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A Bibliophile’s Christmas Fantasy

December 18th, 2017 by Madalena Cardoso | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Bibliophile’s Christmas Fantasy
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Winter is here. There are magical light displays on the streets. Christmas markets are open. There is mulled wine and cinnamon treats, and large crowds of people wearing colourful reindeer jumpers shopping for presents. Snow has already made an appearance, with gentle snowflakes covering everything in white in Stirling.

Indeed, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. And everywhere includes bookshops. For our Marketing Management and Communication module, we were asked to look at current bookshops’ practices, and so I went to Edinburgh and did a small tour. It was during my trip that I noticed how retailers have really outdone themselves this season by employing creative strategies and introducing sensory elements to entice customers, from decorations to special offerings and fun events.

In Princes Street Waterstone’s, in Edinburgh, a gigantic Christmas tree has been set up. Green garlands are everywhere. Book displays showcase a selection of interesting themed titles – classics, crime novels, new releases, and more – and there are many promotions taking place. Other chains such as Blackwell’s, in South Bridge, have devoted great attention to their store windows, immediately capturing a passer-by’s interest.

Independent bookshops, being smaller in size and naturally more flexible, manage to design more unique and memorable experiences. At Golden Hare Books (established in 2012 and located in the Stockbridge area), for example, there is relaxing jazz music playing in the background, free delicious mince pies and tea, and a wood-burning stove is on to keep customers warm. There is a pleasant incense aroma in the air and you can buy already-wrapped books with mysterious labels to surprise yourself for Christmas. There is also a Christmas “book tree” on one of the tables. Touch, smell, sound, sight and taste. The interplay of the five senses is quite clever, contributing to shape a cosy, familiar and welcoming atmosphere.

Booksellers are finding innovative ways of remaining operational in today’s extremely competitive environment. Although online book shopping is perhaps more convenient and cheaper, it is only in physical venues where one can experience such wonderful things. There’s quite nothing like browsing in a bookshop, especially during Christmas time. But, it must be said that, as a Publishing student, my opinion might be (slightly) biased.

 

 

 

Chenchen Li, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 18th, 2017 by Chenchen Li | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Chenchen Li, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18
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I had internships in a publishing house,  marketing department of a property company, and a news organization. The experience of the publishing house was amazing. I, fortunately, participated a significant project in the first month. In fact, I just did some chores and observed how editors make the series. Although working on the edge was easier than the other parts, I still felt very tired because the time is very urgent. What I remembered best was that I was unable to finish the proofreading so the progress of the project was delayed. The editor asked me do I still want to be an editor after such busy practice. I got depressed but replied “yes”. The series got an award seven months later, at that moment, I felt proud of as if I was the commissioning editor.

When I graduated in the Bachelor Degree of Editing, all of the students including me were busy at the job market. There is a gap between me and publishers’ requirements. And they prefer postgraduates joining their company. Most of my classmates set their goal to finding job successfully. Thereby they leave the publishing industry to find another job. I was confused. I do not want to give up working in the publishing industry. At that time, the professor introduced me the University of Stirling to get a self- improving so I study here now. The first study experience in a foreign country is really an adventure, although my academic writing often frustrates me. So far I keep positive to face the life in Stirling. The courses of MLitt in Publishing brought a new perspective to me. The trend of self-publishing makes the industry more complicated. I am fascinated by the changing industry. I hope I can create some value in the industry in the future.

Writing Gender Violence

December 18th, 2017 by Diane Hill | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Writing Gender Violence
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In November, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Writing Gender Violence event at the University. Organised as part of Book Week Scotland, the event also coincided with 16 Days of Action to eliminate violence against women, running from the 25th of November to the 10th of December.

