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.
One of the most exciting aspects of this course for me was the placement opportunities that we would be given the chance to undertake. I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and use my skills in a real-life publishing house.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long and was given a placement with Scotland Street Press in October. Scotland Street is a small, Edinburgh based publisher who publish literary fiction, memoir and travel books. There’s a wide variety; and with one of the books being a 2017 English PEN award for translation, there’s a lot going on. It was set up by Jean Findlay and she continues to work as head of publishing. I was nervous about starting, as we had only recently begun the course and I had absolutely no publishing experience whatsoever. I was also concerned about how I would manage to juggle the placement with my studies, and my part-time job, especially considering how early on in the programme we were.
When I began the MSc Publishing course in September, I knew I wanted to explore marketing and work with children’s books. When an internship opened up at Floris Books, Scotland’s largest independent children’s book publisher, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to explore both of those areas of the publishing industry. Armed with fresh InDesign skills and a vague sense of what a marketing department actually did, I threw myself into the wonderful world of children’s publishing.
As an aspiring publisher, I jumped at the chance to do a placement at Connect Communications. Connect are an agency specialising in producing print and digital communications for clients ranging from Edinburgh Airport to BAE Systems. The placement I undertook was a joint project with one other student from the course, designing a huge piece of market research.
Due to the confidential nature of this work, I can’t go into many details – but it was fascinating seeing how an agency like Connect are looking to expand their business into areas of publishing I would never have considered. Not only were the skills I learnt during this process really useful for an aspiring marketer, but there was also lots of opportunity to get advice and insight from all the staff in Connect’s Edinburgh office, who come from a rich variety of backgrounds. I learned about areas I previously hadn’t considered, including the importance of advertising sales, and spent a lot of time picking up magazine layout tips and tricks.
Alongside our database research project, the other placement student, Alessia, and myself also worked on producing a mock magazine feature. We researched and wrote a spread about the graduate job market, and our own aspirations for our publishing future. This was then laid out, giving us a lovely – and personal – portfolio piece. We also wrote a short blog about our experience that was featured on Connect’s website! My experience at Connect really opened my eyes to the huge range of jobs available in publishing, and the variety of working for a range of clients at an agency like Connect.
During their placement, Nate and Rachel effectively acted as Publishing Consultants for Scottish Justice Matters Journal (SJM), an accessible journal for evidence, ideas and informed opinion on crime and justice in Scotland. This primarily entailed market research, working to develop the journal’s readership and marketing strategy. Nate and Rachel each took on individual tasks before coming together at the end of the ten weeks to compile a report of recommendations for SJM to consider when moving forward. Here is a glimpse into their experience:
The decision to move to the UK and more specifically to Edinburgh to begin the MSc Magazine Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University, allowed me to learn a lot and have new and inspiring experiences. One of these has certainly been the placement at Connect Communications.
Between February and March, I spent, along with Isobel, five weeks at Scotland’s largest corporate publishing and creative communications company, which produces hundreds of magazines and manages to handle the great amount of work with passion and dedication every day. During my time at Connect I had the chance to have an insight of the publishing world and a real work experience. Continue reading “My experience at Connect Communications”
Part of the attraction of doing a postgraduate degree in a foreign country is gaining an international perspective on the industry you want to be a part of. That was certainly one of the major draws for me when I decided to move from the Philippines to Scotland to do my MSc in Magazine Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University.
In addition to learning about the Scottish publishing landscape through the intensive classes we undertook from September 2014 to May 2015, I also got to experience working with this new and exciting market first hand through the work placement opportunities arranged by the university’s Publishing Department.
I undertook my two-week placement at Wyvex Media, an Edinburgh-based publishing company known for producing both newspapers and magazines. For my internship, I would be working with their magazine titles Scottish Field, Scots Heritage, Cask & Still, and their upcoming launch SF Edinburgh as a marketing intern… Continue reading “Scottish Pride: Publishing With Wyvex Media”
Sandstone Press is based in the small town of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands. Outside the office, which is shared with the Ross-Shire Journal, lies a field full of cows with hills and trees rising up behind. The loudest noise which penetrates is the cries of young seagulls fighting one another over food. With so many companies based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, this is not perhaps where one would expect to find the Saltire Society’s Publisher of the Year but Sandstone Press like to do many things differently.
In a number of ways, Sandstone behaves like a much larger publisher. With a list of only thirty books per year many companies would specialise but Sandstone choose instead to publish a wide range of books. Their list includes a balance of fiction and non-fiction and a Gaelic imprint, Lasag. There is no preference given to local writers as the company’s approach is international. Books recently released include newly translated Scandinavian Noir, a literary novel set in Africa and a non-fiction work focused on the Biblical figure of Abraham. This is not a company afraid to take risks.
Because the company is small, with only three members of staff based on-site, I have been lucky enough to gain an insight into all aspects of their work. Moira Forsyth, the editorial director, takes the time to go over the editorial policy with me in depth before letting me loose on the submission pile and even a manuscript Sandstone is looking to publish sometime next year. Keara Donnachie, herself a recent graduate from MSc Publishing, is more than happy to have me watch how she handles the marketing and publicity for the upcoming releases and let me pitch in. Sue Foot, the company’s administrator, is extremely patient as she explains the intricacies of the finance and book prize submissions, both of which come under her purview.
I’m especially lucky in that managing director Robert Davidson is only too happy to discuss the company’s strategy, illustrated with many stories from his years of experience. A number of the questions which arise are to do with the practicalities which as students we do not always appreciate. How do the books physically get to where they are going? When a company uses outside contractors, how clear is it whose responsibility which aspect of a job is? And when things go wrong, what is the best way to stay on good terms with other businesses while sorting out the problem? There is no question I can ask which goes unanswered, nothing I do not understand which is not explained. This is easily the best learning experience I could have asked for, with some of the most passionate people I have ever encountered.
By the time I’ve asked my long list of questions, Robert has said, “You’ll be starting your own company next.” If I do, it will be in no small part due to my time with Sandstone Press.