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Publishing Showcase 2017

May 17th, 2017 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | No Comments

We’re delighted to invite you to the 2017 Publishing Showcase on Monday 22 May to see some of our MLitt in Publishing Studies students’ coursework, and celebrate the conclusion of the taught part of the programme. The Showcase will be held in Oscars in the Pathfoot Building. The schedule will be:

2.45-3.45pm Industry Advisory Board round table. Our IAB will discuss current issues in publishing.

3.45pm-5pm Informal networking, drinks and showcase of student work, with brief speeches.

If you would like to attend, please drop us a line via our Contact page to let us know.

When the Swedish Academy got to meet Bob Dylan

April 21st, 2017 by anna-corrine_egermo | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Only half a year has passed since Bob Dylan was announced winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature and he has already managed to go pick it up. This past weekend he had a concert at Waterfront in Stockholm so on Saturday evening, before the concert, he had a private meeting with twelve of the Swedish Academy members. According to attending sources they drank champagne and spent some time looking at the back of the prize medal. It’s all hush-hush and no media was invited. Personally I think a sense of mystery is the best marketing strategy one can use, under the right circumstances, and I even imagine Dylan might have watched some The Young Pope.

Modern version

Another student already wrote about the prize when Dylan was announced winner; and there was a lot of opinions going around in general. There is nothing we love as we love some controversy. Hence, as a publishing student I still feel the need to think about the questions his win raises.

First of all: what is literature? Dylan does not write what we commonly associate with literature – he writes songs. The Swedish Academy acknowledges as much, and this is what they rewarded. On the one hand, one could argue that they take the sense of tradition to an extreme, considering that my education in literature taught me that the troubadour tradition belongs within literature. It is basically poems about love with music composed to it, and some people do like to argue that the same goes for contemporary lyrics.

Less modern version (Guillaume IX d’Aquitaine)

Without going into detail, this is an argument which could be made and it may be convincing. But why is it so upsetting? For one of our recent seminars we read an article by the sociologist Joel Best called “Prize Proliferation”  (Sociological Forum, 2008), on the topic of the title. Best states that award giving is the “want to recognize and reward exceptional performance, to bestow esteem on the deserving”. It “affirms and embodies the group’s values”, meaning that we as a social group are affirming Dylan as the most deserving within the category of ‘people making literature’. Subsequently, we have a problem with our collective values not being reinforced if we don’t agree on the basic premise that Dylan is, in fact, making literature. Do we even belong together? Can the Nobel Prize continue to represent our collective idea of literary taste?

Since Dylan never used to be seriously considered to be making literature, the debate was easy to predict. Some people called the Academy’s choice “brave”, but I am not convinced bravery is what it took. Rather, we got a wonderful show in the media and all over Twitter which implanted the Nobel Prize in the minds of millions of people. This will not be forgotten, it will be written about and remembered as a highlight in the history of the prize. We will see it on encyclopedia pages forever after and ride off into the sunset. It is hard to imagine that for example Herta Müller’s win in 2009 will be remembered as a landmark, but this might.

So when Vanity Fair wrote that “Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize has been something of a saga”, I agree. It has been a wonderfully entertaining marketing trick allowing us all to be more emotional this year than usual (at least in Sweden), and publishers got to sell more books. But most important of all: the Swedish Academy finally got to meet Bob Dylan.

Let’s toast to that!

Visiting Speaker – Rights Director Andrea Joyce

April 3rd, 2017 by rachel_kay | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Stirling’s MLitt Publishing students were recently delighted to hear from Andrea Joyce, who spoke to us about her role as Rights Director at Canongate, and what it takes for a book to successfully transcend geographical borders.

Canongate Books is one of the biggest publishers in Scotland, currently employing about 40 people in Edinburgh and London. It has been an independent publisher since 1973, and aims to “unearth and amplify the most vital, innovative voices” with a strong international focus encompassing countries from Albania to Vietnam.

