I was grateful to be able to spend two weeks on a placement with Alban Books. Alban, based in Edinburgh, specialise in the sales, marketing and distribution of spiritual and religious books from around six American publishers.
Upon arrival to their offices in the picturesque Dean Village, I was shown to my own desk, computer and email address. With preparation under way for the Fall 2014 releases, was immediately launched into testing my proof-reading skills by going through a large batch of AI sheets – I was grateful for the chance to improve my editorial skills.
Being very interested in the marketing side of the industry, I was lucky enough to be able to sit in on the marketing strategy meeting for the Fall 2014 releases, an invaluable experience, which has given me a wonderful insight into marketing strategy and planning. I was impressed at how everyone was able to identify the books that they thought would be big sellers and the approach that would be taken over promoting them.
My design skills, too, were put to the test, with flyers and order forms for various conferences and scholarly meetings tasked to me. Having not been 100% assured by my own skills, I was happy to improve them, and am optimistic they are of a high enough standard to represent Alban at their relevant conferences.
One of the key things I learned at Alban Books is how important it is to maintain and up-to-date and accurate website. Alban has such a website. Having been made an administrator of the site, I went through a database of titles with minor issues to fix them. Tracking down information about books from other publisher’s websites which were not so well maintained could be frustrating; it was easy to imagine putting myself in a customer’s shoes and feeling equally, if not more frustrated.
I enjoyed the wide variety of titles I was able to work on during my time at Alban: everything from autobiographical accounts from American Civil War leaders to delightful children’s picture books explaining the origination of the Thesaurus.
Before my placement began, I was very keen, not only to improve my existing skills in a professional environment, but to learn new skills as well. Programmes such as Mail Chimp, Amazon advantage as well as aspects of Microsoft Excel gave me the chance to do this. I am still amazed by and cannot fathom how Alban’s AI Sheet generator works, safe in the knowledge that had sliced bread not come around, this would be the benchmark for comparison.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Alban Books, and learned a great deal too. I am extremely grateful to everyone for their guidance and for making me feel so welcome. I was even included in the World Cup sweepstakes (at the time of writing I am a loyal Belgium and Brazil fan – my other teams let me down) and the occasional Friday afternoon bar of chocolate! I look forward to continuing on at Alban one day a week in the future.
Have you ever thought about working for a company that publishes books on bodywork, yoga, osteopathy, pilates… Well to be true I did not, but after a look at their website, their products and a lovely interview, there I was, Editor Assistant at Handspring Publishing.
It is quite scary when you realise how little you know about their publishing subject, and also very exciting to work for a rather new and small company.
In a small house like Handspring Publishing you feel more quickly integrated because you are not another intern among the other, in fact you are the first one they ever had!!!
At Handspring Publishing you better like every aspect of the publishing world because every day is a new challenge and you find yourself working with someone different every time. You will need to be creative as you will have to promote some books about things you have never done, know you way around excel and discover new softawares and this is just the beginning because you are better like, skyping, writing, reading, searching, database, mailing, contributors agreement, debating on subject, long board meeting, secretly looking what Biotensegrity mean and realising how little you did listen in physics class…
In fact if you are not willing to discover fully Handspring Publishing do not go there, because never in your life will you find such a lovely team always to answer any of your questions, help you with everything and never losing patience when you do not understand.
Those ten days went so fast, that it might be the reason why I will definitely stay a bit longer.
I spent my two week placement at Palimpsest, a book production company based in Falkirk. Taking as their name the term for ‘a manuscript on which two or more successive texts have been written, each one being erased to make room for the next”, Palimpsest may not be as immediately recognisable to the lay reader as Penguin or Oxford University Press will be. Nevertheless, Palimpsest are important in the world of publishing; they work with many of the big names in UK publishing and appear on the imprint page of books as varied as Tony Blair’s autobiography, The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama and Solo, a new James Bond novel by William Boyd. The number of publishers Palimpsest work with, along with the variety of books they typeset, meant that I was able to observe how many different publishing houses operate and the differing requirements each one has.
My first week was mainly spent in the proofreading department, where I honed my skills checking old jobs. Towards the end of the week I was trusted with checking the galley of a book due for publication in November 2014. This involved verifying that the publisher’s corrections had been taken in, removing any bad breaks and ensuring that all styling had been followed. During this week I also sat with Becky, who is in charge of digital publishing. She spent a morning talking through the different types of digital files required for different e-readers and how to style and tag files in InDesign and Word before letting me loose on an old job to tag it up and design as I saw fit. From this one day alone, it is clear to me that possessing basic coding skills is a real asset when it comes to the more technical side of publishing since while there no immediate danger of print books being phased out, the industry is moving more and more towards digital media.
