Simon Appleby on Digital Marketing

November 10th, 2014 by Jennifer Katherine Hamrick | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Simon Appleby on Digital Marketing
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SimonApplebyThe fifth speaker on our Visiting Speaker Series is Simon Appleby, director of Bookswarm—a digital project agency which specialises in the publishing sector.

Simon joined the world of publishing through his self-taught experience and expertise in web development. Originally working for various companies as a project manager in sales, he began teaching himself coding and web creation during the ‘dot com boom’. Working at Lateral, an agency which worked closely with publishers, Simon began to build a strong network within the publishing sector and eventually moved on to Octopus Publishing as Digital Project Manager. There, he became involved in digitally converting print to ebooks and creating apps which acted as digital accompaniments to various print projects. In his spare time, Simon worked in his ‘bat cave’ on creating the online literary magazine BookHugger. Eventually, BookHugger turned into Nudge, a variety of publishing-related websites, and from here, Simon moved on to launch Bookswarm.

Bookswarm offers services such as website design, print design, eBook design, brand creation and development, and author video production to a number of clients including Octopus Publishing Group, Faber, Hodder & Stoughton and Gallic Books.

According to Simon, it is now much easier and cheaper to create websites for digital marketing. Below are some of his tips and tricks for making the most out of digital marketing:

  1. In digital marketing, the creative idea is more important than the technology used to produce it: start by creating good content rather than simply trying to make something viral. Digital marketing is all about making content compelling for your audience.
  2. Many digital marketing sites allow content to be embedded in other areas, including the publisher’s own website; it is simple to keep your sites up-to-date by embedding social media feeds.
  3. It is important to keep up with trends in digital marketing (for example, memes) in order to keep content fresh and appealing.
  4. Think carefully about how you invite reader engagement. You can’t assume foot-traffic or participation which can create gaping holes where you expected content to be.
  5. In a multi-device universe, be aware of the limitations of various user platforms; not all devices have keyboards for example. Also, make sure your sites work with different screen sizes.

Simon highlights some of the following sites as easy-to-use digital marketing platforms and includes unique ways to utilise them:

  1. Twitter— can be used to rejuvenate older content.
  2. Vine— these six-second clips can be used for fun author/title promotions. For instance, Saraband has used Vines to animate their books covers.
  3. Videos (e.g. YouTube)— Simon cautioned us about book trailers because you need to put a lot of thought into their content and execution. Plus, you need to make sure it gets lots of foot-traffic, otherwise it is pointless.
  4. Flickr— a great repository for your visual material.
  5. SoundCloud— an easy place to put up your audio material.
  6.— infographics are easy to create and make content visually appealing.
  7. Creatavist— multi-media project creation and management tool for writers and publishers.
  8. Reddit— social networking service with various online communities.


Simon, who works with many authors in digital marketing, gives the following advice to publishers for author marketing:

  • Be aware of how much your authors want to be involved in online content creation and marketing; some are masters at blogging while others want to be left alone to write their novels.
  • You need to be clear whether you are focusing on promoting the author or their title/series.
  • An author’s website should extend their brand and meet audience expectations.

In terms of publishers’ own websites, Simon suggests the following:

  • First, get a clear idea in your head about what your website’s main function is: is it to sell books? To publicise? Promote? Engage? What?
  • Don’t assume your audience is only concerned with your books; engage with lots of different cultural and trade issues that will extend your brand and invite more interest.
  • Think about where your content will come from: authors, users, social media, ect.
  • Decide whether people can buy products directly from your site or whether you will direct them to other retailers such as Amazon.


Simon’s pathway into publishing not only demonstrates how many diverse roles are needed in publishing, but also shows how essential digital marketing has become in an internet-dominated age. Simon’s message is very positive for those who shy away from technology: there are easy and dynamic ways to engage with digital media and marketing. With great content, you only need to know some online basics to create a fantastic digital marketing campaign.

The Electric Bookshop birthday party

November 5th, 2014 by Paula De Lucas Gudiel | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Electric Bookshop birthday party
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B0F7SsXCQAAz8GZOn Thursday, October 16th was the 4th birthday of the Electric Bookshop. They celebrated it with an event in Edinburgh in which attendants could enjoy wine, cupcakes and three wonderful speakers. At the beginning of the evening, the members of the organisation of the Electric bookshop, Claire Stewart, Peggy Hughes and Padmini Ray Murray, discussed what their favourite moments of the year were. Primarely, for new comers as me, this was very helpful to know more about what they focus on. The organisation holds events to congregate people from various fields: technology, publishing, design and literature. As intimidating as this mixture might sound, they can be proud for having a big participation in their debates.