Keeping Pace

Canongate’s aim to “publish authors, not books” involves a tailored approach for each project as their authors continue to explore. Matt Haig, for instance, had published two novels before venturing into non-fiction with the wildly successful Reasons to Stay Alive. Now, with A Boy Called Christmas, Canongate is delving into children’s publishing, including their first visit to the Bologna Book Fair. These kinds of challenges keep things interesting for the rights team, who are constantly expanding their networks to keep pace with an author’s needs.

Outside the publishing house, foreign markets also continue to evolve. What worked five years ago does not work now; for instance serial and book club rights are much less lucrative than they used to be. Joyce says that this time of change and uncertainty can be both exciting and frightening. Working in rights means continuously working to develop and maintain contacts and to stay up-to-date with other publishers’ lists. According to Joyce, it is essential to have an idea of who, down to the editor, a book is likely to appeal to before approaching to make a deal.

Choosing Wisely

Not every book is suitable for licensing abroad, and Canongate needs to be selective. It is important to think about a book’s potential international audience from the start, even those which are not immediately obvious. For instance, The Radleys, superficially a YA book about vampires, can also be read as a story about teenage experience, or the burial of a wild youth in middle age. As a result, this story effectively transcended geographical borders, underwent a 9-way auction for the German rights, and was ultimately published in over 26 territories.

Joyce says it can difficult to boil down the formula for major international success, but that “the common ground is universal themes and great fiction”.

Making Changes

Successfully selling rights to a book is only the first step in a process which then involves many changes before a physical copy is produced. In the majority of cases the text needs to be translated, and the cover also redesigned to appeal to its local readers.

Flexibility over a book’s contents can be crucial. For The Novel Cure, international publishers wanted permission to customise the concept to suit their regional markets, including adding different “ailments” that needed a literary “prescription”. The outcome of negotiations was that foreign publishers were allowed to change up to 33% of the content. On the other end of the spectrum, no changes were allowed to be made to Letters of Note, a carefully chosen collection of 100 unusual and inspiring letters, due to the curatorial aspects at the core of this book.

Working in Rights

Rights selling can fit in at any stage of the publishing process, from acquisition to post-publication. However, it is usually ideal if international editions can be published simultaneously. This allows foreign publishers to anticipate demand in their area and also to harness the hype generated by Canongate’s marketing team. Thus, a rights seller needs to be kept in the loop with other departments, and attuned to the stages of a book’s development.

The role doesn’t require law training, but does entail lots of contracts work, an eye for detail, and an aptitude for selling. You don’t need to be bilingual, but it certainly helps, and travel is often involved. Looking at Canongate’s 2016 rights sales by value suggests where frequent destinations might be: last year the USA and Canada held 45%, Germany held 16%, and Asia held 8% of their market.

Many thanks to Andrea for an informative talk!

by Rachel Kay

Working @ Oxfam

April 3rd, 2017 by mette_olesen | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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While attending some of the LBF17 seminars on ‘how to get into publishing’ we were told (again and again) that hands-on work experience meant more than having a degree in publishing. And though this sentiment was devastating, frustrating, and anxiety inducing to hear as an in-debt publishing student, I do see the merit of it. Getting your hands dirty (from new ink) will definitely provide us with insight that the course, for obvious reasons might be lacking in. For though we have access to Nielsen data and we have visiting speakers from book shops, we won’t gain the experience of actual customers coming in and asking for book recommendations etc. And working in a book shop will give us that new and different perspective to the things we learn in classes. So, I decided to jump right in.

Since that decision was made, I have started to volunteer at the Oxfam bookshop in Stirling. And though I have not worked there that many hours yet, I have tried a bunch of tasks related to book sales. On my first day, I was helping with book pricing, till service and rearranging book shelves. Firstly, pricing books, and seeing how a books value is changed as it passes to another person, was really interesting. It dawned on me, to a greater extend than it had before, that books keep on selling, when they leave the high street shops. But seeing their price reduced, to sometimes extremes in my opinion, made me happy. I kept thinking: “This is so great! Lower prices on all of these amazing books will mean that people might be more prone to buy more books.” And we all know, that anything that makes people read more is a huge plus!
Secondly, working at the till enabled me to see what customers actually bought, and what they were looking for in the shop. For though Oxfam is second-hand, the sales in that shop still reflect the trends of the overall market. The figures and features genres in the bookseller is also what is reflected with Oxfam sales. In the future, I am hoping to do some work on the shops social media pages and to enhance both their visibility and my skills on that score.