A crowd of us gathered in the Pathfoot Dining Hall, and at the front where a panel of four women visiting speakers who dedicated their time for this event. Technically, there was only three present in the room as the fourth was on the other side of the world. Thanks to a computer and a webcam, however, three became four. The panel was made up of crime writer Alexandra Sokoloff, author of the Huntress Moon series that goes against the norm with her female serial killer antagonist in her crime series. Then, there was Madeleine Black, author of the memoir Unbroken, a true depiction of the devastating aftermath of rape and the journey of forgiveness. Next was Lydia House from Zero Tolerance, a charity that campaigns to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and challenging attitudes that normalise violence and domestic abuse. Lastly, there was Lorna Hill, a Ph.D. creative writing student from the University of Stirling who has written a crime novel focusing on human trafficking and domestic abuse. This was our panel.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this event when I first sat down in the chair, however, my attention was captured throughout. Like myself, I don’t think many people have thought about the notion of writing gender violence. Even as a former journalism student, I had not given this issue much thought. However, what was made very clear to me throughout this event is that writing gender violence is a current, ongoing issue today. From Madeleine we learned that due to the very graphic details contained in her real life story, it was rejected 25 times before it was finally published, and even then there was some effort to tone down the graphic descriptions told throughout her story due to the fear that it could deter potential readers. The fact that someone would try to tone done the details of this story is baffling. Why would you try to dilute the true story and horror of the rape of a young woman? It would take away the true purpose of the story, to connect with others who had gone through similar experiences and to show them that they have a voice and that they have the right to be heard. This is Madeleine’s purpose for writing. She doesn’t see it as story writing but as story healing. Lorna also agreed with this. She also highlighted the importance of these voices being heard.

It is not just the publishing industry that struggles to grasp the importance of writing gender violence; journalists and the media are also responsible. Lydia House highlighted this. She explained the work her charity does to try and educate those in positions, such as journalists, to communicate with large amounts of people. They give them the skills to better equip themselves when reporting violence against women. Again, as a former journalism student, I cannot recall one instance where we were taught how to properly report such stories. We weren’t taught these skills and looking back, this is very surprising. Lydia highlights just how important a story’s language and pictures are to the representation of the article as a whole. They could inadvertently silence the voices of the women who deserve to have their stories told. Zero Tolerance offers journalists a Handle with Care guide that can help them when reporting these kinds of stories. They also offer a free range of photos that can be used to better represent the different crimes of violence and the victims, as the violence committed against women is not limited to just physical violence.

Moving on to Sokoloff, she wanted to create a character, a female serial killer particularly, to turn the tables, and the violence, against men. She wanted to explore the questions as to why women don’t commit serial murders, and why do men commit this kind of violence and women don’t? Women can be serial killers, but they normally don’t have the sexual aspect to the crimes compared to men. In the end, she creates a powerful character. Sokoloff highlighted that this kind of character, or story, couldn’t have been written ten, or ten fifteen years ago. Attitudes to these kinds of crimes have changed and people want to read about people’s experiences. One only needs to look back at the Weinstein scandal to see this.

Overall, this event highlighted the importance of writing about gender violence, and also the need for there to be a better understanding in certain industries in how to better handle this issue. Progress is being made, but as Madeleine said, there is still a long way to go to challenge the attitudes regarding wring gender violence. This event was informative and very insightful, and I would have recommended it to everyone.

Fiona Logan, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 18th, 2017 by Fiona Logan | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Fiona Logan, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18
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I am excited about the prospect of being able to contribute to the production of books. Back when I was a little girl my Dad used to read to me every single night in the hopes that I would become as obsessed with books as he was. My favourite of the books he read to me was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written by the wonderful C.S. Lewis. That was the first book that seriously got me hooked and it certainly was not the last. There’s just something enchanting about books that you simply cannot get anywhere else.

Therefore, like a true bibliophile, I thought the best undergraduate course for me would be English Literature (with Journalism Studies). Whilst I was studying I questioned what kind of job I would like after I graduated. I knew that I did not want to be a teacher so I gave journalism a go and interned at The Scottish Sun. That wasn’t for me. Then I saw that the University of Stirling had a Publishing MLitt course and I knew that was what I wanted to do. Having studied the course for over almost two months now, I know that I have made the right decision.

I am thoroughly enjoying the course and I am learning a lot, so although I thought I would definitely go into Editorial before I started the course, that could well change as the likes of marketing, design and production have also caught my eye. My family and friends have used me as their unpaid proofreader for years so I am gravitating towards a proofreading role as then I would at least be getting paid to do something I’ve been doing free for years now.

I am getting involved in as many things as I can: attending book fairs, book launches, SYP events, and I am keeping up to date with internship opportunities.

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Marija Katiliute, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 18th, 2017 by Marija Katiliute | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Marija Katiliute, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18
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After starting high-school in Scotland (I’m originally from Lithuania) at around the age of fifteen, I was in a constant learning mode. Trying to fit into a new environment, improve my English and make new friends took a toll on my reading habits. A few years later, I went to study Film and Media at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, which seemed right to me as it fit in with my interests at the time. Once I’d graduated, I was overwhelmed by the question that so many of us have after university: what do I want to do now? In the end, it took me two years to finally figure out I wanted to go into publishing.

