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So, You Want to Be a Publisher?

March 14th, 2017 by barbora_kuntova | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on So, You Want to Be a Publisher?
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We can all picture it – a guy or a revolutionary woman (because, let’s be honest here…) 50 years ago, in an office where the walls are bookshelves, smoke is curling up at the ceiling, there’s an old typewriter, and piles upon piles of (unread) manuscripts. This is the idea of what a ‘publisher’ does. This is the romanticised version of the job from times long gone.

Fast forward to the present, and adjust your image of a publisher:

  • bookshelves are still cool to have if you’re a publisher, though there has to be some order, and also, you need space for more vital things so keep it down to one or two
  • smoking is a big no inside the office
  • typewriters? Not even computers older than 7 years. You have to move with the flow if you want to make it in this business. With the flow and the technology, really.
  • you may still have piles upon piles of manuscripts – though, sadly, they are now mostly emailed, because who can afford to print what is basically a book, and pay shipping for that on top of everything?

Then there is the word ‘publisher’ – who is she, really (see what I did there)? Is a publisher one who works in a publishing house? One who replies to your emails with ‘sorry but your manuscript does not fit well with our image, keep trying though’? One who finds the next big thing in the world of bestsellers? One who puts together the layout and design of what is soon to become a book? Or the person who makes you notice that there is an interesting title being released this spring, through the media campaign? Or one who tweets and updates other social media on behalf of the publishing house?

All of them are publishers, one way or another. In order to have a successful publishing house you need several things:

  • time and space (it can be your bed, indeed)
  • a budget (we’ve learned at the latest SYP Conference that things can be done well on a very small budget)
  • a good team

People are essential in this business. You need them to read the manuscripts, pick which one will make it (which sounds like a scary but very exciting thing to do), edit it, edit it, edit it, proofread it, typeset it, design it, market it, print it, sell it. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like a one person job to me. And like with everything in your life, you need people you can rely on.

So, you want to be a publisher – a vague term, though often mistaken for a very concrete job description. If you want to be a part of the world of publishing, you need to find a cranny, get yourself in there, and know that you might end up doing whatever is needed to be done. You need to know that publishing books is a time-consuming, exhausting process, often not really appreciated by the public – nobody cares you were the one who made the book happen. The important thing is that it did happen.

As publishers (editors, marketing teams, sales teams, proofreaders, copy-writers, designers, typesetters, interns, etc) we are invisible to the world, working to get the best of writing out to you, the reader. We don’t have our names on the book covers. We rarely even have them printed anywhere inside the book. But we love what we do, we believe in the process, and we are very passionate about our jobs.

Oh and, if you are a writer, keep writing those words. Keep sending manuscripts. Don’t let us destroy your dreams with rejection emails. We want your words, heck, we need your words. We would not exist if it weren’t for those who write. So write.

Yours sincerely, 

Barb Kuntova

PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!

February 27th, 2017 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on PPA Scotland’s Paul McNamee: Fund Diversity!
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The Big Issue’s UK editor, Paul McNamee, took up tenure as Chair of the PPA Scotland on Wednesday evening (15th Feb) in Glasgow, in front of a strong gathering of over 100 people from magazine and newspaper publishing in Scotland.  At this special reception for the new Chair, Neil Braidwood of Connect Communications gave a lively introduction to McNamee as he handed over the reins used to guide the organisation for the last two years. In his acceptance speech, McNamee painted a vivid picture of himself when as a young man of potential, he was keen to get access to the world of publishing and communication.

Bringing the scenario up to date, he pinpointed what was wrong with the industry now – and echoed public statements and report findings produced by the book publishing industry, and indeed many other sectors including marketing and advertising.  He spoke passionately about the lack of diversity in the newspaper and magazine industry, the lack of young people joining the sector from less advantageous backgrounds. “If kids don’t have money behind them, you’ve got to put money in front of them,” he told us and our response was wholeheartedly positive. With the backing of the PPA Scotland, he wants to see the industry supporting disadvantaged young people who have potential and a desire to enter publishing.

