Publishing Scotland Conference 2017: An Overview

It’s been 24 hours since the Publishing Scotland Conference left me equally overwhelmed and excited by my chosen career path so I hope this overview will give people who weren’t fortunate enough to attend a taste of what the day was like.

After a welcome from Publishing Scotland, the Booksellers Association and Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates, the day started with a key note speech from Barry Cunningham . Not only do I hope to work in children’s/YA publishing one day, but I am a long-time fan of Chicken House. I was all ears on the necessity for fueling “book growth by providing a wider variety of book of all kinds” and how readers can discover these books. ‘Book huggers’ became an integral part of my vocabulary and Barry’s business card a coveted addition to my wallet.

Next came a statistical breakdown of 2015/16 retail market trends courtesy of Nielsen BookScan data, and while your eyes may have glazed over just reading that sentence, believe me it was one of the highlights of the day. Who would have thought there was a marriage to be made between David Bowie and bar charts? Steve Bohme for one (apparently it was Star Wars last year!)

Sam Eades, Editorial Director at Orion Books, shared her innovative ideas for creating debut novel buzz without the benefit of a big publicity and marketing budget. With materials even Blue Peter might struggle to craft together, she revealed the roles a dismembered mannequin and Portsmouth bus lane played in two successful campaigns. She also stressed the importance of spear-heading trends, from psychological thrillers to cosy crime; and of recognising the opportunity for partnerships – even if those opportunities come in the form of two ice sculptors. After all, “publicists are great blaggers.”

I gained a whole new appreciation of the art of the book cover from the Creative Director at Penguin Random House, Suzanne Dean, whose journey between the hardback and paperback editions of Paul Kalanithi’s, When Breath Becomes Air, was paved by 70 rejected covers. And I’ll never look at the negative space and allusions of Haruki Murakami’s covers the same way now that I know a little of the complicated effort masquerading as the effortlessly simple.

When it comes to working better with authors (and selling more books), Lucinda Byatt from the Society of Authors reminded us that, despite falling advances and royalties, “authors remain the only essential part in the creation of a book.” How must it make them feel to often earn less than their editor?

We heard from the front lines in sales and bookselling where the successful bookstores are the ones with “experiential content that’s not available on the internet”, Kevin Ramage, The Watermill: “booksellers that diversify … throw in a bit of coffee … offer as much as possible to the customers”, Sabrina Maguire, Bright Red Publishing.

For my elective breakout session I was glad to have chosen to learn from Eleanor Collins, Senior Commissioning Editor at Floris Books, about editing narrative openings (but sad to miss out on the three other workshops that sounded equally fascinating). With the “artifice of the narrative most evident in the beginning” and a tendency for authors to begin the story before the action, editors can choose to alter the structure, chronology and/or voice. In other words (Eleanor’s words): start with the Ballroom instead of the Country Walk; or reference it and the Conversation during the preparation for the ball.

One of the most inspiring parts of the day, however, was an introduction to OWN IT!, London from founder, Crystal Mahey-Morgan. Crystal’s goal is to tell stories using books, music, fashion and film, starting with the multimedia book, Don’t Be Alien. Above all I respected her recognition that we have to see the commercial viability of diverse authors instead of just the moral necessity.

With people and pioneers like these, I’m happy to say that the future of the book does not look as bleak as it is often believed to be. Many thanks to Publishing Scotland for making the MSc Publishing students of Edinburgh Napier Universirty so welcome.

In conclusion, prep your calendars for 2018 and place your bets on who/what Steve Bohme will use to front his market data next time.


By Kellie Jones

Bookie Updates: Submission Day!!

