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.

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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.

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

I joined the team at Walker Street as a design intern. I went into the placement with an open mind and enthusiasm to try anything. I felt extremely fortunate to find a placement that was design based (as I have heard they are harder to come by) and was determined to make the most of the experience. I very quickly settled in having such a warm welcome from the lovely staff.

My daily tasks were varied, mainly revolving around design work. However, I was keen to do any job as I knew it would all feed into a well-rounded experience. My placement at Barrington Stoke has enhanced my design skills greatly, whilst adhering to quick turn arounds and a variety of briefs. I was working mainly in InDesign and Photoshop creating press releases, shareable graphics, blog banners, shelf slips, postcards, stickers, posters, showcards, review sheets and fliers … a huge array was entrusted to me.

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I have become a dab hand at press releases

I became familiar with their house style and extremely intimidating server (I had a map to find my way through the many folders) and I quickly developed a strong work system and relationship with Kirstin and Freya who would check my work and highlight changes to be made. I have learnt so many InDesign tricks and shortcuts that will stand in me in good stead for future work and now understand the different file types and specifications that are determined by the documents purpose. What I think has been most rewarding is seeing the work I have been producing being used – be it on the company’s social media pages and blog, by authors at events or being mailed out.

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A summer banner for their social media pages

Alongside the design work I have lended a hand where needed. I had the chance to do some database work, fair amounts of mailing (which I actually find oddly satisfying) and creating content and images for blog posts. Every single task I have undertaken has revealed so much to me about the industry and how a publisher is constantly working to get their books the recognition they deserve. One such book is their new title by Meg Rosoff, McTavish Goes Wild. This has become my personal favourite as I have grown rather fond of the little dog whilst making the various marketing material!

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A variety of marketing materials I designed for McTavish Goes Wild

I have had the most wonderful experience during my 10 day placement with Barrington Stoke. I have learnt an unbelievable amount and feel that I have a much deeper understanding of how a children’s publisher operates. The team at Barrington Stoke could not have been more welcoming and supportive and I am delighted to announce I will be continuing my work with them one day a week. I would like to thank all the staff for such an enjoyable placement and I look forward to what is to come!

 

All images are used with permission from Barrington Stoke.

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My Placement at Entangled Publishing

Since day one of the Publishing course at Napier, it was mentioned that Twitter is a great tool to connect with others in the industry and keep an eye out for possible internship/job opportunities. Funny enough, it was through this very platform that my internship with Entangled started.

Entangled Publishing is an independent publisher of romantic fiction, in the adult and young adult markets. They’ve released more than 1,200 titles, including the YA novel Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout which was signed for a major motion picture. They have 13 imprints which range from a variety of ages and topics and the novels are released in digital and printed form. Approximately 20 to 35 titles are published in digital form and 4 in print and e formats simultaneously each month. Furthermore, 57 of their books have made it to the USA Today Bestsellers list and 17 to the New York Bestsellers list.

The position being advertised was for readers to help with submissions. As well as reading a bunch of manuscripts, which sold it for me already, they were offering to give editorial workshops. Along with production, one of my areas of interest within publishing is editorial, so this was just what I needed.

As a reader, you are tasked with reading the manuscripts assigned to you and fill out a report regarding key editorial aspects and your reading experience. Afterward, you must decide whether they should take it on or decline it. During my first reports, I was very hesitant to straight out say no. But after a couple more reports, I started to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t for the publisher.

You have to get into a state of mind that is a bit more critical and aware, without forgetting to enjoy the read. No two stories are the same. Each author draws inspiration from different places, creates characters with various backgrounds, and arranges the plot in distinct manners.

As mentioned before, I was really looking forward to the editorial workshops and they have been beyond amazing. I’ve learned about the numerous aspects that make a good story and the work that goes into each of them.

Overall, my experience as an editorial intern for Entangled has been an incredible learning experience and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming submissions and workshops.

-Damarys S. Campos

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A placement at Floris Books – what I learned about publishing (and had thought to ask).

Having undertaken a qualification in secondary English teaching, I am familiar with the concept of a work placement. As a student teacher you are required to undertake three separate placements, two lasting 6 weeks and one lasting 4 weeks. These are full-time, and you can feel like they go on forever. In publishing, when completing an MSc at Edinburgh Napier, you are hoping to take on a part-time or temporary placement, not required,but the aim of each is to provide valuable experience. For me this time, instead of teaching Curriculum for Excellence English lessons to teenagers in north Glasgow, I was packing my bag and heading to Floris Books, an award-winning children’s book publisher in Edinburgh. The opportunity to work at Floris Books as their Sales and Marketing intern is a rare and exciting one. Floris take on one intern a year, usually advertising the position from about October to university students at Edinburgh Napier and Stirling, before the role commences in January. This year, they’d chosen me.