During that period, I took a job at Caffe Nero which gave me a career path to focus on. I’m glad I did, as I got a chance to be the guest editor for our UK-wide employee newsletter in July this year and learn about the publishing processes, whilst also getting management experience as a shift leader/assistant manager in the shop.

The time I spent away from studying gave me more freedom to read and find my passion for books again after what I will call “a decade-long reading hiatus”. So, with this new-found interest in publishing, I started doing research on the industry and decided to continue with further education in Stirling.

The course has so far taught me so much about publishing and the opportunities available. Outside of studying, I’ve already managed to snag a place as a shadow panel judge for the Saltire Society, and I’m on the conference committee with the SYP. I was also offered a two-week work placement at Penguin Random House, which starts at the end of November. I have never worked so hard and enjoyed myself at the same time!

Currently, I’m interested in marketing and production roles, as they seem most suited to the skills I have. But there’s still so much to learn about publishing, and I think this course will be just the thing I need.

Find me on Twitter, Bookstagram, personal Instagram and LinkedIn.

Sara Amateis, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 18th, 2017 by Sara Amateis | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Sara Amateis, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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The first time I asked my parents to buy me a book they were of course a little bit skeptical about the fact that I really wanted to read it, and, as all the parents do with their children, they said “Do you know that if we buy it you’ll have to read it, right?”. I still remember which book it was. It was a children’s book, so it wasn’t long, but I was little and by the time we went back home I had already finished it. I really think that from that moment my life changed. Some years after that episode I was very interested in a series of children’s novels, but I wasn’t still able to search for info about them on the internet (things weren’t as handy as they are today) and I wasn’t sure if sooner or later the next book in the series would have come out. I was sad, and my dad kept telling me that probably the sequel would never have come out. One night, during a celebration in my city, I entered a bookshop (open until late for the occasion) with my parents and, illuminated by a flash of light, there it was! I started crying, and on the way home I fell asleep hugging my book. These are only two episodes in my life connected to books, but I think they can clearly explain why, when I had to choose what to study for my Masters I chose Publishing. If it hadn’t been for books I wouldn’t have travelled through time and space as I did and I still do, living incredible adventures and very intense emotions, and now I’ve the chance to be part of the process that gives other people the possibility to live of all that.

Before deciding to follow this path I graduated in Cultural Heritage (Archaeology, Art History, Archival and Library Sciences) at the University of Torino (Italy), following a program that allowed me to acquire knowledge mainly about History, Art and Literature, all things that, I believe, can be useful to me even working in Publishing.  I haven’t decided which area of the Publishing industry I want to work in yet, but this University is giving me the opportunity to learn a lot of things about all the aspects of the Publishing world. At the moment what I know is that being part of the creative process of a book is amazing! When (last year) I started looking for  information about the University of Stirling I knew that this was the right choice for me: I’ve always been completely in love with Scotland, the campus in Stirling is astonishing and the program is very well organized, offering a complete view on the Publishing industry with very practical modules. So, you see… easy choice!

Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

What is the relationship between author and publisher?

December 11th, 2017 by Sofia Fernandez | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What is the relationship between author and publisher?
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A few weeks ago the author of 2016 Man Booker shortlisted novel His Bloody Project, Graeme Macrae Burnet, and Saraband founder and owner, Sara Hunt, visited the University of Stirling to discuss the relationship between authors and publishers. The interview was held on a Wednesday evening, with tea and biscuits to accompany the charismatic talk for the creative writing and publishing students.

His Bloody Project became the largest-selling book in the Booker shortlist after being shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize the past year. However, Burnet’s success first started with his union with Saraband when working on his first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau. Just like all good stories begin, Graeme submitted the manuscript of the novel to different publishers before Sara called him. 

The starting point of this magnificent story commenced with Burnet finding an agent who was willing to work on the manuscript. After some editorial work done, the manuscript was sent to different publishers, all of which rejected Graeme’s novel. That was the point when the possibility to send the novel to independent publishers arose.

He got interested on Saraband thanks to the description on their webpage about their new Contraband imprint, that was seeking crime fiction, “but not purely crime —  centering on the originality and quality of the narrative, either crime fiction, thrillers, mystery or noir”. He thought, “well, here you have a quirky novel, set in France and written by someone who’s not French”. Burnet describes The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau as a character study, “it is a sort of crime novel, but it doesn’t easily slot into a specific genre. It is all about the character”.

