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”


Working Events for an Independent Bookshop



Golden Hare Books
© Katalina Watt 2018

In October I joined the close-knit team at Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, and we were recently delighted to be named the 2019 Independent Bookshop of the Year in the Scotland category of The British Book Awards, also known as the Nibbies. We’re also chuffed to be shortlisted for Children’s Bookseller of the Year and Individual Bookseller of the Year, with the results being announced in May.

My role is primarily assisting with events, which range from book launches to book groups. The former involves liaising with authors, publishers, and guests to ensure the events run smoothly and overseeing logistics such as POS displays and merchandise, catering, seating, tickets, and sales. For the latter, I spearhead the monthly Short Story Clubs and YA Book Groups, selecting and preparing readings and facilitating group discussion.

For the YA Book Group, which debuted this year, I’m aiming to work through a range of author experiences, genres, and formats, ensuring we’re reading as widely as possible. Golden Hare is constantly innovating and finding new ways to be even more inclusive and representative. I’ve really enjoyed all the debates inspired so far, as we’re all pushing to read beyond our familiar genres and authors. Continue reading “Working Events for an Independent Bookshop”

Taking the next step into the real world for 2019:

With the semester is coming to an end it can only mean one thing: one step closer to entering the workplace and one step further in leaving university. Upon reflection, I have learned more about publishing and the impact that the industry has on society.  I have learned the importance of pushing to pursue a career in the field that may suit my skills in the future. It hasn’t been an easy year but it has certainly opened my eyes to what may be out there. Opportunity’s to attend events have been flowing in, such as SYP and LBF, to name a few and although I never did attend it is good to know that these exist to educate people on the industry and to network.

It’s been inspirational to see so many creative ideas formed throughout the course and I have even surprised myself, with the potential to not only create something new and exciting but challenge myself along the way. To me the software introduction such as Photoshop and InDesign have been my biggest challenge but also my most rewarding, and so I hope to continue to work with these in the future. I have learned the complexity of working out Adobes features, to piece together why they are relevant. In my latest project in which I have invested a lot of time due to such an interest I feel this is most relevant to the entire years’ coursework.  I have the passion of realising my own book has new potential and now with the right knowledge and direction I can push on with this project, on my own terms. The knowledge from the course has widened my experience and if anything taught me that there is still so much to leant after university has ended. The learning will be continuous, which is exciting as it aids in shaping a path for the future in publishing whether this be design, editorial or more personally becoming an author myself, it is an exciting path to take.

I hope to seek an opportunity in the publishing industry as an author soon but still feel I need to explore my options. The difficulty I have learned is that I still have areas that contain weaknesses and so are good to work on in the future. For example, editorial skills which are important could be easily improved with practice, workshops or mentoring and is overall key to further motivation in finalising my project.

With conferences like SYP and they provide an opportunity to network and although I never took advantage of this it is good to know there are events such as this to aid others in publishing.

Being a student at Napier and having the opportunity to study Publishing at a MSc level has been challenging. This challenge has been amazing and taught me the unexpected and why now more than ever, publishing is an important to our economy and education. To learn about publishing houses and companies alike that contribute, has truly opened my eyes and motivated me to want to learn more.

In 2019, the industry looks as promising as ever now that I have had more insight into what to expect. I look forward to graduating and finding my path into where I fit into it all, as anyone should. Knowing where my weaknesses are in aid to me in being conscious enough to be able to develop my skill set and work on what needs to be improved. As I leave behind the security blanket of university and seek opportunities in the real world, it shall he exciting. So far, my only goal for the reminder of 2019 is to begin to piece together all the current knowledge and exploit this to pursue in becoming an author in the industry.  Its exciting to know what 2020 shall bring and what changes in the industry shall occur.

My Friend InDesign

If you look through this site, you’ll be able to see examples of the sort of amazing things that people do while studying publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. What I would like to talk about is a little bit different. It is what I have spent the most time doing over the past year and it is probably the most important thing that I do.

My Friend Image 2 (1)

InDesign, it is a computer program by Adobe that has become the industry standard in book and magazine production. It is in the same family of products as Photoshop and Illustrator and more importantly, it is my friend. Continue reading “My Friend InDesign”

Literacy and Libraries at London Book Fair

Most of my experience of my first London Book Fair as a MSc Publishing student this year was a dazed wander around the Olympia, trying to take as much in as possible and also not get overwhelmed. Publisher stalls were fit to burst, pathways were bustling with people, and panels were sometimes full to the brim. There were however two panels that weren’t as crowded but that I wish had been. Both explored the importance of literacy to the wider community, to society as a whole, and implored publishers to collaborate. I can’t begin to summarise the range of initiatives, expertise, and overall sense of hope that these panels gave me properly in this post but hopefully it communicates something of what I got out of those experiences. 

One half of London Book Fair 2019

Continue reading “Literacy and Libraries at London Book Fair”

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


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.

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”