Best Books Are Not Necessarily the Ones That Sell – Lindsey Fraser as guest speaker

October 30th, 2013 by Aija | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Best Books Are Not Necessarily the Ones That Sell – Lindsey Fraser as guest speaker
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One of the most interesting parts of having guest speakers come to the Stirling Publishing class is the varied mix of individuals from all fields of publishing. This time the guest speaker was the key step between an author and publisher; a literary agent, who gave an astute talk from someone who has seen a varied side of the publishing trade.

Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates spoke to the MLitt Publishing class of 2013/14 on the long path that led to the start of her own business together with colleague Kathryn Ross. For a time Lindsey was aiming to become a teacher, until the teacher training proved to Lindsey that it was a wonderful career to be admired – but it was not for her. What came out of her studies was the realisation of deep love for books. Therefore, Lindsey went to work at James Thin bookshop, and worked at the children’s books section until becoming part of the family run company of Heffers in Cambridge. Heffers was another children’s bookshop, an experience Lindsey emphasizes invaluable for those wanting to work within the publishing world – learning the tricks of the trade from the other side, from the booksellers’ perspective and creating those ever-vital connections for your future networking. During her time at Heffers, Lindsey learned the value that was placed on who reads, what and how it is accessed. Lindsey warmly reminisced about how Heffers were diversified in this respect compared to all other booksellers before and at the time, and Lindsey got to hone her skills at readership development.

A career move eventually was inevitable, and so Lindsey came to work with the Book Trust Scotland, where she waved her magic wand until founding Fraser and Ross Associates in 2002. Slowly expanding, at the moment Fraser and Ross represent some fifty authors and illustrators, with the benefit of having two – slightly – different personalities with different tastes working together. Whereas Lindsey would be more squeamish and un-impressed on some titles, Kathryn sees the potential and pushes for it – or vice versa, and there comes the beauty of Fraser and Ross Associates diversification.

Knowing the editors within the publishing companies, and knowing the publishing companies’ aims in and out, is the key. A literary agent should not submit the same title to more than a couple of imprints at the same time, as that would be fishing for someone to catch on a title you are not backing one hundred per cent, but not offering it to more than one would also limit the chances of the title being picked. Whereas one publisher might have something similar already in process or is not particularly keen on the content of the novel, another publisher might see it as the gem it is.

Lindsey also remarks on how the publishing industry initially got terrified by the emergence of digital publishing, and how she sees it a near god send for convenience and actually a sensible way forward. And some publishers have even improved the quality of their print books, for noticing that e-sales have increased their print sales as readers who liked the book in e-format more often than not want to buy a hard copy. And ultimately, the eventual experience is the same; you read a book and you either hate it or love it. Only thing Lindsey truly criticises e-publishing for is the low royalties that come toward the author, which should in all senses be higher as e-publishing has not nearly as high costs as printing.

As parting wisdom Lindsey remarks on publishers who hold on to the rights of a title even if the title is not in print; the rights ought to be relinquished so the author can go on to find another channel for their book to keep out there. Generating income for a literary agent or the author is not always a straightforward line; a lot is to do with selling and maximizing rights – having one publisher in the UK and another one in US, but always trying to make sure it is the authors’ rights that are respected, as much meeting profit margin demands. The literary agent is responsible of much of the negotiations between author and potential publisher, as well as being the gatekeeper for first drafts, offering initial feedback. What this boils down to is not the individual likes and dislikes and quirks of personalities, but also being aware of the target audience and the market demand, for what has been a phenomenal success in UK does not mean it will also fare well in other countries. And here it is, the sad truth; best books are not necessarily the ones that sell.

The tweets from Lindsey Fraser’s Visiting Speaker session are Storified here.

Aija Oksman



Dana Peters, MLitt in Publishing Studies, 2013-14

October 30th, 2013 by Dana Kendra Peters | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Dana Peters, MLitt in Publishing Studies, 2013-14
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Hello! My name is Dana Peters and I just started my journey with the MLitt in Publishing Studies program.

