Storytelling in Action at Luath Press

During my placement at Luath Press, I had the opportunity to test my publishing knowledge in a fast-paced office setting, and to feel that I made significant contributions to the company’s publishing process. From assessing and cataloguing newly submitted manuscripts, to designing covers, to preparing final proofs for print, I was able to take part in a very wide variety of tasks, and I feel that I have learnt a great deal.

In my first week, I had the opportunity to devise a marketing plan and to draft cover ideas for a series of artbooks by photographer Alex Boyd. This I enjoyed a lot, since it challenged me to use my Creative Suite skills in a practical setting. Returning to Luath a few weeks later, I was pleased to discover that my idea to market Boyd’s three forthcoming books
in a visually similar manner had been carried through.

In both weeks I also carried out a degree of research and social media planning and built a database of publicity contacts for in-house use. I was shown the ins and outs of ONIX software and learnt about mail systems and newsletter distribution, things which had only been touched upon in the classroom. I also discovered quite a lot about the process of organising ePub files for print and ensuring authors remained happy with any proposed layouts (not always an easy task!).

Out of all the tasks I undertook, what I took the most pride in was the opportunity to use my editorial skills in assessing newly submitted manuscripts. I was given to understand that this was not usually a task for placement students, and so I felt a greater need to rise to the challenge, and I feel that I was successful in that regard. I was also able to hone my proofreading skills and knowledge of BSI marks when, on several occasions, I was tasked with proofing final draft manuscripts before they were sent to print.

The most exciting part of my placement, however, was that, with a fellow intern from another university, I was able to accompany the Luath team on a mini expedition to an event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for one of their authors. Not only was her talk fascinating, but we were also able to meet her devoted readership, and to have a dialogue with her afterwards about how she wanted her forthcoming book to be marketed. Since the work focused on historic gardens, she even invited us to her own, remarkable, garden for tea and cake!

My time at Luath was highly informative and an invaluable opportunity to use and expand upon what I have learnt so far as an MSc Publishing student, and I expect to carry what I have learnt there into my future career.

For the Love of Magazines

I’ve always loved magazines. Sport, lifestyle, fashion, indie, trashy, whatever – if it’s printed on glossy paper, I’m pretty much guaranteed to read it. Before I’d finished high school, I’d even considered studying journalism. Magazines have been on my radar for a while, but once my opportunity to be a writer passed, I had kind of dismissed a career within the magazine industry altogether. Fast forward a few years and I found myself on the MSc Publishing course, considering a career within my other passion: books. However, I could never pin-point quite what I wanted to do with a career in book publishing. Editing? No chance. Sales? I know I can sell things, but I don’t exactly enjoy it. Nothing within book publishing was really igniting a spark. In our second semester, we were given the opportunity to produce our own product; a book or a magazine. I, of course, chose a magazine. Kudos has to be given to Nikki Simpson here – her unfaltering enthusiasm and adoration of magazines totally rubbed off on me and gave me the confidence boost I needed, I think!

I loved the whole process of creating my magazine – deciding on a focus, finding interviewees, sourcing photos (which would eventually come in handy for my placement!), designing a layout, writing features – I loved it all. I took full creative control and decided to do everything myself. My magazine isn’t the best magazine ever printed, but what it did was help me decide – finally! – that I wanted to pursue a career in the magazine industry. Editing a magazine is a lot less taxing and a whole lot more enjoyable than editing a manuscript.

When it came to choosing a placement, I had quite a difficult time. I didn’t have the confidence to approach a magazine publisher myself, so I spent a lot of time waiting around hoping for one to come up. In the end, I ended up applying for mainly book publishers, and was lucky enough to get a place on one of them. But, as these things do, a placement came up for a magazine publisher! 24 hours later, I was sitting in the office with Sue Hitchen, an absolute superwoman and managing director of The Media Company. The Media Company publishes a monthly food magazine, Foodies, and the annual Edinburgh Festivals magazine, as well as organising Foodies festivals in several cities across the UK.

