Floris Books – Chani McBain & Sarah Webster

October 30th, 2017 by Kate Bailey | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Floris Books – Chani McBain & Sarah Webster
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Our visiting speakers in week five were Chani McBain and Sarah Webster (a graduate from our MLitt) from the marketing department of Floris Books in Edinburgh. 70% of the books Floris publishes are children’s books, making them Scotland’s largest children’s publisher. The other 30% of their output are books for adults based around Rudolph Steiner education, philosophy, and holistic living. Floris likes to keep most of their work in-house, so they use very few freelancers and the people that work there usually work on all of their titles. The exception is that they have one person working exclusively on the adult books because he has specialist knowledge of the subject.

Chani explained to us that all the departments in Floris work very closely to make sure that all the elements of a book related to one another. For instance, the content needs to be reflected in the blurb, in the cover design and in the marketing materials. Apparently this can lead to some very strange tasks being shared across departments! Chani told us that the week before she came to visit, she and one of the production controllers had been scribbling on a copy of their new sticker book to see if the paper used in it was also suitable for a colouring book they would like to release next year!

Sarah’s day-to-day work in the marketing department is quite varied. She writes and proofreads marketing materials such as ebulletins to be sent out by email telling people about their upcoming or newly-released titles. Sarah warned us not to write this kind of marketing off – it is still one of the most effective forms of marketing that Floris uses! Design also plays a big role in Sarah’s work, as she uses programs such as InDesign or PhotoShop to create posters for events, catalogues or other promotional material. One of the new marketing strategies that Floris tried for the first time this year was having a Snapchat filter available for visitors to the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where users could put their silhouette on the cover of Claire McFall’s Ferryman, which was published in June (see left). However, because Snapchat does not have live data analysis, they were not sure if it was a successful experiment or not!

When starting a new project, Chani says she finds it is helpful to imagine who her target consumer is for the book she is trying to market. She thinks about who they are, why they might be buying the book, how they might like to be contacted and where they might hear about the book. This helps her it market it towards this person in the most effective way. These things are obviously quite different for the children’s list and the adult’s list. For one thing, children are not the main consumers of children’s books, their parents are! So the children’s marketing is actually aimed at parents that might want to find their kids something to do on a long drive or while they are on holiday in Scotland. Whereas the adult’s books are more niche and the main consumers might look for them in speciality bookshops or hear about them online on community forums.

 Overall, Floris sounds like a really positive place to work and I am sure I was not the only person to leave Chani and Sarah’s talk to think seriously about a career in marketing!

 Picture credit: Floris Books

Eilidh Sutherland, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 30th, 2017 by Eilidh Sutherland | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Eilidh Sutherland, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

Ever since nursery my imagination has seeped into my work, either through drawings or stories. Fast-forward to high school where I studied To Kill a Mockingbird at Higher level – this was when I knew I wanted a career involving books. As many Publishing students do, I studied English Literature at university (alongside Film and Media). Throughout my undergraduate course I thoroughly enjoyed critical writing, particularly covering the themes of feminism and psychoanalysis. I wrote my dissertation on the different ways in which Jane Austen has been reinvented in contemporary culture, through film, fan-fiction, and guidance books. By the end of my Honours a decision was upon me – do I go down the academic route, or into the publishing industry?

Stirling’s MLitt in Publishing Studies caught my eye when I first moved to Stirling in 2013. I decided I’d prefer a career in the publishing industry; it seems more accessible with many opportunities. As well as this, I think there is a magic surrounding bookshops – I used to go to Waterstones on my break from work just to relax and zone out. Like most book fanatics, I have a big collection of books and I wanted to learn why and how they’re made.

So far I am thoroughly enjoying the course, particularly the social aspect because I was so used to studying and completing assignments alone. The best thing about the course is the range of publishing departments covered, including editorial, marketing, design, and production. Throughout university I’ve proofread many of my friends’ essays. As a member of the ‘grammar police’ (apparently), I am gravitating toward copy-editing and proofreading roles, but I expect this may change. I am currently going to as many SYP events, book fairs/festivals, book launches, etc. as I can fit in, and applying for internships.

Find me on Twitter or have a nosey on my personal blog! ????

