Can You Be a Parent and a Publishing Student?

Publishing blog
That’s lovely, darling. But wouldn’t you rather read a book?

When I applied to do MSc Publishing in June 2016, I had worked in various forms of publishing as a journalist, copywriter and editor, so deciding to study it seemed like the logical next step in my career. However, unlike the average student, I had been out of higher education for seven years and I also had a daughter (the spirited creature here) who had just turned two.

Now that I’m at the end of the second trimester of the course, I have some advice for any parents thinking of making a return to higher education, because I know from when I was researching courses that a lot of the information I read was tailored towards students who didn’t have any dependents.

I was not the first parent to go to university, and I will not be the last. I hope this blog post helps someone thinking of returning to university after a long break, or someone who is thinking of applying for a course for the very first time. Continue reading “Can You Be a Parent and a Publishing Student?”

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Getting into publishing: what I’ve learned from various industry events

Throughout the last year or so, I have gathered some tips on how to get a job in publishing, through attending various industry events. I have discovered similar pieces of advice cropping up each time, so thought I would share some of these for the benefit of anyone, like myself, looking to pursue a career in publishing…

Work experience.  The majority of hiring companies will expect applicants to have some form of relevant work experience. This is a great way to make industry connections and develop invaluable skills. It can be difficult to find the time to complete a work placement while you are studying, especially when you need that time for a paid job. However, summer holidays are a great opportunity to complete a one or two week placement, or alternatively many companies will allow you to do one day per week over a longer period of time. I have also been told by many people that working in a bookshop for a while can be very beneficial as it helps you develop a consumer-focused mindset.

Networking. The word still makes me shudder and I am far from mastering it, but know I will need to eventually as its importance has been emphasised time and time again. The first step to networking can be as simple as building a social media presence. Twitter is a crucial platform to the publishing industry, allowing you to find your voice, while maintaining a professional image and enabling you to connect with others within the industry. It’s also a good way of finding out about industry events. Networking in person, however, can be far more daunting. Events held by the SYP are a good way to start, as most of the people are either also just starting out or are there to speak to – and help – people like us. A key tip when starting a conversation is just to ask the person questions about themselves and their career.

Job Applications. A CV should be well-structured, clear, concise and roughly two pages long. It should be specific to the particular opportunity you are applying for, while being personal to you. In a creative industry, like publishing, it is important to not only describe your skills, but display them. For example, if you want to be an editor, make sure there are no errors, or if you want to be a designer, try and be innovative with the CV’s design. A cover letter should always be included in a job application. This should give the employer a good impression of you and display your personality, summarising the information on your CV and explaining why you want the job. A useful structure is industry > job> you.

Skills. Employers are looking for a number of things when you submit a job application. You will need to show that you have:

  • A sound awareness of the industry
  • Practical experience
  • A strong commercial understanding
  • Solid digital skills
  • Adaptablility
  • A willingness to try new things
  • Good communicating skills
  • A keen interest in pursuing a publishing career

Key tips. With the industry being so competitive, it is essential to remain positive and persistent. Some final tips I have learned are:

  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote
  • Go out of your comfort zone
  • Tailor everything you do to your goals
  • Say yes to absolutely everything

 

 

My work experience with Black & White Publishing

In November 2016, I started an eight-week placement with Black & White Publishing in Edinburgh, for one day per week.

Black & White publish a range of different genres, such as non-fiction, adult fiction, children’s books and young adult fiction. They have a few imprints, including Itchy Coo (Scots language imprint), Broons Books and a new YA imprint, Ink Road. Their diverse list is one of the main reasons that made me want to do a placement with them.

Situated down by the Shore in Leith, neighboured by lots of cute cafes, shops and bars, Black & White’s office is in the ideal location for an independent publishing house. Upon entering the office, I immediately fell in love with its peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by endless shelves and stacks of books. It felt far more homely than I had imagined a publishing house to be and this was enhanced by the fact it was made up of such a small, friendly team (including an office dog!).

I was welcomed by Daiden, Sales Account Manager, who introduced me to the other staff in the office and handed me a summary of potential intern tasks to familiarise myself with. These were split into different job roles: editorial/production, publicity, events, marketing, digital, rights and miscellaneous. I found this very helpful, as it allowed me to connect the tasks I was completing with their relative areas of the publishing workflow.

During my placement, I completed a variety of stimulating tasks across the different departments. These included reading and logging submissions, sending rejection emails (editorial); researching and contacting potential reviewers and bloggers, creating press releases (publicity); creating events and show cards for book launches (events); drafting marketing plans for specific titles (marketing); writing copy for the website and composing scheduled tweets (digital). A highlight for me was getting to sit in on a company meeting, which involved deciding upon a logo for new YA imprint, Ink Road. This was really exciting and I felt privileged to be asked for my opinion on such an important decision.

I found it interesting to see how a small company operates, as the departments overlap a great deal and everyone works together as a team. Undertaking projects in the various departments allowed me to develop a range of adaptable industry-focused skills and helped me discover that I’d like to pursue a career in publicity or marketing – something I hadn’t previously considered.

I’m very grateful to Black & White for giving me such an enjoyable and valuable experience!

Marketing on the Mile: Interning at Scottish Book Trust

Scottish Book Trust is a national charity promoting books, reading and writing to the people of Scotland and I was thrilled to secure a two-week placement with their Marketing and Communications team. Hidden just off the Royal Mile, Scottish Book Trust operates from the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Being there in August, the streets were flooded with crowds and activity but down Trunks Close, Scottish Book Trust drives on as normal, promoting their campaigns such as Bookbug, Read Write Count and Book Week Scotland.

I was looking to gain some experience with PR and communications within the arts industries and my placement certainly delivered. I worked with the team on contributing to the development of pro14139347_10210190387653231_271968437_omotional material. The Edinburgh Book Festival was in full swing and so the team were filming author interviews for their website. On my second day, I was entrusted with taking part in interviewing comedian and author, Susan Calman: a fantastic opportunity and my first experience of the press area in Charlotte Square. I also transcribed the interview videos of lots of brilliant authors, which has added lots of books to my ‘to read’ list. I took part in contacting bookshops about this year’s Book Week Scotland campaign, encouraging them to provide book recommendations.

Not only did I gain lots of industry knowledge and new skills at Scottish Book Trust, but also thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The whole team were absolutely lovely and couldn’t have been more welcoming. And yes, of course there was tea. And cake.

Find out more about the brilliant work of Scottish Book Trust here.

Interning With Four Letter Word

When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

TwoCoversDuring the second trimester of my MSc Magazine Publishing course, the creators of new Four Letter Word came to speak at Edinburgh Napier. When the opportunity to intern for a start-up arose, I knew I had to take it.

Before coming to Edinburgh Napier University to pursue my MSc in magazine publishing, I worked as an associate editor for a B2B publishing company in the United States. Prior to that, I did several internships at various consumer and trade publishing companies. They all had one thing in common – that was that they had been in business for decades.

There are lots of pros to being with a longstanding, established company, of course, of which I won’t go into detail.

But the defined structure that exists and helps a company to thrive also presents a few challenges for a newcomer. Continue reading “Interning With Four Letter Word”

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!