Degrees of Publishing

When it was time to announce my plans after accepting the offer to join the Publishing MSc at Napier, the conversation always went the same way. “I’ve decided,” I’d say, “That I’m going to go for the publishing postgrad.”

“That’s great!” they’d reply enthusiastically. Then, inevitably, the pause. Then – “So, uh. What does that involve?”

It would be my turn to hesitate. “Oh, you know. Making books and stuff. Editing. Printing. That sort of thing.

They’d nod and smile and tell me it sounded great, and none of us would be any the wiser. I had read the Napier website and this Publishing Postgrad site, and I’d searched around a little.  I knew my explanation was lacking, but, despite that, I could not shift the image in my head. I’m sure every reader of this post will recognise it: the author in their study, tapping away at their keys, sending out the printed manuscript to hundreds of different publishers by post and waiting anxiously for an acceptance letter. The publisher receiving the big envelope, becoming engrossed by the story, and deciding to go ahead. The editing, taking out all the mistakes, and then, somehow, a cover appears and suddenly the book is in bookshops. A romantic, cinematic notion to be sure, and one that absolutely did not prepare me for the myriad of jobs that realistically need to be completed before – and after – a book is published.

PublishingTrendsetter
Image from Publishing Trendsetter.com

I have now been on the MSc Publishing course for almost ten weeks, and have been thoroughly disabused of the above notion, learning parts of the publishing process of which I had never even dreamed.

Continue reading “Degrees of Publishing”

Advertisements

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)

Dyslexia Awareness Week

A reflection upon Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017.

Today we are currently in the last day of Dyslexia Awareness Week whose campaign this year has been #PositiveAboutDyslexia. There is still quite a lot of stigma around dyslexia and those who have it as is highlighted in the BBC Three short ‘Things Not To Say To Someone With Dyslexia’. So many of the common things that are said to people who have dyslexia are either dismissive or negative; things like telling dyslexia people that they ‘need to focus more’ and when someone mentions that they have dyslexia asking them to spell it. (Confession: I did misspell dyslexia at least three times while writing this post).

This week I was lucky enough to be involved in #DyslexiaStory campaign.  This was set up between Dekko Comics, where I am currently an intern, and Estendio a company who develop innovative support Apps for people with Dyslexia. I got to be there from the very start, being involved in the initial Skype conversation where we decided on the hashtag and how we wanted people to get involved.

The plan was to take this years #PositiveAboutDyslexia campaign and add to it a little. Allow people to poke a little fun at themselves, or share a proud moment. To share with us their own favourite #DyslexiaStory.

The responses that we got really were a mixed bag, from a man telling us about misspelling his own name on his Higher English exam to a mother proudly sharing her daughter’s success in having her poetry published. One thing that I did enjoy was that the responses were overwhelmingly positive.

As part of Dyslexia Awareness Week I went along to Edinburgh Central Library for a Dyslexia Scotland event which promoted positivity about dyslexia and involved speakers and performers who were dyslexia and sharing their stories. First up was a sixteen year old boy from Aberdeenshire who played some live music and explained that when he was in early primary school he used to hide under desks because he was unable to connect with traditional methods of learning. He now expresses himself through songwriting and playing the guitar.

This was followed by the master of ceremonies for the night, Paul Hugh McNeill who is an ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland. I knew of Paul in advance of the event through Twitter and it was amazing to see just how inspiring a speaker he was in person. He talked about his own experiences of growing up Dyslexic, in the 1980’s and how in primary school he had just been labeled as ‘bad’. It wasn’t until he was twenty-five and decided to go back to full-time education that he realised his Dyslexia wasn’t something that he should be ashamed of, but that there was help available to him.

Paul is a hard worker which has gotten him to where he is today, he talked about how his dyslexia made him work hard, and that without it he wouldn’t be where he is today. He is a fantastic role model for young children, not least because he is an advocate for him, espousing that all a dyslexic child needs is an adult on their side. A parent, a teacher, an auntie or uncle, and if that child doesn’t have any of those people on their side then they will have Paul.