 

Upon arrival and my first cup of tea (always trust a company that offers you tea immediately) I was given an introduction to the whole team. The office is open-plan and the resultant feel is that of collaborative effort and interdepartmental co-operation. The editorial team are at the back of the office, near the huge west-facing windows that showed the approach of any inclement weather (very important for later in the placement when a gigantic weather bomb hit and we stood in awe as snow swept in and hid the city behind sheets of greyish yellow cloud and tumbling white flakes), the design and production department are located in the middle, then sales and marketing with the head of publishing are closer to the front of the office. Having met everyone straight away, I was made to feel welcome instantly.

 

My role as intern had already been made fairly clear to me. Floris used a very detailed and useful job advert when looking for their intern and it was with this in mind that CJ Cook (sales and marketing executive) and I sat down to talk about my duties. Floris are very democratic in their approach to interns and their role. No one on placement is asked to complete a task that would not be expected of a member of staff – so no sorting post and making coffee that can be the case in some internships. Equally, CJ and other “marketeers” were keen to utilise the skills that I brought; being well-versed in teacher-speak, I could develop materials for use in the classroom with their books. Furthermore, as a Scots speaker I could help in creating specific resources for The Teeger that cam for his tea, the Scots version of the well-loved children’s classic. It felt like a very personal approach; Floris knew what I could offer, and my placement duties were tailored accordingly. I felt valued and a part of the team.

 

Over the course of the ten weeks, I worked with each of the various departments. I assisted in editorial on proofreading and Scots language. I helped to judge some of the submitted manuscripts for the annual Kelpies Prize. I learned from design and production what goes into the process of producing an illustrated children’s books (very useful in terms of my own live project at university!) and I created marketing materials for the promotion of that book. I applied skills gained from my MSc such as when html mapping and took ones from placement back to university to use on various aspects of coursework. The opportunity to see how a publishing house was run was thrilling, but beyond the acquisition and enhancement of my abilities was the joy in realising that this is an industry in which I truly want to work. I was welcomed, treated as an equal even though I was a complete newbie, given so many opportunities to contribute and have my voice heard. It may seem that all this is par for the course and I shouldn’t be surprised but honestly, after some of my teaching experiences, it wasn’t something I automatically expected. Floris Books treat their interns well, all members of staff are patient and will answer questions or give advice. They have monthly staff lunches where we all sat together for a bring-a-dish lunch. I feel I made friends and connections that will last long past the end of my internship and I am so grateful. If you ever get the opportunity to join them, you can be sure of a warm welcome, much like the teeger that cam for his tea.

 

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A teeger display in Waterstones.

My internship with Ringwood Publishing

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. Almost straight away I got involved in planning events and creating PR proposals, and I quickly found that in this role there is a strong emphasis on communication skills as you are the person generating interest around an event and ensuring its promotion. Being comfortable approaching potential collaborators and media contacts is crucial, and an aspect of the job that I have thoroughly come to enjoy – there is something satisfying about receiving a positive response from the perfect collaborator to your event. Along with this there were also opportunities to take on reader and proofreading tasks.

A highlight of this internship for me was becoming one of Ringwood’s Submission Managers. In this role I am involved in every aspect of the submissions process from considering manuscripts at every stage, to communicating with authors and liaising with readers. This has also been a great opportunity to sharpen my skills in reading and get into a copyediting mindset and I have really enjoyed taking an active role in such an interesting area of the publishing process.

Overall, my experience interning with Ringwood has been a great insight into different areas of publishing within a small, independent publishing house. It has given me a taste for learning as much as I can about the way that different publishing houses function and the different roles that are available in publishing leading me to take another shorter internship with the brilliant Think Publishing. This experience has been indispensable to me and I would truly recommend Ringwood as a fantastic publishing house to intern with for anyone who takes an open-minded, practical approach to learning and really wants to get stuck in.

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Photo: One of the best parts about my internship has been creating an event to promote Ringwood’s Scots-Irish backlist titles. Above are some of the books that will feature in the event.

Check out more of Ringwood’s vibrant backlist titles at http://www.ringwoodpublishing.com/

Fun at Ferment

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.

Fast-forward a month or so and my placement was all sorted. We worked out a mutually convenient day for me to come in, Friday, and discussed what I wanted to learn and how I could help the magazine. In the end we agreed that I would focus on organising a bottle-share type event across different cities, ultimately defining a template for these events that the magazine could use after I’d finished my placement. The events were designed to serve two purposes, the first was to supply content for a double-page spread in the new city guide feature, whilst the second was to strengthen the sense of community amongst the readers.

