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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

Saltire Society judging experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What defines the best?

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

By David MacDonald Graham.

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

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

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

Well, to me, these are two questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter me @davidjonwinter

facebook me under David MacDonald Graham.

or LinkedIn me here:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-macdonald-graham-557605b1/

The Pathfoot printing press

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

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

The Adana 8×5

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

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

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

Typecase for Bembo 14pt

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

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

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

 

The Columbian press in action

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

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

Man Booker Prize Event with Graeme Macrae Burnet

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prize winners 2016-17

November 10th, 2017 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Prize winners 2016-17

We’re celebrating the successes of our MLitt in Publishing Studies class of 2016-17, who will graduate next week.

This year, we have a number of awards sponsored by our Industry Advisory Board.

The first award goes to Rachel Kay, who wins the Routledge Prize for Most Distinguished Student on the MLitt in Publishing Studies. Rachel did consistently well across the programme, and also contributed to the wider life of the university, including interning at the newly founded Pathfoot Press.

The Publishing Scotland Dissertation Prize goes to Stephan Pohlmann, for his superlative research, ‘The Paradigm of Bookishness: Digital Publishing Beyond Ebooks’.

The Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation goes this year to Caroline O’Brien, for her work on our PUBPP24 Digital: Process and Product. As her award, Caroline will visit the Faber & Faber offices to see their digital operations.

Finally, the Freight Books Prize* for Design goes to Shem Otieno, for his work in creating the prototype for a literary magazine in Kenya. After the MLitt, Otieno has returned to Nairobi, and is working as an Assistant Editor at Kwani Trust.

 

*The Freight Books Prize has been awarded for the final time this year; we will be looking for a new sponsor for our Design prize.

Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes

November 10th, 2017 by Mireia_Paune | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes
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On Thursday November 2nd, Peggy Hughes, manager of Literary Dundee (but changing to Program Director of Writers’ Centre Norwich this month), visited Stirling University and enlightened Publishing and Creative Writing students in our future possible paths in the book industry.

With a lot of enthusiasm, Peggy talked about her adventure in this sector, beginning with her English Literature studies at St Andrews. While studying, she knew that she didn’t want to become a teacher, so she applied for a job in the Edinburgh International Book Festival to get some experience in the book industry. She got rejected (as life is full of rejections) but she got involved with StAnza Poetry Festival, a very useful experience that helped her get into Edinburgh International Book Festival the following year.

West Port Book Festival

Then she graduated and started to work in the bookshop Armchair Books, located in Edinburgh, which the sitcom Black Books was based on. As a result of working there and seeing the potential of the area for housing a book festival (West Port had six bookshops and a nice pub), she set up the West Port Book Festival with some friends.

It was not easy to re-brand the area and start a project like this without funding, so they pre-crowdfunded the project (the clients of Armchair Books contributed to the cause) and learned how to develop a festival like this. West Port Book Festival was celebrated for five years (from 2008 to 2012), which is not difficult to believe, regarding that some of the authors of the first year were Ian Rankin, Ali Smith and Alison Louise Kennedy.

After that, Peggy worked for nine months in the Scottish Poetry Library (at one point the 4th most influential library in Twitter) and later in the press and marketing of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, where she got to promote unique events celebrated in Scotland. In 2013 she got a job in Literary Dundee, where she is currently working as a manager, as said earlier.

Literary Dundee

This cultural organisation, associated with the University of Dundee, celebrated Dundee Literary Festival for the first time on 2007. Since then, the organisation has organised lots of different and uncommon events, as talks with authors, involving music, biscuits, networking and a brilliant atmosphere. This October the festival had Laura Jones and Heather McDaid (404 Ink), Jenny Niven (Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland) and Laura Waddell (HarperCollins) among others.

This November, Peggy starts a new chapter in her career as the Program Director of the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall, a magnificent medieval building in Norwich that will become a literary centre and where she will be working within a team. She is very excited to start a new adventure in this dreamy place.

Some final tips and book recommendations

Apart from seeing Peggy’s steps and how her career has brought her to Ireland again, one of my favourite moments of her visit and, probably not only mine, was when she gave us some top tips for working and getting into the book industry:

  • Keep calm and love spreadsheets: have a good relation with numbers and with Excel, as being confident with it will benefit employment opportunities.
  • Look for a mentor.
  • Live and learn how to prioritize.
  • Do your research: be accurate when applying for a job and think about the person that is in the other end and receives your email (as there are people there).
  • Read, read… read: if someone asks you “What are you reading?” you should be able to answer.
  • See an opportunity and do it: this is what 404 Ink did.
  • Say yes, and yes: the first time is frightening, but you have to try. Only if you know for sure that you can’t do a good job say no.
  • Just be nice.

She also gave us two book recommendations: Align me by walking by Sarah Bomb, a novel that shows you how to stay motivated and remain hopeful, and The faraway nearby, by Rebecca Solnit.

She finished her visit in the best way possible: with free books to a lucky winner and the quote “how you spend your days is how you spend your life”, affirming that we had to feel like a cat with balloons, meaning that what we do has to make us feel happy. The truth is her visit and her enthusiasm (and its terrific end) made us feel really happy.

 

By Mireia Pauné