Fun at Ferment

The opportunity to complete a placement as part of my degree was one of the deciding factors in my decision to undertake an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University. Having the chance to put theoretical skills into practice in a real professional environment is obviously valuable for any student. When the time came to choose a placement I knew that I wanted to learn more about magazine publishing, particularly drinks magazine publishing, so Ferment, the UK’s No.1 Craft Beer Magazine, seemed like the ideal candidate. 

I first came across Ferment at the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Scottish Magazine Awards in 2017 where they won Best Customer Magazine. Having expressed an interest in magazine publishing after completing my case study on another drinks magazine, I was fortunate enough to be offered this opportunity through the MSc Publishing course. It was a really helpful insight into Scottish magazines, giving me an overview of what was out there and who were the ones to watch. Plus, it introduced me to Ferment and gave me the perfect opportunity to force myself into the dreaded territory of networking.

Fast-forward a month or so and my placement was all sorted. We worked out a mutually convenient day for me to come in, Friday, and discussed what I wanted to learn and how I could help the magazine. In the end we agreed that I would focus on organising a bottle-share type event across different cities, ultimately defining a template for these events that the magazine could use after I’d finished my placement. The events were designed to serve two purposes, the first was to supply content for a double-page spread in the new city guide feature, whilst the second was to strengthen the sense of community amongst the readers.

Organising the first of these in Glasgow was so much fun. I loved getting everything ready, choosing the venue, securing which beers would be featured and even making up goodie bags with branded freebies and old-fashioned sweeties. Having come from a bartending background with experience in cocktails and craft beer, I really relished being responsible for an event like this. When we arrived at the venue it was a friend I’d worked with previously who was leading the tasting, which really made it much easier to orchestrate it exactly as I’d planned.

The event went perfectly in the end and the template has now been set, making subsequent events much easier to organise. At the end of it all, magazine publishing, and publishing in general, is a people business where the connections you make become your most valued possessions. Above all else, that’s what I’ve taken from my time at Ferment. Well, that and a new found appreciation for Bluegrass covers and cups of herbal tea. Thanks guys! 

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Festivals on Your Doorstep

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about UK publishing outside of London, thanks to the dedication and the hard work of organisations such as the Northern Fiction Alliance to get the voices of publishers outside the bubble of London heard. Unfortunately, before my time at Edinburgh Napier and studying my MSc in Publishing I didn’t even know that companies outside of London or Edinburgh even existed, let alone ones so close to me in the Yorkshire city I did my undergraduate degree in.

Hull.

Aside from the fact that I am now following all the right people on twitter to hear about such companies, one thing that helped me discover the literary scene in Hull was the urge to get a placement. It seemed fitting that I would head back to the place where I first learnt that publishing could be an option for me as a career path and started my journey to Edinburgh. To have my first placement with Wrecking Ball Press it completed a nice narrative circle for me, and as I learnt more and more about working in a small publishing company I also learnt about something else.

There is a thriving literary scene surrounding the area that had simplly seemed to pass me by before, and I like to claim that literature is what I love the most. I was beginning to hear of festivals because of the fact Wrecking Ball Press often helps bring such events into reality. Such as Lyricull, which celebrates music and song writing in Hull, and Humber Mouth a literature festival that focuses on literature and draws attention to the city of Hull and its passionate people.

Hull and Wrecking Ball pooled so much into their literature, art and culture ventures in the past year as they also celebrated being the City of Culture for 2017, (something I was gutted to have missed out due to the fact I graduated a year before this took place). With events happening every day to help spread the awareness of the city’s thriving culture, it simply proved that Hull has such a large wealth of talented people committed to the arts.

Poppies
Weeping Window – an art installation during the City of Culture 2017 (25th March -14th May on the Hull Maritime Museum), originally held at the Tower of London. A poppy tribute to those who served in the army.

However, learning all this got me thinking, what other cities have such thriving publishing, literature and arts scenes that are simply hidden by the size of London’s stake in the pool of festivals and companies? I was surprised at how much happens in Edinburgh when I moved here 8 months ago and it’s a capital city, so what else is out there that I simply didn’t know about before because I didn’t have the knowledge to find them and check them out?

Literature festivals help publishers, writers, readers, and even people who don’t count themselves as readers, to connect and share in their love of literature. It is platform that has helped Wrecking Ball showcase their works to a wider audience and I’m proud to know that these things were, and are still, happening in Hull. So now, wherever I end up, I will be on the look for festivals and events that will help keep me connected to literature as I pursue my career into publishing. There’s always something on your door step, you just have to look.

Nasty Women Book Launch at Waterstones, Edinburgh

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the sold-out book launch for 404 Ink’s viral feminist anthology Nasty Women in Waterstones on Princes Street. The upper floor of the branch was full of eager listeners, and there was a positive, powerful atmosphere about the evening. There were also cupcakes, which is always a bonus!

The launch event featured a panel of speakers, who were all contributors to the essay collection, followed by a book signing. I’ll get onto the panel highlights in a moment, but first, some background information:

Indie publishers 404 Ink utilised crowdfunding to produce Nasty Women, running a highly-successful Kickstarter campaign that was prolific on social media. The anthology features a varied collection of essays, all written by women, and concerning women’s diverse experiences in the world today.

