SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit

November 1st, 2016 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit
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On Thursday 27th October, the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland organised the first editorial event of the year, which took place in Edinburgh at the David Hume Tower. If you are considering a career in the publishing industry, editorial is one of the top choices on the list, functioning as the fundamental department of a publishing company.

The panel of the event, chaired by Rosie Howie, Publishing Manager of Bright Red, consisted of three highly experienced people in editorial departments: Jo Dingley of Canongate Books, the freelancer editor Camilla Rockwood and Robbie Guillory of Freight Books. All speakers shared their experiences on publishing and the reasons why they chose editorial in particular.

Most of the speakers started as editorial assistants, making their way up as editors. All of them emphasized the fact that editorial is a matter of choice and discovery, with Jo and Camilla highlighting the special moment when they get the finished book on their hands, as a reward of working in editorial and one of the top reasons they chose it as a career path.

Communicating with the author and establishing a close relationship with him is an essential part of working in editorial. Apart from the strong engagement with the author, commissioning editors tend to work directly with the author’s agent as well. One of the key parts of editorial, after author care, is to read carefully the manuscripts and share your opinion with the editorials colleagues at weekly meetings, as Jo points out.

People who work in editorial spend a large amount of time considering submissions and familiarising with the house style. Editors and proofreaders should be careful “not to get involved with the content of the manuscript when editing one”, Camilla warns. A useful advice was the fact that editors should be careful with judgement and suggestions as some authors get quite sensitive and over-protective of their manuscripts. This is the reason why editors should approach authors carefully when answering to queries, encouraging face to face meetings with them.

Robbie emphasized that editorial is not “exam marking”, it is a service: “editing is not about eliminating errors; you’ve got to be really curious about things and ideas”. This is one of the hard parts of the job, along with the fact that editors have to manage authors’ expectations, as the target is to keep the cost as low as possible. Jo advised that it is important for editors to be friendly and give reasons to potential rejections of manuscripts: “You should give feedback to rejections and explain what you are looking for at the moment, by giving more information”.

For students who are particularly interested in editorial, all the speakers advised to “put yourself out there” and find internships and work placements for experience. Furthermore, as Camilla suggested, even working in retailing as a bookseller, offers you experience and shows that you are interested in the publishing industry. Familiarising yourself with software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Microsoft Excel, in addition of being aware of new technology and tools is essential. One of the most important advice was also being active on social media and knowing what’s current in the industry. Although it’s a highly competitive industry, all the panel encouraged people who pursue a career in editorial “not to give up”, as trying other areas of publishing is a great way to end up in the department they desire.

By Elina Kyriazi-Perri

Insights from Freight Books Publisher, Adrian Searle

November 1st, 2016 by danny_frew | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Insights from Freight Books Publisher, Adrian Searle
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Adrian Searle is Publisher at Glasgow-based Freight Books and Director of sister company Freight Design. He is also founding co-editor of Scotland’s leading literary magazine, Gutter and holds degrees in History and Creative Writing, obtained at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow respectively.

On the 26th of October 2016, students and members of the public had the chance to hear Searle discuss publishing matters at the University of Strathclyde as part of the ongoing Nuts and Bolts guest speaker series. In the space of an hour Searle offered up a great deal of insight in to both Freight Books and publishing in general.

Some highlights follow.

On the timely arrival of Gutter

 For those unfamiliar, Gutter is a boundary-pushing and award-winning literary magazine published by Freight Books which focuses on new Scottish writing. The 15th issue has just recently been released.

Why has Gutter been so successful? It partly boils down to timing. The magazine launched during an industry slump which prompted many publishers, particularly in England, to ruthlessly exorcise any immediately unprofitable talent from their lists.

Adopting a more venturous approach, Gutter thrived by drawing on the growing pool of artists seeking out viable and more welcoming channels for their work.

 On vision, insight and the challenges of standard practice

Searle puts forth the notion that publishing works best when the whole process takes lead from an individual’s clear and focused vision, although he also attests to the need for a solid sounding board – he and AyeWrite! programmer Bob McDevitt have indulged in plenty of shop talk over games of squash.

Technically an “outsider” to the industry, Searle has held multiple roles in marketing and business development out with the publishing sector – enabling him to astutely pinpoint that the publishing industry continues to be beset by not-quite-optimized standard practice models within distribution, selling, returns and printing.