The whole team is busily beavering away, finishing up for the submission of both of our book projects for our final assessment – which will ultimately decide whether our books will be sent to our chosen printer, Bell and Bain!! We are all so excited for finally reaching this point, regardless of all the stressful days and numerous obstacles which have come our way – we are so close we can almost see the books!! When we look back on what we have managed to achieve: editing, financing, producing, negotiating rights and marketing TWO books in just 13 weeks – I can speak for all of us in saying how proud we are of ourselves and every member of our little Wednesday Team!!!


contents filigree2

In recent weeks we have been able to finalise so many things, from confirming the support of Cordelia Fine and Helen Sutherland who are providing a foreword and an author biography for one of our projects (GO Rights Team!), The Day Boy and The Night Girl – for more details check out our Project page: The Day Boy and The Night Girl – through to the production of the covers for both books, which are looking amazing. A  big well done to our awesome production team!!

Collectively we have done so much to pull together and we have been able to achieve so much!! The Publishing Degree Show is coming up very soon and is open to the public from Friday 23rd of May until the 1st of June. You are all welcome to come along and see this year’s projects. There are also opportunities for you to get involved and vote for our selected covers for Ah Dinnae Ken. There will be four to choose from and we would love to hear what you think about them and vote for the winner.

This is a sample of one of the covers that will be on show for Ah Dinnae Ken:

Rachel ADK V2

And one for The Day Boy and The Night Girl:


We are also continuing to approach independent bookshops across Edinburgh and even researching retailers further afield; however, our sales are strongly dependent on your interest. Therefore, if you are really interested in getting a copy of our illustrated edition we would love to hear from you, and hear which bookshops are convenient for you and which you would be interested in purchasing from.

If we can find reassure bookshops of the interest that exists, we can create more sales and make them more accessible to you. Please send us a comment or a Facebook message if there is anywhere you are particularly interested in. Any bookshops interested in buying a number of copies please feel free to contact us also.


Busy Days at Fledgling Press

‘Indie, small, and slightly mysterious’ were the words I had in my head when I thought about Fledgling Press prior to my interview. Fledgling Press, as I found out through my research, is a small independent publishing company in Edinburgh which aims to champion new Scottish writers, whilst using Scottish artistic talent for their cover designs and illustrations. I was intrigued …

When I first met Clare Cain, CEO of Fledgling Press, I was excited by the prospect of gaining experience with a company passionate about who they represent and not just about profits. Clare agreed to meet me for an interview at the National Library of Scotland where we discussed publishing over coffee. Clare quizzed me about my work for my MSc Publishing course and the skills I’d gained so far, whilst filling me in on vital information about Fledgling Press. On top of this Clare was interested in the areas I wanted to gain experience in and talked about some Fledgling Press projects which would provide me with opportunities to expand my skills. Immediately I felt that Clare was concerned that, aside from hopefully making myself thoroughly useful doing work for the company, I would also gain an enjoyable and valuable experience through the process. I remember her particularly agreeing to offer me editorial experience —another step on my way to becoming an editor!

Clare and Kate hard at work!
Photo credits: Ellie Bush

The following Monday I was invited to one of the weekly Fledgling Press meetings in the New Town where I met the founder of the company, Zander Wedderburn. Already on my first day I remember feeling included in the meeting, being asked my opinion on Fledgling Press projects. It was clear I wasn’t just there as a tea-maker but was involved as a member of a team working on the development and promotion of work by new Scottish writers.

From that day forward I have been involved in editing manuscripts, final read-throughs of work on their way to print, creating pages and designs for an innovative new Fledgling Press catalogue (it’s going to be made out of bookmarks—ingenious!), been initiated into the weird and wonderful world of first-time author submissions as well as assisting with the judging of a book cover competition at the Edinburgh College of Art. I ended up relishing my Mondays with Fledgling Press. Apparently there is never a dull moment in a small independent publishing house. Working alongside another intern, Kate McNamara, it was all hands on deck as we worked with Clare from her home in Portobello.

