Editorial at JPAAP

I started my first day with JPAAP without any clear idea of what goes on behind the curtains of academic publishing. I will shamefully admit to having been too tempted by the glamourous fiction market to have spent much time thinking about academia.

All I knew was that I was going to be working in the editorial team as a proofreader/copyeditor on their next issue. So, on my first day I took the lift up to the seventh floor feeling slightly intimidated by the thought of being a not-even-graduated student having to proofread the works of wise old men.


Kirsteen met me and my fellow student on placement and gave us a brief but thorough introduction on the project, introduced us to the staff and showed us where the tea and cookies could be found.

The next issue’s topic was Student Transitions, such as: transition between different levels of education, in to education and out of it, as well as international transitions, and the challenges these transitions bring. Safe to say it is a topic I am familiar with and have opinions on; making the editorial process interesting and interactive, both as a student reading and as an copyeditor. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variation of papers, from theory based articles to opinion pieces and ‘On the Horizon’ papers, which report on emerging projects and emerging work.

I also got a small taste of html and Dreamweaver before I finished, something I’ve worked with before, but definitely needed a little reminder of.

Not only has the placement helped me enhance my skills in editorial, it has also given me a confidence boost for when I start looking at my dissertation’s bibliography. When I sit down to work on my own reference list and bibliography, I will be chanting: Even professors make mistakes!

Thank you to Kirsteen Wright for making me feel so welcome and for the chocolates I got on my last day! (They were delicious!)



You can find the issue here on JPAAP’s webpage.

Tonje H.

Twitter: @tonjehefte
Instagram: tihefte

My Placement with JPAAP

PrintFor the last few weeks I have been on placement with JPAAP – the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, based at Edinburgh Napier’s Sighthill campus – which “aims to provide a supportive publishing outlet to allow established and particularly new authors to contribute to the scholarly discourse of academic practice.” The online journal publishes several issues a year, and the May/June issue I worked on had a special focus on student transitions, discussing topics such as: transitions from high school, college, or full-time work to university; from undergraduate to postgraduate studies; from overseas education systems to UK higher education; and the re-adjustment faced by students returning to university degrees after mandatory long-term work placements or internships.

I have long had an interest in academic publishing, which, together with my desire to focus on my editorial skills this year, meant I was delighted to secure the placement with JPAAP, but without knowing exactly what to expect. It proved to be an excellent learning experience however, providing first-hand industry experience, considerable editorial practice, a lot of learning and a great environment to work in. Journal Manager Kirsteen Wright was extremely supportive and made sure myself and the other intern were made welcome, and always felt challenged by the work but never overwhelmed.

My main responsibilities included proofreading and copyediting articles submitted to the journal, as well as dealing with layout and formatting to help get them ready for publication in both pdf and html formats. I also helped out with some administrative tasks, such as conducting surveys and emailing contributors and reviewers, and also sat in on Kirsteen’s Skype meeting with students looking for information on how to set up their own academic journal. Armed with templates and house style guidelines, I worked extensively on Microsoft Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat, which I was already familiar with, and also did a lot of html coding on Dreamweaver, which was not something I had used previously but was great to get experience with. Kirsteen also introduced us to OJS, the Open Journal Systems that JPAAP uses to organise and publish its content, and showed us how to work and navigate it.

My placement with JPAAP gave me a chance to develop my editorial skills and offered an excellent overall grounding in the processes behind academic publishing; it was also fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the sort of journals that I have used to inform my thinking and coursework at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Not only did I learn a lot but it was also a genuinely nice environment to work in, so many thanks to Kirsteen for making us feel so welcome and giving us chocolates on the last day! I would highly recommend a work placement with JPAAP to anyone interested in academic publishing or editorial work in general.

Work experience at Luath Press

Luath Press – learning about marketing, editorial work and the importance of day-to-day tasks in a small publishing house.

After a space opened up on the Luath Press waiting list at short notice, I found myself preparing to go on placement a few days later. I was delighted to get the opportunity to see what Luath Press was like for myself, since a friend of mine had really enjoyed a placement with them a while beforehand. When she showed me the A4 checklist of varied tasks that the team gives to people on work experience, I became determined to apply for a placement with them and experience it first-hand. Over the course of my two weeks at Luath Press, there was certainly a lot to do.

