Postgraduate Publishing studies at Edinburgh Napier University. INDUSTRY APPROVED Publishing degrees (accredited by the Professional Publishers Association and Creative Skillset). MSc Publishing was the first Publishing programme in the UK to be accredited by the Professional Publishers Association (PPA). It is now accredited by Creative Skillset (only one of two courses to hold this award). MSc Magazine Publishing is the only course of its kind in Scotland and is the only publishing course in the UK to be accredited by the PPA. The PPA is the lead body for best practice in training, development and people management for the magazine and business media industry.
Since day one of the Publishing course at Napier, it was mentioned that Twitter is a great tool to connect with others in the industry and keep an eye out for possible internship/job opportunities. Funny enough, it was through this very platform that my internship with Entangled started.
Entangled Publishing is an independent publisher of romantic fiction, in the adult and young adult markets. They’ve released more than 1,200 titles, including the YA novel Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout which was signed for a major motion picture. They have 13 imprints which range from a variety of ages and topics and the novels are released in digital and printed form. Approximately 20 to 35 titles are published in digital form and 4 in print and e formats simultaneously each month. Furthermore, 57 of their books have made it to the USA Today Bestsellers list and 17 to the New York Bestsellers list.
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.
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!
The company Seamanship International was founded as a training software provider but following the market demand, merged with Witherby in 2008 to introduce books to their portfolio. The company now publishes books and e-books for the shipping, insurance and energy sectors.
Witherby Publishing Group claims to be a small specialist publisher. After ten busy days working with them over the last 6 weeks I now must either revise the definition of a small publisher or assume they are too modest. The company that welcomed me onboard is in fact a niche global market publisher. They have their own sales platforms, and an e-reader designed in-house 10 years ago that is now a renowned standard tool for the maritime industry worldwide. They publish for many international bodies such as IMO – the United Nations International Maritime Organization, and many more institutions hidden behind now familiar to me acronyms such as SIGTTO and OCIMF. Thanks to the reputation gained over the years, the company is now the leader in their field. What’s more, they are a fantastic place to work and this year Witherby Publishing Group has won award as one of the Best Workplaces in Scotland.
During my time with Witherbys I was not only given tasks, but all the team members managed to find time to introduce me specifically to their work, department by department. Everyone was ready to answer my questions and share with me their passion for this technical publishing. I had a chance to assess new manuscripts, liaise with the author, synchronise the Style Sheet, prepare Request for Quotes forms for printers, write a précis, prepare copy for the website, learn how to create an e-book, check mark-ups, research content for an article, take part in a marketing meeting, go through the designers tasks, learn how to pre-flight a book before sending it to printers and how to prepare online banners. I read through the updated edition of a bestseller with the managing director and technical advisor, both former ship officers. I realised that all employees have different strengths and that is where the company’s success story lies. At Witherbys I also observed in practice the values that Stephen R. Covey describes in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: ‘When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.’
The most valuable lesson for me was to see what factors make a company successful. It was impressing to discover how proactive the company is, and the flexibility that it responds with to the market and resellers needs. It was an excellent opportunity in terms of industry insight and experience I gained.
Often, one of the bigger worry of an intern is to just end up making coffee. At Vagabond Voices, a small publishing house based in Glasgow, the situation is exactly the opposite: Allan Cameron, director and founder, but also writer and translator, is always ready to welcome the staff with an excellent Italian coffee. His passion for Italy is also reflected in exciting conversations that we had in the sweet Lingua del Sì. But life at Vagabond Voices is not only inspiring dialogues sipping hot beverages, it is also hard work and the opportunity to achieve outstanding skills.
Vagabond Voices’ publications are focused on original books in English, translated novels from Europe and polemical and passionate works.
The company has entered the digital revolution, publishing both the backlist and the new titles in the e-book version, and the main task of my placement was to manage the conversions, creating the electronic releases.
Before starting to work with Vagabond Voices, my knowledge of the digital formats was relatively vague, but thanks to this great chance now I can use HTML code, write a CSS style sheet and add metadata. These words may be unknown to most people, but they represent the heart of an e-book and improve the reading experience.
I also had the occasion to learn some translation basics, writing a Readers Report of an Italian book and then discussing the issues regarding the adaptation in English.
Those skills are very valuable in the current marketplace, and working at Vagabond Voices allowed me to broaden my knowledge of two fascinating sectors: e-publications and translations.
During my placement with Vagabond Voices, I had the fortune of attending two of their launches: Allan Massie’s Surviving (to conclude a memorable first day) and The Lost Art of Losing by Gregory Norminton, the second book of aphorisms to be published by Vagabond Voices.
After the latter event, I approached Gregory to ask about the unusual form of the aphorism, and why we haven’t seen more of them in print, to which he replied, “I suppose the perception that no one would purchase a book of aphorisms is the main reason we don’t see more in print.” Among those who had arrived to pick up a copy of Gregory’s “little book” were Alasdair Gray, Bernard MacLaverty, and another of Vagabond Voices’ writers, Chris Dolan.
The seemingly irresistible little volume is perfectly proportioned to be picked up and dipped into for moments at a time; as Gregory summarized, with his characteristic concision and style, “After all, when should the book be read if not in snatches: on the Tube between proximate stations, or for a moment while brushing your teeth?”
When asked about his experiences with Vagabond Voices, Gregory lauded the creative support and personal touch which developed through working with a small publisher, and described the benefits of the intimate author-publisher collaboration which could be achieved in this setting: “Working with a small publisher, specifically Vagabond Voices, I find an attention to detail, a care and a commitment to each book, which can be missing from bigger publishing houses. The former has to nurture, within its limited means, every hatchling” – a statement with which, as an intern of Vagabond Voices, I can readily identify.
Men assert, women know.
Toleration should not be confused with respect. Of course you are entitled to your opinion – as am I to treat it with contempt.
Fearless” is an epithet which bigots apply to themselves. An open mind grapples constantly with dread.
The day starts with a jubilant welcoming from Clouseau, the wonder dog. After a morning cup of tea to banish the chilly winter air, I’m ready to start my day.
The morning is taken up with the submissions I’ve already had a look through and made notes on, sorting out which ones I enjoyed and didn’t, and pitching them to the group with my reasons why.
This leads on to the rejection letters and finding the right one to suit the submission. I’ll spend another hour or so working through my notes and writing up a paragraph that will hopefully encourage the writer to keep writing whilst gently turning them down.
Then it’s off to lunch!
After I return (and receive another jubilant welcoming) I get straight back to work, finishing off the submissions and letters and working on the website. Finding out just what exactly needs fixing and what needs changing; writing up new information; looking at different sites; how the authors social network and how I can promote the agency’s online presence. An ongoing and arduous process that, nevertheless, needs to be done.
Soon enough it’s five o’clock and I’m wondering just where exactly the day has gone – it feels like just an hour ago I sat down with my morning cup of tea.
A quick check that everything that I set out to accomplish this morning has been completed and I’m done!
…As soon as I collect more submissions to take home and make notes on, of course.