I’ve been with Sue and her amazing team for three weeks now and I can’t quite believe everything I’ve done in this time. I started researching pictures – which has involved, amongst other things, talking with Paralympic athletes, PRs for Lewis Capaldi and Florence Welsh, comedians and, a little less exciting, phoning every restaurant in Edinburgh asking for photographs of their food! I’ve also written several articles, and helped to co-write a piece with deputy editor and absolute angel, Anna. I’ve moved on to sub-editing too, where my old friend InDesign has proved very useful. I would love a career that’s largely focused on design and the designer over at Media Co., Vicky, has been absolutely amazing – she’s been so encouraging and has been showing me some wee tips and tricks, too. Vicky has a CV that I’m totally envious of – in the 90s she worked for Radio Times and NME – so I have been taking her every word as bible.

I have surprised myself on this placement, to be honest. I’ve been able to complete all the tasks that have been asked of me, and I’ve even been able to help some of the team in the office with InDesign stuff, too – something I never, ever expected. When Edinburgh Festivals mag goes to print, my time in the Media Company office will no doubt come to an end – but I’ve been kept on as a reviewer for Fringe shows so I’m glad I’ll be maintaining the friendships and connections I’ve made for a little longer. It’s been so massively rewarding and I am so glad I held off and waited for the right placement to come along.

Check out Edinburgh Festivals Magazine in August to read more of my unforgettable, inspiring, beautiful words.

London, The Spare Room Project, and Me

The Spare Room Project offers people from outside London who want to do an internship the chance of having a place to stay free of charge for some or all of their time there. To make it even more appealing the people who offer to host work in the publishing industry themselves. It aims to ease the financial barriers that people outside of London may be faced with when taking up an internship opportunity in London, the hub of publishing in the UK.

After not having much luck with finding a placement locally in Edinburgh I turned my sights to London. Countless emails, cover letters, and CVs were sent across every publishing house I could find and just as my hope dwindled Abrams & Chronicle offered me a two-week internship in their marketing and publicity department. After my “OMG YES YES YES” email, only slightly more formal the reality set in. Pound signs flashed before my eyes like I was a cartoon character, as I did my research. Accommodation, food, train to London, the Tube all began piling their costs on my calculator. As the numbers inflated so did my panic. I needed this placement. I needed to gain industry experience. It was my chance to test out my skills from my MSc and to really experience publishing first hand.

Knowing I’d probably left it too late, I applied to the Spare Room Project on a whim thinking I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I continued to scour websites trying to find a hostel that was reasonably priced, had no bed bugs, and passably clean toilets – more of a struggle than I ever really wanted to know.

Just as hope dwindled, an email notification dinged early one morning. It floated into my inbox titled “Spare Room Introductions” and I about squealed with joy. Someone was willing to host me for my first week of placement. Suddenly the pound signs and panic deflated at the prospect of only needing to secure accommodation for a week. But then the unbelievable happened! About a week from my start date, another email titled “Spare Room Introductions” landed in my inbox. I now had somewhere to stay for my second week of placement! It felt too good to be true, suddenly the hundreds of pounds I needed for accommodation were a distant memory, floating out of sight.

My first week I was placed out in Totteridge and Whetstone. It was about an hour commute into Abrams & Chronicle but that meant I could grab some early morning reading, never a negative! I was staying with a lovely family and their two cats. They made me feel so welcome from the moment I arrived, they invited me to join them for dinner every night and again for breakfast. It was so wonderful to know that I wasn’t alone in a hostel eating by myself every night. Instead I had conversation, laughter and amazing home-cooked meals to look forward to every night.

My second week I was transported to the complete opposite side of London over near Stratford. New Tube line and new area to discover. This time, I stayed with a young couple in their amazing newly renovated house, and first time hosters for The Spare Room Project. Once again, I was welcomed with open arms, warm meals, friendly conversations, and invitations to join them in their Netflix watching. What more could a newbie to London hope for? I loved getting to peek inside the world of audiobooks at Penguin Random House from listening to my host and learning something that didn’t come up during my classes.

Without The Spare Room Project I don’t think I would have gotten nearly as much out of my placement. I know if I had been living in a hostel with the constant reminder of pound signs flashing in my head every day, it would have caused constant anxiety and stress. Instead, it allowed me to put all my energy into learning and enjoying my placement and make connections in London as well as the publishing world.

Before I sign off, I wanted to extend a huge thank you to everyone who works on the Spare Room Project to help people like me from outside London have a viable option of completing a placement. As well, a huge thank you to both of my hosts who were so welcoming and generous enough to allow me to stay, and to Abrams & Chronicle for giving me such a great first-hand introduction to the publishing industry. It is such a fantastic initiative and I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to experience it, it made such a huge difference to my everyday life and perception of London and the publishing industry. So please make sure you sign up whether as a host and help someone out!

