London Book Fair: A First Impression

A publishing student talks about her experience tackling #LBF18

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There has been a lot of talk, both in my classes and out of them in the last few months, about London Book Fair. Talk about how big it is, the idea that it might be overwhelming when you first see it, that there will be a lot of publishers there: not just from the UK but worldwide. Where will you stay? How long are you going for? What panels are you planning to go to? Which stalls do you want to visit? Do you have any meetings set up? No- do you?

Honestly by the time I got on the train last Monday morning I was sick to the back teeth of talking about London Book Fair (LBF). I just wanted to see it. Continue reading “London Book Fair: A First Impression”

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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Placement at Pain Concern

What a placement as an editorial assistant at charity, Pain Concern, looks like

For our MSc Publishing placement module, I decided to do something a bit different to working in a publishing house and applied to help out at a charity instead.

Pain Concern is a national charity that supports and informs people with pain and those who care for them – including loved ones, carers, and professionals. They do this by providing information through their website, podcasts, and information leaflets which circulate pain clinics around the UK. They also raise awareness about pain through Pain Education sessions and fundraising techniques, and campaign to improve the provision of pain management services.

My role in the charity is as an editorial assistant, and I was really keen to volunteer some of my skills that I have developed on the course to a charity which would really benefit from them.

In-house they are a small team, but this is fleshed out by the vast array of volunteers nation-wide who help out in whatever ways they can. On my first day, I arrived to find that they were extremely welcoming and made me feel comfortable straight away. I was also pleased to find that they wanted to push me into developing into new areas and gain more experience in a variety of ways and as far as I wanted. This included the possibility to write some press releases when they appeared. There was also the chance for me to develop my web skills through updating their website and finding ways to make the articles published on the website more discoverable.

Currently, my role entails transcribing their monthly podcasts and condensing them into a short blog article to publish regularly on their website. This means I have to work closely with the trustees to ensure the articles meet The Information Standard quality checks and disseminate the correct medical information as this is so important for the patients and carers reading them. I also monitor emails and check in with the transcribers and listeners of the podcasts to relay when a new podcast is coming out, and to make sure that they send in their transcriptions to be published on the website, too. In addition to this, I will be helping the team ensure that their current and upcoming publications also adhere to The Information Standard and achieve the Crystal Mark for quality, which is one of the most important jobs.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to meet the trustees in person. Visits from the trustees don’t happen too often since they have to travel from all over the UK. The fact that they braved the ‘Beast from the East’ to be there that day proved their commitment to the charity and to those who rely on them, and I found that pretty inspiring. As well as the sandwiches, the staff meeting was thoroughly enjoyable. I got to sit in and hear about all the developments within the charity and the office itself, and to learn about the ways they will continue to grow in the coming months. This was exciting! I was encouraged to give feedback and it was nice to feel that even though I was so new, my views were still appreciated and even wanted.

Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pain Concern – so much so that I will probably stay on as a volunteer after this module has ended. I’ve learnt new skills and enhanced the ones that I brought with me to the charity, and I’m hugely grateful to the team for letting me join in on all the great work that they do!

thumbnail_Pain Concern LOgo
Images © Pain Concern

My Placement with Jennie Renton

This trimester, I am working with Jennie Renton as an editorial intern. As most of us who now belong to Edinburgh’s book world will probably already know, Jennie can be found in Main Point Books, one of West Port’s eclectic and exciting second-hand bookshops. An admirable multi-tasker, one of Jennie’s many roles is freelance editing in the offices at the back of her quirky shop.

Working with Jennie has been an ideal opportunity for me for many reasons. At the beginning of the internship, we got together to speak about my interests and how they may align with editorial projects she is interesting in working on. Keeping my passions relevant has always been important to me, and it soon appeared my interest in social activism and community work linked up with a local history project that Jennie is working on. Without further ado we began our adventure in planning a new book together.

This is a project Jennie is obviously very passionate about, so I was quite daunted at first. After a few weeks, however, I began to feel at ease and more confident that this is a project I could be helpful with, and certainly one I could be passionate about.

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The ever-changing window display at Main Point Books

My work so far has included researching and reading through archives relevant to central Edinburgh’s history, conducting interviews, and editing and transcribing voice recordings. As the weeks go on, I will hopefully play a role in planning the book layout itself.

It has been an extremely interesting project for me personally, as well as a productive learning experience. I’m not from Edinburgh, though I have fallen in love with this city, so it has also been a great way for me to become closer with the history and community of this fantastic place that has taken me into its arms.

