Marketing and Publicity Placement at Canongate Books

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):

the-book-of-joan-hardback-cover-9781786892393sal-hardback-cover-9781786891877stay-with-me-paperback-cover-9781782119609

the-hidden-ways-hardback-cover-9781786891013



 

 

 

the-valley-at-the-centre-of-the-world-hardback-cover-9781786892300forever-words-paperback-cover-9781786891969

the-half-sister-ebook-cover-9781786891259

the-hoarder-hardback-cover-9781782118497

 

 

 

 

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Editorial Internship at Fledgling Press

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.

 

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Imagery ©Fledgling Press

 

 

 

Work Placement at Edinburgh University Press

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.

Placement at Pain Concern

What a placement as an editorial assistant at charity, Pain Concern, looks like

For our MSc Publishing placement module, I decided to do something a bit different to working in a publishing house and applied to help out at a charity instead.

Pain Concern is a national charity that supports and informs people with pain and those who care for them – including loved ones, carers, and professionals. They do this by providing information through their website, podcasts, and information leaflets which circulate pain clinics around the UK. They also raise awareness about pain through Pain Education sessions and fundraising techniques, and campaign to improve the provision of pain management services.

My role in the charity is as an editorial assistant, and I was really keen to volunteer some of my skills that I have developed on the course to a charity which would really benefit from them.

In-house they are a small team, but this is fleshed out by the vast array of volunteers nation-wide who help out in whatever ways they can. On my first day, I arrived to find that they were extremely welcoming and made me feel comfortable straight away. I was also pleased to find that they wanted to push me into developing into new areas and gain more experience in a variety of ways and as far as I wanted. This included the possibility to write some press releases when they appeared. There was also the chance for me to develop my web skills through updating their website and finding ways to make the articles published on the website more discoverable.

Currently, my role entails transcribing their monthly podcasts and condensing them into a short blog article to publish regularly on their website. This means I have to work closely with the trustees to ensure the articles meet The Information Standard quality checks and disseminate the correct medical information as this is so important for the patients and carers reading them. I also monitor emails and check in with the transcribers and listeners of the podcasts to relay when a new podcast is coming out, and to make sure that they send in their transcriptions to be published on the website, too. In addition to this, I will be helping the team ensure that their current and upcoming publications also adhere to The Information Standard and achieve the Crystal Mark for quality, which is one of the most important jobs.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet the trustees in person. Visits from the trustees don’t happen too often since they have to travel from all over the UK. The fact that they braved the ‘Beast from the East’ to be there that day proved their commitment to the charity and to those who rely on them, and I found that pretty inspiring. As well as the sandwiches, the staff meeting was thoroughly enjoyable. I got to sit in and hear about all the developments within the charity and the office itself, and to learn about the ways they will continue to grow in the coming months. This was exciting! I was encouraged to give feedback and it was nice to feel that even though I was so new, my views were still appreciated and even wanted.

Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pain Concern – so much so that I will probably stay on as a volunteer after this module has ended. I’ve learnt new skills and enhanced the ones that I brought with me to the charity, and I’m hugely grateful to the team for letting me join in on all the great work that they do!

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Images © Pain Concern

Getting into publishing: what I’ve learned from various industry events

Throughout the last year or so, I have gathered some tips on how to get a job in publishing, through attending various industry events. I have discovered similar pieces of advice cropping up each time, so thought I would share some of these for the benefit of anyone, like myself, looking to pursue a career in publishing…

Work experience.  The majority of hiring companies will expect applicants to have some form of relevant work experience. This is a great way to make industry connections and develop invaluable skills. It can be difficult to find the time to complete a work placement while you are studying, especially when you need that time for a paid job. However, summer holidays are a great opportunity to complete a one or two week placement, or alternatively many companies will allow you to do one day per week over a longer period of time. I have also been told by many people that working in a bookshop for a while can be very beneficial as it helps you develop a consumer-focused mindset.

Networking. The word still makes me shudder and I am far from mastering it, but know I will need to eventually as its importance has been emphasised time and time again. The first step to networking can be as simple as building a social media presence. Twitter is a crucial platform to the publishing industry, allowing you to find your voice, while maintaining a professional image and enabling you to connect with others within the industry. It’s also a good way of finding out about industry events. Networking in person, however, can be far more daunting. Events held by the SYP are a good way to start, as most of the people are either also just starting out or are there to speak to – and help – people like us. A key tip when starting a conversation is just to ask the person questions about themselves and their career.