The road toward traveling from California, USA all the way to Stirling, Scotland was a long one. My BA in European History from the University of California, Santa Cruz could take me in a great number of directions, but what I really had a passion for was books. Reading any kind of book, even textbooks, was a joy. Books have always been a constant friend in my life.

Working in the publishing field feels like the right decision. The University of Stirling‘s MLitt in Publishing Studies sounded like a dream come true, especially for someone whose major editing experience extended as far as making story corrections for friends.

I’m looking forward to learning more about this rapidly changing industry and gaining the skills I need to thrive in the publishing industry. This is a big chapter in my own story and one I hope to make the most of.

If you’re interested in following my journey, I am now on Twitter.

Conny Lenz, Cengage Learning

October 23rd, 2013 by Xiaolin Ma | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Conny Lenz, Cengage Learning
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Conny Lenz‘s visit to Stirling was impressive and meaningful for us. She is a Publishing Studies alumna and digital publishing assistant at Cengage Learning. Conny Lenz introduced her route into publishing and her current job at Cengage Learning.

First of all, she began by expressing her personal feelings about the Stirling publishing course. She thinks this course is very helpful, because it provides a sound overview of the publishing industry, teaches students how to finish marketing and sales tasks, trains students of all kinds of ability through dummy projects, and helps students accomplish their dissertation. Her words inspired us to move forward.

Conny then went on to talk about her route into publishing. She mentioned that internships are very important, and she advised us to contact as many publishing recruiters as possible. She also mentioned that we could use social networks like LinkedIn for our careers. She stressed the importance of competitor awareness in interviews.

Maybe because some of us are not familiar with library reference, Conny introduced the work that library reference does. It needs to source content from libraries and institutions, such as The National Archives, British Library and Royal Archives. It needs to assess, oversee and manage the digitisation of the content. It will determine design and layout of product and images. Providing marketing and sales teams with documentation and information on the product is also a part of its work.

Next, Conny presented how digital archives were created and how to use the search engine of the Daily Mail Historical Archive.

The next topic focused on her current work at Cengage Learning. Her first project was Nineteenth Century Collections Online. The second project was the management of the transfer of seven products from one platform to another. The third project was the State Papers Online, Eighteenth Century Part 1. The fourth project is Punch Historical Archive 1841-1992. She showed her projects by using a lot of images of raw materials and the process of designing these library references, and which fully showed her work at Cengage Learning.

This is an informative session about library reference, and I think the whole class will agree we learned a lot during this speaking. Thanks, Conny!

-Xiaolin Ma

Tweets from Conny’s Visiting Speaker session have been Storified here.




Min Yu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014

October 22nd, 2013 by Min | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Min Yu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014
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Hello, everyone, my name is Min and I am  from the city of Shenzhen (near Hong Kong), Guangdong Province, China. I am 26 years old and I was born in Shandong Province which is in the north in China. Actually, I have been working in a media company as a media asset manager for 3 years after I graduated from my undergraduate university, Shenzhen University with a degree in Communication.Then I decided to improve myself to get a master degree, so I quit my job and became a student again.

The publishing industry is very technological and advanced in UK, so that’s why I choose to study publishing here. When I started studying, I find there are a lot of information and knowledge needing to be received and understand. It is not easy for me to study these , so I decided to spend more time reading books. I think it is really a challenge for me to study. On the other hand, I find I can learn a lot from this programme, especially I can learn various cultures in my class because this is a great international class. The classmates are nice and they have different personalities. I also can learn something from them because we have different educations and backgrounds.

The most important thing is that I hope my English language will be improved effectively and I can read many books. There are many fantastic books in UK and I really want to read as many as possible. In the future, I hope I can work in the library in my University in China because I love the environment of libraries and campus.

My hobbies are watching movies, travelling, so I will plan to travel to Europe at this studying aboard year. I hope this year will be unforgettable.






