Chi Mo MLitt in Publishing 2017-2018

November 30th, 2017 by Chi Mo | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Chi Mo MLitt in Publishing 2017-2018

2016 The Book Fair of HongKong

Hello everyone, my name is Chi Mo, you can call me Jennifer. I come from China.

I worked for three years at the publishing company. The publishing company is the Hong Kong Commercial Press, which publishes academic books, especially in dictionary publishing. This is a company with more than 100 years of history, mainly for the Hong Kong and Southeast Asian book market. My main job is to design the book’s cover and typography. I use Photoshop and Indesign.

I was impressed by the fact that in the spring of 2014, I and Hong Kong Education Books Co., Ltd. co-published “one hundred thousand why” series of books, that time and education books editor exchanges, let me have an understanding of the editorial work. This series of books became the best book of the Hong Kong Book Fair in 2014.

I made the book “Hong Kong Geography”, “Hong Kong Literature Department”, “Emergency Room Story 2” and many other books, respectively, 2015 and 2016 Hong Kong Book Fair Best Book Award.

As far as I know, the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling is professional and famous, so this is a great opportunity for me to receive further training. Hopefully here you can learn the complete publishing process, including editing, design, and printing.

Saltire Society judging experience

November 30th, 2017 by Marija Katiliute | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society judging experience

This October I got a chance to be a shadow panel judge for the Saltire Society. Every year, the society hosts a literary awards ceremony to celebrate the best of Scottish literature, be it books written by Scots, people living in Scotland, or stories that relate to Scottish people, their history and culture.

As shadow panel judges, applicants such as myself were split into different category groups – Fiction, First Book, Poetry, Non-Fiction – and were asked to read the shortlisted books with a critical eye. I was part of the First Book shortlist reading group, which included six books in a variety of genres including memoir, thriller and fiction: Fallow by Daniel Shand; Language of My Choosing by Anne Pia; Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers; The Caseroom by Kate Hunter; Goblin by Ever Dundas; and Beneath the Skin by Sandra Ireland.

We gathered in the Saltire Society office hidden just off the Royal Mile in November, where Catriona, the SYP Scotland co-chair, greeted us with biscuits, tea, and coffee. Overall, there were four other students that were part of the discussion, one studying English at University of Edinburgh, and three from the publishing course at Napier. Because of the diversity and our understanding of the book industry, the discussion felt very relaxed and friendly. It was also the very first time we were all involved in the process of judging books, and we enjoyed such an experience without much pressure. It was nice to finally meet some students from another publishing course and hear how they are getting along too.

As the discussion went on, we’ve established strong and weak contenders for the prize. We talked about each book individually, touching upon character development, storyline and ideas. We offered our own input on how the books could be improved and themes that could work much better in each context. These are some notes from our discussion:

We thought Fallow had a good representation of the Scottish landscape, and felt like a well-executed road-trip thriller. Mary’s the Name, similarly, provided a good look into Scottish culture and small-town life through the point of view of a child, and with plenty of humour involved. Goblin and Beneath the Skin had a lot of gory similarities when it came to the storyline, and although some of the scenes were a bit too gruesome and made us uncomfortable, both were books that we couldn’t put down. We agreed the historical research that was put into The Caseroom made the book feel very authentic. And lastly, Language of My Choosing had good pacing for a biography – Pia structured and separated it into themes rather than having a sequential story – which made it more enjoyable to read.

After the discussion, we got to cast our votes. We had to pick two books each: our favourite, and one that deserved to win. I think it made us think critically, and not only about our own personal preferences, but of each book as a whole, its and the author’s future potential in the market. We had three definite choices that we thought were great in their own ways. We managed to cut the choice down to two books that we in the end left tied for the top spot. One had a strong writing style and good story development throughout, especially considering it was the author’s first published book, and the other’s story left us engaged, and although it needed some improvement in certain areas of the story, we believed the author had great potential and would be a worthy winner of the First Book prize.

Sadly, the books we chose will have to remain a secret until the Saltire Society Literary Awards show on the 30th of November, where the real judges will reveal their pick for the First Book category. Until then, our shadow panel judge decision, although not being considered by the award judges, will have to remain a mystery.

What defines the best?

November 30th, 2017 by David Graham | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What defines the best?
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The experience of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire Society.

By David MacDonald Graham.