The Twitter War

October 25th, 2017 by Hollie Monaghan | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Twitter War
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Now that the dust has settled, wounds have healed and friendships have been, somewhat, repaired it is a good time to write about the social media training class on the 5th of October; or as it is now dubbed ‘The Twitter War’. As part of the MLitt Publishing Studies course, we had a class in which we set up Twitter accounts in order to network and establish contacts. All of that may sound nice and harmless but a hardback copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant (yes that Kazuo Ishiguro) was announced as a prize for whoever had the best tweet and that was when all hell broke loose.

We were to tweet using the hashtag #stirpub and within minutes Twitter was inundated with our very vocal and vicious fight for the book. As fellow publishing students Laura and Katie put it:

Group B was the first group to to have this class and a normally chatty class was rendered silent during this Twitter battle with all that could be heard being the furious tapping at keyboards and the occasional chuckle. Nothing will get a class of book-lovers more motivated than the incentive of a free book. There were some fantastic and hilarious tweets and there were also ones that very much advocated for violence as this tweet shows (a deserving winner I shall say from a completely unbiased viewpoint…)

Our professor Claire had put up a document on Google where we could see everyone’s Twitter handles and follow everyone on the course. This meant that we could all find each other easily and interact, yet it also meant we could attack each other in our bid for a free book! Additionally, a list of Twitter handles of influential and interesting people in publishing was made available to us as a starting point in who to follow in order to gain a wider understanding of the relationship between publishers, authors and social media. Then, many puns, insightful comments, insults and cat pictures later a winner was chosen:

So well done to Marija for her excellent tweet (and the cat picture from her other tweet which surely helped towards her win)! As amusing, and brutal, as the Twitter session was it did help us all to actively use our Twitters and interact not just with one another but with our lecturers and other people in publishing. An entire group of people were made social media savvy in just a few hours.  Looking at Twitter recently the social media class seems to have worked its magic as so many of the 2017/18 publishing students are still using the platform to interact with authors and publishers and even bookshops. There has even been a book club Twitter made for those on the course at stirpubclub. In essence, the social media class worked well, but perhaps just a bit too well.

Credit goes to:






Hollie Monaghan


Hunter Sleeth, MLitt in Publishing 2017-2018

October 25th, 2017 by Hunter Sleeth | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Hunter Sleeth, MLitt in Publishing 2017-2018

In middle school, at a parent teacher conference, my teachers told my parents that I needed to read less in class. I was the only kid in my class to ever get told off for reading. In school. From that point on, I realised my future had to revolve around books.

I ended up studying Book and Media and English Literature at the University of Toronto. A program of study in which reading was essential, and I couldn’t get in trouble for it. For four years, I have focused on the stories and the characters in novels. As much as writing my own book sounds thrilling, I want to help get authors work onto book shelves for other people to enjoy.

Having spent my entire life in Canada, deciding to attend the University of Stirling was a very easy one to make. Books have always taken me on great adventures, but now I get to spend my days exploring a new country. I am interested in publishing because it means I will get to work with books; but at the moment, I do not know what part of the business I want to work in. I am excited to learn about all aspects, and eventually finding the right fit for me.

You can find me on Twitter.




Shangbin Qu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 23rd, 2017 by Shangbin Qu | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Shangbin Qu, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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Hi, my name is Shangbin Qu, you can also call me Annie.  I am currently studying  Publishing Studies course at University of Stirling. I graduated from University of Stirling and Heibei Normal University with 2:1 BA joint degree in Translation and Interpreting.

This is my second year at Stirling. I didn’t change locations for Master studies because I really enjoy in life here, people are so friendly and the campus is beautiful.

From January 2017, I started to take the job as Chinese Student Ambassador at the international office, mainly to help the recruitment manager towards China applications, and a major part of my job is to operate and manage the Wechat public account for Stirling University, which is a widely-used app among Chinese.  By doing this, I known about e-publishing and  interested in publishing studies.

I hope my future career could deal with copyright management, or publishing relating to photo or fashion field.

