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Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’: The Tannahill Lecture

April 5th, 2018 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’: The Tannahill Lecture
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Almost everyone on our publishing course has heard of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is due to take place in August. Not everyone, however, knows that Glasgow too has a very ambitious programme of literary celebrations. This year, Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’ is taking place between 15 and 25 March. From the impressive programme featuring over 200 authors, what caught my attention was the Tannahill Lecture that was to be delivered by Neil MacGregor, a Glasgow-born author of a forthcoming Penguin book entitled Living with the Gods. Having an academic background of cultural studies, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to listen to an art historian and philosopher give a talk about ‘how different societies have understood and articulated their place in the cosmic scheme’, as advertised in the festival programme.

On the night, I was amazed by the great turnout at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where the lecture was taking place. One couldn’t help but notice, however, that the crowd was primarily one of pensioners. A very gallant elderly gentleman next to me dozed off for most of the talk (although, I must admit, it has happened to me on other occasions, despite the age difference). Nevertheless, I was happy to see that many people showing interest in a bookish and slightly academic event.

As soon as the talk started, I knew at once why so many people have turned up. Neil MacGregor is simply a brilliant speaker, genuinely enthusiastic about discovering as much as possible about human culture and sharing it with the general public. This sense of mission is perhaps not surprising for someone who has for many years run such important public institutions as the National Gallery and the British Museum.

In his lecture, MacGregor touched upon various themes related to the central question of how shared objects and narratives shape communities and help them establish a sense of a common identity. He skilfully presented a very brief, yet thoughtful, run through different emanations of such shared narratives, spanning the whole globe over thousands of years. MacGregor’s cultural references included, among others, the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Putin’s orthodox Russia, the Swiss minaret referendum, beliefs of the ancient Romans and Persians, the eternal flame of the French Arc de Triomphe, the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Using those and many other examples, MacGregor demonstrated how shared religious beliefs have always been the foundation of communities and group solidarity. Common narratives provided people with a sense of cohesion and meaning in their lives.

The scholar ended his lecture on a surprising note. Unexpectedly, he moved on from discussing the images of floods in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh to a cataclysm of our own times – the refugee crisis. MacGregor argued that our world has no global narrative, which would help us to respond better to the plight of refugees. His strong humanitarian message gave us all something to reflect upon long after the lecture.

MacGregor’s book, due in September 2018, explores all the above-mentioned themes in much greater detail. Listeners of BBC Radio 4 may already be familiar with the content, as the publication is based on a radio show of the same title, aired as an impressive 30-part series in 2017 (available as podcasts here).

The Tannahill Lecture marked the beginning of a great festival. The range of topics covered during the events is sure to satisfy all book lovers. From poetry, through Scottish interest, to art, politics, and sport, there is something for everyone. Avid readers can also turn themselves into aspiring writers, as there are nearly 20 different creative writing workshops running for the duration of the festival.

Browsing through the programme, I had only one regret – that I could not afford to attend more author meetings, as most are priced at ₤9, with no student concessions available. Other than that, ‘Aye, Write!’ is definitely doing a great job at developing the local literary scene. Can’t wait for next year!

 

Ewa Balcerzyk

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BookSource

April 5th, 2018 by Ana Tratnik | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on BookSource
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Beginning of the spring semester, time for a field trip to Glasgow! On Monday, 5th February, the Publishing students got to know two aspects of the book process. We visited a distribution company, BookSource, and one of the largest and oldest British printing and binding companies, Bell & Bain. Both were absolutely worth a visit, not only to see what happens with a book when it’s published, but because we all left infected full of enthusiasm radiated from the people who work there.

When we arrived to the BookSource we were split in two groups. One group visited the well-organised warehouse with pleasant Jim and the other group was welcomed with a presentation by Louise, accompanied with coffee, tea and biscuits.

BookSource was founded in 1995 by Publishing Scotland. With only ten people working there their job is to receive and store books, get them to the market, collect, process and fulfil customer orders, invoice customers and collect cash. Their customers are booksellers, wholesalers, online retailers, supermarkets and private individuals. BookSource used to store more than 7M books, but since publishers have taken the advantage of the print-on-demand service, they are able to save space and the number of books in the warehouse has reduced to 3.44M. Currently, they cooperate with 94 publishers and stock 13,178 live titles, including CDs and maps.

