouraged to turn down those I felt were better suited to a different publisher’s list, and to request the full manuscript of those I was interested in. At first, I was trepidatious about turning people down, reading as much as I could, convinced I would decide they were suited to us. Clare laughed nostalgically at this and assured me she was the same when she first started out. But that to keep up with the volume of submissions, you had to have the heart to say no and move on.
As Fledgling are a small, independent publisher, typesetting is done in-house, and I’ve had the opportunity to put the skills I’ve been learning in class to the test, sometimes even surprising myself when I’ve been able to show Clare something about InDesign she didn’t know. Though the role is Editorial, it has become clear to me that the roles are widely shared in a small publishing house and it’s all the more enjoyable for that. In my interview, I asked Clare what it is that makes someone really stand out to her, someone she can see going far in the industry, and she replied that an awareness of the industry as a whole is essential. It bodes well for someone to have an understanding of the areas outside of their own.
Though I could write forever about how much I’m enjoying my time there, I will say one more thing. The first full manuscript I worked on, where I carried out the final proof, was a genre I would never usually intend to read. However, I treated the writing with immediate respect and sat down, ready to pay full attention and to try to understand the author’s vision and world they had worked so hard to create. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement and I spent a great deal of time after, gushing to Clare about how much I loved it and how wonderful it was that I was one of the first people to ever see the work before it becomes a book.
I can assure you that travelling that little bit farther (really only a 30-minute bus journey from the city centre) to a little seaside town every Wednesday has been, and I’m sure will continue to be incredibly worth my time. I am learning so much from a powerhouse of a woman who has truly made Fledgling Press what it is today, and I feel nothing less than valued for the help I am able to give, as a complete beginner in this exciting, supportive and passionate industry that is publishing.
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.