Ultimately the things I’ve learned through the course and the things I’ve experienced in Oxfam and hope to experience and build up in the future, will deepen and broaden my understanding of the publishing industry, which will in turn, I hope, help me further my career.

Also – I have to be honest – working in the storage with all of the more expensive and old books is definitely a dream of mine, though I’m tempted to spend all my money on them – which I guess is the danger of a book lover working in a bookshop.

by Mette Olesen

Visiting Speaker: Philippa Cochrane

March 31st, 2017 by shaunna_whitters | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Call me biased but I believe every child should be read to from an early age. It’s fun, it’s key to development, it’s educational and it’s also a great way to establish relationships.

After today’s visiting speaker, I can’t highlight that enough. We were joined by Head of Reader Development at the Scottish Book Trust, Philippa Cochrane and I’ve never been so thankful for the support in Scotland for readers and writers.

Their main aim is to change lives through reading and writing with an incredible number of programmes such as Bookbug, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story and Reading People. It is obvious that the Scottish Book Trust are working hard to achieve this but Philippa was quick to point out one frightening fact: children who are not read to from an early age have a language deficit of 50,000 words compared to a child who is. It’s not meant to frighten parents to read to their children or be controversial, it’s true. Every child should have the same opportunities and help in their early development but sadly it’s not always the case.

I have my mother to blame (or love) for my book addiction. She pretty much had a bookshelf of baby books for me before I was born and for most of my life books have been an important part of our household. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so adamant that reading to a child is important: it helps to give a child the best start in life and helps develop skills necessary for educational and social purposes. It certainly helped me. These types of programmes and opportunities were not available when I was growing up and it’s amazing to see the support for readers and writers in Scotland has grown so well but it also needs to continue to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to grow and develop by reading.

The Scottish Book Trust is responsible for a number of programmes such as Bookbug, First Ministers Reading Challenge, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story, Book Week Scotland, Annual Story Campaign, book tours, author tours, live sessions and interactions with authors/readers. It faces challenges, as do most arts based charities, but they do receive donations, sponsorship and funding from not only the Scottish Government but also individuals, companies, trusts and foundations.

One of their most recognisable campaigns is Book Week Scotland which held over 1000 events across Scotland with a 150,000-book giveaway, a Scottish book-to-screen-adaption competition and even a book dare where a reader is given a book themed dare to complete (Philippa proudly displayed the tattoo she had done because of her dare but don’t worry they aren’t all like that!). It’s a fantastic event and is gaining more popularity every year to the delight of the publishing industry.

The Scottish Book Trust want to make sure that children are developing by reading, helping aspiring authors gain help and advice they need to achieve their dream, help people (not just children) who struggle with reading or loneliness by interacting with them and aiding them but not by shoving a handful of books at people or a leaflet offering advice – through several events, programmes and campaigns.

For me, reading is important especially at a young age and hopefully these events and campaigns continue to help families across Scotland develop.

by Shaunna Whitters

Enter the Chinese Publishing Market

March 31st, 2017 by yangrui_wu | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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In this semester, I was lucky to attend the 2017 London Book Fair. This is a big festival for the whole publishing industry, I learned a lot from it, and I was surprised by the achievement of Chinese Publishing Market in last year discussed at the Book Fair.

The Chinese Book Retail Market

Firstly, there were 215,000 new books published in 2016 (4.3% increase), and total retail book sales exceeded 834 million GBP. Physical stores made up 63% of sales, while online Stores accounted for 37%.

Further, 1.3 million titles sold through physical stores, 1.2 million titles sold through online stores, amounted to 20 billion Yuan, continued growth since 2010.

   

Chinese E-book Market

The Combined revenue from e-books, online periodicals, and digital newspapers was 6.2 billion Yuan, that means the average annual revenue increased 78% between 2006 to 2013. In addition, 50.1% of Chinese readers prefer reading in a digital format. The most popular platform in China is DangDang website. There are over 15 million users on it, who spend on average over 50 minutes per day. In this website, they have more than 200,000 e-book titles available, and sold 66 million books in 2014, 20 percent of total book sales.