Saraband originally started in 1994, dedicated mostly to illustrated non-fiction books but, as publishing was evolving, in 2014 Sara and her team decided to create Contraband imprint, “kind of crime related but not genre crime particularly”, something different that would not fit into a publishing standard. She explains Saraband’s motto would be to provide books with quality or passion more than genre or fitting in a particular market.

Hunt found the manuscript impeccable and fitting into what she wanted for the new imprint so she decided to call Graeme, who was in that moment painting the ladies toilet of a building. He giggled while affirming “it is not easy to make a living as a writer”. Nevertheless, Graeme told us that all the recent events have had a very big impact on his life. After the shortlisting of his second novel by the Man Booker Prize he was immediately invited to a high profile events such as the London Book Fair. He explained that as a “newbie” in the field he decided to attend all events as they were all big and beautiful opportunities, but obviously it got pretty exhausting. However, despite all the social appearances, he already finished The Accident on the A35 published by Saraband this last October 2017.

Then, the students were given the opportunity to ask the guests, and the eternal question arose among the audience, “why did you decide to set His Bloody Project in a city of Scotland that is not your hometown?” Burnet argued that imagination is emphasized when you are in a foreign place, “sit down in a place without a phone or a book and you’ll be surprised by all the things you can reckon”, he proposed.

When another student asked Graeme what moved him to write he advised to be authentic, “looking for commercial trends to inspire some writing might not work”.  And that is something he and Saraband share. Hunt explained, “if something is on trend that’s a bonus – for us it’s about quality and having passion for the book”.

An intrepid publishing student asked then whether, after all the success he’s been through, other publishers have offered him to publish with them. Graeme appeared very open to share it with us and Sara. He did receive other offers but “every relation with an author is different”.  He felt Sara had done an amazing job and built a great relationship. Burnet is very comfortable with Saraband. “It is very difficult to find someone that believes in your work at an early stage and holds the faith on it”. Moreover, Sara feels fine with Graeme moving to other publishers, “it’s not bad to have authors going to larger publishers because it gives you advertising. It is fruitful anyway”, she said.

The clock was marking the last five minutes of the hour, but Sara and Graeme kept telling us the most encouraging stories to make the work in publishing an amazing place:

Sara: “It’s important to have faith in the people you are working for”.

Graeme: “It is striking to have freedom to write about what you want”.

Sara: “Saraband’s thing is that with Contraband we are keeping authors, not trends of novels”.

Graeme finished the talk with profound feeling and advice to the audience “but do not to give your heart because then it hurts more. However, if it is your passion, it will never stop. It never crossed my mind to stop”.

 

Sofía Fernández Becerra

Between the Caribbean and the U.K.

December 11th, 2017 by Lucie Santos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Between the Caribbean and the U.K.
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“Create tastes rather than following them” Jeremy Poynting

The best part of being a small and independent publishing company based in Leeds with a special interest in poems and Caribbean literature is that they can create taste instead of following trends.

Jeremy Poynting introduced a poetry small press: the Peepal Tree Press where two people are involved in full-time supported by six part-time helpers. Their aim is to encourage the authors and work with professionals in order to have the books in the hands of the consumer. This is why, currently, they publish fiction, poetry and general academic titles. The key point is to encourage books to be accessible to a more general reader. They publish writing directly from the Caribbean and this makes them actually the biggest publishing house in the United Kingdom for Caribbean literature. They operate because books should make a difference and take part of a dialogue about society as they think the process of working with authors is important and they can afford to take their time.

Because they are helped with funds from the Arts Council, they do not need to be market oriented. One of the objectives is to have “Great Art for everyone”: they do not only publish books but they are involved in social media events and one important part of a cultural company is the connection with people. The objectives are different than a big publishing house; they cannot have economy of scale but they try to keep the backlist alive.

So, one huge value brought by an independent publisher is the capacity of doing new things even if the audience is limited for a poet. Besides, because they are outside of London, they can develop a very international target market. They want to bring international writing into the country and to print diversity literary travel.

The story began in a garage and crossed the sea to the Caribbean

The objective is not only selling books in the U.K. but also selling books in the Caribbean because they want to nurture the roots from which they are coming from. The Caribbean’s literature is an essential part of British and Scottish culture.

Why is the area producing a Nobel Prize but does not have a publishing industry developed?