I had the honour of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire society, six books to read, take notes and ultimately decide which one was the best. The books ran the gauntlet from the emotional, political, heartwarming, the despairing and the disturbing.

 Judging and reading is an interpretive game and sometimes you need to separate the enjoyment factor and concentrate on craft, tone, intent and relevance. Perhaps, when all of those factors fail, the enjoyment factor remains the only aspect left to work with. It’s a challenge, thinking in and outside of literary factors, determining merits or lack of them. As a writer myself, I had to distance myself from the knowledge, that crafting a book, whatever the reason we choose to create, is not an easy task. A lot of work goes into the craft, a lot of doubt and second-guessing.
I know the work ethic, the difficulties and the attacks of doubt, and I owed it to the writers on the basis of knowing how aggravating and rewarding the process can be, to be as robust as possible in my analysis.
I spent the evening of the panel talking about books with my fellow shadow judges, which is probably how most of us would like to spend our evenings. The discourse and debate was lively, certainly well moderated and when the time came for a consensus, there was one question that challenged my perceptions and ultimately changed my decision.

“What is the best book, what deserves the award?”

Well, to me, these are two questions.

The best book is not necessarily the one that deserves the award. An award is a powerful thing, it creates visibility, it calls attention to both the author and the themes explored in the text. The question then becomes, who needs the award? There are, after all, some books that will always sell based on genre, subject matter and the author’s reputation. There are others that make important points, comment on society and explore culturally relevant issues that may not always be comfortable to read about. It’s possible these books may not find an audience without an award to champion it.

Another question is then raised, which is the most important book?

Bearing in mind, I had only been asked one question and my interpretation threw up four more in the space of seconds, including, is the most important book also the best book?
In a matter of seconds, I found myself asking internally if I had the right to judge, and mentally imagining myself saying to my previous decision;

“It’s not you, its definitely me. You’ll find your way.”

We all have a relationship with the books we read, and I essentially broke up with mine. Luckily there are plenty of books in the metaphorical sea. The book I eventually choose, quite simply, had a role to play that was beyond entertainment, it was a book that needed to be read.
The shadow judging was an invaluable experience, one I would be keen to repeat, armed with the knowledge that my preconceptions could be challenged by a simple question. I extend my thanks to the Saltire society; it will be interesting to find out on the 30th of November if our overall consensus matches up with the judging panel.

If you would like to get in touch, you can;

Twitter me @davidjonwinter

facebook me under David MacDonald Graham.

or LinkedIn me here:

Kathryn Haldane, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

November 29th, 2017 by Kathryn Haldane | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Kathryn Haldane, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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The question I was asked most as a child was ‘so you’re going to be an author when you grow up?’. This seemed like a logical idea; I read and wrote voraciously, and I thought that if I could do this for the rest of my life, that would be pretty much perfect. As I got older, I discovered that it’s not so easy to just become an author, and I still can’t find many jobs that involve me sitting and reading all day long. It took me a surprisingly long time to discover that publishing was a possible career option for me. For the longest time, I was so absorbed by the contents of the books themselves that I never gave much thought to how they actually came into being.

My interest in stories made me choose an undergraduate degree in English and Film Studies at The University of St Andrews. Although I enjoyed many aspects of my undergraduate degree, I learned that I did not want to work as an academic studying books for the rest of my life, but would still love to work around them in some capacity. I did as much work experience as I could to try and figure out where my interests lay, and did several placements at TV and newspaper businesses. They were fascinating, but they affirmed to me that working with books was what I definitely wanted to do.

After graduating this June, I stayed in St Andrews to work through the summer while applying for jobs and internships in publishing, and was finally rewarded with an internship at Alban Books in Edinburgh. It was an interesting and informative experience, and thankfully made me completely certain that I wanted to work in the publishing industry. Only late in the summer did I come across the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling – I never knew such a thing existed, and right away I knew it was what I wanted to do. I never thought I would be going back to university to do postgraduate study, but I liked how vocational the course at Stirling seemed to be, and was excited by the prospect of learning real skills I could use in the workplace. I’m particularly looking forward to doing work experience at local publishing houses to get a feel for which area of the industry I would like to work in, and of course living in another beautiful part of Scotland.