What Sells in China?

The most popular types of book are biographies, best sellers, award winners and famous authors and new technical developments.

American, British and Japanese books all sell well in the Chinese market. Further, the bestseller classification of foreign books is Children’s books, second is literature, next one is biographical books.

I think all the data shows that Chinese Publishing Market is entering a blooming time, an increasing number people start to read, no matter whether the books are Chinese or foreign language books, and that means Chinese publishing industry will grow. From the speech, there are a lot of people around the world who notice the Chinese Publishing Market.

        by Yangrui Wu

Visiting Speaker: 404 Ink’s “Nasty Women”

March 30th, 2017 by katharina_dittmann | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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On March 23, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and the Stirling Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies organised a launch event for 404 Ink’s first book publication, Nasty Women. We welcomed our very own Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, founders of alternative indie publisher 404 Ink, as well as Claire Heuchan and Laura Waddell, two of the authors featured in Nasty Women. They came to talk about the idea behind the book, discuss issues of class and diversity within the publishing industry and offered some advice on working in publishing.

404 Ink’s Nasty Women 

Nasty Women is 404 Ink’s first book, published on International Women’s Day 2017. It is a collection of essays on the experiences and the issues women face in a world in which right-wing populism, racism and misogyny seem to be on the verge of becoming socially acceptable once again.

Heather and Laura talked us through the idea behind the book and the adventurous publication process: The essays in the book are meant to “celebrate and showcase women’s voices” and to give a platform to those women whose experiences are often marginalised in the mainstream media. The idea was to represent current issues (especially in the light of Donald Trump being elected as President of the United States), which led to a heavily shortened publishing schedule. Setting the publication date on International Women’s Day left Laura and Heather about four months to commission, fund, edit, and produce the book. The overwhelming demand for a book that gave voice to the experience of contemporary women became clear when the project was fully funded on Kickstarter within three days and widely exceeded the initial goal.

Panel Discussion

After Claire Heuchan and Laura Waddell read extracts from their essays titled Black Feminism Online: Claiming Digital Space and Against Stereotypes: Working Class Girls and Working Class Art, respectively, the panel discussed possible crises of confidence and the feeling of imposter syndrome. This was related to both the issue of diversity in publishing as well as Nasty Women’s unconventional publication process.

In publishing, following your intuition is almost always a good idea, and if your gut (and experience) tells you that there’s a market for your project, seize the opportunity and get to work! From an author’s point of view, Claire says that faith in your own work is derived from how it is received in the public context and that the commission for Nasty Women was “incredibly validating”. When it comes to the relationship between publisher and author, trust is the most important factor. According to Laura Waddell, it is very reassuring to work for a publisher who believes in the project and is committed to their authors. Basically, everybody suffers from imposter syndrome from time to time, you just have to push through it and keep learning.

On the subject of tackling issues of class and diversity, the panel discussed the problems of gatekeeping and how it can narrow the level of representation within publishing. When commissioning the essays for Nasty Women, Heather and Laura were careful not to tell their authors what to write, but to respect their voices and to interfere with the content as little as possible. Their policy is to put the author first and to give the whole publishing process a sense of transparency, which benefits both publishers and authors alike. Claire says that writing for Nasty Women has given her the opportunity to “hold the doors open for other people” and encourage other marginalised voices to make themselves be heard as well. While gatekeeping is still a big issue in the publishing industry, 404 Ink shows that it is possible to have a relationship of equality between publishers and authors.

Some final advice

After answering questions from the audience, the discussion ended with Laura, Heather, Claire and Laura offering some advice for starting out in publishing:

  • Don’t do the work all on your own! It is easier to share responsibilities and take advantage of other people’s skillsets.
  • Look at the structure! If you want to make an impact in editing, start by paying attention to how things are composed.
  • Be authentic! Be true to yourself and keep your main objectives in mind.
  • Things will go wrong! People make mistakes, so don’t take anything to heart and just work through it.