BookSource distributes books not only to the mainland UK, but also to the Scottish Isles and abroad. Because of the increased traffic, it is cheaper to deliver books abroad, for instance to Germany or Benelux, than to the Isles. On every dispatched box they put a sticker so they can follow it and know where it is at any time, they also get information in case it gets lost and when the customer receives it.

They are constantly improving their system, which enables them to be up-to-date with what is happening in the warehouse, e.g. they can see what books are missing, but also what are the extra books they store. Their new developed services are MyBookSource, an online bookshop run by BookSource; DataSource holding descriptions of books which took up to four years to be developed and it provides information for their customers, Nielsen etc; and InfoSource that provides all the information for the sales team and allows publishers to check how their sales are going, discounts, how much cash they have collected, if they should reprint a book …

Some interesting facts to conclude, one of the bestsellers lately and a recommended reading by the BookSource is Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey, a book about the effects of poverty in Glasgow.  The cheapest book, and also a bestseller, that has been stored in the BookSource is Everything Men Know About Women, containing nothing but 32 blank pages, “written” by a woman.

A big thank-you to Louise and Jim for making us welcome. We enjoyed learning about a step of the book production that is not directly linked with the office work in a publishing house, but really, really valuable.

Saltire Society Literary Night

February 21st, 2018 by Alexandra Sautois | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Saltire Society Literary Night

Other people relish in the Scottish spirit of Saint Andrew’s. Instead of joining them, I opted for the Saltire Society Literary Awards.

The Saltire Society was founded in 1936 to bring forward and promote the Scottish culture throughout the world. For this purpose, the Saltire Society organises numerous awards, one of which took place on the 30th November 2017.

This event was my first award celebration since arriving in Scotland. The place was gorgeous, with a splendid Christmas tree and pleasant people. Once there, we met with my classmates as well as with people from different professional backgrounds – authors, professors, etc. – who were really eager to discuss literary and non-literary subjects with us.

The event itself is funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland. Altogether, there were eight awards in eight different categories and one medal for a thesis given.

There were judging panels for different categories with shadow panels for some awards.

On this occasion, some of my classmates were shadow members like David MacDonald Graham, Gabriella Rodriguez, Marija Katiliute or Katie Lumsden.

David MacDonald Graham vividly describes his experience on our blog: http://www.publishing.stir.ac.uk/saltire-society-judging-experience/.

Firstly, Lucy Linforth from Edinburgh University was awarded the Ross Roy Medal for her thesis.

This was followed by awards in literature and publishing. 2017’s publisher of the Saltire Society is Birlinn which is a wonderful Scottish independent publisher. This company is highly committed to protect Scottish and UK interests with high-quality editorial production.

Claire Squires, one of our professors in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling, announced the winner of the Emerging Publisher Award 2017. A memorable moment for us to see her represent our class at this event, especially because the winners and co-founders of 404 Ink, Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, were also students in our programme! This was a wonderful celebration.

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Luath Press double-celebrated that night for the Research Book 2017 granted to Peter Mackay and Iain Macherson (An Leabhar Liath The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse) and for the Fiction Book 2017 granted to the hilarious Angus Peter Campbell (Memory and Straw).

Em Strang won the Poetry Book award 2017, with her title Bird-Woman published by Shearsman Books. “This is spellbinding poetry”, to quote the Saltire Society accordingly.

Ever Dundas received the First Book Award 2017 for her amazing novel Goblin. I am pleased that her novel which blends different genres could win an important award like this one. The work and writing of Ever Dundas are wonderful to bring her first title at this level of prestige.

 

Finally, I am glad to announce that Kapka Kassabova won both the Non-Fiction Book and Saltire Scottish Book Awards 2017 for her incredible work, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe, published by Saraband. Owing to a current subject and an amazingly written work, she deserves this recognition. “Borders don’t change”, she said last night. “My dream is (…) new borders” because the ones we have are synonymous with anger and fear. We need to make them fall.

Each award winner receives £2,000 with a wonderful award. In addition to the £2,000 set, the Saltire Book winner receives an extra £3,000. We got two winners in our group as well: Mireia Pauné Font and Hannah Chen. Each of them won a short-listed title because they found, in their welcoming bag, a pink pin from the Saltire Society.