My second week was split between Production and Customer Service. Here I got to use my Photoshop and InDesign skills, while being constantly in awe of the skills possessed by the professional typesetters. Customer Service is the hub of the entire company; it is here that new jobs are booked into Palimpsest’s bespoke system then passed onto the operators and readers. The constant flurry of emails and ability of the CS staff to multi-task is definitely worthy of recognition.
One of the most striking things about Palimpsest is how busy they are. This is noticeable as soon as you walk into reception, where you are faced with a wall containing hundreds of job boxes. On one afternoon alone in CS I booked in 10 new jobs, but I was led to believe that this was a quiet day. It is clear that while a fairly small company, Palimpsest is thriving.
I would like to thank everyone at Palimpsest who allowed me to sit and watch them work and answered my constant questions about every aspect of their job. These two weeks have been invaluable in helping me to better understand the inner workings of the publishing industry.
A Placement at an Edinburgh based magazine, albeit one that is 110 years old was an opportunity, which I grabbed, with both hands. Scottish Field may have a highly discerning readership, but the atmosphere in the office, which is shared with other Wyvex Media Publications, could not have been more welcoming.
At no point was I made to feel like an intern, instead I was given the job of sales support assistant, and I was made to feel part of the team straight away. This was helped by the fact that Brian Cameron, Sales Director invited me in a few days before the formal start to the placement to meet the team and find out more about the role I would be performing. I worked alongside the advertising sales team, chasing up product shots, images and copy to be featured in the June issue of the magazine. I was given my own desk, email and phone on the first day and it was a fantastic way to immerse myself in the magazine publishing environment. It was great to be able to liaise with clients myself, and I also learnt so much about the media sales process just from being surrounded by other staff.
I was also given the chance to devise ideas, research and write articles for the upcoming Town and Country Living Supplement for the July Issue of the magazine. I helped proofread and source pictures for this publication, a great way to practice editorial skills in a live environment.
I have to say the best aspect of my placement was seeing the schedule of a monthly magazine publisher, deadlines are vital and everyone works extremely hard. It wasn’t all work and no play though as I was invited along to work lunches and after work drinks, as well as being introduced to delicious Hummingbird Cake by brilliant baker Rachel.
I was asked to extend the placement to a 3rd week so I could follow through on the work I had been doing, and I was more than happy to do this. A great team, a really interesting magazine and a fantastic experience .
While my course-mates decided to spend their placements in either the book or magazine publishing industry, I resolved to head a different direction. So I opted to see what it was like to be a newspaper publisher for ten days with Johnston Press.
Now I didn’t get a desk, because I had become a human pinball. Passed around, from slightly bemused employee to slightly bemused employee; demanding only one thing from them. Their knowledge and their experience.
I spent my first five days with the editorial department. Now in the Edinburgh office of Johnston Press, to say you are spending time with the editorial department means that you are splitting your time between two newspaper offices: The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday and Edinburgh Evening News. To be frank, I do not have any formal journalistic training or any experience of reportage. Yet I did not allow this to hold me back … Continue reading “My Placement”
The whole team is busily beavering away, finishing up for the submission of both of our book projects for our final assessment – which will ultimately decide whether our books will be sent to our chosen printer, Bell and Bain!! We are all so excited for finally reaching this point, regardless of all the stressful days and numerous obstacles which have come our way – we are so close we can almost see the books!! When we look back on what we have managed to achieve: editing, financing, producing, negotiating rights and marketing TWO books in just 13 weeks – I can speak for all of us in saying how proud we are of ourselves and every member of our little Wednesday Team!!!
In recent weeks we have been able to finalise so many things, from confirming the support of Cordelia Fine and Helen Sutherland who are providing a foreword and an author biography for one of our projects (GO Rights Team!), The Day Boy and The Night Girl – for more details check out our Project page: The Day Boy and The Night Girl – through to the production of the covers for both books, which are looking amazing. A big well done to our awesome production team!!
Collectively we have done so much to pull together and we have been able to achieve so much!! The Publishing Degree Show is coming up very soon and is open to the public from Friday 23rd of May until the 1st of June. You are all welcome to come along and see this year’s projects. There are also opportunities for you to get involved and vote for our selected covers for Ah Dinnae Ken. There will be four to choose from and we would love to hear what you think about them and vote for the winner.
This is a sample of one of the covers that will be on show for Ah Dinnae Ken:
And one for The Day Boy and The Night Girl:
We are also continuing to approach independent bookshops across Edinburgh and even researching retailers further afield; however, our sales are strongly dependent on your interest. Therefore, if you are really interested in getting a copy of our illustrated edition we would love to hear from you, and hear which bookshops are convenient for you and which you would be interested in purchasing from.
If we can find reassure bookshops of the interest that exists, we can create more sales and make them more accessible to you. Please send us a comment or a Facebook message if there is anywhere you are particularly interested in. Any bookshops interested in buying a number of copies please feel free to contact us also.