Twitter: @kathrynhaldane

Ana Tratnik, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

November 29th, 2017 by Ana Tratnik | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Ana Tratnik, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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As long as I can remember I wanted to be a librarian, which pushed me to enrol in Library Science and Publishing after finishing high school, at the University of Ljubljana.

Since traveling has always been my passion, I aimed to do an internship abroad as part of my studies. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I got an opportunity at Icelandic Publishers Association, where I gained hands-on experience in publishing. Working with different publishers and organizing local book fairs gave me a great insight into publishing Icelandic literature and its marketing. Also, at this time, I became aware that researching foreign book markets, comparing them with the ones I already know and follow, gives me joy. My mentor during the internship (one of my favorite people in the world) was always telling me to be brave and not afraid to make mistakes, think out of the box, and everything would eventually work out. And it did.

When I returned back home to the sunny side of the Alps I mostly spent my days hiking, rock climbing, cycling, beekeeping and knitting on chilly days. Then, I came across the MLitt in Publishing studies at the University of Stirling webpage and I felt the need again. Publishing is what I want to study; I also want to pursue a career in right sales, marketing or editing. I am especially interested in books on alpinism, non-fiction, and literary fiction – the ones that change my perception of the world and shake prejudices off. I hope to someday work with people that are passionate, and who love their jobs; to me, that is the best way to grow professionally and personally. In the meantime, I am happily exploring the hills of Scotland, biking around historic Stirling and getting to know the publishing industry in the UK.


Madalena Cardoso, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

November 29th, 2017 by Madalena Cardoso | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Madalena Cardoso, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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Chocolate, fantasy novels, large cappuccinos, watercolours, scrapbooks, yoga, Chinese food and labradors. That’s me!

Currently doing an MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling, I wish to pursue a career in the dynamic industry of books, more specifically in Marketing.

I attained a BSc in Business Management at Nova School of Business and Economics (2014-17), in Lisbon, the colourful and sunny capital of Portugal, and the place I like to call home. The course put a strong emphasis on the development of analytical, research and communication skills, and I took modules in Marketing & International Marketing, Strategy, Finance, Statistics and so on, covering all aspects of Business. I spent one semester abroad at The University of Sheffield as part of the Erasmus + Programme, where I became more internationally aware, and where I fell in love with the UK (except for its weather), sharing unique experiences such as living, studying and travelling with people from all over the world.

My passion for the universe of words and my creative disposition dictated that my next step would be to cultivate specific knowledge in the Publishing field. Unsurprisingly, I am a fan of spending hours at bookshops, scanning charming covers and enigmatic synopses, and (discreetly) smelling lovely thin-paper pages. Four weeks into the masters, I have already learned about industry roles, trends, design theory, business models and standard software.

The Marketing of books is what really interests me, not only because of my background in business, but because organisations have become increasingly more customer- and relationship-centric and more experience-orientated. One day, I hope to become more than a mere consumer and enjoy more than the publishing output; I wish to take part on the other side of the industry, where all the magic begins.

Find me on Twitter and on WordPress

Kate Bailey, MLitt Publishing Studies, 2017-18

November 20th, 2017 by Kate Bailey | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Kate Bailey, MLitt Publishing Studies, 2017-18
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Like most of the students on this course, it’s fair to say that I love reading. Maybe it’s a little strange that one day I can be reading fantastical fiction about dragons or spaceships and then the next day I am completely invested in learning about obscure literary figures or the American Revolution. But so long as it’s written and I’m at least a little interested, I’m game to read it. This means I am quite good at knowing trivia, but not so good at finding space on my bookshelves!

For a long time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my History undergraduate degree. Ironically, I attended a Publishing event in my first ever Freshers’ week at university. But for a long time I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I decided that I needed to get some first-hand experience, so I did some unpaid work experience in publishing houses in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were brilliant. There were so many books! And the people there actually made a difference to their content and design and helped them to get out there and get noticed… Amazing! I was convinced. Publishing was where I wanted to be.

I spent last year working in a remainder bookshop learning that some books sell quickly, some books sell slower, and that no matter what, Oor Wullie always sells out (at least in Scotland). And now here I am to study publishing in more depth and learn about all the hard work that goes into making sure there are books to sell. I am really enjoying the classes on editorial and production work, which are the parts of my work experience I found most interesting as well. Since I enjoyed my last round of work experience so much, I am keen to get back inside a publishing company as an intern and work on some new projects!