Congratulations to everyone for being a source of inspiration and creativity!

Nicola Ramsey, EUP & Academic Publishing

February 21st, 2018 by Madalena Cardoso | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Nicola Ramsey, EUP & Academic Publishing

“Every day is different because every book is different (…) it’s always varied, always challenging, but never boring”

Nicola Ramsey, Head of Editorial and Publisher of Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies at Edinburgh University Press, was the first visiting speaker of 2018. Nicola gave a warm, frank and interesting talk on the world of Academic Publishing, sharing insights on EUP and the particular dynamics of the sector, on the process of bringing a book to life and on her personal experience. Curiously, it was her 25th anniversary of being a student of the Publishing Studies course. If her clear passion for books was not enough to immediately captivate her audience, her common history and background with the listeners at the University of Stirling certainly was.

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Nicola started by explaining that Academic Publishing, i.e. publications by and for academics, is dominated by UK and US players, being characterised mainly by 3 types of operators – commercial academic presses (e.g. Taylor & Francis), university presses (e.g. EUP) and, more recently, new university presses that defend Open Access (e.g. White Rose). She emphasised the global nature of the sector, and the high-value of the books produced (that are consequently more expensive than the average book). Editorial work is the engine that drives the business, contrary to what happens in Trade Publishing, which is much more market-driven. The Edinburgh University Press, which falls within the Academic realm, is a well-known mid-sized house focused on publishing books such as textbooks and research monographs, and journals across a range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences. It was born in the 1950s as a mere department of the university. Since then, it has metamorphosed and grown immensely. Just this year it plans to publish more than 200 books.

One of the most intriguing things Nicola discussed was the positive relationship between print books and ebooks that takes place in the Academic sector. There is a symbiosis between the two formats, which are commonly perceived as adversaries and as cannibalising each other’s sales. The visiting speaker believes this is because people enjoy the discoverability/accessibility/searchability of an-ebook but opt for print when they need to do some deep reading. As so, it really seems to be all about the content rather than the format, with paper and digital co-existing in harmony.

The visiting speaker’s role in the EUP is one of great responsibility. As the Head of Editorial, she ensures the publishing program matches the press’ strategy, and that key targets are met (e.g. control of costs, etc.). She must also keep an eye on industry developments and on innovations that can potentially improve internal processes or reveal business opportunities. As a Publisher, Nicola is a list-builder, undertaking market and competitor research, building relevant networks, and meeting authors. Maintaining a good reputation is seen as preponderant for the success of the publishing house, because it translates into attracting both more clients and authors. Trustworthiness is core for the Academic sector.

A typical day at work for Nicola involves lots of tea and lots of emails – and it is never boring. Indeed, all books are different and so represent new challenges. The best parts of the job include making a difference in authors’ lives, the success stories (when a book sells), being invested and involved, and the constant learning.

All in all, Nicola’s lecture was extremely insightful. Exposure to industry professionals really is an invaluable opportunity, allowing us to get a fresh perspective, and to further develop our knowledge.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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

Laptop Guy the Comic Guy

December 7th, 2017 by Yuehan Chen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Laptop Guy the Comic Guy
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We were so lucky to have a speech about comics from Sha Nazir who is the founder of “BHP Comics” on the afternoon of 16th November. BHP Comics is an innovative comic company which is based in Glasgow.

According to Sha Nazir, producing a comic book is more expensive than producing a fiction book, since you need to do the manuscript first then start to do the illustrations and colouring. Besides, the situation of comic sales in Scotland was not that good. So they came up with an idea to create a Glasgow Comic Con to sell their own products at 2011. Recently, there were 120–150 tables of different titles, all making their own content. In Glasgow, there are now 140 comic authors who create work. The trend of comics is like everyone making and creating their own work. Before, there was only one comic event in Scotland, but this year there were 45 comic events in Scotland.