By Katharina Dittmann

Internship: Scottish Book Trust

March 30th, 2017 by therese_campbell | Posted in Blog, Internships | No Comments
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Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the Scottish Book Trust’s editorial board for their new online magazine, What’s Your Story?, which focuses on supporting and developing the creative writing talents of young people in Scotland. What’s Your Story? offers free support and advice to those under 18 who have an interest in creating content, be it poetry, short-stories, plays, or illustrations.

The internship is undertaken remotely, and as one of six editorial board members, it entails reading over submissions, offering feedback on each, and choosing a select few to be included in the magazine. My role on the editorial board mostly involves reading young people’s work and offering critical, yet encouraging feedback. For each creative piece I receive, I am required to comment on two things the writer or artist did successfully, while also highlighting a ‘wish’ which refers to something the author or artist could alter to improve their work. It is my responsibility as an editor to express my feedback in a way that will not deter or upset the author or artist, but rather that will encourage them to persevere and keep creating. The Scottish Book Trust hopes that What’s Your Story? will inspire and encourage young writers and artists who may not receive support elsewhere, and it is definitely eye opening to read submissions from young people from all over Scotland.

The training day for the role, which was held in Edinburgh on the 5th November, was particularly insightful and helped me understand the aim of the magazine and my role as one of the editorial board members. Organised by Nicole Brandon – Young Writers Co-Ordinator for Scottish Book Trust – we were guided through all that was required of us, and were given talks by YA author Keith Grey, as well as author and journalist, Kaite Welsh. While Keith Grey spoke of creativity outside educational boundaries, Kaite Welsh focused on how we might craft our feedback effectively when critiquing submissions. These talks were thought-provoking and definitely essential for us as new editorial members.

Since the training day, I have worked on two magazine issues for the What’s Your Story? website, with each issue covering a different theme. While this is a remote internship, we do get paid for each issue we work on (yay!) and I have found the process engaging. Each submission has made me realise that creativity is boundless, with each piece offering refreshing and unique perspectives. I have also been able to read submissions with an editor’s eye and offer helpful, yet direct comments which will – hopefully – help the authors improve their work and encourage them to continue writing. Each submission I have read has exposed me to a variety of genres and subject-matter, and by delivering useful feedback and advice, I am helping guide young writers who are just beginning to realise their potential.

What’s Your Story? is a new magazine for the Scottish Book Trust and it has been exciting to be a part of the project from the beginning. It has allowed me to exercise my editorial skills – such as proof-reading, editing and critiquing – and this will aid me in my chosen career. It has also taught me not to have preconceived ideas regarding authorship and writing, and that, no matter how young an author or creator may be, they can offer a variety of different perspectives, experiences and styles of writing. I often find myself surprised by the submissions I read, which present ideas and life-experiences in comical, shocking and often eloquent ways, and being exposed to a variety of creative writing has definitely been the highlight of the internship.

by Therese Campbell

2017 LBF : “Copyright under Threat?”

March 30th, 2017 by ruoqi_sun | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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I just finished my travel to London Book Fare (LBF) two weeks ago and it was totally a new experience for me to get involved in the publishing industry in this way. Anyway, that was a busy and unforgettable time for me.

I attended “Copyright under Threat?”, a seminar in LBF 2017, which was held in the afternoon on 15th March. It lasted for an hour and consists of 3 speakers. I will focus on the first two:

William Bowes

General Counsel and Company Secretary at Cambridge University Press who also assists other departments on a range of Intellectual Property, Brand and Policy issues.

He mainly summarized the copyright situation in 2016, the development of copyright in recent years and British copyright issues etc. In the speech he mentioned that the social purpose of copyright is encouraging learning, and as publishers, we believe that  is achieved by supporting editorial impartiality, a fair days pay for a fair days work, access to high-quality education, the value of high-quality learning materials and a global framework for the exchange of knowledge, learning and research. In my opinion, it is because copyright has such a social purpose so that it has the value of being explored. Of course, this requires not only the publisher’s dedication but also need the government to actively promote this development process in order to achieve this purpose. Publishers should also help the government to solve these problems which may be encountered in the process because we all understand that copyright can be complicated to understand and manage. In addition, William is also involved in the current situation, like for the consumer, copyright prevents people exercising their “right” to learn, share, crate, collaborate and network. Indeed, when copyright protects the rights of authors, it also makes sharing less flexible. Compared with the consumer, copyright means more for the author and this problem is particularly reflected in the field of education. The limitations of copyright narrow the scope of educational reference and have a negative impact on better education. Therefore, we should also look for ways to ensure the definition of copyright can be more flexible.

