Man Booker Prizewinning author DBC Pierre to visit University of Stirling

November 12th, 2011 by prm | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Man Booker Prizewinning author DBC Pierre to visit University of Stirling
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Award-winning novelist DBC Pierre will speak on the University of Stirling campus on Monday 14th November in the Pathfoot Lecture Theatre. The 6:30 PM event – a reading, interview and Q&A session – is free and open to the public. The event will be followed by a book signing. Doors open at 6 PM, and no tickets are required.

DBC Pierre’s visit is supported by the university and the Booker Prize Foundation. This year, for the first time, Stirling was selected to be one of only five U.K. institutions taking part in the Booker Prize Foundation’s Universities Initiative. Our colleagues in the Creative Writing department have been instrumental in organising this initiative, which involved all first-year students at Stirling, regardless of their course of study, receiving copies of Pierre’s novel Vernon God Little. Students have consequently been invited to attend student-led reading groups discussing the book in the week before his visit.

Vernon God Little won the Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman Prize for Comic Fiction and – controversially – the 2003 Man Booker Prize. The Man Booker judges described it as a “coruscating black comedy reflecting our alarm but also our fascination with America.”

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice Chancellor, says: “I am delighted that the University is participating in the Booker Prize Foundation’s Universities Initiative. Created to introduce students to high quality, contemporary fiction, it allows students across our various disciplines to have a shared experience to encourage debate.”

Paola Gonella, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011 – 2012

November 8th, 2011 by Paola_Gonella | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Paola Gonella, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011 – 2012
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Hi,  my name is Paola, I am Italian and I am currently studying on the MLitt in Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling.

Working in publishing has always been my ambition. Since I was a child I have always loved being surrounded by books and by people who love books. My parents still remind me of how I used to enjoy spending my afternoons at the city library instead of the playground. That was my escape from the real world and I would be lost there for hours. I even remember telling my mother that I wanted to become a publisher and marry a librarian so that I could read all the books I wanted, whenever I wanted.

When it came to deciding what I wanted to study, there was no doubt in my mind and after my Bachelor’s degree in Public and Institutional Mass Media Communication I chose to do a Master’s degree in Multimedia Communication and Publishing, which introduced me to the publishing world and convinced me even more that this is what I want to do in life.

Although I could not be more satisfied with the education I have received during my studies in Italy, I thought it was time for a new challenge, so I chose to come to the University of Stirling, mostly because of the excellent reputation that the Centre for International Publishing and Communication has. The teaching staff are all experienced and ready to help, and all the modules so far have been challenging but very interesting. What I am particularly looking forward to is working on the editorial project that we are asked to create, because that will really give me the opportunity to put into practice what I (hopefully) will have learned along the way.

World Book Day 2012

November 8th, 2011 by Paola_Gonella | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on World Book Day 2012
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World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. Since 1995, it has been celebrated all over the world on April 23rd, but in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland it is held on the first Thursday in March, a decision made to avoid clashes with Easter school holidays, as well as the fact that it is also the National Saint’s Day.

Drawing inspiration from a 90-year-old Catalonian tradition where roses and books were given as gifts to loved ones on St. George’s Day, World Book Day UK was launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair back in 1998: several million schoolchildren in Great Britain were given a £1 special World Book Day Book Token (€1.50 in Ireland) to be redeemed against any book in any UK bookseller. Since then, the event has grown each year to encompass more initiatives, such as Quick Reads Initiative, a series of short books by bestselling authors and celebrities designed to encourage adults who do not read often, or find reading tough, to discover the joy of books.

World Book Day 2012 in the UK and Ireland will take place on Thursday 1st March and it is set for a revamp. Led by children’s marketing specialist – and Stirling alumna –  Kirsten Grant as its new director and Penguin’s Joanna Prior as chair, the new management hopes to achieve more than one million book token redemptions next year. As one of the many initiatives organised for the occasion, more than 1,000 guests are expected to attend the first UK-wide Online Festival, which is expected to take place on London’s Southbank and will be streamed live to thousands of children in schools, libraries and bookshops. WBD will also work with the Publishers Association to boost political engagement through the government’s Reading For Pleasure agenda.