Professional Publisher’s Association – Laura Dunlop

October 23rd, 2017 by Megan Carney | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Professional Publisher’s Association – Laura Dunlop

On Thursday October 19th, visiting speaker Laura Dunlop, Business Manager at Professional Publisher’s Association (PPA), injected our class with a new enthusiasm for the magazine industry. Admittedly, magazine publishing is not an area that I myself had considered greatly prior to this presentation. To my shame, I found that I had been completely unaware of the industry’s magnitude and significance in the UK, an ignorance which Laura certainly has remedied.

The magazine industry in Scotland is far bigger than I had anticipated, with PPA representing over 700 magazines. This industry, valued at a whopping £154 million, employs approximately 1300 full time staff, 560 part time staff and 4400 freelancers. PPA does an immense amount of work within the industry, such as promoting members, organizing events (such as the PPA Awards), lobbying the government on issues which affect the magazine industry, giving advice to people both working in the industry and those looking to break into it, as well as supporting new magazines. One area which PPA works in which particularly caught my interest was environmental regulations. As part of their services PPA do green audits for companies and show them how they can be more environmentally friendly and efficient in their business. Bearing this in mind, one would be forgiven for thinking that PPA had large offices, filled with workers who were all run off their feet. Laura informed us however that this is not the case at all, and that she does the bulk of this work, impressively claiming “I am PPA”.

Along with her, Laura had brought a box filled with an array of magazines, from The Skinny to Hot Rum Cow. From looking through these, we were able to see how differently each magazine is designed, in terms of both layout and materials. For example, while The Skinny very much resembled a newspaper, Hot Cow Rum seemed far more highbrow, like a luxury buy for the reader. These were quite different to the classic idea I had of magazines, with glossy covers and celebrities on the cover page. Many of these magazines had varying types of paper, beautiful photography, humorous satirical articles and interesting typefaces. A magazine which stuck out for me was Controlled Demolition, which featured very little text coupled with interesting modern art and photography. Each of the magazines Laura showed us fell into one of the three areas of periodical publishing, these being consumer, business to business (B2B) and contract. However, we were primarily looking at consumer publications.

We were shown a list of the top twenty selling magazine publications in Scotland, and I will admit I was surprised by the top-dogs in the industry. The top three, in order, are ADSA, Tesco and TV Choice. Laura explained to us that often magazines which do not charge their readers, such as ASDA or Tesco, have the biggest readership, as people can idly pick up the publication without considering whether or not they wish to purchase it. These magazines would be subsidized by companies advertising in the magazines or sometimes by content marketing, which is when journalists are paid by external bodies, such as the government, to write an article. I found it interesting to learn that print magazines are making a come-back in a big way against the tide of online magazine publishing. Laura explained that this was a reaction to the unreliability of the context in which your magazine might appear on someone’s newsfeed, it could be alongside inappropriate material, which might affect someone’s inclination to click on it.

The presentation ended with a lively discussion, where Laura gave us a chance to come up with our own idea for a magazine as a class, and consider how we might go about publishing it. We came up with an idea for a magazine aimed at the Polish community in the UK, wittily named ‘Pol-ish’. We considered our target audience, the contents, where it would be sold, how it might be designed, what the price might be, and how it would be distributed. In doing this, we covered some of the major components of magazine publishing, giving us an enthusiasm for the work. Certainly, I found that after Laura’s invigorating talk I was considering working in the magazine industry for the first time, and I am sure I was not alone in this. On behalf of the class, I would like to thank her for sharing her enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity with us all.

David MacDonald Graham, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 20th, 2017 by David Graham | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on David MacDonald Graham, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

There is a section in C.Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, where a lion roars the world into existence, that may be a simplistic reduction but it sums up my approach to most challenges, sometimes you have to roar your world into existence. The Magician’s Nephew, along with Tolkien’s Hobbit were some of the first books I read, enough to captivate the imagination of a young mind and imprint the infinite possibilities and mallability of the written word. My local library also had a wide selection of graphic novels, including Asterisk, Tintin, and surprisingly some Moebius. We’ll pick up on that point later.

