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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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.