Listening to him, I was reminded that in the late Seventies/ early Eighties, I was one of the last to benefit from a full grant for further and higher education, a luxury not available to many in the UK these days.  Now, if someone from a disadvantaged background does decide to become a student (taking on the psychological and practical burden of debt required to do so) and graduates in due course, they will frequently find that to break into their chosen business sector, they are expected to work for nothing often for long periods in the hope that this trial will end in paid-for employment.  Who can afford the luxury of an unpaid internship, where often not even travel is reimbursed? Only those already blessed with some degree of family financial support?  Is it right that entrance to the creative/ knowledge/ communication sectors across the UK can be based on an individual’s financial resource? Surely this must change or the work produced, whether in a newspaper, magazine, book, app or website, will become increasingly irrelevant to most of the population.

It is not wise to have a minority controlling cultural communication.  A monoculture does not reflect society and should not be imposed. Publishers of books, magazines and newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that all voices are represented.  Looking forward to seeing how the new Chair and the members of PPA Scotland tackle this initiative.

By Morven Gow

Links:

PPA news link to Paul McNamee’s Chair Reception evening

Guardian article: Penguin Random House – publishing “risks becoming irrelevant”

The Big Issue: latest issue on reading and libraries

Holidaying in Sepia (part two)

December 16th, 2016 by Alec Spencer | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Holidaying in Sepia (part two)
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Most will not know who I am. Having started my part-time MRes in September 2014, the 27 months runs out about now. So, hello to the (by now not so) new MLitt course and farewell – though if you are interested in Penguins our paths might still cross.

My first ‘Holidaying in Sepia’ blog was written decrying the constant use of technology to which we are all subjected, probably subservient to, and upon which we depend. Relaxation for me involves a good book, preferably in warmer climes, and occasionally accompanied by a drink. So it is that, after a period of intensive work and dissertation submitted by due date, I find myself again enjoying relaxation in the manner described.

Books can resonate with readers, be page-turners and can be all-absorbing. They have the power to transport us and energize our minds. They can allow us to wind down, and dare I admit to the groupies of ‘Bloody Scotland’, that Ian Rankin and Rebus are great escapism, situated in the familiar locations of Auld Reekie and Fife.

But where was I? Oh yes, being absorbed by a good book. I was given one, recently published and signed by the author. I found it interesting, stimulating, absorbing, emotional, educational and even disturbing. This was, in the main, a biography. Like any good historical novel, best guess at what might have happened or what the thought processes were are interspersed with fact, documentation and archive material. The people had migrated and travelled, created new lives, and in this book one of the characters came under the scrutiny of MI5.

Time for dinner; time to stop reading, take a shower and to get changed. So civilized on holidays. My thoughts were still with the book until I realized that even though my watch might survive, the leather watchstrap had absorbed too much of the shower to remain of use. I suppose part of the reason for my absent-mindedness was that, written by a relative, the book’s central characters just happened to be my grandmother and my aunt!

I think I am less likely to have a mishap while reading Rankin.

The course at ‘Stirpub’ is great. Enjoy it and reap the rewards. I’m off to get another sangria.

Alec.

Diverse Reads

December 14th, 2016 by marian_perez-santiago | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Diverse Reads
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Diversity, or lack thereof, is an important topic within the publishing industry. Representation is extremely paramount in both real and fictional worlds and, within each, the publishing industry could do better. However, there are some incredible diverse reads who don’t get the same attention as their non-diverse counterparts. Here are a few of my favorite diverse reads, both fiction and non-fiction. They are in no way all-encompassing nor are they in any particular order. Enjoy!

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This short collection of essays written as a letter to Coates’ son explores what it means to be African American in the US. Coates studies racism throughout history to present-day, even analyzing current tragedies like the racially charged deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. He discusses how racism is structurally ingrained and how the system wasn’t made with people of color in mind. A thought-provoking read, this book will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This is Woodson’s account of growing up as an African American girl during the 1960s Civil Rights movement and its aftermath. Told in verse, it explores Woodson’s childhood and her struggle to find her identity in a world that told her she was somehow less because of her skin color. This is a truly provocative read for all ages.

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This short essay doubles as a call to arms for both women and men. It explores the true definition of feminism through the lens of a Nigerian woman. Adichie uses personal experience to argue that feminism should be all-inclusive and rooted in cognizance. This read, although short, is so enlightening that it should be required reading in school. It’ll make you want to fist pump à la that one scene in The Breakfast Club.