I had no previous experience with marketing, but they encouraged me to build up my skills by drafting blurbs and AI sheets for books they were working on. I also found myself researching hiking groups around Scotland and ceilidh dancing groups worldwide to create spreadsheets of their contact details, since they would be potential target markets for niche books. In addition, I faced the somewhat daunting task of calling up a popular TV programme about the UK countryside to ask whether we could get some coverage for a relevant non-fiction book – it turned out that, although it took me a while to get connected to the right person, they were very friendly and helpful once I had explained why I was calling. Initially I was surprised that someone so important and high-profile was willing to listen to the request, but it really boosted my confidence to realise that such ambitious marketing strategies might actually pay off. (Besides, the worst that could have happened was that they’d say ‘no’, losing less than 20 minutes of my time. Definitely worth the effort to try!)

I also read, assessed and wrote a brief report about an unsolicited manuscript. This was a task I was familiar with from previous work experience, but the oddity of the manuscript I read really made an impression on me. It wasn’t so much the quirky content as the fact that the author had seriously mistaken which genre it fell into, so their cover letter felt completely mismatched with the story itself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good match for Luath’s list and it would have required far too much editorial work to be viable. This was my first experience of being involved in the rejection process. I was surprised by the use of standardised rejection letters at first, since I wondered how any author was supposed to improve their work or select more appropriate publishers to target without constructive feedback. However, it was explained to me that many authors would only be upset or offended if we gave them more details about the reasons for rejection, or would get the impression that it was now a dialogue which they could persuade the publishers to change their mind about – which would only be a drain on the publishers’ time and give a negative impression to the authors in question. I’m still not sure that I agree with the use of standardised rejection letters, but I can appreciate that the issue could get very complex if personalised ones were used.

As a word of advice to anyone considering going on placement there: Luath Press is great, but since it’s just off the Royal Mile there is a tendency for nearby bagpipe music to reach the office, so consider bringing headphones with you. I found that doing so let me focus a lot better on my work, but I really wish I’d known to bring them on my first day!

There were also more mundane tasks, such as carrying boxes of books downstairs, filling envelopes for mailouts, answering the telephone and even taking a sack of mail to the Post Office. I also volunteered to fetch a handful of display books from a different part of the city, which was certainly no hardship on a glorious sunny day – and better still, I was saving Luath’s actual employees a trip, enabling them to get on with more urgent tasks. All these little things highlighted the realities of being a small team with limited time and lots of physical books and mail to move between locations. It demonstrated the positive attitude and teamwork of everyone involved as they stepped away from their desks and usual workloads to ensure that the practical side of things was also handled smoothly and efficiently.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Luath Press. My colleagues (including another person on work experience) were all very friendly and supportive, helping me feel like part of the team in no time. They took care to get me as wide a range of tasks as possible during the time I was there (including meeting an author and editing his manuscript from start to finish) and the two weeks seemed to fly by.

Internship Insights: My Placement with Ann Crawford

Recently, I began an internship with publishing consultant Ann Crawford. Ann has a wealth of experience and contacts in the UK publishing industry which she has decided to bring to consultancy. She also works on editorial and marketing projects for several businesses. This seemed ideal for me, as someone who would like to learn more about the nooks and crannies of Scotland’s publishing industry.
A capable pair of hands indeed, Ann is also multi-skilled and passionate about many different creative projects. As a result, the placement has several aspects to it. One aspect is assisting Ann with her editorial duties in anyway necessary, such as research, looking into promoting and marketing, and compiling databases of contacts. The other is helping her to establish an online brand, business plan and website for her consultancy company. A role that I have been playing a very specific role in is designing the look of the company’s brand.
One of the most interesting things about working with Ann is that she has done a lot of publishing work for companies and institutions that aren’t publishing houses, but do make use of publications. She currently works on projects for companies in this way. There are certain challenges in working with businesses like this, which has broadened my interpretation of the publishing industry considerably. This is of great benefit to a publishing student who will soon be looking for work in a competitive industry.
Something Ann has been keen to do, on the side of all her other work, is use publishing to benefit those in need. Together, we found a common interest in investigating ways that publishing can help people who have found themselves homeless. To this point, we have been plotting a project that we hope may take flight well beyond the realms of an internship project. It has meant a lot to me that this is a project Ann is willing to share with an intern.

Logo design work space – but no sneak peaks!

Working with Ann is refreshing in many ways, and particularly because her passion for all things publishing is an unstoppable force in itself! It is easy to become jaded or stressed with publishing and its many deadlines, but Ann’s outlook on the work is a breath of fresh air and is certainly an outlook that has had an impact on me.