Organising the first of these in Glasgow was so much fun. I loved getting everything ready, choosing the venue, securing which beers would be featured and even making up goodie bags with branded freebies and old-fashioned sweeties. Having come from a bartending background with experience in cocktails and craft beer, I really relished being responsible for an event like this. When we arrived at the venue it was a friend I’d worked with previously who was leading the tasting, which really made it much easier to orchestrate it exactly as I’d planned.

The event went perfectly in the end and the template has now been set, making subsequent events much easier to organise. At the end of it all, magazine publishing, and publishing in general, is a people business where the connections you make become your most valued possessions. Above all else, that’s what I’ve taken from my time at Ferment. Well, that and a new found appreciation for Bluegrass covers and cups of herbal tea. Thanks guys! 

My Placement with Muddy Pearl Publishing

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One aspect that I have been very eager to learn about during my time on this Publishing MSc has been the area of independent publishers. How do they differ from their larger competitors? And how do they thrive?

In January of this year, I was lucky enough to be taken on as an intern for Muddy Pearl, an Edinburgh-based publisher that print “books that are true to Scripture and to the Spirit.” They produce high-quality titles by key Christian writers who are experts in their fields and write with a genuine insightfulness; navigating the reader through modern life. I have been encouraged to read their backlist titles and have loved seeing the breadth of topics covered.

A lot of my workload consists of helping with marketing, which I have thoroughly enjoyed as I have gained very practical experience in how publishers generate interest and sales from books. Rather than a scatter-gun approach, marketing materials such as AIs and press releases are focused and tailored to individual parties. Invariably, it was here that a positive response was received, and I have learnt the benefit of finding a common ground with the recipient in order to stand out in their inbox!

Also, I have proofread titles with a marketing focus in mind, looking to see where there are opportunities to collaborate with others and find ‘hooks’ with which to catch readers’ interest. I have learnt a lot from this, as even at the initial stages of editing, the publisher is thinking “How can I sell this?” Given the topical nature of Muddy Pearl’s titles, this was not too difficult, but I’ve realised that a good understanding of your customer’s profile is essential.

Consequently, in growing my knowledge of how we market books, Muddy Pearl’s personal and well-researched approach has struck me as a very effective way of bypassing larger companies and aiming their titles towards an engaged audience. My placement at Muddy Pearl has been a brilliant opportunity to learn first-hand how an independent publisher thrives in this environment and it has cemented even more my wish to work in this area!

Festivals on Your Doorstep

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about UK publishing outside of London, thanks to the dedication and the hard work of organisations such as the Northern Fiction Alliance to get the voices of publishers outside the bubble of London heard. Unfortunately, before my time at Edinburgh Napier and studying my MSc in Publishing I didn’t even know that companies outside of London or Edinburgh even existed, let alone ones so close to me in the Yorkshire city I did my undergraduate degree in.

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Aside from the fact that I am now following all the right people on twitter to hear about such companies, one thing that helped me discover the literary scene in Hull was the urge to get a placement. It seemed fitting that I would head back to the place where I first learnt that publishing could be an option for me as a career path and started my journey to Edinburgh. To have my first placement with Wrecking Ball Press it completed a nice narrative circle for me, and as I learnt more and more about working in a small publishing company I also learnt about something else.

There is a thriving literary scene surrounding the area that had simplly seemed to pass me by before, and I like to claim that literature is what I love the most. I was beginning to hear of festivals because of the fact Wrecking Ball Press often helps bring such events into reality. Such as Lyricull, which celebrates music and song writing in Hull, and Humber Mouth a literature festival that focuses on literature and draws attention to the city of Hull and its passionate people.

Hull and Wrecking Ball pooled so much into their literature, art and culture ventures in the past year as they also celebrated being the City of Culture for 2017, (something I was gutted to have missed out due to the fact I graduated a year before this took place). With events happening every day to help spread the awareness of the city’s thriving culture, it simply proved that Hull has such a large wealth of talented people committed to the arts.

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Weeping Window – an art installation during the City of Culture 2017 (25th March -14th May on the Hull Maritime Museum), originally held at the Tower of London. A poppy tribute to those who served in the army.

However, learning all this got me thinking, what other cities have such thriving publishing, literature and arts scenes that are simply hidden by the size of London’s stake in the pool of festivals and companies? I was surprised at how much happens in Edinburgh when I moved here 8 months ago and it’s a capital city, so what else is out there that I simply didn’t know about before because I didn’t have the knowledge to find them and check them out?

Literature festivals help publishers, writers, readers, and even people who don’t count themselves as readers, to connect and share in their love of literature. It is platform that has helped Wrecking Ball showcase their works to a wider audience and I’m proud to know that these things were, and are still, happening in Hull. So now, wherever I end up, I will be on the look for festivals and events that will help keep me connected to literature as I pursue my career into publishing. There’s always something on your door step, you just have to look.