Jana Gengnagel, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014

October 12th, 2013 by Jana Gengnagel | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Jana Gengnagel, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014

“Books are the quietest and most constant friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers”  – Charles W. Eliot

I have always loved books. As a kid, I went to the library once a week to get new reading material to satisfy my hunger for books. Growing older, this did not change. On the contrary, my passion for the printed word actually increased. When the time came to decide on a subject of study, I knew it had to be something with books and how they are made. I finally ended up at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, where I studied Book Studies, European Literature, and History. I chose my minor subjects European Literature and History in order to keep my future career path as broad as possible.

During my studies I had the chance to do an internship with the publishing house of Feder&Schwert, where I did a lot of proofreading and was able to translate the book “The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny”, written by Simon R. Green, into German. After my internship, I worked for them as a freelancer translating another book and doing some more proofreading.

Apart from my studies, I worked as a temp for a bookshop in Worms where I advised customers which book they may want to read. Furthermore, I helped selling schoolbooks.

I am really interested in editing and marketing, especially fantasy books, historical fiction, and children’s books. I am sure that I will be able to expand my knowledge of publishing further while studying with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication.


MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow

October 9th, 2013 by Clemence Moulaert | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on MLitt Publishing Studies students visit BookSource distributors in Glasgow
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You walk into a bookshop (if you still do that sort of thing), you pick up a book that looks interesting; with a bounce in your step, you take it to the till, you buy it; you take it home and disappear into it for a few hours. A delightful experience — but do you ever wonder about the journey that book has taken to get to you?

Before it gets to the bookshop it goes through a distributor, a step most readers will not be familiar with. The postgraduate students on the current MLitt Publishing Studies programme recently visited BookSource in Glasgow to learn more about the distribution process, to visit the warehouse and find out how this book distributor is coping in our troubled industry.

BookSource, one of the UK’s foremost book distributors for independent publishers, has existed since 1995 and thrived since then — up until the digital revolution and Amazon, that is.  These last two factors mean that the distribution step is no longer as important as it used to be, and in the future might even be obsolete.

The staff at BookSource are well aware of the dangers facing their business. Managing information is key to their survival: they must be on top of the latest innovations at all times and re-imagine their business strategy in order to remain a fierce competitor on the market. Tapping into the digital book distribution market is a big part of their new business plan. Nevertheless, they are aware of the limitations: ‘I think it will be a sad, sad day when we start making children’s e-books,’ says Davinder Bedi, director, managing director at BookSource.


Davinder believes that Scottish Independence is another threat looming on the horizon. With borders possibly closing off a huge market for BookSource, their business may not survive at all. Publishers like being physically close their books—if Scotland becomes a country on its own, who is to say that British publishers will want to do business outside of their country? Davinder is pessimistic: he doesn’t think the Scottish market is big enough to survive on its own.

Where will BookSource stand in five years’ time — will it even stand at all? Will the warehouse close down or will it be unrecognisable, totally adapted to a wholly changed industry? One thing is for sure: BookSource is determined to try and re-invent themselves before throwing in the towel. The publishing industry must take example from BookSource: we must be perceptive, inventive, and most of all ruthless visionaries to thrive in the digital age.

Amalia Koulakioti, MLitt in Publishing Studies, 2013-14

October 9th, 2013 by Amalia Koulakioti | Posted in Student Profiles | 1 Comment

Coming from a journalism background I can very much relate to the popular quote: “journalism is literature in a hurry”. Being a lover of literature myself, the next logical step was to try my luck in publishing studies.

Originally I studied History and Archaeology at the Aristotle University in my hometown, Thessaloniki, in Greece. After my graduation I obtained a degree in journalism from a private institute in Athens and proceeded to work as a journalist for a news website, writing articles and doing field work. I have minor experience in writing reviews of films, books and graphic novels.

As I said literature has always been a passion of mine, as a reader and as a writer, so by following an MLitt in Publishing Studies, I hope to gain a thorough knowledge of the whole industry. The majestic campus of the University and the high quality of the course made up my mind for me, so Stirling was the place for me.