B0F80beIcAEWLOxThe first speaker to participate was Kate Ho, Managing Director of Interface3, which designs and exciting customer branded experiences using innovative technologies (such as Augmented Reality, Mobile Games). At the moment, Kate Ho is focusing on educational games, and she spoke about her project Stobhill, a 3D interactive experience based on Edwin Morgan’s poem with the same name. The game is set in a scary abandoned hospital that shares the name with the title. The players are supposed to use the audio of three people and their stories related to the building to work on their achievements in the game, and so find about the disturbing plot and terrorific resolution.

B0GG7KPCUAAsKGMThe second speaker who took part in the event was Alan Trotter. He is a writer from Aberdeen, winner of the Sceptre Prize for emerging writers and currently studying his PhD in University of Glasgow, researching for his project called Bodies of work: unusual uses of the physical form of the book. His work is characteristic for his study on the difference between printed text and text on the screen (HTML). In his participation, he talked about the play with form and this web-experiment he is working on.

The last speaker in the evening was Rob Morgan. Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend the event physically, but when the venue is organised by technology geeks, there’s always a way to sort out difficulties, so we could enjoy of his participation through Skype. Rob Morgan is a game writer, narrative designer and voice director. His participation was about the control and content of the player in a videogame, since this is very different from those in books. Fielectric-logo2rst, he discussed how the player interacts in the game, how he can control the story and the plot, but also how some games don’t give the player any choices to develop the plot in the game. Regarding the content of a game, he also explained how to create characters that the players can be identified with, how to make it exciting and interesting so the player can work on the development of the character, since he is the one in control of the storyline in the videogame.

This event clearly brought together different fields that, actually, work together most of the times. At the same time, it also was enlightening to learn more about how technology, set in the modern world, and literature, existing since ancient ages, come along so well together.

Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland

November 4th, 2014 by Emma Margaret Brown | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland
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­The fourth speaker to come and visit us this year was Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland.

Marion Sinclair Source

She spoke to us about the overall state of publishing in Scotland and shared her perspective on the future of the publishing industry. She also shared a few stories about some of her early experiences working in the publishing industry. After graduating from the University of Stirling from this very same Publishing course (albeit, by her own admission, a number of years ago!), Marion’s journey in publishing began in a bookstore in Glasgow. One of her tasks was to sandpaper and polish down the covers of books that were to be returned to the publishers. Not exactly a glamourous start to a career! Yet Marion moved on from there to become one of the most prominent figures in Scottish publishing. Marion’s attitude towards publishing was wholly positive, telling us that by being on the MLitt we “are doing the right thing to get into publishing”.

After sharing some of her own experiences, Marion spoke about where Scotland currently stands within the larger publishing world. Marion shared that the Scottish Publishing industry is worth somewhere in the region of £350m, which, to help put this number in context, is the same value as the cashmere and smoked salmon industries. She stated that around 3,000 new books are published each year in Scotland alone, not including reprints or new editions. Publishing Scotland employs around 1,700 people directly and employs countless others indirectly. It should be noted here that these figures are rough estimates as trying to get the actual statistics on creative industries in Scotland is rather difficult. This difficulty is due to the very nature of the publishing industry, along with the problem of defining what counts as a publisher and what does not.

On the subject of publishing in Scotland, Marion shared that the very nature of Scottish publishing is that it is a niche market. But does this status as a niche market mean that if you publish in Scotland you need to identify as a Scottish publisher? It seems as though many of the larger houses avoid Scotland for this reason. Marion spoke about how there seems to be a pull towards London: many authors are drawn south sooner or later and major names in Scottish publishing sometimes leave to join the larger houses. Marion also mentioned the ongoing debate of whether being labelled as a ‘Scottish’ publisher is a good or a bad thing; it seems that the label can have both positive and negative effects for publishers. But as Marion said in her presentation, publishing has become a part of Scottish culture, particularly in Edinburgh, where “print and publishing go hand in hand”. The sheer size and volume of participants in the Edinburgh International Book Festival (to name just one of the many festivals which takes place each year) is a testament to Scotland’s strength and determination to remain prominent in the industry. Publishing Scotland is there to help Scottish publishers stay on track and continue to thrive.

