Nine Days at Luath Press

Walking up the Royal Mile on the first morning of my placement at Luath Press, I had a dreadful feeling that I’d forgotten everything I know about publishing. Would I have to bluff my way through the next two weeks? Would I be exposed as a clueless fraud? Turns out I didn’t need to worry…

The first thing I learnt was how unfit I am, and after walking up what felt like hundreds of stairs, I found myself sitting breathless in Luath’s office, learning all about the company’s history from director Gavin MacDougall. It was a relief to find another student starting work experience at the same time, and we were each given a very helpful checklist of tasks we were likely to complete during our time. As Luath host work placements regularly, they were well prepared, and reading through the list I was excited to complete a range of marketing, publicity, and editorial tasks.

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A sunny walk up to Luath

 

During my nine days at Luath, I got the opportunity to see how a small team work so hard on multiple books at once. Everyone always seemed so busy, and there was always work to be done. I had the chance to work on so much, from drafting marketing plans, AI sheets and press releases, to putting together a newsletter, to creating events posters and invites. Some of this felt familiar to me, and some of this was completely new, but with access to the shared drive, featuring Luath’s super extensive Wiki, and templates for pretty much everything, getting down to work was made fast and easy. The feeling that I would be out of my depth soon faded.

Of course, there were challenges – they’re part of the experience. The placement wouldn’t have been very fulfilling without them. So, when I was given a draft of an upcoming book, Scottish Parliament at Twenty, to proofread and suggest changes to, I immediately thought, ‘I can’t do that!!!’ I could certainly look for typing errors, etc., but could I really form an opinion on this strange text that I was to quickly read through? Could I really suggest which areas weren’t working? What right did I have, as a humble intern, to advise some chapters didn’t seem to have a point? Being a bit unsure when it comes to sharing opinions, I felt the fear and did it anyway. And I was happy to see that the team were genuinely grateful for the time I spent looking at it.

A highlight was spending a day working in the back office of Main Point Books with Jennie, who is responsible for Luath’s typesetting. Finally, a chance to show off my InDesign skills! Depending on your outlook, typesetting can either be stressful and frustrating, OR it can be a fun, active task, filled with problems waiting to be solved. Working on the upcoming Mollycoddling the Feckless, I discovered how much I enjoy stress and problem-solving, and I was happy to have been given the opportunity to exercise my logic (and share more opinions, which by now I had become much braver doing).

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the placement came to an end. I had an interesting, educational two weeks, and I’m pleased to report there was no bluffing involved.

Check out Luath’s wide range of fiction, history, politics and travel guides on their website!

Work Placement at Luath Press

I recently completed a two-week internship for Luath Press, an independent publishing house on the Royal Mile. Committed to publishing well written books worth reading, Luath Press publishes across a variety of genres and topics. I had waited all year to secure a placement and was pleased to hear I was going to get the opportunity to spend time at Luath. I eagerly trekked through the pouring rain on my first day and arrived, breathless and drenched, ready to get to work. I’d spent the past year learning about publishing and it was time to see if my education had paid off. Continue reading “Work Placement at Luath Press”

Work experience at Luath Press

Luath Press – learning about marketing, editorial work and the importance of day-to-day tasks in a small publishing house.

After a space opened up on the Luath Press waiting list at short notice, I found myself preparing to go on placement a few days later. I was delighted to get the opportunity to see what Luath Press was like for myself, since a friend of mine had really enjoyed a placement with them a while beforehand. When she showed me the A4 checklist of varied tasks that the team gives to people on work experience, I became determined to apply for a placement with them and experience it first-hand. Over the course of my two weeks at Luath Press, there was certainly a lot to do. Continue reading “Work experience at Luath Press”

My Placement at Luath Press

Over the two-week Easter break, I was given the opportunity to complete a work placement at Luath Press, a small but established publishing house based here in Edinburgh. Named after Robert Burns’ collie Luath, the press is located just a few steps away from Robert Burns’ first lodgings on the Royal Mile. For a small, independent publisher, Luath publish across a diverse range of genres; they cover fiction and poetry in their titles, as well as art, history and guidebooks — their sole aim being to publish well-written books worth reading.

On my first day at the placement, I was greeted by Jennie, who has been taking care of events and publicity at the press, while also running a second-hand bookshop in the nearby West Port area. Jennie guided me up to the office, which is based on the top floor of the building, and is brimming with stacks of books and paper. Continue reading “My Placement at Luath Press”

My Placement with Luath Press

I was very lucky to spend my placement working with Jennie Renton, who works freelance for Luath Press. My placement was a little different from other Luath placements as I was based at Jennie’s second-hand bookshop Main Point Books. I had my own little office to work in and Jennie made me feel at home straight away. My love of bookshops was also catered to, and I had to force myself away from the shelves of beautiful old books to concentrate on the job at hand.

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Main Point Books

Jennie was always eager to hear my opinion on everything from book covers to blurbs, and I completed a whole host of different tasks, gaining practical experience in both editorial and marketing. As I want to go into editorial, I got to spend the majority of my placement… Continue reading “My Placement with Luath Press”

An Office with a View: My Placement at Luath Press

Located just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile are the offices of Luath Press. With views of the Royal Mile on one side, where you could watch tourists take selfies during your lunch break, and panoramic views of the city and the Forth of Firth on the other, you definitely feel as though you are working in the heart of Edinburgh. FullSizeRender

On my first day of my two week placement at Luath Press, the director Gavin MacDougall talked me through the history of the publishing company and the wide range of books on their lists, which range from poetry to fiction to history and more. I was introduced to the lovely team and then it was time to get to work.