If you think my rambling might be interesting in some way, please feel free to follow me on Twitter.

The Pathfoot printing press

November 20th, 2017 by Lea Intelmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Pathfoot printing press

It had been standing at the end of the room ever since we first came to the University. Strictly forbidden to touch but marvelled at every time we got into our computer lab in C7 – the Pathfoot printing press. On the 9th of November we finally got properly introduced in a printing press workshop with Kelsey and Dawn.

The Adana 8×5

The 19th century Columbian press, one of the first generations of iron printing presses, had spent some sad decades in the basement of the University’s library before it was rediscovered and brought to C7, only to dust in a little bit more. It was only this year that Kelsey Jackson Williams proposed the idea of starting a project in the course of which a printing press would have to be acquired. And so the press came into use again.

It is now in nearly constant use and several printing projects have been produced.

Next to the Columbian in C7 stands the newer Adana 8×5, a much smaller, self-inking press which was invented in the 20th century when the huge hand presses for books and newspapers became obsolete. Unlike the Columbian press, which has to be operated by two people, the Adana can easily be operated by one person, it is much faster, but the paper size is far more limited as it is designed to print mostly cards, like wedding invitations or, in this case, the Principal’s Christmas cards. Those are ornamented with a beautiful swan, the template for which had been custom-made for this occasion. So we watched the printing process. Well, that didn’t look too hard. Apply some ink to the press, even it out, put in the paper, bring down the handle and that’s it.

Typecase for Bembo 14pt

Well, obviously it’s not that easy. The most time-consuming part lies before the actual printing and that is typesetting.

When designing text on a computer, we have a nearly unlimited number of fonts, styles and type sizes at hand and they all change on a simple click, making it easy to test different styles and adjust the text over and over. The Pathfoot printing press came equipped with three typefaces – Caslon, Bembo and Plantin – all of which are available at a variety of sizes – but that is it. New sets of typefaces can still be bought – interestingly, they are bought by the number of a’s in a set – but they are expensive – keep in mind, it does not end with one letter in every size.

The process of typesetting takes its time. It starts with assembling the letters out of the typecase, where they are sorted by frequency of use. It takes a lot of practice to get to set type fast! Imagine sitting at a keyboard for the first time and having to find all the letters. Except here you don’t only have to press a key but take out the letter and put it in the composing stick in the right direction – a little nick on the side of the letter helps here. The type is then adjusted in a chase to build up the forme (there is a lot of terminology involved here). Once all that is done even the smallest change can mean, that the whole thing has to be taken apart and reassembled. Thus, it is crucial to know exactly what the text is supposed to look like before starting the process. The press itself has to be adjusted, the printing surface has to be evened out and the paper has to be adjusted in exactly the right position. And don’t even start thinking about printing in different colours, for that takes even more time as every colour needs its own printing step, with the type in the forme and the paper in the press being aligned in exactly the same position as with the first colour. Hand press printing is a craftsmanship that requires a high level of accuracy.


The Columbian press in action

And the work is not over when the text is printed. Now, cleaning the press and “dissing” the letters start. This is the process of distributing the letters back into the typecase – and each letter in the right compartment.

It is a lot of work but it also is a fascinating craft at the end of which a beautifully printed product stands.

Hollie Monaghan MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

November 20th, 2017 by Hollie Monaghan | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Hollie Monaghan MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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For as long as I’ve known how to read and write I’ve loved books and have especially loved pointing out typos and spelling mistakes and loudly tutting. A children’s book I loved as a child had on the page the typo “the the” and it still haunts me to this day. I want to go into publishing so that another young child does not need to go through that trauma. Also, because I love books of course!

I’ve wanted to be a publisher for as long as I actually knew what being a publisher entailed and my career trajectory has not shifted at all since then ( apart from a brief digression when I was ten and I wanted to be a pirate). Books always fascinated me and I was often caught reading a book under the table in school instead of doing maths work. Helping books be created and introducing them into the world is what I want to do. One gap year, a terrible call centre job and a dreadful bar job later I know I really would much rather do a job in publishing.