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Sending an Email: How I Secured a Placement With CYMERA Festival

As I was scrolling my Twitter feed late last year, I stumbled across an announcement for something called CYMERA. Billed as ‘Scotland’s Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Writing’, the announcement stated that the first-ever CYMERA would run from 7–9 June 2019 and bring a plethora of talented writers to Edinburgh to discuss their work and celebrate all things speculative fiction. As someone who regularly chooses to read about dragons in her spare time, that sounded downright magical. After reading the full write-up about the festival in The Herald the next day, I knew I wanted to be involved. I just needed to figure out how to make that happen.

As CYMERA is in its first year of existence, there were no established work placements or internships in place. This meant that there were no application forms to peruse, no previous interns I could pester, and definitely no established list of dos and don’ts. Frankly, the whole thing was a bit like going on a quest without a map. Or detailed directions. Or a compass. In complete darkness without a single sliver of moonlight to illuminate the path ahead. As such, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I learned while pursuing my placement and going through the nerve-wracking process of composing and sending that first email to a complete stranger. Forge ahead for some tips and Marie Kondo gifs. Continue reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Sending an Email: How I Secured a Placement With CYMERA Festival”

A Glimpse into the World of Travel Publishing

Coming into 2019, I’d successfully completed the first three modules of the MSc Publishing course. The skills I acquired through Publishing in Context, Publishing in Practice, and Fiction and the Fiction Market, strengthened my knowledge of the industry and market research, as well as enhanced my design and editorial skills. I began the Publishing Placement and Professional Development module in second trimester fully confident in my ability to secure a 10-day work placement before the end of the term.

With social media platforms being a free and far-reaching means of advertising for job vacancies, I began regularly searching for work experience opportunities on Twitter using the hashtags #workexperience #workinpublishing #publishingjobs #careersinpublishing. While I admit this was somewhat of an unconventional approach, it is ultimately what landed me my placement with Culture Smart travel guides.

I was absolutely delighted to be offered a spot in Culture Smart‘s marketing and publicity department and looked forward to cultivating first-hand industry experience during my time there. Culture Smart is an imprint of Kuperard, a publisher and distributor based in North London. Among the publishers they distribute for are Harper One, William Collins, Simon & Schuster and Random House. The Culture Smart imprint provides essential information and insight on regional etiquette, customs, courtesies, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors for countries worldwide.

In this publicity and marketing role, I created visual and written web content for the company’s various social media platforms, as well as assisted in launching two marketing campaigns. Continue reading “A Glimpse into the World of Travel Publishing”

London Bound: My Placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books

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When I started the publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier University, the placement module was the one I was excited about and also the least worried about. This might sound weird, because, like most of my peers, I started this programme to get more publishing experience. I wasn’t as nervous about this upcoming placement, however, because I spent last year interning at various publishing houses in the Netherlands and thus already had some experience.

I have been a book blogger since March 2013 and over the course of the fewpast years I have built relationships with various publishing houses within the UK. I have loved reviewing for Harper Collins, Abrams & Chronicle, Bloomsbury, and Bonnier Books in the past; and when the time came to secure a work placement, I sent a few emails to contacts I hadmade through my years of blogging. Two weeks later I secured my placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books in London.

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They sent me a package with six proofs of their upcoming Spring 2019 titles

Although I had not been nervous about the work placement up until that point, nerves seemed to kick in full force the moment I stepped on my flight to London. Continue reading “London Bound: My Placement at Abrams & Chronicle Books”

A Placement at Vagabond Voices

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At the beginning of this course the placement module always seemed exciting, but when the time came to actually organising one, it all felt a bit more daunting. I had no direct experience in the industry, and although you’ve got to start somewhere, getting that first bit of experience is always tricky. It’s difficult to put yourself into a situation where you don’t really know the day-to-day workings of a publishing house and are wondering what you can bring to the table. Of course, as it turns out, I had far more to offer than I thought and those transferable skills everyone talks about really do come in handy.

I secured my placement with Vagabond Voices in December, after having researched the company for a case study the previous trimester. Continue reading “A Placement at Vagabond Voices”