Helen Griffin, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 28th, 2014 by Helen Griffin | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Helen Griffin, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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10441162_771707296214516_7616619309896870457_nMy name is Helen Griffin and I am a returning graduate to the University of Stirling, where I recently completed my undergraduate degree in English and Journalism Studies.

Having spent most of my academic career writing and editing from a journalistic point of view, I became very interested in the other side of the market. Unlike the fast-paced, rigid functionality of the journalism process; where I was trained to gather, organise and circulate information in a very short space of time, I became more drawn to a less clinical production of material, thus prompting my decision to pursue an MLitt in Publishing Studies.

I have always been an avid lover of books, particularly fiction and travel literature, and would love to be an active part of the processes involved in the development of these types of publications. With no prior experience in publishing, I am looking forward to the new challenges that this course will bring and the equally passionate people that I will meet along the way.

Rutangye Crystal Butungi, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-15

October 27th, 2014 by Crystal Butungi Rutangye | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Rutangye Crystal Butungi, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-15
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crystal.photoOn my first day at the University of Stirling, Scotland decided not to be independent by voting “NO” in the referendum. On this profound day in history (of both of Scotland and of my life), I also got to meet my personal tutor, Frances Sessford, who inducted me into my new course; MLitt Publishing Studies. I have since interacted with the most amazing lecturers and classmates, and confirmed my earlier notion that Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling is one of the most exciting experiences a book-lover could have.

Yes, I am one of those cliché book-lovers. Well, I love words in general, but I love them most when they are well put together in a beautiful book. I suspect this is the reason I was driven to study how to publish books; it’s worth a shot trying to convince the rest of the world that they need to fall in love with reading. Especially when you come from a country whose systems put emphasis on getting good marks in exams, rather than on being transformed for the better by just reading things that change people’s lives, souls, mind-sets, attitudes, beliefs, – it’s astonishing what the power of words can do to the simple mind. Well, I still followed the government’s system;- joined the bandwagon and secured an A-level certificate in the sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Maths), in preparation for a ‘more professional’ degree, like medicine. This was despite the fact that my friends and I founded the school writers club and took up all the editorial positions in the school magazine. My talents and interests won over the nation’s expectations fortunately and I was instead sponsored to do a degree in Tourism.

It was on one of those typical days in the life of a Ugandan job-seeking graduate that a friend asked me to proof-read his dissertation because ‘I had relatively good English.’ Then all my friends were giving me work to proof-read, then I was being invited to attend writer and editor workshops with African Writers Trust and the British Council Uganda, then getting more training, and before I knew it, I was a recognised practising editor in my city – and loving it. I landed an administrative job with Moran Publishers  – Uganda (the former Macmillan-Uganda), where I learnt more by volunteering with the publishing department. Then I was asked to be chief editor at World of Inspiration Uganda, one of our first ever publishing companies to publish, and sell for profit, non-academic books on a large scale. By this time, I had started convincing the Commonwealth Scholarship Committee that it was I who needed to study more about this business if someone was going to help my country produce better books. They finally agreed. They awarded me the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Without batting an eyelid, I had selected the University of Stirling as my choice scholarly destination, and I now wake up everyday marvelling at the wisdom of this decision.

I suppose I will be a writer/grand editor/publisher some day, after all.


Heather McDaid, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 24th, 2014 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Heather McDaid, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

heather mcdaid“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them” – Lemony Snicket.

Having graduated in June 2014 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism from Stirling University, I wasn’t 100% sure where I wanted to go career-wise. I had been freelancing for a number of culture websites and magazines for a few years but in terms of an actual adult (welp!) career, I found myself looking towards publishing because it encompassed many of the skills I’d been building on, and my favourite things – so, after some researching on where was best to pursue a postgrad in publishing, I’m back!

I generally like to keep myself busy when I’m not visiting the Chamber of Secrets. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of outlets over the last few years including The List, WOW247, DIY Mag, Rock Sound, Kerrang! and The Skinny through freelancing and internships, as well as running my own music webzine, and book blog Wonderland Avenue. I’ve tentatively stepped into the publishing world thanks to some kind publishers and really enjoyed every moment, so look forward to learning the ins and outs of the industry, and beyond!

Feel free to follow me on Twitter for (somewhat) relevant ramblings on books and publishing, amongst other things!

Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15

October 23rd, 2014 by Miriam Owen | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15
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profile pic 2The Masters in Research for me is a way to further explore and consolidate some work that I have been doing for the past couple of years on a project based around Nordic Noir fiction. You can read an article I have had published here.  I am currently undertaking a piece of research into crime writing festivals and fan behaviour and I am off to a brand new crime writing festival in Reykjavik called Iceland Noir soon.