The launch of the new Dyslexia Scotland Website and of the hard work from the Dyslexia Scotland Youth Ambassadors whose enthusiasm made the launch possible was also briefly touched upon.

Finally we got to hear from Margaret Rooke, the author of newly published book Dyslexia is my Superpower (Most of the Time). Margaret herself is not dyslexia, but her daughter is, which made her interested in the learning difficulty. She has interviewed dyslexic people across the country and compiled her interviews into this book which is available for purchase here.

It was quite important to me to be involved in Dyslexia Awareness Week. I think that it’s something that can so easily be overlooked, when coping strategies are in place and you are long since diagnosed. At the Dyslexia Scotland event I spoke to parents whose children had just been diagnosed and were caught the relief of knowing that there was a reason their child was struggling, and the difficult realisation that their kid is in for a hard slog. It was uplifting to be able to share the success stories of other dyslexic people in the room.

So to end this Dyslexia Awareness Week I am going to push myself to continue being #PositiveAboutDyslexia long after the campaign fades.

 

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”

So what’s next for Children’s Digital Publishing?

Over the past few years e-book sales in the UK have been on the rise, in 2015 e-book sales grew by 4% based on the previous year, although this increase has slowed compared to double digit increases in 2013 and 2014 according to Nielsen BookScan data, so although slowing, there’s life in e-books yet. More impressively however are the sales of children’s print books which were on course to increase by around 12% in 2016, the biggest increase in over a decade.

I’m interested to explore the opportunities available to publishers regarding children’s digital publishing; what the barriers are, from attitudes of consumers, as well as digital limitations. By exploring these things I hope get a sense of what might be next for children’s digital publishing. Continue reading “So what’s next for Children’s Digital Publishing?”

The Importance of Print: Neilsen Book’s UK Children’s Summit

Back in March I was able to attend the London Book Fair. This is staged annually where publishers from all over the world can interact. Alongside some of the most prestigious international publishers negotiating sales, there is also a number of extremely interesting talks and seminars going on from various industry officials over the course of the three-day event.

Children’s publishing plays a major part in the fair, with many prominent publishers in this industry present (pictured above is Usborne’s amazing stall). On the final day of the fair the Neilsen Book’s UK Children’s Summit, which I was lucky enough to be able attend, was held. They presented the latest data concerning the children’s book publishing industry and we were able to gain an insight into how the industry is progressing in this area. Continue reading “The Importance of Print: Neilsen Book’s UK Children’s Summit”

The Printed Book

In March at this year’s SYP 101 conference, Jenny Brown gave the opening remarks and discussed themes and trends occurring in the publishing industry. One theme was the rise in printed book sales. Brown pointed out that Waterstones made the first profit this year since the 2008 financial crash. There has also been a decrease in ebook sales which has resulted in bookshops like Waterstones removing e-readers from most of its stores.

But why?

There are two popular theories regarding the price of ebooks and the general physical medium coming into vogue.

Take a stroll through Amazon and you’ll see a surprising amount of ebooks being higher or similar in price to a printed book. For example, at the time of writing this Zadie Smith’s Swing Time is priced at £6.29 for the paperback version and £8.99 for the Kindle edition. Fumio Sasaki’s Goodbye Things: On Minimalist Living is £6.99 for the paperback version and £6.49 for the Kindle version. J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is £3.85 for the paperback but £5.99 for the Kindle. Even if an ebook version is a little cheaper people still prefer a printed version as they feel the difference in price isn’t large enough to outweigh the benefits of owning a physical book. Another reason is that to read an ebook you have to own a device to read it on, keep it up to date and charge it. Whereas a printed book can be read anywhere, for as long as you like and keep in your bookshelf until the end of your days. There is also a concern that ebook technology will become outdated and all files could become inaccessible. Continue reading “The Printed Book”