I was given the opportunity to work on a wide range of tasks, from marketing to editorial and everything in between. I wrote blurbs and created AIs, proofread texts, added event listings to the website. I also conducted research for potential new books. One of my favourite tasks was getting to look at some of the manuscripts that had been sent in. Luath Press accept manuscripts for consideration so I had the chance to read some interesting manuscripts for potential publication, from poetry to historical fiction.

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It was wonderful to get some experience in aspects of publishing I hadn’t worked in before. I feel like I learned a lot during my work placement and it was very beneficial to my career development. Thank you to all at Luath Press!

La vie (du livre) en rose; or: my four-day romance with the Scottish publishing industry

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Strolling through The Meadows, its beautiful cherry-blossoms in bloom, on my way to Luath Press

Nestled in a cosy corner of Edinburgh’s lively Royal Mile and sharing the same stretch of road as the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – a pub honouring the chap said to have inspired Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Luath Press seems to be the most happily situated publishing house in its vast UNESCO City of Literature. It is to Luath that I’m winding my way on an unusually fine spring morning in search of publishing experience – I’ve already practically floated through The Meadows, with its dreamy avenue of cherry blossoms just beginning to bloom, and as I cross George IV Bridge, gazing around me with all the awe its impressive architecture is owed, I begin to understand why writer Alexander McCall Smith calls Edinburgh ‘a city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again’. As a publisher who take their name from Robert Burns’ wee collie dog and were set up in answer to a need for good-quality travel guides on picturesque Scotland, I venture towards my placement with high hopes that in Luath I’ll find the heart and soul of the Edinburgh literary sphere; a company that provide a platform for authors who are so inspired by bonny Scotland and its cultural heritage they can do nothing but write of it.

Royal MileAs my destination lies at a stone’s throw from the castle, I battle through gaggles of tourists to reach the door, my plight underscored by the ditties of a long-suffering bagpipe player standing a few yards up the road. I reach a rather plain and unassuming door and begin to second-guess my orienteering skills (and my Google Maps smartphone app). Thankfully I spot Luath’s familiar collie dog logo perched next to one of the buzzers, and tentatively ring for entry. I’m greeted moments later by Rosie, Luath’s brilliant Sales, Marketing, and Digital Projects Coordinator, and she leads me up several flights of stairs that twist towards the top floor where the Luath office resides. Its windows reveal gorgeous views of the Old Town to one side and the New Town to the other, and suddenly I feel I’ve been let in on Edinburgh’s best-kept secret. I sit at the desk I’ll be poring over during my placement, quietly taking in the boxes of freshly-printed books, the newly submitted or marked up manuscripts, and the launch event posters that lie around me, and I can’t help but think I’m going to like it here.

Luath Press LogoOver the next four days, I enjoy a whistle-stop tour of the inner workings of the Scottish publishing sector, beginning with a wonderful overview of Luath’s history and a summary of how it operates today from Director Gavin MacDougall, who is also kind enough to offer hints and tips on getting started in a publishing career. He emphasises the importance of finding your niche within the publishing workflow, whether it be in editorial, marketing, or production, for example, and suggests honing your skills in that area to reach the top of your chosen field. Later, I take calls from keen readers who enjoyed a Luath title so much they want to order additional copies for their relatives, from writers eager to know if their prized manuscript has arrived at Luath HQ, and from Luath’s distributor, HarperCollins, calling to check on an order detail with Gavin. Throughout the week I also meet Jennie Renton from nearby Main Point Books who assists with Luath’s marketing one day a week, and I revel in the achingly well-informed bookish conversations that take place between her and Gavin. I am also introduced to a freelance designer, and a BBC journalist, and later I meet the talented Editorial and Production Manager, Chris, just returned from holiday, who I discover is a fellow alum of the University of Dundee’s Humanities department. I beseech my brain to adopt “sponge mode”, as I’m acutely aware of how valuable it is to be in an environment like Luath and absorb as much as possible of what is playing out around me.

My tasks during the week are wonderfully varied, and I begin with laying the foundations for a Twitter campaign surrounding David Torrance’s culturally-pertinent title, General Election 2015: A Guide for Voters in Scotland.David Torrance_General Election 2015 I set up a list of relevant Tweeters to follow, including the accounts of all the major political parties and their leaders, to be utilised as a marketing tool as the election draws near. I come to know Torrance’s title quite well during my time at Luath, and also compose a blog post to market the product on Luath’s blog, BookBanter.

I likewise get acquainted with Stuart McHardy’s Scotland’s Future History, and draft an example blurb, an advanced information sheet (which includes creating an ISBN barcode), and a press release around this title, all intended as an exercise in good marketing practice. Keen to gain editorial experience, I am given the opportunity to proofread Rosie’s monthly digital newsletter and suggest changes. Perhaps my most important task, however, is to work on the design and production of a Luath catalogue intended for circulation at the upcoming London Book Fair, and I devote much of my time during the placement to this assignment, aiming to create a publication that represents the values and objectives of Luath, while showcasing their diverse backlist and frontlist titles.

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The ‘Books from Scotland’ section at the London Book Fair, which includes a number of Luath titles

I alight again onto the Royal Mile on Friday evening, lamenting the rapid speed at which my time at Luath passed over, yet triumphing in the great wealth of experience I amassed during that same short spell. Passing once more through the grandeur of George IV Bridge and onto the long cherry-tree lane that skirts through the Meadows, I think again of Edinburgh’s great literary heritage, and I feel privileged to have been amongst people who devote their time to both preserving and growing this beautiful tradition.