 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

This is a fantasy fiction novel set in the Middle East which follows Amani, a girl who just wants to escape her hometown of Dustwalk in favor of somewhere she can be free. Destined to end up “wed or dead”, she, instead, uses her spectacular sharpshooting skills to get herself out of Dustwalk, only to discover a dangerous secret about her companion and herself. With fantastic world-building, a diverse cast of characters, and a grand adventure, this book is sure to keep you entertained!

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This is a novel set in post-war Barcelona that follows Daniel, a teenager who finds a book—The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax—and seeks out the authors other works only to find that someone has been methodically destroying all of them. Daniel goes on a journey to solve the mystery of the book burning only to discover dark secrets. Originally written in Spanish, this book has fantastic prose and an intriguing plot that will stick with you, even after you finish.

 

By Marian Pérez-Santiago

A Retrospective on NaNoWriMo

December 9th, 2016 by isabella_pioli | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on A Retrospective on NaNoWriMo
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For those who don’t know what NaNoWriMo means, it is the National Novel Writing Month which takes place every November, in which people all over the world decide to write 50,000 words. During my undergrad, I would work on school-work during November trying to retain some semblance of motivation as the semester dragged slowly to a close. My roommate, on the other hand, would begin to write a novel. For four years, every November, she would write a novel; and I would sit on the other side of the room resisting the urge to slam my head into my desk and begging the Finals Gods to grant me one more moment of academic inspiration. My roommate, who for the purposes of this post shall be called Calliope, managed to balance four classes, hockey, her job, various extra-curricular activities, and a novel. She is what NaNoWriMo participators call a pantser, meaning she starts writing without thought or plan, she writes as inspiration comes and a novel is the end result. I hope you can feel my disdain for this woman, she’s my best friend and I love her, but in this month, I loathe her.

So, I talked to Calliope about her process and why she does it. It seems to be that writing and not looking back is the main task. Editing while writing is a no-no, so you should probably just turn off the function in Word that tells you that everything that you do is wrong. Two of my current grad school roommates decided to participate this year, one a native Scot (Caitlin) and the other an Italian (Marta).

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Storyboarding. Started out as a post-it. It has grown.

Marta decided to write her NaNoWriMo project in English as she thought it would be a good way to practice her English. It was her first NaNoWriMo experience and she got to 3000 words while balancing a very full class schedule. She decided to write a dystopian fantasy and had drafted a plot-line as well as some character descriptions. She put some thought into the world she was building and set forth to write whenever there was time and whenever inspiration struck. Only, time is very limited during the month of November in a grad program, and inspiration is a cruel and flighty mistress. All in all, Marta said that she enjoyed the experience and would do it again, only next time there would be daily word count goal and hopefully less stress.

It was also Caitlin’s first time writing in NaNoWriMo. Caitlin started the process with an outline, characters, and had written 10,000 words prior to beginning NaNo, so she didn’t start from scratch. To clarify, those 10,000 were not included in her final word count which was 32,000; she also counted an additional 5,000 words for school assignments. Caitlin initially set aside an hour or two a day once she had finished with her classwork for that day. As the month continued, she discovered that it was hard to find motivation and began to use the weekends to catch up in her word count. However, by week three, she realized she wouldn’t hit 50,000, but had begun to average 1,000 words a day. Caitlin felt pleased with her progress as she had more at the end than when she had started. She may not have ‘won,’ but she was glad to have taken part in the experience anyway, regardless of the outcome. Similar to Marta, Caitlin said she would do it again, when she wasn’t in grad school and therefore, less likely to be so stressed.

I made the decision to attempt to do NaNoWriMo this year. Why? I have NO IDEA. Because grad school isn’t hard enough? Because I’m apparently both a sadist and a masochist? Because I love a challenge? Because I thought, “This is the perfect time to write the content of my Publishing Project?” All of the above, but mostly the last one. And what did I learn from this experience? It is really hard to write an essay, let alone a novel. I don’t think being an author is in my future. However, I also recognize that authors write over a period of time, not in a rush of 50,000 words in a month. Sure, there are times when your muse visits for longer than an hour and in those gracious periods of time words are written in incredible amounts. Chapters finished, characters killed, plot moved, but then the will to write ceases. My muse likes to visit when I’m busy with other things, and especially when I lack paper. My arms have witnessed a lot of ink this month. Still, I failed horribly at the target word count. Sure, if I counted all the words I wrote for my class essays and my text messages, I probably would be closer to 25,000 words, but still nowhere near 50,000. I honestly only made it to 8,000 in my novel.