Sarach Faulder

Chief Executive of Publishers Licensing Society, she was a partner at city law firm, specializing in copyright.

She gave the practical example of what exactly is going on at moment around copyright issues. Her speech was based on the Canadian education. In 2012, the Canadian government included education in the concept of “fair dealing” so that it quickly has a catastrophic impact on the educational publishing market in Canada. In just 2 years, the value of educational publishing sector dropped by 16% and since then, the number of imported US materials has continued to grow.  For an industry, such fluctuations are really worrying and I think whether it is “fair dealing” in Canada or “fair use” in the US, this is a new stage for copyright development (as they expanded the copyright exception). However, in the early stages of development, we still need to think about the risks of change and whether we have enough power to compensate for the loss caused by fluctuations when making decisions otherwise it will bring disaster to the industries involved, just like Canada. Educational publishers were forced to lay-off staff and Access Copyright (an institute in Canada) established a large fund to supporting this industry as a return.

Nowadays copyright does face a threat to some extent especially the development of digital technology also causes the positive and the negative impact on copyright. The three speakers set out a very professional explanation from the field of their work and left us with more thought.

by Ruoqi Sun

Internship at Saraband

March 27th, 2017 by claire_furey | Posted in Blog, Internships | No Comments
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I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to land an internship with Saraband. Cream of the UK indie publishing world in 2016; perhaps due to a book called His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Man-Booker-shortlisted title?! (If you haven’t already, go read it; it’s wonderful.) This internship involved mostly working from home, which has benefits (working in pyjamas! No travel!) and drawbacks (not so easy to ask for guidance, written instructions are more open to interpretation than face-to-face). Plus, as it is my very first internship, it would have been nice to have an office presence. On the other hand, I ultimately want to be a freelancer, so having the experience of motivating myself from home is invaluable, as well as learning to communicate in that instance.

The task I learned the most from was one of the novels I proofread. It was a new, unpublished manuscript and I carefully read through it and marked off all the things I believed should be changed using MS Word Track Changes and sent it back quite satisfied with myself. After some time, I received an email: could I check all the proposed changes had been made to this manuscript when it was typeset? There it was. A shockingly long list of things I’d missed that another proofreader had picked up.

Some were genuine mistakes, like ‘proceed’ instead of ‘precede’. Others were changes I would not have made. For example, ‘carpark’ I had left as one word. It was now changed to two words. After looking it up, (I live to find out small details like that. No seriously. My mom says I’m cool…) I found out the two-word version is the more common one, particularly in the UK. Who knew? Not me, clearly.

Buildings in the UK have ‘two storeys’ not ‘two stories’. That was news to me. Some of the dialogue, written in a heavy Scottish accent, was altered, which at first I thought was outrageous but then I could understand why. To an extent. It was mostly a case of out-of-place apostrophes, but I do feel the accent of the character concerned changed in a way that I wouldn’t have wanted it to with certain changes.

There were one or two things that niggled at me slightly at the time of reading, but I didn’t flag them. The experienced proofreader caught them. For instance, the metaphor ‘… the anger coursed through his veins like cancer.’ That just doesn’t make sense. But grammatically – how I was looking at it – it’s fine.

I learned so much from this mystery proofreader, even if I was rather indignant with the changes at first! But internships are a learning curve and this was a fantastic chance for me to realise the sheer level of detail and thought I need to put into a proofreading task. Nothing can be left to chance. This was a fantastic experience and Sara herself has been incredibly patient and supportive throughout the internship. I really couldn’t have asked for a better first internship.

by Claire Furey