BHP Comics publish “horror, romance, historical and academic,” almost everything except the superhero. And the reason why they don’t publish superhero titles is because Sha Nazir thinks that America is extremely good at creating successful superhero comics such as “Spider Man” and “ Bat Man”. Sha Nazir doesn’t want to try to do comics in the American way. Then he started to design his own unique stuff, such as Laptop Guy. This graphic novel is about a fast food worker Sha, who has a lot of enthusiasm towards his own comic “Laptop Guy”. One day he finds that his comic becomes a little real and influences his work, friendship and everything in his life. The really interesting thing is that the name of the main character Sha is from Sha Nazir. Actually, according to Sha Nazir, he totally doesn’t  mind it. On the contrary, he quite enjoys having a comic character who has the same name as him, he thinks it is kind of like designer’s rights.

The things I learned from Sha Nazir are that if you want to be a part of comic book publisher and you are interested in illustration and design, you should put your enthusiasm into this area. Sha Nazir taught himself in design. You need to practice your professional design abilities in digital and hand-drawing. Moreover, you need to be active in join publishing or comic activities, such as London Book Fair, which is also how Sha Nazi got the chance to make more publishing contacts. The secret of success is to make connections with some formal writers or television  people: it would be perfect if you could introduce yourself and make them remember you.

Therefore, you need to care about these kind of activities which will open  your horizons and help you know more and gain some experience.

If you are interested in comics or BHP Comics, you can go to their website to find out more.

 

 

Publishing Scotland – Marion Sinclair

December 7th, 2017 by Fiona Logan | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland – Marion Sinclair

Marion Sinclair – Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland and a University of Stirling alumna – presented the Stirling publishing postgraduate students with an illuminating and insightful overview of the Scottish publishing industry.

She started off by reassuring us that we are definitely doing the right thing in terms of studying for a publishing degree. Stating that: “In terms of employability and the way that graduates are shaping the industry at the moment I think it’s a really good thing and you’re making a good move by coming to Stirling to study publishing.”

It was really interesting to hear just how much Publishing Scotland supports publishers. They help publishers professionalise and they scan the horizon for opportunities because publishers do not have the time and are obviously very focused on what they’re doing and their list. Also, a lot of them don’t have a huge amount of staff so they are really busy and tend to be focusing very much on the next programme and the next year so Publishing Scotland is vital in helping them to capitalise on opportunities that may otherwise go amiss.

“It is our role really to scan the horizon and look out for opportunities for them whether it’s funding opportunities or anything to do with facilitating trade links contacts, trying to find innovative ways to help them every year.”

Her talk was very informative and the class learnt a lot on the history of Scottish publishing. For instance, the first books published in Scotland are known as ‘The Chepman and Myllar Prints’. They were two printer publishers who began in Edinburgh in and around 1508 (they printed in Cowgate, Edinburgh and there is a plaque to honour them there). Walter Chepman was an Edinburgh merchant and he provided the money and Androw Myllar was the bookseller.

Fast-forward to what is happening today and it looks optimistic – there are more publishers, more chance of an author to be picked up by agents and more book festivals. As a student, it was really encouraging to hear Marion say that in terms of employability, now is a really good time to get into the publishing industry.

Marion pointed out though that the landscape of Scottish Publishing may change in the next few years, due to a little thing called Brexit. Right now, Scotland has a fairly stable and mature publishing industry but we may start losing some of our position due to Brexit – and we may lose out on some of the cooperation on the international front.

Her talk remained optimistic though, she stated that the industry will have to be open and receptive – and will need to maintain our outward facing stance to survive – it can’t close up. The Scottish publishing industry needs to move beyond our UK market. It needs to start counteracting the negative effects of Brexit that will come in the next few years. Marion then ended her fascinating talk with some really helpful tips to those trying to make it in the publishing industry.

Marion’s top tips:

  • Read the bookseller – get to grips with the understanding of the publishing business.
  • Be numerate! The publishing industry isn’t all about words, numbers matter too.
  • Network endlessly.
  • Get on LinkedIn and make your profile stand out.
  • Work in a bookshop.
  • Try London or New York – experience a new part of the world and gain valuable experience.
  • Think about being entrepreneurial – be bold.
  • Show initiative and constantly ask – “what else can I do?”
  • CV – don’t say you love books. Good spelling and punctuation is vital!!! Zero tolerance on typos.
  • Team effort – don’t forget to be collaborative and social.

Marion’s visit was informative and inspiring. I would like to thank her, on behalf of the class, for sharing her extensive knowledge of the publishing industry.

By Fiona Logan