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


Do you know anyone who is unemployed and from the UK book industry? We are sponsoring new workshop!

HOW TO JOB SEARCH IN BOOK PUBLISHING (Edinburgh) and The Book Trade Charity BTBS will be bringing their popular “How to Job Search in Book Publishing” course to Edinburgh, thanks to the support of Publishing Scotland and the MSc Publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

If you are unemployed* and meet the requirements your place will be sponsored.

“How to Job Search in Book Publishing” covers all aspects of job hunting – from writing a CV and covering letter that publishers want to read to where jobs are advertised, interviews, branding, social media, and everything else you ever wanted to know.

It takes a comprehensive look at all things job hunting and employment and even the most experience job-hunter is likely to learn something new. Previous candidates have described this course as “The best help ever!”. A number of long-term unemployed have already attended this course and secured new employment in a matter of weeks; they informed us that this course was instrumental in them getting a new role.

To apply for a sponsored place:
– You must be currently unemployed and have been job hunting in book publishing
– Completed a Masters or First Degree in Publishing in the UK in 2015 or earlier
– Worked in the UK book industry (publishing, bookselling, distribution) for at least 6 months, whether one employer of through a variety of freelance work or internships

NOTE: We will look at all applications on a case by case basis. All sponsorship is at our discretion. Our aim is to help the most relevant candidates first, in particular those who have experienced redundancy and been unable to find new employment, but we will be more likely to accept people than turn people away if they’ve already got some publishing experience. 

We will consider Publishing students from 2016 and those with less than 6 months experience if we have spaces available, but our priority are those who have been unemployed for a while and who are committed to a career in the book industry.

We also may have places for sale available for those who are currently employed elsewhere and who wish to receive this training, again priority will be for our core unemployed.

*unemployed = people not in regular work. An internship is not regular work. Someone whose contract is coming to an end is not in regular work. A freelancer who doesn’t have enough work is not in regular work. If you are employed and on a low income, sponsorship may be available for you too. Please apply and let Bookcareers make the decision.

To apply for a place please email your CV and a recent covering letter in respect of a job application to Suzanne Collier at


Working for Bloomsbury Publishing…

…or how my work placement hunt turned into an unexpected job opportunity with one of UK’s leading publishing houses

I was in London, for what I thought would be one month only, in order to conduct interviews of publishers for my dissertation and also find a work placement. This opportunity was given to me by the university and one of its donators. From the very early days of my stay there, I came across an interesting job offer with Bloomsbury Publishing, who were looking to employ a Digital QA (Quality Assurance) Assistant in their offices in central London. I did not spend much time thinking about it, sent an email with my CV and cover letter attached and received a reply the day after proposing a job interview proposal the following week. Three weeks after my first meeting my current frontline manager, I moved from Edinburgh to London to start working in the company’s prestigious offices in Bedford square. Everything happened so fast, that I still find it difficult to realise what an amazing opportunity has come my way!

Being one of UK’s largest publishing houses, Bloomsbury has many departments and divisions, with the Quality Assurance team being an integral part of the Digital Development department. My main task is to check the accuracy of the digitised version of a wide range of theatrical plays from the international repertoire that can be accessed on the dedicated website Drama Online, as well as the online versions of academic monographs available on the Bloomsbury Collections website. Working on plays written by Shakespeare, Brecht, Ibsen, and contemporary playwrights is very different to the process required for highly structured educational books or humanities titles. However, both require the same level of accuracy.


To be honest, I did not realise at first how famous Bloomsbury Publishing is, as I am from France. Thus, I am very proud to work for the publisher of Khaled Hosseini, Colum McCann, Howard Jacobson (Man Booker Prize winner) and many other fantastic authors that I look forward to discovering in the next couple of months. And last but not least, J.K. Rowling, who owes her rise to fame to Bloomsbury Publishing discerning agents.

I feel very lucky and thankful for this great opportunity. Everybody was very kind to me from the very first day and I really enjoy working here. And London could be just the beginning for a wonderful journey with Bloomsbury. Who knows? Maybe one day I will get to visit their offices in New York, in Sydney, or in New Delhi!

