My Placement: The Media Company Publications

Front Conver of Edingburgh Festivals Magazine 2010.

You may think I am mad if I say I’m feeling festive, but think again. The Edinburgh Festivals may be months away in the minds of the anticipating crowds, but the build-up has already started at The Media Publishing Company Ltd, creators of  Edinburgh Festivals magazine.

Much of the magazine content is still top secret, including the all-important cover star.  We all know to never judge a book, or shall I say magazine, by its cover, but last year’s image of Alan kept us Cumming for more in Edinburgh Festivals 2010. To top that excitement, I have Byrne-ing suspicion that this year’s cover will produce the same reaction.

Before all that, the team at The Media Company have all their fingers in an especially hot pie, with the launch of seven Foodies festival’s this year kicking off with Brighton this may!

My Placement at Bright Red Publishing

I did my MSc Publishing placement at Scottish independent, educational publisher Bright Red Publishing.

At first the experience was a bit daunting for me, as I had never actually worked in an office environment before, having worked abroad as a teacher since I finished my BA. The first hurdle to overcome was learning how to answer the phones. A simple task you might think, but made more complicated by having to remember the codes to put people through to different desks, not to mention trying to memorise the ‘list’ and all the discounts to tell customers. Luckily, one of the Directors, John had a help sheet written up, made for a past intern no doubt, which I could refer to when I got lost.

During the first few days of the placement I got used to being in the office, answering the phones and dealing with customers. I also had the chance to read a proposal from an author about a new book, and do some editing for layout of the author’s text. This was really interesting and gave me a much better insight into the development of a text from start to finish; from an author’s initial proposal, to the first draft that is edited and re-edited between the Editors, Directors and the Designer until it is finally perfect and ready for printing.

Apart from editing, the other main tasks that I assisted with were focused on marketing. While at Bright Red I updated the monthly newsletters, drew the winner for the weekly Bright Red Book Draw, wrote sales letters and emails and even cut out posters for display in Waterstones. I didn’t have to do any filing, but I did help to stuff 400 envelopes full of proofs and sales letters to be sent to schools!

All in all, I can say that the internship was an invaluable experience. The team at Bright Red were very welcoming, and it definitely gave me a better idea of the reality of working in the publishing industry, and the kinds of tasks that have to be done on a day-to-day basis. Thanks to this I’ve realised the type of job I would like, ideally, to do, which is to be a Development Editor, enabling me to better focus myself, and my CV.

If I could give some advice to anyone else starting a placement now, it would be not to be shy about asking questions if you’re unsure about something, be enthusiastic about the work and interested in the host company, and of course, don’t forget to offer to make teas and coffees once in a while!

A Day in the Life of a Literary Agent

The day starts with a jubilant welcoming from Clouseau, the wonder dog. After a morning cup of tea to banish the chilly winter air, I’m ready to start my day.

The morning is taken up with the submissions I’ve already had a look through and made notes on, sorting out which ones I enjoyed and didn’t, and pitching them to the group with my reasons why.

This leads on to the rejection letters and finding the right one to suit the submission. I’ll spend another hour or so working through my notes and writing up a paragraph that will hopefully encourage the writer to keep writing whilst gently turning them down.

Then it’s off to lunch!

After I return (and receive another jubilant welcoming) I get straight back to work, finishing off the submissions and letters and working on the website. Finding out just what exactly needs fixing and what needs changing; writing up new information; looking at different sites; how the authors social network and how I can promote the agency’s online presence. An ongoing and arduous process that, nevertheless, needs to be done.

Soon enough it’s five o’clock and I’m wondering just where exactly the day has gone – it feels like just an hour ago I sat down with my morning cup of tea.

A quick check that everything that I set out to accomplish this morning has been completed and I’m done!

…As soon as I collect more submissions to take home and make notes on, of course.

Prof advises Guardian Careers Blog

Photo of Prof McCleery smilingYesterday, Professor McCleery was invited to contribute to the Guardian Careers Blog on Publishing studies.

The live Blog offered anyone the chance to put questions about a career in publishing to a small panel of experts drawn from companies such as Penguin and agencies such as Skillset. Professor McCleery, from Edinburgh Napier University, was the only representative from Higher Education.

Publishing is the UK’s largest creative industry. It is a popular career choice for many graduates, and is incredibly hard to get into without appropriate work experience, or a relevant undergraduate or Postgraduate qualification.

The blog can be viewed on the Guardian website:

Starting at a big name

First steps at a well known London publisher
You will probably not be surprised to hear that getting a job at a big London publisher like Harper Collins or Penguin first of all requires getting an internship or work experience. Above all it requires a plan.


The following technique has five stages to getting employed in one of these places and has got me to step 4 so far. Bear in mind that no-one seems to be running a formal graduate scheme at the moment so the following approach is not geared to getting onto an all encompassing graduate scheme – merely a job as and when it appears. Continue reading “Starting at a big name”


[Editor’s Note: Edinburgh Napier University has a Work Placement module for Postgraduate Publishing students. Go to our Home page to find out more about our student’s experiences on their publishing work placement.]

Summer placements and internships have been on my mind for a good few months! I’ve come up with a list of the best websites to get information and help on applying for internships and placements within the UK. (Hope this can shed some light on difficult decisions!)

Carlton College (michigan) Internship Winners. –  just type in Publishing and links will appear with info on the company, etc.

Internship at EIBF

This summer I have an internship at the celebrated Edinburgh International Book Festival.  I will be assisting in the management and administration of the Children’s Programme. The Children’s and Education Programme has become a leading showcase for children’s writers and illustrators, with hundreds of events including workshops, ‘meet-the-author sessions’, storytelling, panel discussions and book signings.

‘My role will include liaising with authors, publishers and chair people to ensure that they are well prepared for the events, supporting school visits and assisting the day-to-day administration of the programme.

‘I am delighted to have been given this opportunity and am really looking forward to the experience.’

Catriona Wallace