‘The Minute You Play It Safe, You’re Done’ – MagFest 2018

MagFest 2018 is the biggest (and arguably, the best) magazine festival in Scotland and acted as the first main event on the postgraduate publishing calendar. If I’m speaking honestly, I haven’t read a magazine since Mizz and Blush circa 2003. However, after a talk from Laura Dunlop, who came into university to tell us about the event, I was really excited for MagFest and the opportunity to learn about this area of the publishing industry that I have never before explored.


I made it to Central Hall in Edinburgh bright and early for registration and the atmosphere was already buzzing. I was worried about looking out of place but I soon found some familiar faces from the course and after a much-needed caffeine hit I was ready for the day. The schedule was broken down into different talks and Q&As held in the main hall. Throughout the day we heard from some very prominent figures in the publishing industry as well as many new, up-and-coming publishers which was great to see. The theme of the day was ‘Ideas Factory’ and many of the keynote speakers touched upon what some might call the ‘uncertain future’ of magazine publishing. It was encouraging to hear that, despite differing opinions, everyone felt optimistic and committed to working harder towards maintaining the future of the industry.


As a newcomer to world of magazine publishing I don’t pretend to know all the key players just yet, but I was certainly dazzled by the all-star line-up which included Mike Soutar from Shortlist Media (and The Apprentice!), Joanna Geary, head of content curation at Twitter, Mark Frith, editor of Radio Times, Marion Reilly, art director at Hello! Fashion and finally the legendary Mark Millar, best-selling author of Kick-Ass and Wanted – to name a few!


As the day progressed, I began to feel more comfortable and my initial hesitation to speak to other attendees gradually subsided – although certainly didn’t disappear completely! I knew that we should take this opportunity to ‘network’ and I had built this up in my head to be much worse than it actually was. I quickly realised that everyone was friendly, open to having a chat and actually excited to speak to us because in reality, as scary as it sounds, we are the future of publishing!

All in all, I had a really great time at MagFest 2018. It was great to meet some of the leaders in the industry and I even managed to overcome my apprehensions and speak to a handful of them! I discovered a whole new side of publishing that I had never even considered before and, without sounding cheesy, left the event feeling really inspired. And to make things even better, I entered the raffle and won a free ticket for next year – hooray!

Finally, I’ll leave you with my takeaway comment from the event which, of course, came from Mark Millar, ‘The minute you play it safe, you’re done’

Thanks for reading!

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A Semester of Publishing: Was it Worth it?

Publishing isn’t something I had always considered, as I know many have and its a lifelong dream or achievement. For me it is still a new concept, one I’m still struggling to grasp. This isn’t because of the work load itself but if it is a suitable career for myself, so here are some initial thoughts from a first semester stance.

Being presented with so many new opportunities has definitely been something of a new occurrence upon entering the world of publishing and what that entails. Although I have not yet attended any internal or external event within this means these events are luckily not in short supply and instead I have decide it’s important to focus on the future events for planning. Edinburgh book fair, although home and local would be interesting  but so would travelling to New York for the same fair on more international territory as this area is where I am aiming to be. It is all about the prep work involved and learn more about what this area entails in the publishing industry and so rather than use my time here and ruin the experience of a book fair in a place I wouldn’t be interested in instead I will save for somewhere I could actually learn to appreciate it more. so I fell gaining the skills for these events are crucial in order to appreciate its full potential. The appeal of the industry is still new and I am very unsure if this will be long-term, from what I have seen and be taught so far but it would be a defining factor to actually be caught up in the industry on a more personal level and that is what entails for my 2019 and graduation. My research so far have been very focused towards a potential company I am interested in: Bloomsbury. From what I have learned their academia research so spot on and where they are aiming to dive into this specific market making an international appearance as well as having future potential. Therefore 2019 will be great to see if publishing is the industry for me and of it truly lives up to its expectations.

In summary: I guess after a semester of leaning new material and getting to grips with what the industry is about as the jury is still out, but for now It is time for some much needed rest.

A Cracking Placement

From day one of the MSc Publishing course at Napier I knew that I wanted to try and get into the wonderful world of children’s publishing. Personally, I can’t think of a more vibrant and fun industry to work in, possibly swayed by the fact that I just adore children’s books. So, when my email and cv approaching Barrington Stoke about a placement was accepted, I was very excited to see how a children’s publisher operates.


Barrington Stoke is an Edinburgh-based publisher that specialises in books for dyslexic children. They were set up in 1998 by Patience Thomson and Lucy Juckes, a mother and daughter-in-law team, who had personal experience with how reading difficulties can isolate a child. Spotting this gap in the market they set up Barrington Stoke with core objectives to publish books that were dyslexia friendly and inclusive for children with this reading disability. Another key aspect of their intentions was to publish well-known authors and illustrators so that the ‘super-readable’ books were similar to those being already published for the age group. With a unique easy-to-read font and an amazing array of authors and illustrators working on the books, Barrington Stoke has become a pioneering, award-winning company that has changed the children’s books industry for the better. They have a wonderful list of books encompassed in their impressive array of series, all that cater to children’s different abilities and interests.

toppsta_ad _2018
Don’t believe me? … check out this advert I designed for them!

I joined the team at Walker Street as a design intern. Continue reading “A Cracking Placement”

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.


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”

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. Continue reading “Back in Germany with Napier’s publishing postgrads”

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. Continue reading “Highlights from Napier’s Publishing Trip to Germany”

Stepping into a New Role: How My Internship Restored my Confidence

Becoming a publishing intern has been challenging but also more rewarding than I could ever have imagined. After a voluntary position in December that ended in tears, I felt like a failure and that nobody would ever hire me again. The way I described the experience to my mum was “it was like being thrown in at the deep end with a boulder tied around my neck then laughed at for drowning”. By far the worst part was the way the person supervising me just couldn’t stop herself from scoffing at my inexperience. It was an unpleasant couple of days that I have put behind me and I’m happy to say I have come a long way since then. Continue reading “Stepping into a New Role: How My Internship Restored my Confidence”