Editorial Internship at Fledgling Press

When you want to get your foot in the door of an industry, it’s often advised that you carry out a substantial period of work experience with an appropriate company; undertaking an internship not only allows you to experience first-hand, the environment you hope to someday work in, but it also looks great on your CV. However, the prospect of working unpaid for a length of time can be incredibly daunting and this is why it’s particularly important the company you’re working for recognises that and does everything they can to help you in other ways.

When I responded to Fledgling’s advert for Editorial work experience, I was not initially aware of what the working hours would be, I just knew that I wanted to apply and if successful, do everything I could to commit to the hours asked of me. I’d been aware of the publisher beforehand and admired their commitment to publishing debut authors as much as possible.

‘Fledgling Press are an independent publisher in Edinburgh, committed to publishing work by debut authors, emerging talent and new voices in the literary world.’

They also state on their website that they ‘have a healthy intern programme where [interns] don’t just have to make the tea.’ I in no way expected to be successful, having (I’ll admit) missed my initial interview slot because I went to the entirely wrong address. So, after the rescheduled interview and heading home annoyed at myself, I was shocked and delighted when Clare Cain emailed me to offer me the placement.

What I want to share the most about my experience so far is how completely and utterly accommodating and understanding Clare has been from the outset. When she emailed me offering me the position, she stated that it would be around six months long (February to September), but that the hours were one day a week on Wednesdays, 9:30am-3:30pm, 45-minute lunch break inclusive. That though the placement itself is unpaid, travel expenses would be taken care of and that come September, if I don’t want to leave or am looking for a job and feel it beneficial to stay, then I certainly can.

In addition to this flexibility, on a weekly basis Clare asks me how my course is going, what my workload is like and if I’d rather not come in the following week in order to focus on my studies. Though I have not yet felt the need to take any time off, it is incredibly comforting to know that I need only phone in, to let Clare know I won’t be able to make it, and that it would truly be okay.

Fledgling Press is run from Clare’s home in Portobello, by herself, husband Paul and designer Graham. Myself, Clare and a fellow intern spend our Wednesday’s sitting around the kitchen table, drinking copious amounts of tea (always offered to us by Clare) and trying our best not to get distracted by her beautiful dog, Charlie. Clare’s family are also often around, equally as welcoming as Clare, and with one daughter at university herself and another at the end of high school, it’s easy to relate and chat away about all our different career goals.

In terms of my involvement with the work itself, I cannot commend Clare enough for the access and control she gave me right from the beginning. On the first day, I was given login details to submissions, encouraged to turn down those I felt were better suited to a different publisher’s list, and to request the full manuscript of those I was interested in. At first, I was trepidatious about turning people down, reading as much as I could, convinced I would decide they were suited to us. Clare laughed nostalgically at this and assured me she was the same when she first started out. But that to keep up with the volume of submissions, you had to have the heart to say no and move on.

As Fledgling are a small, independent publisher, typesetting is done in-house, and I’ve had the opportunity to put the skills I’ve been learning in class to the test, sometimes even surprising myself when I’ve been able to show Clare something about InDesign she didn’t know. Though the role is Editorial, it has become clear to me that the roles are widely shared in a small publishing house and it’s all the more enjoyable for that. In my interview, I asked Clare what it is that makes someone really stand out to her, someone she can see going far in the industry, and she replied that an awareness of the industry as a whole is essential. It bodes well for someone to have an understanding of the areas outside of their own.

Though I could write forever about how much I’m enjoying my time there, I will say one more thing. The first full manuscript I worked on, where I carried out the final proof, was a genre I would never usually intend to read. However, I treated the writing with immediate respect and sat down, ready to pay full attention and to try to understand the author’s vision and world they had worked so hard to create. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement and I spent a great deal of time after, gushing to Clare about how much I loved it and how wonderful it was that I was one of the first people to ever see the work before it becomes a book.

I can assure you that travelling that little bit farther (really only a 30-minute bus journey from the city centre) to a little seaside town every Wednesday has been, and I’m sure will continue to be incredibly worth my time. I am learning so much from a powerhouse of a woman who has truly made Fledgling Press what it is today, and I feel nothing less than valued for the help I am able to give, as a complete beginner in this exciting, supportive and passionate industry that is publishing.

 

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Placement at Pain Concern

What a placement as an editorial assistant at charity, Pain Concern, looks like

For our MSc Publishing placement module, I decided to do something a bit different to working in a publishing house and applied to help out at a charity instead.