I did my MA in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and as much as I enjoyed the course, I was one of the very few students that didn’t want to be a teacher and I knew a future in publishing was still what I wanted to do and that the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling would be an integral part of achieving this goal. At graduation while everyone was talking about their summer plans and their gap years I was talking about this publishing course. Even the social media aspect won’t scare me off; I hope. Over the summer, I even helped edit my friend’s self-published novel Melancholy Mind. I will completely acknowledge it as my first editing job even if the pay was in McDonald’s fries.

A few weeks into this course and I now know it was the right choice. Editing was my original career goal but now sales and marketing sounds rather interesting as well. The social media aspect of the course is scary though but I will persevere and become a social butterfly! Therefore, you can find me on Twitter . Let’s talk about books and the eternal struggle of getting up those stairs at Pathfoot.


Man Booker Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

November 20th, 2017 by Kathryn Haldane | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Man Booker Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

The author of 2016 Man Booker shortlisted His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet, visited the University of Stirling on the evening of 15th November to talk at a literary event in conjunction with The Booker Prize Foundation University Initiative. This initiative involves first year undergraduate students being given a copy of a Man Booker winning or shortlisted book when they arrive at university, which several universities including Stirling participate in. It has the purpose of encouraging all students to read high quality literature, not only those studying humanities subjects, and gives them the opportunity to talk about the book with their friends, and then hear the author speak at an event later in the semester. The Man Booker Prize is extremely prestigious and the literary nature of the shortlisted books can make it off-putting to the ordinary reader, so this initiative aims to break down these myths and bring these books to a wider readership.

Graeme read extracts from His Bloody Project, which is a treat to hear an author read their own work, and it particularly brought out the darkly humorous aspects to his writing. His Bloody Project is an offbeat crime novel involving the murder of three people in a remote setting in the Scottish Highlands, and is published by the Contraband imprint of publisher Saraband. The rest of the session involved Graeme answering questions from Liam Murray Bell, a lecturer in Creative Writing at Stirling, and then taking questions from the audience. He discussed his writing process, saying he chose to present the novel in the format of found documents to give the reader a selection of points-of-view, which encourages them to come to their own conclusions about the story. Unlike many crime novels, His Bloody Project does not have an overarching ‘detective’ figure who guides the reader’s thought process, and in this way, the book is quite defamiliarizing, and certainly sets it apart from other novels in its genre. While the novel can be described as an exploration of morality and truth, Graeme explained that he does not try to intellectualise his writing as he writes it, and tries not to consider how the book may be analysed by readers after it is published.

The research process was clearly a significant element in the writing of this novel, and was, Graeme explained, at least partly influenced by his years as a TV researcher. The novel is set in 1869, so Graeme went to great lengths to achieve historical accuracy wherever possible, but did take creative license with some small elements. He said that authenticity to the reader was his goal, and to achieve that he tried not to make his research burden the narrative of the novel, but seem effortless. It is testament to the effectiveness of Graeme’s research process that some readers have believed His Bloody Project to be a work of non-fiction. While the novel has been acclaimed as a love-letter to Scottish literature, Graeme admits this is not really the case, although he did find inspiration from James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs & Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Graeme said he does not find comparisons to other books to be particularly helpful, especially when in the process of writing a book, and gives the advice that originality should always be the goal for writers.

Another topic of discussion at this event was, unsurprisingly, the impact the Man Booker shortlisting had not only on His Bloody Project but on Graeme’s life. He discussed the opportunities that the book has been presented with as a result of the shortlisting, particularly its translation into many other languages, but also talked about his desire to avoid becoming, in his words, a ‘one-trick-pony’. For this reason, Graeme was eager to finish another book fairly quickly, and considering the many commitments put upon him by the Man Booker shortlisting, it is particularly impressive that his next novel, The Accident on the A35, has already been published in October 2017. There was some surprise, and even derision, that a book of a popular genre such as crime fiction would be shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, but Graeme believes that crime fiction is becoming more accepted in the literary scene. It is also clear that His Bloody Project pushes the boundaries of traditional crime fiction, and its inclusion in the Man Booker shortlist was due to its extraordinary merit as a literary work, regardless of the genre into which it is placed.

This was a fascinating event for book lovers, offering an insight into the writing process and literary prize culture, but was also inspiring for publishing students, as an affirmation of the quality and strength both of Scottish publishing and Scottish writing talent. It proves that Scotland has a thriving literary scene that ought to be nurtured to ensure its success far into the future, and strengthened our convictions as future publishers to help this happen.