From the beginning of this placement, I have been overwhelmed by Ann’s kindness and her enthusiasm for hoping that I will able to learn from her. Though it is early days in this placement, I certainly have already learned from Ann and know that I will continue to do so.

My Placement at Luath Press

Over the two-week Easter break, I was given the opportunity to complete a work placement at Luath Press, a small but established publishing house based here in Edinburgh. Named after Robert Burns’ collie Luath, the press is located just a few steps away from Robert Burns’ first lodgings on the Royal Mile. For a small, independent publisher, Luath publish across a diverse range of genres; they cover fiction and poetry in their titles, as well as art, history and guidebooks — their sole aim being to publish well-written books worth reading.

On my first day at the placement, I was greeted by Jennie, who has been taking care of events and publicity at the press, while also running a second-hand bookshop in the nearby West Port area. Jennie guided me up to the office, which is based on the top floor of the building, and is brimming with stacks of books and paper. After allowing me time to get settled into what was to be my working environment over the next couple of weeks, Jennie explained some of the work I might expect to be doing during my time on the placement, before setting me off on my first task as an intern. I began with some design work on some bookmarks which were to be used for an upcoming launch event for Anne Pia’s Language of My Choosing. With guidance from Jennie, I tweaked the text and layout of the bookmarks in InDesign, and checked that the measurements were correct before they could be sent to print. This allowed me to put some of my InDesign skills from the course into practice in the publishing workplace, while also receiving useful feedback and advice along the way. After the bookmarks were approved by Jennie, I was then given a manuscript to proofread. As I have a particular interest in the editorial aspects of publishing, this was a brilliant opportunity for me to practise my skills and learn as much as I could about the process in a hands-on way.

For the rest of my first week, I continued proofreading the manuscript between other tasks that required more immediate attention. Alongside continuing my editorial work, I also drafted an invite for an event taking place the following week, and collected the required contact information to which the invites were to be sent. After the invites were approved by Jennie, I then emailed them out to the list of contacts I had compiled, including a link to the Eventbrite page to allow recipients to register to the event. I was also given a poetry manuscript to proofread by Jules, a former Napier student now working at Luath who always made the time to answer any questions I had. As the poetry manuscript was to be sent out to the typesetter that day, Jules asked me to check for any possible minor errors before it was sent out. Therefore, I checked that the page numbers in the contents page matched up to the corresponding page numbers within the body of the text, and likewise with the titles of the poems. In the run-up to the events taking place the following week, there were also several smaller tasks that required immediate attention in between my ongoing editorial work, such as delivering books and posters to the venues in which the events would be taking place. Through this variety of tasks, I began to better understand the importance of prioritising workload in the publishing environment; it can often be a balancing act in which the most immediately urgent tasks must be given priority over less pressing work.

As I began my second and final week on the placement, I was introduced to Luath’s director, Gavin MacDougall, along with a fellow intern who had just started at the press. After providing an overview of Luath’s history and development, Gavin checked up on my progress on the placement so far, and provided me with a checklist of tasks to focus on for the remainder of my time there. As this was a lengthy checklist considering my limited time at the press, it was agreed that it would be most useful for me to focus on certain tasks based around the manuscript I was currently proofreading. Over the course of my final week, I finished my proofreading of the manuscript (helped along by continuous one-to-one feedback with Jennie), drafted a press release for the title, as well as an AI sheet and a blurb. I also wrote a reader report for the manuscript in which I detailed what I considered to be the strengths and weaknesses of the work, and any improvements I thought could be made going forward. By focussing the majority of my work on this one particular manuscript, I felt I gained a well-rounded, practical insight into the various elements involved in the pre-publication process of a single title.

Over the course of my time at Luath, I was given the perfect opportunity to put all I have learned so far on the publishing course into practice. I feel I gained a well-rounded insight into the day-to-day dynamics of a small, independent publisher, and learned that no day is ever the same — adaptability is essential. And also, you will get used to the sound of bagpipes everyday!

Many thanks to everyone at Luath Press for this wonderful opportunity.

Placement with Jennie Renton

Edinburgh’s West Port is enchanting. Having been used to the flatness (and wetness) of Glasgow, the dips and peaks of the windy, winding streets just past Grassmarket have become one of my favourite things about the city. My reason for being in West Port, too, is equally exciting.