The location of Jennie’s offices is my favourite thing about this placement. I have always loved nothing more than being lost in a bookshop and no better place for a book lover than Main Point Books. It’s a place I wandered into on the first week I moved to Scotland last August, and where I picked up a number of obscure Woolfian works that I had not been able to find elsewhere. Needless to say, it’s been a favourite ever since!

Seeing Jennie manage the shop along with many other tasks has been particularly interesting for me, as a person who would like to dabble in several different areas of publishing and book selling. There’s always a story to be told about the eccentric characters who come into Jennie’s shop, and the interesting books they buy and sell there. With her clever wit and impressive amount of experience, the greatest character is probably Jennie herself and she has a lot of wisdom and witticisms to impart on any budding young publisher. She’ll be sure to send you on your way with a smile on your face at the end of the day.

I would recommend an internship with Jennie Renton to anyone interested in gaining first hand experience of original and challenging publishing projects. This placement is especially relevant to anyone hoping to become more involved in the book world of central Edinburgh, and gather an insight into the Edinburgh publishing scene.

Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word

TwoCoversAs a student new to the publishing industry at the beginning of the course, formerly a psychology graduate, the publishing placement was one I was avidly looking forward to. Desperately divided between my love of books and magazines, I chose new magazine Four Letter Word as the placement to be. Four Letter Word is a magazine that discusses what it is to be human in the 21st century, looking at gender, transhumanism and augmented living (e.g. technology’s impact on our conceptions of being human), food, fashion, arts and culture. It celebrates gender and sexual diversity, and nothing quite like it exists in the magazine market right now. As students on the course last year, the women behind theFLW are proof that the course works, so of course I wanted to learn from them. As a company dedicated to celebrating diversity, and magazine design that kills, this was the company for me. Continue reading “Let’s get researching: my time at Four Letter Word”

Connect Publications: An Insight into Contract Publishing

Connect Publications is a leading contract publisher in the UK, creating print and digital publications for businesses, membership organisations and charities. Their clients include BAE Systems, Rolls Royce Marine, FMC Technologies and the Weir Group.

Connect’s main office is in Paisley, but I was based at their smaller office in Leith, where I was working with Daniel Lambie, Head of Development and Client Services. Having told Daniel that I had some experience in marketing and an interest in design, he developed three projects for me to work on while I was with the company.

Firstly, I was tasked with developing a brand for a series of educational events that Connect is planning to run in the coming months. I researched similar events being run by other companies, and looked into how they were marketing them. Over a few weeks, I designed a logo for the events and chose the name ‘Connect Conversations’.

Secondly, I was asked to research ideas for an infographic about Connect and the world of contract publishing. Daniel was keen to have a simple, eye-catching graphic for Connect’s website that quickly explained to potential clients what services they could offer. Together we came up with an idea for the ‘anatomy’ of Connect, featuring the different services relating to various parts of the body.

A selection of Connect's publications, across print, web and digital platforms
A selection of Connect’s publications, across print, web and digital platforms

Finally, I was asked to help with the making of a new video for Connect’s website. The current one features magazines that have since been rebranded, so Daniel wanted to create something up-to-date and different. I drafted a script and storyboard for a new video, which will be filmed by other members of the Connect team soon.

The Leith team were friendly and welcoming, and I learnt a lot from them while chatting over lunch as well as in the office. Unfortunately, I finished my placement before these projects came to a close. However, the input I made was both interesting and informative for me, and I really enjoyed my time with Connect. I look forward to seeing the finished products!

Magfest 2014

magfest2014As part of the MSc Magazine Publishing and MSc Publishing programme, our students are given the opportunity to help at Magfest, the premier event for anyone interested in the innovative world of magazine publishing.

This year we are proud to be Strategic Partners of Magfest, and here you get a flavour of what a fantastic event it was.

Central to this year’s event was the concept of “innovation” in the magazine industry and how magazine publishers are responding to changing content consumption patterns.

“Innovation is about taking what you’ve got and doing something sexy with it…”

magfest-logohttp://www.ppa.co.uk/about/activities/scotland/news/magfest-2014/

Magfest Issue #03 was a sell-out event with over 200 magazine publishers, designers, writers and advertisers all attending, and we were delighted to have played such a key part in such an important event in the magazine publishing calendar.

PPA_Scotland logo.ashxMagfest is organised by PPA Scotland and the steering group includes Nick Creed, Carnyx Group Ltd and Eric Campbell, MD at White Light Media – both of which companies also offer placements to our students.

Find out more and register for magfest 2015: http://www.magfest.co.uk/magfest_2014/Speakers