I didn’t put aside a set hour every day. I didn’t really take the challenge all that seriously, because once I reached 6,000 words I realised that I had more than enough for my publishing project. The thing is – the story won’t leave my head. I have a wall in my room covered in paper that lays out the book’s timeline, I have character biographies, and a family tree. I have an idea of how this world I’ve built will end. I think the thing that NaNoWriMo helped me discover is that I cannot write a story without plotting ahead of time and that my imagination is nowhere near as dead as I thought.

Overall, I think the main thing that I realized is that books are written by many types of people. The author writes the words and maybe they are good, maybe they have the potential to be good, and maybe they will never see the light of day. We all have a story inside of us, but only some of us set aside the time to put pen to paper and let the words flow outside of our internal monologue. I hope that I continue to write my story in spite of the fact that November has come to an end. I hope that we get a November that proves friendly to writing a novel, a month not filled with due dates and stress, but let’s be honest, stress and due dates don’t stop with school ending. But hey, look at that I’ve written another 1000 words and somehow it came easily. If anything, this experience has taught me that looking at the word count is somehow easier than looking at a page count. Oh, and that it helps to have a good writing playlist (mine was a combination of Florence + the Machine, Sia, Electric Light Orchestra, and Cat Stevens). So, plan ahead, if that’s your thing. Write whatever comes to mind. Just have a bit of fun, and don’t judge the random meanderings your mind takes at 4 am when inspiration strikes and your computer is close enough that you can just roll out of bed, burrito yourself in your duvet, and squint at the blinding screen as the nagging voice in your mind finally makes itself known even though you only have five hours to sleep before class…no, I’m not speaking from personal experience at all.

by Isabella Pioli

Vintage Books Reveal Newly Designed Russian Classics

November 17th, 2016 by therese_campbell | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Vintage Books Reveal Newly Designed Russian Classics
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With autumn slowly passing and the winter months soon upon us, curling up with an old classic, by the warmth of a roaring fire – or only-slightly-working radiator if you’re a student – is the perfect way to end a cold and dreary evening.

The Vintage Russian Collection
With these winter evenings in mind, Vintage Books have recently revealed on Facebook and Twitter, a series of newly designed Russian classics. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the series will be released in January, 2017, and will include six texts by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Mikhail Bulgakov. Readers will be given the chance to delve into post and pre-revolutionary Russia once more with these exquisitely designed books.

In an interview with Waterstones, Suzanne Dean, Creative Director at Vintage, discussed her inspiration for the books unique covers. She explained that while republishing classical texts was tricky – there are so many editions already available – her aim was to create a series that readers would ‘cherish, collect and keep.’ She wanted to give each novel a contemporary twist whilst also conveying the era in which they were written. A mesh of different patterns can be found on each cover, with some being taken from and inspired by traditional Russian dress. The different tones of red used on each book give them all an individuality while simultaneously bringing a unity to the collection.

The intention to ‘evoke the essence of each novel’ in their design certainly comes through and each carefully considered colour and pattern breathes new life into these timeless classics. Any true book-lover would be proud to have this beautifully designed series as part of their collection.

Waterstones is currently the only bookshop to stock the series and all six books can be pre-ordered before their general release in January.

by Therese Campbell

Non-Fiction November and a Few Recommendations

November 10th, 2016 by Alice Laing | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Non-Fiction November and a Few Recommendations
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“National Non-Fiction November is the Federation of Children’s Book Groups’ annual celebration of all things factual.” – FCBG

I have always had a soft spot for non-fiction, which was definitely born out of my love of history, and I was excited to learn about a month dedicated to encouraging children and adults to read non-fiction books and celebrate with those who already love them.

With this celebration in mind I stood in front of my ‘non-fiction bookshelf’ (which in reality is half non-fiction and half graphic novels/comic books/miscellaneous) to choose five of my favourites. I want to share these reccomendations with you in the hopes of encouraging the flow of information and the love of non-fiction.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Everyday Sexism is an exploration into the ever present sexism that women experience daily, from ‘small’ acts of verbal harassment to the horrifying experiences of sexual assault. Laura Bates combines statistics with real experiences shared on her Twitter feed and the Everyday Sexism website.

Its blurb describes it as “Bold, jaunty but always intelligent [… a] protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by this juggernaut of stories – often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant.” At times it is difficult to read, specifically regarding the stories of assult, but does offer a glaring insight into the often frightening experiences that women face when they walk outside their front door.

