My Placement: Hodder Gibson


The staff of Hodder Gibson (and me!)

My placement took place at Hodder Gibson in Paisley, the Scottish imprint of Hodder Education – the textbook publisher.

My first challenge was trying to remember which Standard Grades and Highers I sat six years ago, as Managing Director John Mitchell asked which textbooks I had used in school! 

Over the course of my placement, I was given first hand experience of writing copy-editing briefs and text design briefs as well as marking up corrections on proofs and on published textbooks due to reprint. Although I was at first hesitant to write on a book, I was soon scribbling away with my red pen, using the standard proofing marks taught in the first trimester. Not only did I practise skills I had already established on the MSc Publishing course, but I was also challenged to develop my skills in the business side of things such as dealing with budgets, estimates and sales.

In a small office consisting of four people, I not only gained editorial experience but I also gained knowledge of other people’s roles within the organisation, the workflow process and that if more than one person is having coffee, you get ‘posh’ cafetiere coffee as opposed to instant!

An incredibly worthwhile experience, I am extremely grateful for how welcome I was made to feel at Hodder Gibson. The staff went out of their way to make sure I was learning about the industry and doing things of interest – not just learning about how to work the photocopier!


Biscuits and Books with Brown

Unless you possess a particularly charming smile, although I still have my doubts about this theory, getting into London Book Fair’s International Rights Centre without an appointment is going to be no easy feat. On no account mention that you are a student. The best way is undoubtedly to resort to shameless blagging.

And so, I’m proud to say, began my first day at the London Book Fair. Once past the stony-faced guards, your eyes are rewarded with, well, beige. Everywhere. A truly inspiring atmosphere in which to excite publishers and sub-agents with your rights list.

Sadly this is more or less where my first day ended as Jenny Brown, of Jenny Brown Associates where I have been doing my placement, was busy in meetings each time I battled my way into the IRC. All was not lost though as I did spot the promising glimmer of a pile of Tunnocks biscuits.

Day 2 and armed with this new knowledge, I once more ascended the escalator in search of the Tunnocks-sponsored agency. This time I was in luck, and soon found myself sitting in on rights meetings, praying no one would turn to me with a searching question. It was fascinating to watch agents pitching titles, hear what different publishers were interested in adding to their lists and what is particularly popular in their respective countries.

Despite all of this, when Jenny turned to me, mid-meeting, and suggested that I pitch the text I’ve been working on, I was a little tempted to quickly stuff a tea cake in my mouth. The opportunity to pitch such a great text proved too good to miss though; I only hope I haven’t done any permanent damage…

My Placement at The Scotsman Publications Ltd

My two week placement was based within the special reports team of The Scotsman Publications. This team work on supplements for The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, Edinburgh Evening News and Herald & Post newspapers in addition to producing the monthly Pulse Magazine.

While on my placement I gained industry experience in proof-reading, sub-editing, picture research and page design for the newspaper supplements and The Pulse; all whilst obtaining a glimpse into the magazine industry’s practices and obstacles.

I am fortunate to have arrived at my placement just as the May 2011 issue of The Pulse was being finished.

Think Alice in Wonderland meets Heston Blumenthal.

The striking photography, whimsical fashion pieces and the scrumptious food features, all made this issue the most stunning yet; and I should know – I also archived the back issues.

What became apparent during my placement is that no person within the team performed one single role. In fact many of the team members were multi-talented and undertook editing, page design, photography and journalism. In discussing this with the special reports editor Gabe Stewart, she revealed that this was the natural progression in which many magazine and print publishers were taking in response to the current economic climate. This emphasises the importance of studying MSc publishing at Napier, which provides its students with a broad range of skills and knowledge essential to success within the current marketplace.

My Fair London

After the stress of live projects and work placements MSc. Publishing students decided to blow off some steam, London style. True, we were heading to southern pastures for the London Book Fair but we also saw it as a chance to spend some time together before parting ways for the summer. And we weren’t disappointed.

Around 15 students went down to the fair, 11 of which stayed in the ever-reliable Travel Lodge. We got the train down on Monday morning and, after a brief confusion over which Travel Lodge we were actually staying in, a few of us decided to visit the fair before the next day’s activities. Monday evening at Earls Court was certainly a lot calmer than the following day. We managed to get our bearings and our badges without being too overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the building and picked up our trusty guide of seminars for the next two days.

The CEO keynote debate on Tuesday morning was entitled “Digital Revolution or Digital Evolution?” Attendees were treated to the thoughts of bigwigs such as John Makinson, CEO of Penguin and Brian Murray, CEO of HarperCollins. The consensus appeared to be that the changes in the publishing chain have been a hybrid of revolutionary and evolutionary factors.

The focus for the LBF was on Russia and of course, on digital publishing. It seems that one cannot mention publishing nowadays without the D word coming up and the number of stalls dedicated to digital devices, along with the emphasis on “going digital” in almost every talk, was testament to this fact.

Although we did go to several talks and tried our networking skills at the Publishing Scotland stand (the handing out of cards aided to some extent by whiskey and wine!), our main activity was simply taking it all in. The fair was a great opportunity to witness the theory we have learned being put into practice and to prepare ourselves for the day when it will be our turn to man the colourful stands.

Of course, the trip wasn’t all work and no play…we had a great time doing the touristy thing in London and really enjoyed our time out in the evenings…perhaps a little bit too much in some cases! We were reluctant to leave our beloved Travel Lodge on Wednesday afternoon and it seemed that the trip passed all too quickly. All in all, it was a brilliant and informative experience – I’m looking forward to next year already!

Arriving at Earls Court
Arriving at Earls Court – © Emma Sothern

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 couple of Spring 2011 highlights

The Spring trimester is a busy one for Edinburgh Napier Publishing students, but also offers some fun opportunities.

On 21 February 2011, several students from Edinburgh Napier attended Publishing Scotland’s annual conference.

This year’s theme was “Publish Locally, Sell Globally”.

It was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet professionals in the Scottish publishing industry.

We heard speeches from Anne MacColl, CEO of Scottish Development International, on how to market the Scottish publishing industry to the world market. Anne suggested that Scottish publishers need to embrace new digital content and publish in foreign languages to increase their international market. Continue reading “A couple of Spring 2011 highlights”