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advice

A Starter Guide for Students at London Book Fair

March 23rd, 2017 by marian_perez-santiago | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Starter Guide for Students at London Book Fair
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The London Book Fair is overwhelming, to say the least. It’s full of scary business people making, what I assume are, lucrative business deals with other scary business people. If you’re a student (or just a normal person with insecurities) it can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first-time attendee. Here are my top five tips for staying sane at LBF. Or, you know, as sane as any student can be.

1. Have a game plan. Look at the full list of talks and seminars beforehand and decide which ones you want to attend. See which publishers will be there and decide whose stands you want to visit. Gather your bearings before you get there. Make a list of where you need to be and when you need to be there. Save yourself the anxiety and plan ahead.

2. Divide and conquer. If you’re going with friends, don’t be afraid to split up. There are a multitude of interesting seminars at LBF and a lot of overlap. Unless you have a time-turner, you won’t be able to catch all the ones on your list. Instead, talk to friends to see if they’re attending any seminars you wanted to go to but can’t make and vice versa and ask if you can swap notes afterwards.

3. Know that people can be mean. There are people who will tell you that this is untrue to make you feel better, but I’m here to tell you that those people are liars. The very first stand we walked up to was a big five publisher and the Editorial Assistants manning the booth were dismissive and unkind. While we didn’t expect royal treatment, we were sort of hoping for basic human decency. This experience made us want to cry and also turned us off networking for the rest of the day. I hope it never happens to you, but know that it’s a possibility.

4. Know that people can be nice, too. For every mean person, there are at least five nice people.* You won’t find them if you don’t keep networking. The next day, we dusted ourselves off and mustered up the courage to talk to some other publishers. It went infinitely better and we had only good experiences. Networking is still the worst, but it’s less terrible when people are nice. Cherish the nice people!

5. The best place to network is after seminars. If you’re looking for the least painful place to network, look no further than seminars. Usually, speakers hang around afterwards to talk. It’s pretty easy to start (“Hey, I’m so and so and I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed…”) and the benefits are many. If you’re shy and don’t want to ask questions during the Q&A part of the seminar, this is your chance to do it. The few precious business cards I got weren’t actually from networking with publishers at their booths, but from talking to people after seminars.

There’s also the obvious stuff: wear comfy clothes/shoes, buy your lunch from the Tesco across the street, walk a block to avoid paying the ridiculous coffee prices in the convention hall, etc. Use your common sense. LBF is a good introduction to the publishing business world, I think (learn to time manage, people are nice/mean/somewhere in between, coffee is expensive, the future is terrifying, books are wonderful). As a student, my best advice is to not worry too much. You’re not there to make some lucrative business deal, you likely won’t land your dream job, and you won’t meet JK Rowling. However, LBF is a great place to learn about the publishing industry and the people in it. Get some ideas. Take it all in. This time, you’re along for the ride. One year, who knows? You might be driving.

*This statistic is entirely made up, but I hope it’s true.

By Marian Pérez-Santiago

SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit

November 1st, 2016 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland: Editorial: First Draft to Finished Book #SYPedit
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On Thursday 27th October, the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) Scotland organised the first editorial event of the year, which took place in Edinburgh at the David Hume Tower. If you are considering a career in the publishing industry, editorial is one of the top choices on the list, functioning as the fundamental department of a publishing company.

The panel of the event, chaired by Rosie Howie, Publishing Manager of Bright Red, consisted of three highly experienced people in editorial departments: Jo Dingley of Canongate Books, the freelancer editor Camilla Rockwood and Robbie Guillory of Freight Books. All speakers shared their experiences on publishing and the reasons why they chose editorial in particular.

Most of the speakers started as editorial assistants, making their way up as editors. All of them emphasized the fact that editorial is a matter of choice and discovery, with Jo and Camilla highlighting the special moment when they get the finished book on their hands, as a reward of working in editorial and one of the top reasons they chose it as a career path.

Communicating with the author and establishing a close relationship with him is an essential part of working in editorial. Apart from the strong engagement with the author, commissioning editors tend to work directly with the author’s agent as well. One of the key parts of editorial, after author care, is to read carefully the manuscripts and share your opinion with the editorials colleagues at weekly meetings, as Jo points out.

People who work in editorial spend a large amount of time considering submissions and familiarising with the house style. Editors and proofreaders should be careful “not to get involved with the content of the manuscript when editing one”, Camilla warns. A useful advice was the fact that editors should be careful with judgement and suggestions as some authors get quite sensitive and over-protective of their manuscripts. This is the reason why editors should approach authors carefully when answering to queries, encouraging face to face meetings with them.

Robbie emphasized that editorial is not “exam marking”, it is a service: “editing is not about eliminating errors; you’ve got to be really curious about things and ideas”. This is one of the hard parts of the job, along with the fact that editors have to manage authors’ expectations, as the target is to keep the cost as low as possible. Jo advised that it is important for editors to be friendly and give reasons to potential rejections of manuscripts: “You should give feedback to rejections and explain what you are looking for at the moment, by giving more information”.

For students who are particularly interested in editorial, all the speakers advised to “put yourself out there” and find internships and work placements for experience. Furthermore, as Camilla suggested, even working in retailing as a bookseller, offers you experience and shows that you are interested in the publishing industry. Familiarising yourself with software such as InDesign, Photoshop and Microsoft Excel, in addition of being aware of new technology and tools is essential. One of the most important advice was also being active on social media and knowing what’s current in the industry. Although it’s a highly competitive industry, all the panel encouraged people who pursue a career in editorial “not to give up”, as trying other areas of publishing is a great way to end up in the department they desire.

By Elina Kyriazi-Perri