I am particularly interested in how the digital world is affecting the publishing field, and I would love to focus my studies on fantasy fiction publications and on the comic book domain, which I consider a vital aspect of the publishing industry.

Last but not least, I have already signed up and have been working as a volunteer for Bloody Scotland, the crime-writing festival that is taking place here in Stirling, and loving the experience so far!

Ana Pungartnik, MLitt in Publishing Studies, 2013-14

October 7th, 2013 by Ana Pungartnik | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Ana Pungartnik, MLitt in Publishing Studies, 2013-14

Thomas Jefferson once said, ”I cannot live without books.” I agree with him completely. I discovered my love for books when I was very young, even before I started school. I would spend hours and hours at our local library just browsing between book shelves and being stunned by books. When the time to decide what I want to study finally came, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I did my undergraduate studies in Library and Information Science at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. During the programme I chose some of the publishing classes that were available and realized that I felt very attracted to the publishing process and book production. I’ve also done an internship at publishing house UMco, d.d. in Ljubljana, Slovenia. After receiving my BA degree and doing my research on publishing programmes in Europe, I decided I wanted to attend the MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling.

I’m interested in marketing books and the translations of literature from ex-Yugoslavia countries and translation copyrights. I would also like to do some research on what is different in publishing process of small market countries and what is there to do to create a thriving and competitive publishing field.

This is a challenging time for publishing and I am prepared to accept the challenge and be a part of this vibrant, non-stop, changing business.

Bloody Scotland Masterclass – Agents’ and Publishers’ Panel

October 7th, 2013 by Aija | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bloody Scotland Masterclass – Agents’ and Publishers’ Panel
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One of the perks of this year’s Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival in Stirling was the opportunity to hear the best of the field offer advice to hopeful writers on the process of writing, publishing and whatever comes in between.

The Agents’ and Publishers’ panel was lead by Claire Squires, director of Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication on September 13th. The panel discussed what happens after the next hopeful front list bestseller has been written and when the author seeks to have the manuscript accepted either by an agent or a publisher.

Taking part in the panel were Jenny Brown, of Jenny Brown Associates, and David Shelley, of Little Brown. Jenny is equally inspiring and intimidating for an aspiring literary agent such as myself, having opened her agency in 2002 after years of formidable experience, not forgetting being the founder of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. If that’s not enough, she and her associates have become the biggest literary agent in Scotland and one of the leading agencies in UK, with international reputation.

David on the other hand represents the other hurdle in the writer’s way towards bestselling stardom – the publisher. David, who has worn many a different hat under the general title publisher has not settled for one particular job title – he also guests as an editor for a few selected authors within Little Brown, including Val McDermid and Mitch Albom (and yes, JK Rowling too, but let’s focus on other exciting aspects of David’s career, shall we?).

Jenny launched right into the session by emphasising how crime writing is still the fastest growing genre in the UK (and one of the leading internationally), with approximately 30% of the book market. David agreed – crime writing is definitely the most commercially growing genre that is remarkably consistent despite other market or trend fluctuations – fluctuations we know all too well that publishing is harshly dependent on. As the trend moves on, so will the publisher.

Both Jenny and David agreed that trends are nearly impossible to keep up with; what is “hot” right now could very well be over by the time you have the manuscript of a bestseller that nicely fits into that pigeonhole all finished and ready to be pitched. Trends move on faster than anyone can write, and rather than focusing on fitting into that niche, both Jenny and David emphasised, an aspiring writer would do well to focus on being passionate and finding your own voice, your niche, rather than doing lavish imitations of others’ work. Jenny also – to my great pleasure – emphasised how translated crime writing is breaking the barriers and entering the UK market. David remarked upon the cold realism of marketing; it is nearly impossible to bring out a title that is based on the same basic idea as one published before. There is no space in the market for two great Fife based detectives, but there might be space for one great detective from Fife, and the other from – why not – Stirling. How you present your setting is what makes you, as a writer, unique.