What I gained from working with Clare was much more than just practicing my editorial skills. As well as learning how a small independent company manages to grow year upon year, from a tiny company to a not-so-tiny company, I also learned how it feels to be a valued member of a publishing team. The responsibility given to me by Clare and Zander provided me with not just practical experience but confidence in my decision to work in editorial. But more than this, I have a lovely few weeks working alongside Clare, Zander and Kate to look back on and am very grateful that I was able to work with such a nice group of people.

If you would like to learn more about Fledgling Press and their titles please visit their website at or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


Inside Main Point Books
Photograph by Ewelina Wasacz

People going in and out, stopping in wonder, browsing through the shelves, chatting or celebrating the silence – this is how it looks like here every day. There are works by Walter Scott or Leo Tolstoy waiting to be read again. There is art, feminism, travel, and sport books ready to be picked up. People from all walks of life are drawn to this place. No wonder. It’s magical.

You may ask ‘What are you doing here’? I’m being lucky, I answer. I’m having a great pleasure working for Jennie Renton, the owner of Main Point Books, which is an independent bookshop. As it happens, Jennie is also a founder of, a website dedicated to books and writing, and a freelancer involved in production, editorial and publicity activities.

When imaging my placement I thought of someone passionate and knowledgeable about publishing who would show me their craft. And this is exactly who Jennie is. However, I also pictured this person as someone working in a formal, modern, spacious office full of Macs and other technologically-advanced devices. I couldn’t be more wrong when it turned out to be a lovely bookshop, with a friendly atmosphere and hi-tech gadgets kept to minimum. I prefer this cosiness much more to a typical office environment.

My placement is a basket full of development opportunities. One day I work on internal page design for a football book that is just about to be published. InDesign, action! Another day I find myself helping out with the biggest purchase ever made in the shop by one of the top hotels in Edinburgh stocking up their Scottish-themed library. But that is not all. There is also the production side to my placement when I oversee the progress of publication of Edinburgh Review, a literary magazine released three times a year by the University of Edinburgh. The quality of work of both well-known and unknown writers is outstanding. My job is to design the internal pages of the magazine. One busy afternoon I also have a chance to uncover the complex process of copy-editing.

All these activities create a unique opportunity to discover  and learn different aspects of publishing business. I’m never bored here. How can I be if there are so many interesting tasks to complete? I work in various locations: Jennie’s shop, Edinburgh Review’s office, the Napier University campuses, which adds to the general excitement of my placement. Before I started this unforgettable journey through joys and challenges of a freelancer’s work I had not expected to be involved in so many activities. They truly allowed me to get a taste of a real-life ups and downs of working in the industry.

If you feel like having a good read and an enjoyable conversation get up and pop in to  this superb bookshop at 77 Bread Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9AH or get yourself a cup of tea and enter the online world of literature at

Work placement at Archaeology Scotland

Ever thought of becoming an archaeologist? Well, I have, when I was a little girl and watched all of the Indiana Jones movies: I wanted to go in search of the Lost Ark with Harrison Ford and ride a motorcycle with Sean Connery, while running away from the Nazis. For a while I was convinced my archaeological desire would not come true – how could it? I grew up and left my childhood dream behind and started a publishing course, which, as it turned out, I truly enjoy. You couldn’t go further away from archaeology, could you? Well, that’s where fate came in to prove me wrong as I did my publishing placement with Archaeology Scotland and got first hand experience of what modern archaeologists do, while being able to deepen my knowledge of publishing design processes.

As I said, I did my placement with Archaeology Scotland, a voluntary membership organisation that looks after maintaining the archaeological heritage and research in Scotland. The task I was entrusted with was re-designing the latest issue of their eponymous membership magazine and looking into ways of making that content available online and establishing whether the newly re-defined format could bring the printing costs down.