On the risks of a literary focus

Searle affirms that the publishing of literature, particularly literary fiction and poetry, is a labour of love and at times very much a luxury.

For as much pleasure and pride as there is to be gained in publishing Searle stresses repeatedly that, above all else, publishing is a business and a tough one at that. In divulging a 1 in 7 strike rate for profitability in fiction publishing, Searle makes it clear that you simply cannot eradicate risk in this industry, but that you should still seek to defend against it.

The answer for Freight Books has been to develop a diverse list and an appreciation for the need to simultaneously embrace what we continue to refer to as high and low brow culture. In addition to publishing literary fiction, Freight Books have wisely entered the burgeoning humour market with titles such as 101 Uses for a Dead Kindle, which Searle himself authored. A point of pride I’m sure, for sub-rights were later sold to Verlagsgruppe Random House and the publication received favourable attention from the German weekly news magazine, Stern.

On the tricky business of marketing Scottish literature

Searle made it clear that marketing Scottish literature can be a complicated and often frustrating task. Freight Books have an impressively diverse list of authors and titles, but they are undeniably a Scottish publisher with a plethora of identifiably Scottish titles.

Problematically, many parties – at home and abroad – readily compartmentalize Scottish identities and knowingly cultivate and capitalize on the prevailing clichés of our times.

Generally speaking, we should pause to deliberate over the ways in which Scottish identities are broadcast across the world stage. Within the publishing industry itself, the whole messy business of harnessing stereotypical national identities can be a bit of a double-edged sword.

For example, a title with a strong local focus – say a crime novel set in Glasgow – can welcomingly drive sales in that respective locale.

In another instance, many readers and publishing houses will willingly accept titles that fit comfortably in to pre-existing schemas for Scottishness – the most prevalent two being the gritty tartan-noir novel or the drug and profanity fueled Welshian narrative.

As to any deviations? Well, sadly the fix for such titles is to avoid branding them as overtly Scottish in a bid to render them in a robustly marketable light – at least until any potential literary awards can be obtained, which may absurdly help to mitigate any undeserved backlash towards issues of national identity.


Strathclyde’s Nuts and Bolts lecture series continues in the Lord Hope Building, Room 228 on the 9th of November at 1pm. Visiting speaker is award-winning novelist Cathy Forde. All are welcome and the event is free, non-ticketed.

by Danny Frew



Yao Huang, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 1st, 2016 by yao_huang | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Yao Huang, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17
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img_6111Hi, everyone! 大家好! I am Yao Huang, from Beijing, China. You can call me Yuna. I chose to study Publishing as I love reading, love the world created by words, full of imagination and magic. I enjoy swimming in all types of books with good qualities.

When I was an undergraduate, my subject was Communication (Digital Publishing), which included courses in Communication, Editing of Digital Media, Publication regulation and so on. As I know, the MLitt in Publishing Studies is professional and famous at Stirling University, so it is a good opportunity for me to receive further training. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that the culture difference has a great attraction.

In my opinion, publishing is a promising and active industry, especially digital publishing. When I went deeply into this area, I realized that there are both challenge and opportunity at the same time. With the development of technology, the production, operation mode, business model and even the way of reading constantly developing, they are not always the same. I learned to use software to make an e-book or e-magazine in class, which would help me follow the trends. I also learnt about how to set a website through writing codes in person, which were really complicated, but good experiences.

Impressively, in the fourth year, I got a precious chance to work in Science Press of China Science Publishing Media Co., Ltd, as an intern editing assistant. The editor was very professional and taught me a lot including clearing each step of publishing a title. This process generally takes around 3 months. Fortunately, I took one month to proofread a manuscript like a copy editor, which was challenging, because I didn’t have any relevant experience before, and that was the first time I felt my decision was changing a book.

I believe that in the near future, we will step into a digital age. A significant purpose I came to Stirling was to acquire academic knowledge, work on the principle of traditional publishing and the practice of digital publishing. I think what I get from here will help me leisurely face this unpredictable and exciting industry.

I have to say that I am experiencing a culture shock, a new way of thinking often makes me confused, but it is okay, that’s probably the interesting point.