Pain Concern is a national charity that supports and informs people with pain and those who care for them – including loved ones, carers, and professionals. They do this by providing information through their website, podcasts, and information leaflets which circulate pain clinics around the UK. They also raise awareness about pain through Pain Education sessions and fundraising techniques, and campaign to improve the provision of pain management services.

My role in the charity is as an editorial assistant, and I was really keen to volunteer some of my skills that I have developed on the course to a charity which would really benefit from them.

In-house they are a small team, but this is fleshed out by the vast array of volunteers nation-wide who help out in whatever ways they can. On my first day, I arrived to find that they were extremely welcoming and made me feel comfortable straight away. I was also pleased to find that they wanted to push me into developing into new areas and gain more experience in a variety of ways and as far as I wanted. This included the possibility to write some press releases when they appeared. There was also the chance for me to develop my web skills through updating their website and finding ways to make the articles published on the website more discoverable.

Currently, my role entails transcribing their monthly podcasts and condensing them into a short blog article to publish regularly on their website. This means I have to work closely with the trustees to ensure the articles meet The Information Standard quality checks and disseminate the correct medical information as this is so important for the patients and carers reading them. I also monitor emails and check in with the transcribers and listeners of the podcasts to relay when a new podcast is coming out, and to make sure that they send in their transcriptions to be published on the website, too. In addition to this, I will be helping the team ensure that their current and upcoming publications also adhere to The Information Standard and achieve the Crystal Mark for quality, which is one of the most important jobs.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet the trustees in person. Visits from the trustees don’t happen too often since they have to travel from all over the UK. The fact that they braved the ‘Beast from the East’ to be there that day proved their commitment to the charity and to those who rely on them, and I found that pretty inspiring. As well as the sandwiches, the staff meeting was thoroughly enjoyable. I got to sit in and hear about all the developments within the charity and the office itself, and to learn about the ways they will continue to grow in the coming months. This was exciting! I was encouraged to give feedback and it was nice to feel that even though I was so new, my views were still appreciated and even wanted.

Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pain Concern – so much so that I will probably stay on as a volunteer after this module has ended. I’ve learnt new skills and enhanced the ones that I brought with me to the charity, and I’m hugely grateful to the team for letting me join in on all the great work that they do!

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Images © Pain Concern

Pushkin Prizes Update

Pushkin Prizes 2014

Everyone on the team is delighted to say that we have now taken delivery of the 2014 Pushkin Prizes winners’ work! For those interested in how we are working here, we can briefly outline the process we are working to.

When the winners’ work came to us, we scanned them into our computers using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software; this meant that we could edit the work on a word processor quicker than if we had typed out each winner’s work individually.

Editorial

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Once we have converted the work into digital format, it enables the editorial team to begin their work. This begins with a quick read through to make sure that the OCR software hasn’t made any glaring errors or mistakes. Once this is done they print out a copy of the work and do a ‘copy edit’. This is where they write on the paper to flag things such as spelling errors or issues with sentence structure. Then, these changes are made and logged on the digital copy. Next, the team apply a ‘house style’ to the work, so that there is one uniform format throughout each piece of work. After this, the work will be proof read a number of times in preparation for being handed over to our production team! What is important through the entire process is that the entrants’ work is kept authentic. It is their work and we want to keep it that way, so that they can still be proud of their work in ten years’ time.

Production

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The production team have already been working away for weeks creating a template and layout of the book all ready for when the competition winners’ work comes in. As well as this they have been creating some amazing potential cover designs. Once they get the work in from the editorial team they can place the raw text into the blank layouts. Then they apply the design house style so that the text is in the correct typeface and size, as well as making the such things as chapter headings and page numbers look good.

These processes are still on going whilst we build up to publication. We will keep you updated with more information about the project, behind the scenes looks and pictures. For other updates follow @EdNapierPublish.

Meet the Maisie/Pushkin Team

Hello. We thought it was about time we introduced ourselves.

We’re students on the MSc Publishing studies programme at Edinburgh Napier University and we’ve recently started working on some exciting new projects for Merchiston Publishing, the University’s long established in-house publisher.

We are one of two groups working on four different projects for Merchiston Publishing this year. Our team are in charge of two of these projects – The Pushkin Prizes Anthology 2014 and Maisie and the Night Visitor. To find out more about both projects, visit our Live Projects pages for The Pushkin Prizes Anthology 2014 and Maisie and the Night Visitor. You can also follow the @EdNapierPublish twitter to keep up to date with all of our projects.