Words, whether read, written or performed, have fascinated me ever since. Stories are everywhere, especially in my home city of Stirling. Having returned after too many years away, you can still feel the legends of Wallace, Bruce et all in the City’s foundations. You can also feel the vibrancy around the M.Litt in Publishing Studies, a course I am very proud to have been accepted on. I came to publishing in a less than stereotypical fashion, I began my working life as a stage actor. Emerging myself in the poetics of ancient Greece or Shakespeare’s grand tragedies, and in the process earning myself a reputation as an ‘academic actor’. It was a label that was certainly apt, I would delve into the histories and culture of the plays I was in, eventually resulting in a desire to study at B.A level. I studied Theatre Studies at the University of York, focusing my dissertation on the progressive morality of Christopher Marlowe in an era where he was perhaps, a man out of time and possibly the very first spy on her majesty’s secret service. Later I returned to acting with a stint at Newcastle’s Performance academy, progressing to a second B.A Hons in Drama from Sunderland. I produced, wrote and performed in a one man show with the premise ‘What if Edgar Allan Poe wrote your life?” as my final piece.  This also kicked off a continuing obsession with Gothic literature and the art of the horror story, I soon devoured the works of Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Stephen King and Lovecraft. Ironically it was the graphic novel adaptation of Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones that rekindled the childhood passion I had for the comic medium, which had never conclusively left me, but I had never considered it an area of study. The Comic Studies M.Litt. at the University of Dundee soon changed that and I found myself immersed in the sheer flexibility of the medium, every genre imaginable from science fiction to the biographic (Read Maus  by Art Spiegelman for a keen example) and the historical had been adapted at some point. Comics are not just superheroes, comics are for everyone and there is a comic that will resonate with everybody.  It was no surprise that I wanted to produce my own, which in typical fashion led me to an M.Litt. in Writing Study and Practice to improve my creative writing skills. Subsequently I firmly believe that to understand publishing in all its forms, then you also have to see it from the other side. The writers of the future are out there, in any genre or medium, they are out there looking for a platform. Publishing is not simply a business, it is a calling. A call to enhance and progress literature as both a business and an art form, at some point it can be argued that it blurs the line of both. Market it, nurture it, make the absolute best of it. Every Artist’s work deserves the best packaging.

So, to bring it back full circle to the lion, roar your world into existence, nurture and capture the imagination of others, help them to roar. That’s what I aim to bring to publishing.

I have a keen interest in genre, ranging from the aforementioned Gothic to the fantastical, crime, science fiction. The speculative and everything in between, new trends and the emergence of sub-genres (and their applications in a business sense) in the ongoing evolution of the written word.

But to be more concise, here’s the cliff notes.

Pop culture lover, genre enthusiast. Passionate about music, performance, comics and all forms you can write in, about, and everything in-between. Previous dissertations include: Sexual fluidity in the modern graphic novel, Marlowe and Morality, a creative writing portfolio and the Connections between ritual and creativity.
Actor, Writer, Presenter, future Publisher, moonlights as a Bingo Caller.

Christina Neuwirth, PhD in Publishing Studies

October 20th, 2017 by Christina Neuwirth | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Christina Neuwirth, PhD in Publishing Studies
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Working Title: Women of Words: Gender equality in contemporary writing and publishing in Scotland

Topic: In collaboration with Scottish Book Trust, my research aims to identify the barriers to women’s equal and effective involvement in writing and publishing in Scotland, and find ways in which those barriers might be overcome.

Research interests: creative writing, publishing, communities, intersectional feminism, LGBTQ+ studies, home, language learning, magical realism, cities (created, constructed, rebuilt), identity.


Studentships: SGSAH AHRC Creative Economies Studentship (CES) Women of Words

Christina on Twitter: @gwynn255
Christina on LinkedIn


Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bookshop Crawl, or the Power of Twitter
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I must admit that when we were first told that interacting on Twitter was essential to the development of our professional life in the publishing industry, there was a part of me that considered pursuing an immediate career change. I was never the one to thrive on social media, even my Facebook account felt like too much at times. However, seeing as I didn’t really have much choice (one of our assignments on the course involves live tweeting), I decided to give it a go. A couple of days later I found myself joining a spontaneous bookshop crawl organized by complete strangers…and all because of Twitter.