I chose the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication because they have respected academics who are active in their specialist areas and who demonstrate a use of all the tools available to them such as social media, digital publishing and the network around them.  I also found that the choice of modules on the programme provide a solid framework for my learning outcomes.

I grew up in Scotland  but come from a Scottish/Dutch background and have always travelled extensively and have lived in a few different countries, the longest being Japan for 5 years.  I have to admit that I have felt pretty much at home in all of the countries I have lived in, but have a particular fondness for landscapes with volcanoes,  long coastlines and an interesting traditional culture.  After my first degree, a Masters in History of Art, I worked in an art gallery and museum, before moving into teaching. Latterly I have worked in administration in higher education.  I love the arts and communication. I am interested in the transformative power of the arts and in the creative process.

As for a love of books, which everyone in the class has, I must admit to being a book sniffer! I love libraries, museums, bookstores, paper, words pictures, galleries and when combined in the right way the journeys that they take us on and the doors that they can open.  Without language, art and writing the human race would not have evolved and become what it is today.  I like to explore,  bring people together and make things happen! If you need me you can find me on Linked In or social media or better yet get in touch and we can meet face to face…



Sarah Elizabeth Webster MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 22nd, 2014 by Sarah Elizabeth Webster | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Sarah Elizabeth Webster MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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Me!My name is Sarah Webster and my home is the Peak District in Derbyshire, a.k.a. the home turf of Mr Darcy.

For the past four years I studied on both the BA in English Language & Literature as well as the MA in Romantic Literature & Culture at the University of Leeds. I am now studying on the MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling.

During my time in Leeds, I volunteered as an archivist in the Special Collections of the Brotherton Library where I worked on the Simon Armitage, Tony Harrison and Melvyn Bragg collections and I also listed audio records for the library. This opportunity allowed me to handle a variety of literary materials and projects, whilst giving me invaluable experience in arts archival research.IMG_7317411

For the past couple of years I have worked as a theatre journalist for The Public Reviews, covering shows predominantly in the Yorkshire region including ballet, puppetry, drama and musical theatre. The role has demanded a great deal of organisation and the ability to write to very tight deadlines in a succinct and nuanced style.

With my firm foundation in literature and theatre journalism I would now like to make the transition from content provider to editor and from journalism to publishing. As a creative person who plays the piano and enjoys sketching and drawing I am also interested in the design and production aspects of the publishing process.

Adrian Searle from Freight Books paid us a visit

October 21st, 2014 by Marit Mathisen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Adrian Searle from Freight Books paid us a visit
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Adrian Searle, Image source

The third person on the Visiting Speaker programme was Adrian Searle, publisher at Freight Books and director of Freight Design.

He gave us his view on publishing, delivering a humorous and informative presentation, as well as some insight into Freight Books and its perspective on publishing.

Having a diverse background, with experience from advertising and design, as well as having studied Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, it should come as no surprise that Searle has diverse knowledge of and expertise in the field of publishing. He co-founded Freight Design in 2001 and in 2011 Freight Books found its way into the world, picking up an impressive number of shortlistings for a fairly small publisher. These include the Saltire First Book Awards, the Saltire Scottish Publisher of the Year 2013 and 2014, and UK Drum Design Award. Searle does not let that go to his head though, stating that “one man’s Booker Prize is another man’s doorstop”. He equates book publishing to gambling, alluding to Dostoevsky and his view on gambling – if you do it once and win, it is easier to become addicted. He also made it clear that there are other businesses where you could earn money more easily, in his case design, but he finds publishing to be more fun, saying “I love publishing”.

101-uses-of-a-dead-kindle-2_270One of the titles released by Freight Books is 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle, written by Adrian, with illustrations by Judith Hastie. The title is a play on the title of a book released in the late 80s, 101 Uses of a Dead Cat, by Simon Bond. They had high hopes for the title, and a retailer had ordered a large number of copies. Unfortunately, this was a real life example of the sale or return policy followed in the book trade, as almost all the books were sent back by the retailer, with Adrian having seen only one copy in one of their shops.

What happened with 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle has not put Freight Books off publishing humoristic titles, however, with If Dogs Could Swear reuniting Adrian and Judith for a second time. Simple, but effective, and, according to Adrian, if you add a content advisory label on the front it will induce more people to buy the title! Other humour books in the works for Freight Books are Throne of Games and Cyclists: A Spotters Guide.