The Insecure Life: a Writer’s True Story

November 6th, 2011 by Rachel_Chase | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Insecure Life: a Writer’s True Story
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Rachel Chase, MLitt in Publishing Studies student, reports on our latest Visiting Speaker:

Paula Morris, a fiction writer and lecturer at the University of Stirling, talked about the life of a writer—warts and all. And yet, even after detailing the hard aspects of such a career, she said, “I wouldn’t change what I do at all.”

Paula dispelled two central myths in her lecture: 1) an author’s career is one of complete isolation and 2) if you’re good enough, you’ll get published.

An author’s career is one of complete isolation . . . think again.

Although the writing itself may be isolated, Paula pointed out, a huge part of an author’s career is a collaboration—it’s all about relationships. The author must have important relationships with the agent, editor, rights buyer, publicist, readers, other writers, designers, and sales and marketing. Some connections are direct ones while others exist via the agent or editor. But all of these relationships are important.

However, a writer cannot rely on the publishing company to do everything. Increasingly, authors need to market themselves and their products. Paula, who has a background in marketing, finds it more productive to get up and do something to promote her latest titles than gripe about what the publishing company is or isn’t doing. The digital wave has not only rocked the publishing industry as a whole, but it has also put a burden on authors to have a digital presence. Blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and tweets all take time. Paula wisely advised to be careful what you say online. You never know who is reading.

The life of an author is a busy one. It is a life of constantly dealing with people who want something from you: answers to questions, a review for another book, a free book, a biography for an event, a manuscript read, an introduction to your agent, a lecture, and so on. Writers have much more to think about than simply writing books; they have to give interviews, visit writer’s groups, visit schools, appear at festivals, attend meetings with agents and editors, work with accountants, answer e-mails, update websites and blogs, attend photo sessions, fly to various parts of the world, organize book launches, visit booksellers, and much more. There may be many words to describe the life of a writer (busy would certainly be on the list), but “isolated” is not one of them.

If you’re good enough, you’ll get published . . . simply not true.

Books are a commodity and publishing is a business. It is the market that dictates whether a book sells or not, regardless of its intrinsic value. To be a published writer, you need luck, timing, the support of other people, and market forces in your favor. For an author, every new book is riddled with the fear that it could be his or her last book. “It’s an incredibly insecure life,” Paula said.

Yet despite the difficult aspects of making writing a career, Paula announced, “I wouldn’t change what I do at all.” It is a hard road but a rewarding journey for those who want to make writing a career. Thanks Paula for your insights! You can check out Paula’s website here.

Rachel Chase, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2011-2012

November 6th, 2011 by Rachel_Chase | Posted in Student Profiles | 1 Comment
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I decided to trade the dry, mountainous city of Highland (in the state of Utah in the USA) for the highlands of Scotland to study publishing. I studied Linguistics with a minor in editing for my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University. I have always had a love for language and books. The UK is a beautiful place to live and study which played a large part in my decision to study at Stirling. My editing experience has been in editorial thus far, but there are many facets of publishing that I enjoy and I am willing to try different sectors until I find what I really like. I will be an editorial intern for Floris Books in Edinburgh this semester–for which I am very excited! Children’s publishing is what I would like to go into eventually. My love for children’s books stems from reading to my little sisters and brother since they were very young. I have four sisters and a brother who are all younger than me–the youngest is eight years old. I love music and I play the harp and the piano. Some of my favorite books are Cry the Beloved Country, The Hunger Games, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion, The Kite Runner, The Odyssey, and pretty much anything by Emily Dickinson, Ray Bradbury, and Edgar Allen Poe.

Whose Copyright is it Anyway?

November 3rd, 2011 by Arundati_Dandapani | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Whose Copyright is it Anyway?

As part of Edinburgh’s annual West Port Book Festival, the Scottish Poetry Library hosted a 3 hour battle for “Copyright: What’s it all about,” on 16th October, with tea and cakes, well attended by media persons, library members, writers, solicitors, artists, content creators, and other publishing students.

Three distinguished speakers offered their points of view on copyright law, its history, and increasing relevance in these fast changing digitised times, locally and internationally. Dr. Padmini Ray Murray, Lecturer of Publishing Studies at University of Stirling chaired the panel.