What I enjoyed the most was the designer freedom to create a brand new issue from scratch, to be able to decide on the organisation of the textual and visual elements on a page and to make sure it all comes in together nicely and is consistent across the issue. In addition to all that, which was all very hands-on and practical from day one, I also had to deliver a presentation reporting on my work progress to the editorial sub-group which included the company’s President. This was a little more challenging, but most definitely beneficial for my presentation confidence skills.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my working experience there as I was exposed to some of the actual publishing problems, while learning more about the work of real-life Indiana Joneses (well, they might think they are). I got lucky, I must say – I got the best out of both worlds. Minus the baddies, luckily.


If you are interested in Archaeology Scotland’s activities, visit their webpage, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Working at the Teaching Fellows

It’s the smell of ink, that moment when you open the box for the first time and peer inside, which just adds to the excitement. Picking out that first copy and holding it up to the light thinking, I helped make this. I finally held in my hands the finished product. A mix of emotions of pride, happiness and just a little relief making the weeks of hard work, the stress and frustration, just melt away into memory. At the end of the day, it was all worth it.

My placement at The Teaching Fellows Journal (tfj) has been an exciting experience. The tfj is part of the Teaching Fellows Scheme at Edinburgh Napier University, created in 1997 and exists to better promote the importance of learning and teaching at the university. The journal is distributed throughout the university to inform the Teaching Fellows community on the activities of their colleagues, including conference reports, diary dates and other important information.

image courtesy from Teaching Fellows
Editorial meeting at the tfj

My role within the tfj has been to help in the production of the latest issue of the journal. This involved a variety of tasks such as, designing the layouts of the articles, liaising with the editors, contributors and external printers, alongside making recommendations on how the production process of future journals can be improved. What attracted me to this placement was the chance to get involved with a project comprised of a small team. I felt this would give me more opportunities to test out and further broaden the skills the MSc Publishing course has equipped me with. As the journal needed to be produced in a very short period of time, it was like being thrown into the deep end! Whilst this caused stress, having to juggle university, placement and a part-time job, my experience at the tfj has been an invaluable one. The chance to work on a project and hold the finished product in my hands is ultimately why I want to work in publishing.

It’s the smell of ink.

The tfj can be viewed online at the Edinburgh Napier Education Exchange (ENEE) or alternatively Here.

Work Placement with Teaching Fellows

Image © Teaching Fellows 2012

I remember the time when I was browsing the website of MSc Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University deciding whether to sign on the course, hesitant a bit whether I’d be able to manage my studies and my full time job at the same time. There was, however, a piece of information which particularly grabbed my attention – work placement module, where students can experience a real publishing workplace and put to practice the skills they learned during their studies – I believe this might have given that final push and I made my decision…

So you can imagine how excited I was when the time came for us to chose an organisation to do our placement with.  Excited and concerned. Concerned whether I’d be able to take full advantage of the work placement while not compromising my job by being absent during workdays, and at the same time meet expectations of the host company.

I was lucky I was given the opportunity by Teaching Fellows at Edinburgh Napier University to help them put together their March edition of Teaching Fellows Journal. They were very accommodating of my other commitments and let me work from home as long as I would manage to meet production deadlines.

I soon realised I was more then lucky because the work proved to be very interesting. I was a full member of the production team, attending editorial meetings, encouraged to speak up my opinion on matters such as design and layout of the new edition, production schedule or production management. Moreover, my opinion was listened to and some ideas even implemented.

As far as the production of the journal itself, I was working along with my course mate also undertaking his placement with Teaching Fellows, and our day to day tasks comprised actions from typesetting and laying out pages, to liaising with editors and proofreaders as well as printers to make sure the journal was progressing on schedule.

The placement with Teaching Fellows exceeded my expectations and settled my concerns. It was an excellent opportunity to apply relevant skills and knowledge in the work context. The amount of self-initiative we were given felt initially slightly overwhelming but made me to prepare myself to every task very responsibly, carefully evaluate my decisions, and be well organised.

I’m grateful I was given a chance to work together with such inspiring people as the members of the editorial & production team of Teaching Fellows Journal and to fully contribute to the real project – production of tfj March 2012!