Adrian also talked about risk, saying that publishing is all about risk, alluding back to the gambling analogy. He said that when you publish a book you want to lower the risk to the reader, making them think at first glance that the book you are selling is worth their time. He also explained some of the ways in which this can be achieved. This ties in with the content advisory on If Dogs Could Swear but he specifically mentioned endorsements by famous people, or quotes by people in general. According to him the fact that someone other than the publisher says a book is good makes the reader more likely to purchase that title. Another thing to use in promoting books is any prize nominations and wins the book has received. Both the quote and the prize nomination will give the book more credibility than the book would have on its own.

Freight Books also publish Gutter, a magazine published twice a year, with short stories and poetry from writers with ties to Scotland. As poetry and short story anthologies are fewer and further between than the people who write them, this is a good place for writers to try to get their work out to readers. Their Scottish point of view underlines Adrian’s contention that “London is the Death Star” (for publishers). He says that anything coming from outside of London is viewed as provincial, and explains that Freight Books is sometimes asked to remove “Scotland” or “Scottish” from their advance sales information.

Adrian Searle is the type of person who gets a lot said in little time, and hearing him speak so enthusiastically about his work, while still cautioning that it is hard work, was interesting and enlightening. The fact that he still says he loves publishing is encouraging, as it shows staying power – even for someone with his diverse background. Freight Press’s achievements in a very short time are impressive, and we can only wait to see what more might come from their small office in Glasgow.


Kerry McShane, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014–15

October 21st, 2014 by Kerry Eileen McShane | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Kerry McShane, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014–15
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McShane Blog Image

It all started with a single book. I couldn’t put it down. Every moment that I could spare, I had that book in my hands. I would watch the clock at work, eager to be back home and immersed in those pages once again. I had never been so affected by a book, but I just couldn’t get enough. That book was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. The book is notoriously difficult to describe, but it has just about anything you could ever want in a story. Romance, politics, history, action and more—all set in the Scottish highlands, a world away from my home in Ogden, Utah.

I had long dreamed of visiting Scotland, but I suddenly wanted more than a vacation. I wanted to live in Scotland, to be part of it. I know it sounds a bit clichéd, but it really isn’t. I didn’t come here expecting cattle raids, kilts, and haggis as far as the eye could see, but I did expect to find history, peaceful countryside, and kind people. I’ve found everything I expected and more. As a good friend of mine put it, Scotland is magic.

As for how I decided to study publishing, that was mostly by chance. In 2012, I started researching postgraduate offerings at universities across Scotland. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study, but I wanted something practical to complement my English undergraduate degree. I wanted to study for a master’s that would teach me skills that I could apply directly to a career. As I scrolled through the list of courses on the University of Stirling website, the MLitt in Publishing Studies immediately stopped me. Publishing? Why had I never thought of that before? It was the perfect career to combine my affinity for books and my habit of correcting poor grammar! (Ok, that is a very simplified version of the thoughts running through my mind, but you get the idea.) From that moment, everything I did was in an effort to make it here.

I began by serving as the Editor-in-Chief of my alma mater’s undergraduate research journal.  Then, I changed my course plan to include classes in Adobe programs such as InDesign and Photoshop. But most importantly, I worked as an editorial intern and later as an editorial assistant with Gibbs Smith, Publisher. I can’t recommend that enough. Start internships as early as you can. Not only will it help you decide if publishing is right for you, but it will prepare you for further study better than any amount of reading ever will.

So, after a lot of dreaming, planning and working, I made it. My studies are just as fascinating as the country, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store over the next year. If you’d like to see what I’m up to, you can follow me on Twitter @kerrberr_books.

Emma Brown, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 20th, 2014 by Emma Margaret Brown | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Emma Brown, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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UntitledHello! I’m Emma and I am from Glasgow, Scotland and I am studying the MLitt Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling.

I originally did my undergraduate degree at the University of Strathclyde (which is in Glasgow) in English but before the course was even over, I decided that I would like to pursue a career in Publishing. It took a while to decide, but eventually I came to the conclusion the Stirling was the best place to do this, especially for someone whose previous experienced only went as far as to edit friends’ essays and short story pieces!

While I am most interested in entering the Editorial side of the business, I am also intrigued by copyright laws and all the issues that surround it.

I’m looking forwards to seeing how this particular chapter in my life plays out and am excited to learn more about the inner workings of the publishing industry. Given the rapid changes publishing is currently undergoing, it shall certainly be interesting to be a part of the future of publishing and to see what new advances may be made! As Buzz Lightyear may say: “To infinity! And beyond!”

