Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101

March 13th, 2017 by rachel_mccann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101
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The Internships Anonymous panel at the recent SYP Scotland’s Publishing 101 conference (3rd March 2017) provided some valuable insight into ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of publishing internships.

Unfortunately, paid internships are hard to find in publishing, which is problematic as it limits the number of people who can afford to undertake unpaid internships. However, it can’t be denied that internships are vital in gaining experience, and give you an edge in applying for publishing jobs so it is helpful to try and do as many as possible.

Luckily, the Internships Anonymous panel provided a number of tips to help you secure that all-important internship:

  • Get in touch! Some places such as the Scottish Book Trust don’t advertise their internships, so there is no harm in sending an email to enquire;
  • Attend as many events as possible: this way you can keep up to date with everything that is happening in the industry. Most importantly, use these events as networking opportunities and talk to as many people as you can. Who knows where a simple conversation could lead?
  • Volunteer where and when you can: book shops and book festivals are excellent opportunities to learn more about the industry. If you have any free time, then you have time to find some relevant experience;
  • Remember: all experience is relevant experience, so just keep volunteering and applying for everything.

The following are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your internship, once you’ve managed to pin one down:

  • Remember that you are not there to do someone else’s job for them: you are supposed to be learning, not replacing a paid position;
  • Stuffing envelopes, making tea and walking the manager’s dog are not publishing skills, and therefore are not acceptable for an internship (no matter how cute the dog is);
  • Show off your talent and passion. Make the most of your time with the company and they will remember you;
  • The Scottish publishing industry is small and it is important to remember that everyone knows each other and talks to each other about their interns. That means if you impress in an internship, it could lead to something else. Likewise, if you make a bad impression, it could impact further internship and employment opportunities;
  • Proper guidance and feedback is crucial because you won’t learn anything otherwise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you are being asked to do something you are unfamiliar with. It’s better to ask for help than to mess up completely.

In some instances, an internship can result in a paid job, but does that make a bad internship worth it? The final, and most important, piece of advice from the Internships Anonymous panel was that it is ok to say no, especially if you feel like you’re being exploited, or what you are being asked to do makes you uncomfortable.

– By Rachel McCann


Luath Press Internship

March 9th, 2017 by emma_morgan | Posted in Blog, Internships | Comments Off on Luath Press Internship
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I went to work at Luath Press for a week during the University’s reading week, and it was definitely a different experience to other office experience that I had.  Operating from a house on the Royal Mile, with a window looking up to the Castle, it’s about as central as it’s possible to be.  I got there early on day one, thinking that it would probably take me a while to find it and this was a good idea because I took the most awkward, indirect route to get to the office, made even worse by the fact that I walked by the entrance twice before I found it.

Luath Press is a Edinburgh-based publisher of generally Scottish-centric fiction, non-fiction and they have produced a wide range of titles and genres in their decades of operation.  I was keen to find out how they operated, since the breadth of their titles and the length of time they had been in business seemed quite unique to me.

I was interested to see what this particular publishing office would look like, and it involved as many piles of books as I had hoped.  The staff were lovely, and busy, and so it was straight to work on day one.  I had hoped to gain some experience in editing since this was something I had quite enjoyed this during the publishing course.  I got to read multiple manuscripts, and mark up changes to be made in them.  There was also a few envelopes to be stuffed with invitations and promotion, which I have plenty of experience in from various past internships (publishing and otherwise).

I think what this internship highlighted for me was the importance of paying very close attention and double-checking your work.  While this was obviously something I knew before, I got to see the level of personal attention which can be offered by an editor on staff of a small publisher to an author and a book, and the importance of being willing to pay this level of attention and devote that time was clear throughout the week at Luath.

I also enjoyed the broad range of duties and roles which were taken on by the people involved.  I liked the idea of working with a small publisher because of the ability to gain experience across a range of departments, and I think this was clear at Luath.  Everyone was involved and their opinions considered, and while each person had a clear role that they were tasked with, I liked the supportive atmosphere which I think is far more common at small publishers than large businesses.

It was lovely to work in Edinburgh, but I was very quickly aware of the hidden cost of working on the Royal Mile, right next to the castle.  Bagpipes.  Hour after hour of bagpipes.  This was however, a small price to pay for a really fun and hands-on internship in which I learned a lot about manuscripts and the role of editor.  It was great to see how a publisher of this size and scale related to their authors and how they operated.  I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to do this internship and feel like I got chances to do a lot more and sample far greater areas than I would have expected in just a week.

New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling

March 1st, 2017 by Sharna | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling
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Okay, to start, a disclaimer: I wasn’t originally going to cover this section of the Scottish Book Trade Conference, but I was so inspired by Crystal Mahey-Morgan, that I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity! I mean, it could just be because I was so enamoured with her South London accent during the  presentation (we all miss home in different ways!) but beyond that, she made some really important points. So here goes.

How many debut authors in Britain do you think were black males last year? Definitely a few, right? At least a handful?

Just one… Mahey-Morgan announces. I’m shocked, I look over at a few people and they’re clearly a bit shocked as well. You hear about publishing trying to branch out diversity-wise, but it’s pretty evident from this statistic that it’s just not happening all at once.

Rewinding a little, Mahey-Morgan then shows a presentation about her company’s (OWN IT!) recent project Don’t Be Alien. Don’t Be Alien started life as an interactive book, incorporating text, animation, and music for a fully immersion experience. This version retails at 99p. But it doesn’t stop there. As Mahey-Morgan explains, it is important for OWN IT! to cover a range of platforms in order for it to reach its target audience; those who would rather download a song or video onto their smartphones than a book (16-24). Therefore, you can buy the Don’t Be Alien track from iTunes for 79p and corresponding t-shirts for £30. Cross-platform! It’s a really well thought out way to get a younger audience to connect to the story. As well as this, when OWN IT! were releasing Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man, they put on a launch event at Hackney Empire, which just so happened to sell out its 1300 ticketed seats. Pretty good going and is also proof that people are interested! People will pay for these things and they want to see these authors at events and buy these books.

Mahey-Morgan also explains the difference in the OWN IT! business model from regular publishers. Instead of paying their authors an advance, they split the profits of every outlet 50/50 with the author. The average annual income for an author is about £11,000. That’s less than minimum wage, which is quite frankly ridiculous. But this different business model would explain why No Place to Call Home author JJ Bola chose OWN IT! over several other publishers in a high-stakes auction.

When asked about branching out her storytelling lifestyle brand, Mahey-Morgan insists that she wants her company to publishing diversely throughout the country as well as globally, and in spite of their .london domain, they are not London-specific.

The most important point (in my eyes) that Mahey-Morgan made during her presentation is that publishers shouldn’t be publishing BAME authors because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. I mean, it is the right thing to do but publishers should be championing these authors; they should be publishing BAME works because they want to and because they believe in the content, not just because they’re obligated to!

You can follow Crystal Mahey-Morgan and OWN IT! on twitter @CrystalMMorgan and @OWNITLDN or you can check out their shop and support them (do support them, because they’re doing great things!) at their website:

– Sharna Vincent