Dublin born Ronan Sheehan, began with a tribute to Columcille, the Irish saint who founded the monastery of Iona and declared “To every cow its calf, to every book its copy.” The case between Saint Finnian and Columcille illustrates finely the age old battle for copyright.  “There were 2 forms of utterance, by Poet and by the Judge. And when the Judge got it wrong, there was catastrophe,” ruled Ronan.  The speaker played devil’s advocate on several occasions, but host to the basic premise that photocopying and distribution is an infringement of civil rights, not a criminal offense to be dealt with by “policemen”. He clarified that there needs to be a law protecting authors, and that authors should actually donate part of their estate to the state in return for certain benefits, like tax exemptions.

Intellectual Property historian Dr. Aileen Fyfe gave historical perspective to copyright, in the 18th and 19th centuries and sourcing origins to the first British Copyright Act in 1709. Prior to that, only “pirates” printed certain titles— as they lacked the concept of public domain. In 1774, limited copyright emerged, whereby power to print most text was limited to a handful, and passed down to heirs. This led to a monopoly of certain titles and continuing  high prices attached to those works. Later, The Act for Encouragement of Learning exploited the copyright as much as possible towards the benefit of the common good.  At about the same time a huge amount of pirated books entered Scotland and Ireland.

Leading us into the nineteenth century, Fyfe explained that the strongest link to copyright and the author came about when copyright spanned the lifetime of the author.  Because of this, the estate for heirs could be cleverly planned. Longer term copyright was good for publishers because it led to a huge price differential between books within and outside of copyright, equal to almost the wage of a low income worker! Works in public domain could be reprinted cheaply, but more rights for authors did not help readers.

By the 21st century, the international copyright was implemented. It began with North America not recognising British copyrights. Initial copyright law offered protection to only books, not magazines, under the emphasis that public education and wide circulation were priorities within this sector. Authors like Charles Dickens were up in arms against British authors not being able to make any profits out of this siphoning of British literature. Aileen talked about life post the Berne Convention 1886, and broke up copyright into three distinct phases of perpetual copyright, greater possibilities in the 19th century with authors’ benefits, and finally USA’s agreement to put in place an international law.

The third panelist Stephen Taylor, a solicitor who advises clients on commercial copyright, talked at length about the Digital Economy Act which was passed last year. He quoted statistics of about 7 million people file sharing every year, costing the government several millions of pounds annually. The government has been under pressure, gathering industry insiders to pool solutions, but despite several memoranda having been drawn up, the actual implementation fares poorly. Stephen’s mention of the Digital Economy Act sparked interest in how the internet was stealing authorship, and how “cyberpirates” were all over the publishing world too. However, the initial protector of the net affluent client, the Internet Service Provider is now also its police, and can serve legal notices to clients in breach of the Act, with repetitious warnings leading to eventual prosecution under the proposed laws. He also mentioned Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that increases sharing and improves collaboration, has pushed boundaries in public learning.

Questions from the audience flowed in plenty, answers milling with references to Disney’s sleight of hand in the business of kids’ entertainment. Ronan Sheehan recalled with amusement the Piggley Pooh case, wherein a woman from Co. Meath Ireland  had chronicled her life of growing up on a farm. Disney claimed that it held copyright of ‘Pooh’ (Winnie the Pooh) and the woman was denied use of the word in her title, which she had named after her grandmother’s pig! She did beat Disney, but only after several distraught years and expenses.

Padmini summarized the evening’s conversations with caution, “Writers should still hang on to their day jobs!”

National Novel Writing Month

November 3rd, 2011 by prm | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on National Novel Writing Month
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NaNoWriMo has begun!

In 1999, Chris Baty started a creative writing project in which participants attempted to write a novel of 50,000 from the 1st to the 30th of November. The project has grown from its humble beginnings of 21 participants in San Francisco to over 200,000 people worldwide.

Not everyone makes it to the grand total, which requires averaging 1667 words a day, but at least get a lot of writing practice in the attempt! Over the years the site has become ever better equipped to support those taking part with forums, pep talks, writing buddies and a word count scoreboard to add a competitive edge. The event is non-profit, relying entirely on donations. It encourages people who have always thought they would write a novel someday to make a real start which has meant a number of past members actually getting their novels published.

It is a positive example of how the internet has helped global creative communities form. It’s also not too late to join in this year!

Anna Keville