Shivanee Ramlochan explains “It is really difficult to be published in the Caribbean”. It is hard to get recognition of your work, and even harder if you write poetry because poetry is not old in the Caribbean. She is a poet from Trinidad and she wants to learn publishing skills from manuscript to print books and eBooks. Now she would like to teach others back to the Caribbean.

The publishing sector in the Caribbean is focused only on two parts of the market: university presses and professional but not fiction. Moreover the market size is very little and the number of booksellers is very small. There are few proper bookstores, the products are more focused on Christian books and schoolbooks.

The publishing sector is living through history of colonialism and there are a few people interested in Jamaican books; in Grenada for instance. There is no distributor in the Caribbean and it is difficult to reach every single island coming from the others. They transit through Miami to go to others islands and there are no direct flights.

But Shivanee Ramlochan shows us that it is not impossible to write poetry and to be published.

“Books should make a difference and be part of a dialogue.” Jeremy Poynting

So what about discovering poetry from Caribbean ? It is also a way for us to remember all the links we have with the Caribbean people. They are part of European history, indeed not the easiest part we’d like to face.

By Lucie Santos

Cortney Alexandra Lee | MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 11th, 2017 by Cortney Alexandra Lee | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Cortney Alexandra Lee | MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-18
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Having travelled and lived in a range of countries growing up, there was one constant for me and that was – schooling. My deep set love for learning has seen me through my earliest years and has still never left me. Netflix has yet to run dry of documentaries I want to digest and there is no end to the TED Talk archive that I want to devour. I find learning to be one of the most stimulating things at any age or level.

It is this desire to learn that has predominately led me to Stirling University for the MLitt Publishing masters. Having taken an internship at a publishing house in Glasgow, I decided it was the best next-step to take. It’s been such a satisfying course to embark on, primarily because of the direct link it has to the publishing industry. The course is well thought out and serves to mimic scenarios that would seem to appear in a professional setting. Assignments and tasks are set to establish skills to help navigate through certain aspects of the publishing industry. It’s this aspect that really piques my interest because it’s so encouraging learning something that is directly applicable to ‘real-life’ situations.

After completing my English Literature degree at Glasgow University and prior to coming to Stirling, my husband’s work took us to Portland, Oregon. The impression I got whilst living in Portland, was that it seemed to be the epicentre for design. This sparked my curiosity and interest, particularly in relation to communication design. The amount of visual expression throughout the city and amongst new found friends, was fascinating to learn about. One aspect of the course that I’m really enjoying, is the lessons given in InDesign and Photoshop. The level of detail involved brings such a satisfying element to the processes and techniques we’re beginning to understand.

The publishing industry is seemingly vast and dynamic. It proves to be an industry that is constantly evolving and is creative at its core. I’m eager to enter the field and continue my learning. The production, design or marketing side of the industry have caught my attention,  though, the more I learn about the intricacies of the differing roles within publishing, the more open I find myself becoming. I am absolutely thrilled to be studying such a varied and dynamic industry, and with each passing week I seem to be even more taken with a different aspect of it.

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Mireia Pauné, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

December 11th, 2017 by Mireia_Paune | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Mireia Pauné, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18
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I spent my childhood and my teenage years reading and evaluating all the books I could find. If I had a book in my hands, I couldn’t avoid reading it, no matter what. This passion for books and words was the feeling that pushed me to study Journalism in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, hoping that someday I would be able to work in this sector.

While studying my Bachelor’s Degree, I was involved in different media, such as a local radio, Catalonia’s autonomic TV and a newspaper. I also created a blog and wrote reviews about the books I read and articles about fashion, culture and films. This experience made me discover a big social media community interested in books, culture and fashion and, two years ago, I started a monthly collaboration in a radio program talking about fashion and culture.

After finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, I was combining my last years studying music (my other passion), and working in my first job. Being in charge of the communication department of a private business helped me to gain experience and improve my skills in corporate journalism. Regardless that I truly enjoyed being part of all these amazing teams, I wanted to follow my passion and work in the book industry.

The best way to do so was enrolling in the Mlitt in Publishing of Stirling University; being a year abroad in Scotland, learning all the skills that I love, like design, marketing and book production. It was the experience I have always dreamt of. Seeing all the internship opportunities that the course offers, the excitement of being part of the SYP and the cultural richness cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow have, I do not doubt I am going to live this year to the fullest. My publishing career has just started!

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