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!

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Images © Pain Concern

Work Experience at Lighthouse Bookshop

21878820_1915901028730250_6186047585476673536_nIn October and November, I had my work experience at Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop. Before arriving in Edinburgh, I was already interested in this bookshop, as it is a left-leaning independent bookshop. Their goal is to challenge the status quo and advocate for diversity, sustainability, free speech, and equality.

My aim for this work experience in a bookshop, was to find out what happens after a book is published. How do bookshops decide which books they want to have in their bookshop when they have so many choices? How do the books themselves influence their chance of being placed on a book shelf?


I was able to gain experience in different aspects of a bookseller’s daily work-life.

25286049_10214836582128764_1599288614_oI curated the Young Adult Fiction section of the bookshop. My goal was to introduce more diverse books in this section. Not all the books that I wanted to purchase were purchased. There were several reasons for this. While choosing books, I found out that I could not get some of the books as they were not available in the UK. Another reason is that the cover was not suitable for the audience. A final reason, is that the price was too high.

In November, the bookshop hosted the Edinburgh Radical Book Fair. In preparation for this event, I helped copywrite some parts of the flyer and assisted with the flyer’s design. During the book fair, I also got my first experience in chairing a discussion — I chaired the discussion on Political Multiculturalism and Immigrant Communities.

21827106_846841135482374_6556849867535155200_nFurther, I gained experience in retail and customer service. Using a cashier is really confusing at the beginning! Talking with customers about books is one of my favourite activities at the bookshop. It’s exciting to discuss books with them, and it’s so rewarding when someone decides to choose a book because you have recommended it to them.

Now, that my work experience has finished, I’ll be continuing to work at the bookshop as a bookseller.


About the author
I’m Sinead, an MSc Publishing student at Edinburgh Napier University. I work part-time as a bookseller at Lighthouse – Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop. My blog Huntress of Diverse Books focuses on reviewing and promoting diverse books. I’m also a co-host at Lit CelebrAsian, an initiative aiming to uplift Asian voices in literature.

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Linen Press Internship

When we started our MSc Publishing degree back in September, one of the first things we were told was to get on Twitter. It wasn’t until I saw a social media internship advertised for Linen Press Books that I fully realised the significance of being an active member of the Twitter/Publishing community. The tweet read:

‘Love women’s writing? Love living online? Be actively involved w a small indie press? Fab social media intern needed asap!’

After answering yes to all three questions and realising that the internship could be done remotely, I eagerly applied! Since joining the Linen Press team, I have been fortunate to be involved with a variety of different aspects of the publishing process. Predominantly, I have been managing their Twitter feed and implementing a marketing campaign for their debut novel, The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

However, it’s been a lot more than just tweeting. I have provided feedback and criticism for author submissions. I’ve created graphics for social media and I’ve actively put together a marketing strategy with an author and the rest of the team. I’ve felt that my voice has been valued every step of the way.

One of my favourite aspects of this internship was putting together some author videos for an upcoming campaign for Sometimes A River Song. We had discussed the idea of video marketing in a meeting and I volunteered to create them. I edited together ‘Author Confession’ videos during my placement at Scottish Book Trust and I wanted to create something similar for Linen Press. I put my Adobe Creative Cloud knowledge to good use and I am really proud of the finished result! (Click on the photo below to see them)

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My time with Linen Press has come to an end, as I start my internship with The Publishing Bureau next week, but I loved every minute of my experience. I’ve met lots of interesting and talented women and I’ve built my confidence as a publisher-to-be.

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!

Data, case studies and market research: my placement at RAM

If there’s one thing we were taught from day one of our course, it’s that in order to create a successful publication, you need to know your audience. RAM helps publishers do just that. How? With data, and lots of it!

RAM (which stands for Research and Analysis of Media) is a Swedish media research company that gathers valuable data about advertising effectiveness and content quality on behalf of its clients – of which it has over 1,000. The company was founded in 2001 with its headquarters in Stockholm, but it also has offices in the United States, Norway, Finland and right here in Edinburgh. Continue reading “Data, case studies and market research: my placement at RAM”

Work Placement at Word Power Books

Inside Word Power Books

I was excited about doing a placement at Word Power Books, an independent and self-proclaimed radical bookshop in central Edinburgh, because there are books there that you would never find in large chain shops: bilingual children’s books; self-published magazines and pamphlets; and fiction from around the world. I was also keen to see what life was like on the other side of publishing.

My work at Word Power has been varied. I got to design new category signs, to make the shelves easier to navigate. I served drinks to guests at the launch of Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon (chosen as a Waterstone’s 11 title). I also did some stocktaking, which helped me to get familiar with a lot of the shop stock, and tempted me to buy a few books.

Mainly, I have been observing rep meetings. It’s interesting to see how a potential book is pitched to a bookseller, and just how quickly they will flick through each AI sheet before making a decision (each has about three seconds). Apparently, the three most important things that a bookseller looks for are the price, the cover and the format, so AI sheets that have this information displayed clearly will stand a better chance of being picked up.

Each rep had a different selling technique. Some would try to push for the manager to take books she wasn’t sure about. Others were more relaxed, knowing the type of books she was interested in, and let her make her own mind up, happy to take an order for just one book if that’s all she was interested in. The reps often commented on how friendly it was in the bookshop, compared to others they had been to.

I have found out a lot through working in a bookshop that I never would have otherwise. For instance, although a publisher might think a pure white cover hardback book looks nice, every bookseller knows that within 5 minutes of it being out on display, it will be grubby with fingerprints and dirt. When designing book covers, I had never considered practicality along with aesthetics before.

Word Power have been keeping up with the times and have introduced a website, much like Amazon, where you can order books with the click of a button that they will dispatch. I was surprised to find that their orders come from all over the world, even from as far away as Australia.

Doing work experience in a bookshop has made me feel like I have a more rounded knowledge of the book trade. Before, I had only ever considered things from a publisher’s point of view, and not thought about how a bookseller makes a living.

When I was at the London Book Fair in April, it seemed like every sector of the publishing world was separated, not listening to the concerns of each other. Authors lamented: “We’re expected to speak to our readers via social media, but publishers don’t teach authors how to and don’t ask them if they want to”, while publishers advised us to “Always go with the self-promoting author”.

After working in Word Power, my opinion is even stronger now that publishers and booksellers should be communicating more if they want to navigate the challenges of the digital age.

You can find out more about Word Power Books by visiting their website, or by following them on Facebook or Twitter.