Project Managers

Georgia Walters and Eve Scott

Heading up the team are our enthusiastic, organised and committed Project Managers, Eve and Georgia. As the driving force behind our team, both Eve and Georgia have been instrumental in getting both projects going and we have every faith that their determination and passion will carry us through any challenges we may face. Georgia is taking the lead on The Pushkin Prizes Anthology 2014 and Eve, who has been a Maisie fan since she was young, is in charge of Maisie and the Night Visitor.

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Here’s what they had to say about the projects –

Georgia Walters (PM) The Pushkin Prizes Anthology 2014-

“I’m honoured to be part of the team publishing the latest Pushkin Prizes anthology. Fraser Ross Associates has generously allowed us free reign in showcasing 2014’s winners, and we hope to do justice to the 26-year history of the prizes whilst adding our own new design and ideas. As students ourselves it’s lovely to be helping to inspire the creativity of our younger counterparts.”

Eve Scott (PM) Maisie and the Night Visitor-

“When I learned that Merchiston Publishing focuses on Scottish authors, the Maisie series seemed like a perfect fit. I grew up with it so it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to add a title to such a fantastic series. We’re working closely with the author to add some special content to this tale and we’re looking forward to launching this special limited edition to celebrate 30 ‘amaising’ years!”

Editorial

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Team: Keara Donnachie (DM), Saskia van der Lingen, Chris Byrne and Annie King

Our super editorial team are ready to battle against poorly constructed sentences and excessive use of exclamation marks! They are involved in everything content-related, from the initial stages of adding content, right the way through to editing that content to make sure it is of the best possible quality. Armed with red pens and a sharp eye for detail, they are ready to catch any rogue commas that may threaten our projects.

Production

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Team: Gaby Barrios (DM), Alix Thomazi, Laura Will and Melissa LoParco

Our lovely production team are the artsy, creative types behind the projects. They’re in charge of making sure the projects look great. They think you should always judge a book by its cover, so they have one of the most important jobs. With their InDesign shortcuts memorised they are ready to go and they have already started work on some fantastic covers for both projects.

Finance/Rights

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Anastasia Gorgan (Rights DM), Harriet Leslie, Doug Sloan (Finance DM) and Xin Dong

Arguably the most important decision makers, these guys are there to make sure we are following all the rules and to stop marketing from spending all their money on a helicopter trip. They have the difficult task of budgeting, contacting printers and dealing with contracts. We’ll let you in on a secret: we’re not quite sure what they get up to, but we imagine that when they aren’t dealing with finances and rights they’re off fighting crime or something equally impressive . . .

Marketing

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Team: Becky Brown, Leanne Butchart, Michele Cheng, Jack Evans (DM) and Candice Sooknarine

Lastly, it’s us: the marketing team. Or as we like to be known, the five marketeers! You’ll hear a lot from us over the next few months as we promote our exciting new projects. Armed with nothing more than enthusiasm and an endless supply of cat puns, we hope to act as the mascots for our projects and can’t wait to show off the work done by the rest of our team members. We’ll be tweeting, posting, organising events, creating videos and just generally being enthusiastic about everything (especially that helicopter trip!).

That’s all for now.

Stay tuned for more updates about our projects soon!

Black & White Publishing

My placement took me down to the shore in Leith to Black & White Publishing. They are an independent publisher focusing predominantly on books with a Scottish interest. Their titles include both fiction and non-fiction and range from Young Adult to sports to true crime.

During my time there I had the opportunity to work on a number of different projects. I compiled links of reviews for use, updated social media, contacted customers, processed orders and sent out review copies. These tasks provided me the chance to witness a number of the ways in which publishers connect with their target audience to promote their books.

Having a keen interest in Editorial meant I was excited to hear that I would be able to read the unsolicited submissions that Black & White receive. Many publishers no longer accept these so it was a great opportunity to be able to do this!

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Image courtesy of Black & White Publishing

I was also given the chance to proofread one of their upcoming titles, Knit Your Own Britain, the follow up to last year’s Knit Your Own Scotland. This was very different to any proofreading that I have done before as it was mostly knitting patterns which proved challenging but was an excellent opportunity to test myself!

Another exciting aspect for a book lover like me was that I was asked to read a number of upcoming books and I am really looking forward to seeing all of these projects when they are published later this year.

My time at Black & White was a great chance to apply the skills that I have gained as part of my MSc and put them to use in a publishing environment. I would highly recommend a placement with them and thank you to the team for having me!

If you want to find out more about Black & White Publishing you can visit their website, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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 www.fledglingpress.co.uk or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

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!