Main Point Books is one of a few second-hand bookshops in the area, and for the past few weeks I’ve been an editorial intern with Main Point’s owner, Jennie Renton. Jennie works freelance for several publications, and also Luath, so I was prepared to enhance my skills and gain insight into the world of freelancing. She also created Textualities, an online and print compilation of fiction and the book trade. Working from the back, and at times the very front, of such a beautiful, book-filled space has been surreal in the best way possible. Being surrounded wall-to-wall by books is surely the most inspiring work environment.

Though I’m only four weeks into my placement with Jennie, I’ve already learned from and contributed a fair amount to her editorial commitments. First up was an afternoon of proofreading. Evergreen is published by the Word Bank and Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, and is a re-imagining of Patrick Geddes’ magazine of the same name. I proofread the third issue, for which Jennie did the typesetting. I had the freedom to make comments on changes or corrections that I felt were appropriate, which Jennie and Sean Bradley (the editor) then checked over. As nervous as I was to justify my comments, they were supported by Jennie and Sean, who were very encouraging.

My editorial work continued when I got the chance to work with prolific Scottish author, Angus Peter Campbell. Luath is due to publish his new novel, and I was set to work with Angus on the blurb. The process was fascinating and painstaking – redrafting the all-important blurb alongside Angus was exactly the kind of editorial experience that I was eager to get my hands on. I hope to have the chance to work closely with authors in the future, and as I continue my placement with Jennie, I’m sure the opportunity will arise again.

While I still have a few weeks left of my placement, I’m finding being around Jennie (and her colleagues, clients and customers!) very useful. Genuinely passionate about the book world and the written word, Jennie provides a great learning environment. Encouraging with tasks and constructive with feedback, she demonstrates a level of skill and enthusiasm that I hope to emulate throughout my publishing career.

I can’t say with certainty what I’ll be doing on my next visit to Main Point, but I can say that I’m excited to make my way to West Port again for the placement experience of my bookish dreams.


My Placement with Jennie Renton

This trimester, I am working with Jennie Renton as an editorial intern. As most of us who now belong to Edinburgh’s book world will probably already know, Jennie can be found in Main Point Books, one of West Port’s eclectic and exciting second-hand bookshops. An admirable multi-tasker, one of Jennie’s many roles is freelance editing in the offices at the back of her quirky shop.

Working with Jennie has been an ideal opportunity for me for many reasons. At the beginning of the internship, we got together to speak about my interests and how they may align with editorial projects she is interesting in working on. Keeping my passions relevant has always been important to me, and it soon appeared my interest in social activism and community work linked up with a local history project that Jennie is working on. Without further ado we began our adventure in planning a new book together.

This is a project Jennie is obviously very passionate about, so I was quite daunted at first. After a few weeks, however, I began to feel at ease and more confident that this is a project I could be helpful with, and certainly one I could be passionate about.

The ever-changing window display at Main Point Books

My work so far has included researching and reading through archives relevant to central Edinburgh’s history, conducting interviews, and editing and transcribing voice recordings. As the weeks go on, I will hopefully play a role in planning the book layout itself.

It has been an extremely interesting project for me personally, as well as a productive learning experience. I’m not from Edinburgh, though I have fallen in love with this city, so it has also been a great way for me to become closer with the history and community of this fantastic place that has taken me into its arms.

The location of Jennie’s offices is my favourite thing about this placement. I have always loved nothing more than being lost in a bookshop and no better place for a book lover than Main Point Books. It’s a place I wandered into on the first week I moved to Scotland last August, and where I picked up a number of obscure Woolfian works that I had not been able to find elsewhere. Needless to say, it’s been a favourite ever since!

Seeing Jennie manage the shop along with many other tasks has been particularly interesting for me, as a person who would like to dabble in several different areas of publishing and book selling. There’s always a story to be told about the eccentric characters who come into Jennie’s shop, and the interesting books they buy and sell there. With her clever wit and impressive amount of experience, the greatest character is probably Jennie herself and she has a lot of wisdom and witticisms to impart on any budding young publisher. She’ll be sure to send you on your way with a smile on your face at the end of the day.

I would recommend an internship with Jennie Renton to anyone interested in gaining first hand experience of original and challenging publishing projects. This placement is especially relevant to anyone hoping to become more involved in the book world of central Edinburgh, and gather an insight into the Edinburgh publishing scene.