Classic crime is being brought back as well as being retranslated. Foreign authors are intriguing, whereas deceased writers are proving to be some of the toughest competition to the wave of new writers. One particularly interesting piece of advice that David provided for budding writers was to imagine further than one novel. He has found himself attracted to authors who can envision at least a couple volumes of a series, can explain character traits and subplots beyond that one particular event in the novel they are currently pitching. A good series of novels with an ever-evolving character can very well be the key to cracking your way into the crime-writing scene.

Claire led the discussion to the actual publishing process; what channels are there for new writers? How can one get their manuscript read, represented and subsequently published? As expected, both David and Jenny agreed on this point strongly; get an agent. It is nearly impossible to break into publishing without being professionally represented. Most publishing houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts so agents act as a quality control filter for publishers. Jenny emphasised having manuscripts edited by a professional freelancer – never submit anything you are not absolutely sure is the best it can be. And this is doubly important for self-publishing authors.

Be confident, know your trade, know your next few steps and especially – know whom you are talking to when making a pitch. Let your story do the talking. It is even more advisable to target your agent and publisher. Do your homework – know whom you are pitching to and make sure they know why you have chosen them. Or perhaps if you’re desperate and unsure of your manuscript, a box of chocolates never hurts – doesn’t necessarily help either, but definitely never hurts.

Claire opened a topic that is much debated in publishing circles – self-publishing. Jenny explained how self-publishing allows more control and can lead to enticing a wide readership, which in turn encourages word-of-mouth and reviews before landing under the ears or eyes of an publisher. Self-publishing allows the writer to test the waters and to cater for the readership before attempting to break into the market. Although, writers would do well to note, that if you have already published something on the internet, the good bet is that a hopeful publisher would prefer to publish something completely new from you – or perhaps offer you a series deal. David did mention how even editors browse through self-publishing platforms – such as Authonomy – as you never know what you might find.

The panel concluded with questions from the master class participants; one particularly memorable was one lady from the master class, who has a number of novels (18 to be exact) published online but no one had yet approached her nor returned her numerous attempts to contact agents and publishers. Jenny’s initial reaction was to enquire what does she believe an agent could do for her that she cannot do herself? What indeed. To leave on a hopeful note, Claire asked both David and Jenny to give the master class some final words of inspiration. David encouraged the budding writers never to give up, as the first book published is rarely the first book written, and to especially venture into other avenues than traditional forms of publishing – digital, self-publishing and the like can prove to be a writer’s saviour, enabling an initial point of contact, enticing on its own merit. Jenny emphasised the necessity of wide reading, because all that we read will feed into what we write, how we write and how we present ourselves. There is hope for everyone.

Alexis Billinge, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014

October 3rd, 2013 by Lexi | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Alexis Billinge, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2013-2014

Hi! I’m Lexi. I came to University of Stirling after I graduated from my undergraduate university, Florida State (FSU) in May 2013 with a dual degree in English and Theatre. I have a passion for storytelling in any and all mediums. I chose publishing studies for my postgraduate because I wanted to learn more about the processes of getting a book, or any kind of story out into the world. I am extremely interested in print versus digital publishing, as well as cross-media, or what I like to call the Harry Potter phenomena. I enjoy a wide variety of fiction genres including fantasy, sci-fi, young adult (YA), horror, romance, etc. — so long as it’s well-written and the story is interesting, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

As someone who comes from a background in theatre, I know how important every part of the process of putting on a performance is, and how vital communication during that process is as well. While my interests are primarily editorial, I hope to learn about all the areas of publishing so that I can effectively communicate with other departments and understand the process as a whole. I can’t wait to get to know my fellow classmates and start learning about the business of publishing.

Please feel free to follow me on Facebook, Linkedin, and/or Twitter.

(FYI: Gareth David-Lloyd and James Marsters from Torchwood are the actors in the photo.)