Job Applications. A CV should be well-structured, clear, concise and roughly two pages long. It should be specific to the particular opportunity you are applying for, while being personal to you. In a creative industry, like publishing, it is important to not only describe your skills, but display them. For example, if you want to be an editor, make sure there are no errors, or if you want to be a designer, try and be innovative with the CV’s design. A cover letter should always be included in a job application. This should give the employer a good impression of you and display your personality, summarising the information on your CV and explaining why you want the job. A useful structure is industry > job> you.

Skills. Employers are looking for a number of things when you submit a job application. You will need to show that you have:

  • A sound awareness of the industry
  • Practical experience
  • A strong commercial understanding
  • Solid digital skills
  • Adaptablility
  • A willingness to try new things
  • Good communicating skills
  • A keen interest in pursuing a publishing career

Key tips. With the industry being so competitive, it is essential to remain positive and persistent. Some final tips I have learned are:

  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote
  • Go out of your comfort zone
  • Tailor everything you do to your goals
  • Say yes to absolutely everything

 

 

Visit to Dennis Publishing

As part of our southerly excursion to the London Book Fair, last week our MSc Magazine Publishing and a few MSc Publishing students had the privilege of a visit to Dennis Publishing, based in Central London.

As the 6th largest magazine publisher in the UK, Dennis also has offices in Glasgow (home of The Big Issue) and a strong  footing in the USA, where they are best known for their current affairs and news magazine, The Week. Throw into the mix their own subscription company and you can imagine how excited we were to be welcomed into their board room, with stunning views over London and a delightful selection of refreshments.

The first part of our morning was dedicated to a matter close to our hearts – how to get past the eagle-eyed recruitment officer and into the world of publishing employment. Leti Taylor supplied us with ample advice, from the structure of our CVs to the best ways to make early contact with the companies you want to work with. The importance of having some kind of online portfolio and social media presence was highlighted (and yes, it’s ok to be occasionally tipsy in those Facebook photos). Even interviews that don’t work out are a positive experience. Remember you’re essentially networking and any feedback you can get from an unsuccessful interview will serve to make the next one more impressive.

Next up in the packed schedule was Tim Danton, Editor in Chief of PC Pro and Editorial Director and Deputy MD of Dennis Technology. Tim talked us through the challenges and pitfalls of starting a new venture, in this case, an online magazine that Dennis will be launching in the near future. We discussed the essential check boxes for pitching a new magazine to the bosses (one of the most important being ‘is it economically viable?’), how digital magazine audiences differ from readers of print magazines and how it’s always good to make a decision “even if it’s wrong”. Ultimately, readerships and maintaining a trusting relationship should be put ahead of all other considerations when running your magazine.

Joel Snape, Acting Editor of Men’s Fitness gave us an intellectual workout as we discussed the challenges of adapting magazines to meet the needs of evolving audiences and compensate for the internet being the font of all knowledge. Introducing readers to new ideas and new products, asking questions that they might not have even considered asking and presenting data in digestible and fun ways were highlights. Picking your battles and not meeting competitors head-on were interesting considerations for the students, as we were encouraged to identify what we do best and do it well, whilst filling niches and keeping in touch with the readership.

Back to digital with Holden Frith, Online Editor of TheWeek.co.uk, as we discussed how editorial, writing styles and the types of news reported differs a great deal between the print and online editions of this popular international magazine. We discussed the loyalty of readers in print and online and how though a readership might be much greater on the internet, it can be more difficult to connect as many of them may be one-time hits.

Finally, brains well-past full, Julian Lloyd-Evans, MD of Advertising, talked us through the importance of creating communities for readerships and advertisers alike. Encouraging us to love media, engage fully with our passions and  to have an opinion, it was food for thought when we considered the £6bn spend on UK advertising every year and our £2bn worth of media exports overseas. A short personality test later, we were all keen when we heard about Dennis’ 12 week paid internships.

We’d like to express our thanks to the team at Dennis Publishing for making us so welcome and sharing such valuable insights into the world of publishing.

This was one of many fantastic opportunities provided by the course leaders of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses at Edinburgh Napier University.