Publishing Scotland turns 40 this year! Source

Speaking about Publishing Scotland, Marion explained that the organisation is there to support the “professional practice of publishing in Scotland”. With the help of Creative Scotland, Publishing Scotland is able to support a number of publishers of different sizes to ensure their on-going success. Publishing Scotland enables publishers to carry on with their work as they are supported and guided by a larger umbrella organisation that has the interests of the publishers at its heart. It is important to note that Publishing Scotland itself is not a literary organisation but a publishing members’ association. The organisation is there to support and encourage publishers.

The message that Marion left us with was, on the whole, a very positive one. Her outlook on publishing (not only in Scotland but worldwide) is that the industry is looking up. She said that while it can be difficult to get into, this is a very exciting time to be entering the industry. She encouraged us all to jump in and get involved in any way we can and to embrace any opportunity that comes along.

Lara Gascón, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

November 4th, 2014 by Lara Gascón | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Lara Gascón, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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10644737_10204869050711906_3492403795415800044_oMy name is Lara Gascón and I’m a Spanish, responsible and active girl who is very eager to work and learn new things. Having concluded my last year in the Faculty of Humanities at Pompeu Fabra University, I recently started a Master Degree in Publishing Studies at Stirling University.

During my previous studies, I had the opportunity to benefit from a syllabus based on knowledge of history, thought and aesthetic experience. Upon completing the training process, I acquired competences that made me suitable for being a critical reader.

On the one hand, the large amount of multicultural readings I worked with made me an open-minded person, an essential ability to take into account any proposed project without being influenced by the literary genre, the author or the manuscript source.

On the other, I learnt to appropriately summarize and integrate information contained in written texts, oral discourses and visual documents. Efficiency in finding and comparing information that reinforces the meaning of a text is important in documentary and graphic research, as well as an essential requirement for ensuring project success.

Particularly interested in marketing management, I want to focus my professional career in the publishing industry. Personally I’m really interested in becoming a publisher since I was an intern at Ara Llibres. Throughout my internship, I had the opportunity to take part in various stages of the editorial process (design, layout, correction, editing). The Master covers all the publishing procedures in a practical and specific way, which is another reason why I choose Stirling’s MLitt in Publishing Studies.

In a future, I would like to have the opportunity to contribute to the creation, design, editorial realization and production of reference works in the field of culture, history, territory and gastronomy, as well as the development of digital projects. And realizing this Master will be ideal to complement my acquired knowledge and work experience which will provide a great value to my professional career.

Employability and Publishing

November 4th, 2014 by Alec Spencer | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Employability and Publishing
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Illustration by John Griffiths in Penguins Progress 1935-1960    Penguin Books Ltd., September 1960

Alec Spencer, from our MRes in Publishing Studies, considers employability questions:

It seems to me, probably as it does to many observers and those within the publishing industry, that the publishing industry is in a period of massive change. The new technologies are impacting in many ways, and in ways still to be discovered. Were I to be a publisher, I would be only too well aware of the Henry Ford aphorism “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. Doing things the same way as in the past must surely lead to stagnation and extinction.

As someone not really contemplating a further career, I thought I might reflect on what an employer or recruiter is really looking for. While I would obviously want applicants to have the basic skills and competencies (skill set) required in the industry, what I would require is someone with flair, imagination and drive to take my company forward. In the end, an employer wants his or her company to be successful and make profit. To do so, the employee has to add value.

In an environment where there is competition for employment, employers can take their pick. From what I have said it is clear that simply having the requisite skill set may not be sufficient to propel the applicant into a job. In addition to luck or happenstance I would suggest that four things are required: First, the applicant has already shown flair and imagination in broadening their interests and skills, that they have additional ‘new’ skills in new technologies and new media (e.g. they can blog). Second, they can achieve, so that in addition to their academic and vocational successes, they can demonstrate achievement – that they have already done something of value (e.g. have a well established and well followed blog, developed a web-site, published something of their own). Third, they can demonstrate an energy which shows their drive and enthusiasm. It would be good to example an activity undertaken with passion which has a positive outcome. Finally, they have the capacity to translate this into an enticing application letter and CV.

As in good writing, or when meeting someone, it is the first few moments that have the highest impact. The short application letter must transmit the energy, accomplishments, and the potential for added value that the candidate brings.