Congratulations! Job Success before Graduating!

Just over two thirds of the way through their Publishing Masters and already our students are securing Publishing employment. The Publishing team are delighted to wish the following students every success in their new roles …

Anastasia Gorgan who has now started her new job with Bloomsbury!

Douglas Sloan who has been appointed Sales and Marketing Assistant at Edinburgh University Press.

Jade Regulski who has recently started at The List.

Harriet Leslie who has been offered full time employment at Palimpsest.

Camille Burns who has taken up the position of Editorial Assistant & Administration Executive in the Hodder Gibson department of Hachette UK.

Sophie Cachard, Jack Evans and Stewart Mciver have each been asked to continue with their placement companies, Handspring Publishing, Alban Books Ltd and Connect Communications respectively.

Congratulations once again! Please do continue to keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on!

Best wishes,
Postgraduate Publishing team
Edinburgh Napier University

Click here for more info

Success Stories!

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2012/13 Alumni who have secured publishing employment – some before graduating!

Emma Wilson, Publishing Assistant at Think Publishing
Jennifer Neal, Production Editor of Bookazines at Imagine Publishing
Sally Pattle
, Publishing Assistant at Birlinn Ltd
Aine Flaherty, Permissions Assistant at Macmillan Education
Keren McGill, Press and Marketing Executive at Freight Books
Cecilia Bennett, Productions Assistant and Proofreader at The Unfamiliar
Clare Fotheringham
, Production Assistant at Floris Books
Thomas Storr
, Digital Editorial Assistant at Haremi
Megan MacGregor
, Publishing Assistant at Barrington Stoke
Micaela Cavaletto
, Production Controller at Oxford University Press

(Watch this space – new success stories to be added!)
All success stories here.

The Colourful Black & White Publishing

Image courtesy of Black & White Publishing

Black & White Publishing, based in Leith, Edinburgh, specialises in fiction, non-fiction and children’s books with a Scottish twist. Their children’s imprint, Itchy Coo, is solely in Scots. Black & White is a small company with an ever-revolving door of interns. Though everyone does have their designated roles – Publisher, Publishing Assistant, Marketing, Rights, Publicity – they all seem to have a hand in every aspect of the business in order to make their books successful.

They have a wide range of titles and the ones they are currently working with are varied, from football to knitting to young adult. They all do a very good job at being interested in every single genre they publish.

I have been interning with Black and White Publishing for the past month and it has been an intriguing and well-rounded experience. I have been a proof reader, a commissioning editor, a secret shopper, a moviemaker and a marketing assistant all in four short weeks.

The most exciting thing is how all of these jobs, and all of their jobs, impact each other. Janne Moller, the Rights Manager (and guru), is currently trying to garner interest in the United States for one of their series to be published. To do this, she has enlisted me to create a spread sheet of publications and bloggers that review books (and some that do more, in the form of blog tours, interviews, etc.) of the Young Adult paranormal fiction genre. This innovative tactic is intended to get the public interested in the book so a US publisher may pick it up. In this way, marketing is key to eventually selling foreign rights.

I have been learning a lot at Black & White both through hands-on tasks and speaking with the others in the office. I have very much enjoyed being part of a small and independent but well-established Edinburgh publishing company with a varied backlist. And the best part? 3pm tea time.

To learn more about Black & Publishing please visit their website. Or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Success Stories!

We say a fond farewell and CONGRATULATIONS to our 2011/12 postgraduates, some of whom secured employment before graduating!

Andrew Bianchi, Edinburgh University Press

Caitie-Jane Cook, OUP

Tori Klein, Meredith Publishers (in Iowa, publishers of Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal)

Stefanie Kruszyk, HarperCollins

Leah McDowell, Floris Books, Edinburgh

Holly McKenzie, Press Association, East Yorkshire

Christina McPherson, White Light Media

Erin Pearson, OUP

(Watch this space – new success stories to be added!)
Previous success stories here.