It was through following the Twitter account of Edinburgh’s City of Literature that I found out about 7 October being Bookshop Day. Then, using the traditional Google search I tried to look for related events in Edinburgh. Imagine my disappointment when I found none. Reluctantly, I turned towards Twitter. Imagine my surprise when in seconds I had a potential outing organized. All it took was one search and two hashtags.

As it turned out, fellow publishers-to-be from Edinburgh Napier University were going to celebrate Bookshop Day in the best possible way, that is with a Bookshop Crawl. A brilliant concept that transforms the infamous British tradition of pub crawls into a nerdy day of rummaging through piles of books. Lea, my friend from the Stirling course, and I both loved the idea – it was an opportunity not only to indulge our predilection for buying new books, but also a great way to explore Edinburgh for the first time.

To begin with, we met the Napier students at the Edinburgh Bookshop. Definitely a good starting point: we arrived just in time to see the bookshop owner Marie put on a bright orange “Books are my Bag” T-shirt (BAMB is a nationwide campaign promoting reading and bookshops). She was clearly responsible for giving the whole bookshop a very friendly air – running to and fro, attending to individual customers with lots of enthusiasm and a great sense of humour. A quick browse through the shelves revealed that the bookshop had a very good selection of intriguing and thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction. The owners have put it this way: “If ‘Radio 4’ was a bookshop, it would be like this…”

The next bookshop we visited – Edinburgh Books in West Port – despite a close name resemblance, had a very different aura to it. It is one of the city’s most recognizable second-hand and antiquarian bookshops. The first thing you notice inside is an imposing head of a water buffalo hanging on the wall, a very characteristic hallmark. There is an incredible range of books on offer, but that’s not all: downstairs in the basement you can even purchase sheet music.


Clarence the water buffalo

West Port is also home to another one of Edinburgh’s second-hand bookshops that we visited as part of the bookshop crawl – Armchair Books. The abundance of books offered by Armchair was astonishing. Volumes were stacked to the ceiling and shelves squeezed into every possible nook. Also, the place was surprisingly busy, swarming with book lovers, who could not resist spending their Saturday among piles of antiquarian jewels.


The joy of finding old-time favoutites



Antiquarian jewels on display at Armchair Books


From Armchair Books we bookshop crawled to Transreal, a haven for science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Not being one myself, I decided to skip it and conclude the day in Blackwell’s bookshop. As an aspiring academic publisher I was astonished by the sheer size of the scholarly section. An enormous part of the shop was reserved for serious studies ranging from philosophy to marine biology.

All in all, the day was a great success. The event was certainly low-key, but that’s what made it special – from the bottomless sea of meaningless Twitter interactions we managed to fish out something sincere and worthwhile. At the end of the day, sitting on the steps of the Scott Monument – apparently the largest monument to a writer in the world – I thought to myself: Edinburgh really is a city of literature.

Ewa Balcerzyk, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Ewa Balcerzyk, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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As most people studying on my course at Stirling, I’m hoping turn my passion for books into a job in publishing. This brilliant idea first occurred to me during my undergraduate course (Mediterranean Civilisation at the University of Warsaw in Poland), when I was attending some basic editing classes. However, I chose not to give up cultural studies and to carry on with a postgraduate degree in the same area. In the meantime, to become acquainted with the publishing world, I attended a one-year postgraduate course in editing and publishing at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Thanks to the skills I acquired there I was able to start working as an editorial assistant in an academic journal at the Institute of Sociology (University of Warsaw). I have also done some proofreading for the Warsaw University Press.

My publishing ambitions are centred around academic books. For a lot of my peers this doesn’t seem to be the most thrilling part of the industry, but for me this is where the most important work is done. Already during my first year at the the university I felt that after graduating I would really miss being up to date with all that exciting research going on in the humanities. The problem was that the perspective of becoming an academic seemed a bit daunting to me – I didn’t want to spend my life separated from the rest of the world by the thick university walls. Then one summer day it dawned on me that by working in academic publishing I could have the best of both worlds – I could have a “real” job and at the same be involved in the process of developing new knowledge!

The first few weeks of the publishing course here at Stirling have definitely showed me that there is much more to publishing books than just copy-editing. What’s more important, they convinced me that with enough determination I too will soon be a professional publisher.

You can find me on Twitter.