The panel was made up of Sim Bajwa, who wrote the essay Go Home, Christina Neuwirth, whose essay was entitled Hard Dumplings for Visitors, Alice Tarbuck, who penned Foraging and Feminism, and Chitra Ramaswamy, whose essay Afterbirth recalled her recent reflection on pregnancy, Expecting. The panel was chaired by Laura Lam, who also had an essay featured in Nasty Women.

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Each woman read from their essay, touching on its key points and answering questions from Lam. Bajwa’s essay reflects on, and responds to, anti-immigrant sentiments, some of which she has personally experienced. It’s a personal, striking and moving piece of work. On a different note, Neuwirth beautifully explores family connections and traditions. Tarbuck’s essay concerns modern fascinations with foraging, relating foraging practices to womanhood and witchcraft in a really smart way. Finally, Ramaswamy’s Afterbirth tackles motherhood, but more so, acts of writing and publishing. Ramaswamy pointed out how publishers were reluctant to take on her book because they thought the subject matter – birth – was too niche (or perhaps too female-orientated?) or specialist. However, Ramaswamy reminds us that birth is something that happens to all of us, much like death.

The content of each reading was so different, which is indicative of the collection as a whole. I think the panel reflected the multitude of voices and issues contained within the book itself. It was definitely a great introduction to Nasty Women. Afterwards, many stayed behind to get their book signed and discuss things further. It was wonderful and inspiring to attend a launch such as this one.

Photographs taken by Sineád Grainger. Nasty Women is available now. 

Magfest: The Perfect Start to Your MSc.

As my fellow students gather data and research their dissertations in the final trimester, I find myself looking back to the start of this frantic, informative and fully immersive course. September last year was the beginning of the MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing courses – and not just because it was induction week.
A few days prior was Magfest #03, Innovation – a magazine-centric, one day conference run by PPA Scotland, the membership organisation for magazine publishers. Located at Surgeon’s Hall in Edinburgh, this jam-packed celebration of all-things magazine publishing was the perfect gateway to this fast-paced, ever evolving career path.

  
On arrival, I was alone, completely new to publishing and not entirely familiar with Edinburgh. Little did I know how much impact the next eight hours would have. Greeted by some of last years’ graduates, I was introduced to some of the strategic partners including representatives from Allander Print, 20/20 Productions and Virgin Atlantic (planes will be surprisingly relevant to your publishing career). Upstairs, some of my future colleagues were finishing off a special networking workshop with Heather Campbell (CommsMasters) and I bumped into the first of many at the Edinburgh Napier stand, laden with copies of 2014’s buzz magazine and iPads featuring Publishers Inc 2014. Then my education began – straight in at the deep end with people and faces I had never heard of, but would swiftly learn their importance in the industry.

 

Ellis Watson, CEO of DC Thomson
 
The day centred around several keynote events in the largest hall, with smaller breakout sessions throughout the day, all interspersed with ample refreshments and comfort breaks. Speakers included Ellis Watson (DC Thomson) and Diane Kenwood (Woman’s Weekly), Chris Phin (MacFormat) and excitingly for me, Wyatt Mitchell (The New Yorker). There were panels discussing industry troubleshooting, the definition of magazines and their evolution (James Brown being his own brand of adult entertainment). Suffice it to say the theme of ‘innovation’ was thoroughly explored, and I left with a great feeling of being in the right place at the right time.

 

Wyatt Mitchell of The New Yorker
 The magazine publishing community is strong and supportive, interested in sharing their ideas and blazing new trails. It was clear that this was a time of opportunity and that Magfest is and will continue to be a hub for many of the best innovators and businesses in magazine publishing. The MSc courses are all about opportunity – and being involved in Magfest is one of them. Volunteers and ideas are always welcomed by Nikki Simpson, who represents PPA Scotland and may often be found behind piles of magazines at Merchiston Campus and presenting guest lectures. 

James Brown expands our vocabulary…
September 18th is Magfest #04 – Create Inspire Evolve. To MSc Publishing and MSc Magazine Publishing students old and new, I cannot recommend this event more. Come and meet us (we’re super friendly!) and get your face ‘out there’ early, because the rewards of being proactive from the get-go are immeasurable.
 
Nikki Simpson, PPA Scotland… look out for her at Merchiston Campus!
 

  

London Book Fair 2011

London Book Fair

It is the 40th year of the London Book Fair and here at MSc Publishing many of us are looking forward to attending our first international trade fair.

This year’s programme is packed with world-class speakers and experts offering their take on the state of publishing and its future. Highlights include a focus on children’s literature, digital markets and the Russian publishing industry. We hope everyone will get into the spirit – and we don’t mean vodka!

We’ve saved you some time and chosen our five top picks:

1. The Partnership between Author and Editor

2. How to start a publishing house

3. Tweet Smell of Success: how to use social media to best effect

4. Greening the Book: Digital or Print

5. China Market Forum: Innovative Partnerships and Digital Opportunities

For more information on the full programme, visit www.londonbookfair.co.uk