You can follow me on Twitter


Paula de Lucas Gudiel, MLitt Publishing 2014-2015

October 18th, 2014 by Paula De Lucas Gudiel | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Paula de Lucas Gudiel, MLitt Publishing 2014-2015

Paula profile pictureHello there!

My name is Paula and I’m from Spain. I landed in Stirling after living in Iceland for three years (I know, quite a difference). I decided to join this degree because, yes, even though it’s a cliche, I love books. And literature. While studying my BA in English literature and linguistics in Complutense University in Madrid I always felt that I was meant to work in this field. Not only I loved reading, but I always felt curious about what was behind a book: all the people investing some of their time and their lives in something that is going to make an impact in other’s life. Or even change them. Because that can happen, a book can define your personality, change your attitude and teach you a lot of things. And I always wanted to be part of that world.
While in Iceland, I worked in a bookshop for a short period of time, so that completely verified what I was considering. I had visited Scotland a couple of years before, and I fell in love with the country. For that reason, I thought that this MLitt in Publishing in Stirling would be the perfect combination. And now I know that it was an excellent decision.
So if you want to know more about me, you can follow me on twitter. And if you want to know even more, this is my blog.

Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber

October 17th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Behind the Digital Scenes at Faber & Faber
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FFAs the incredibly honoured 2013 winner of the Faber & Faber prize for Digital Innovation, I travelled down to London for an incredible two-day tour behind the digital scenes at Faber.

I visited three amazing departments with digital publishing at their core: Digital, Faber Factory and Marketing. And what was surprising was how digital was intrinsic to each, and yet, they were completely different.

The Digital department made the nerdish inner me very happy. Running through Faber’s app history, from the innovative The Waste Land app through its infamous Malcom Tucker and stunning Shakespeare apps, we arrived at its newest release The Animator’s Survival Kit. Faber took the teaching aid for animation and cartoon drawing by renowned artist Richard Williams and translated it into a digital format as only it could, once again breaking the mould for digital. The Survival Kit uses digital to teach, introducing features that add to the text, such as controllable animation sequences to see frame-by-frame movement, grasping a truth that not many understand: digital cannot simply be a copy of a paper product. The best bit, however, was when I got the chance to give feedback on the digital brief for an upcoming app… very exciting.

Suitably geared up from a morning in apps, I moved on to find out more about Faber Factory and its digital services for publishers. I was a starstruck in a different way, as I’d seen Faber Factory, one of the driving forces in the UK behind digitalisation among the smaller publishers, first-hand in my internship and repeatedly in my digital-focused dissertation. While gains of digital can be immense, the cost is prohibitive for small publishers, and increasingly large players in the market leave little room. And that is where the incredibly enthusiastic Factory team come in, managing, converting, and negotiating on behalf of their clients. I had a great time finding out more on what they did, and left very much convinced that one of the very few publishers offering services is doing it right.

A screenshot from Claire Jeffery’s prize-winning Jekyll & Hyde app

The next day I ventured further up the stairs to find out more about digital marketing. I’ll admit I expected to hear the usual vague buzzwords: ‘social media’, ‘online presence’, ‘SEOs’, etc. So when I actually arrived at the department it was refreshing to discover more about digital marketing beyond social media and videos. I saw how the traditional eclectic Faber was balanced with a new digital approach based on big data. Faber is one of the publishers just beginning to explore big data and it is amazing how much can be revealed. A search for my favourite author Jasper Fforde revealed key phrases, new releases, who was talking about him, which websites they visited… It was incredible and showed the impact that digital innovation is having on marketing. What I appreciated in my visit to marketing in Faber was the shift to a targeted approach based on statistics and information with the same heart and passion underneath, exactly as I’d always thought the process should be.

I saw three different sides to digital in my visit, each different and each needed. But what also really struck me was how, in little under a year through the Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling, I’d gone from knowing a little about the publishing process to having a in-depth understanding not only of traditional publishing but also of the challenges and opportunities of digital publishing. I found myself debating all sorts of related issues with very passionate people and that was what struck me. To get into publishing you have to be absolutely passionate for what you want do. Every comma in every book, every new innovation, every campaign and every interaction along the chain is driven by people who care deeply about publishing.

On a personal note, there are a couple of things I will take away from this.

(1) Always say yes to a free book.

(2) There is only one way a literary trip to London should end: an Agatha Christie play, a visit to Baker Street and the exploration of many bookshops.

(3) Be completely and utterly passionate in everything you do.

I’d like to thank all the people from the University of Stirling and Faber & Faber who made the trip possible and everyone on the two-day tour who were so welcoming and encouraging.

Claire Jeffery now works at Prepress Projects in Perth.