Girl Up by Laura Bates

Another one by Laura Bates (I think I’m in love with her). Girl Up is aimed at teenage girls and young women. Emma Watson praises the book by saying it “unapologetically addresses what teenage girls are really dealing with.” It covers everything from the hypocrisy of dress codes to consent. This book does not hold back – there are swear words and non-censored sex education – but it is also an engaging read that I wish existed when I was a teenager.

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Now onto my love of History (and my issues with it). Silencing the Past is a wonderful little book (191 pages) that tackles the idea that power dictates history and explores what history is deemed important (spoiler alert: white, western history). It explores (with its limited length) some histories that have been ‘silenced’, specifically it covers the Haitian slave revolt, the denials of the Holocaust, and the debate over the Alamo. This book is an interesting look at the role power plays in the recording of history.

The World of the Haitian Revolution edited by David Patrick Geggus & Norman Fiering

The World of the Haitian Revolution is a collection of essays that attempts (quite successfully) to explore the complex issues surrounding Haiti’s emancipation from the French Empire. This collection covers everything from Haiti (formally known as Saint-Domingue) before the French Revolution, to its own revolution and the creation of the first independent black nation.

A truly fascinating period of History that is often forgotten about and is dear to my heart as Haiti (along with Guadeloupe and Martinique) was the subject of my undergraduate dissertation. It is therefore a subject I will gladly talk (read: rant) about for hours.

Image Matters: Archive, Photography, and the African Diaspora in Europe by Tina M. Campt

Image Matters is a look into African diaspora in Europe through a collection of two photographic archives explored and analysed by Tina M. Campt. The first collection is of black German families taken between 1900 and 1945 and the second are studio portraits of West Indian migrants living in Birmingham, England taken between 1948 and 1960.

Elizabeth Edwards describes how this book explores “questions about the nature of historical evidence and the historical process.”  It is facinating look into race and class in 20th century Europe, filled with photographs that tell stories about people who history often ignores.

You can find out more about Non-Fiction November 2016 here. Happy reading.

by Alice Laing

Trip to Bell and Bain for Striling’s 2016-17 Publishing Students

November 9th, 2016 by caroline_obrien | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Trip to Bell and Bain for Striling’s 2016-17 Publishing Students
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Bright and early on a cold autumnal morning we, the 2016-17 Publishing students of the University of Stirling, gathered for our trip to Bell & Bain, the UK’s largest and oldest independent book and journals printers and binders.

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Once we had arrived we were introduced to and given an talk by Derek Kenney, Bell & Bain’s Sales Director Designate, and Kenny Shepherdson, their Business Development Manager. During this part of the tour we were informed that Bell & Bain currently has 115 employees, with a projected turnover for 2016 of £13.2m. In Derek’s own words this makes Bell & Bain a ‘large small business.’ As much sense as that makes.

But, with just over a million sheets printed and bound per week  and approximately 2.45m journals and 6.5m books printed and bound in 2015 what exactly is meant by this statement becomes a little clearer.

After this introductory talk we were whisked away to Bell & Bain’s Burnfield Road production facility. There we were taken step by step through the printing and binding process of a paperback book.

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This process begins with the Production Department receiving orders from Bell & Bain’s customers through email. These orders are turned into work tickets which are checked before being sent down to the computer to plate room.

Here the lithographs are prepared for each order. These plates start out blue and are chemically burned until all that remains in blue is what is to be printed. A plate is made for each colour needed, four for CYMK printing. The machines which make these lithographic plates are capable of creating up to thirty in one hour.

After this, and a brief look in at the paper storage area, we were then taken into the most exciting, and second loudest part of the facility. The part containing the gigantic presses which print the images from the lithographs onto the specific paper needed by the publisher. These monstrous, roaring machines are capable of printing 10,000 sheets an hour. Although it was difficult to hear all the information over the sound of the presses and other machines, I was able to gather that, despite there being cameras in the machine physical checks are required every 500 sheets or so. This reminder that machines are fallible is easily memorable from the slogan provided by Kenny Shepherdson, ‘Rely on the eye.’

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Once printed the sheets are then folded. This part of the factory was, rather unexpectedly after being faced with the presses, the noisiest.

Finally the signatures are sewn together, glue is added and then the cover. There is a long conveyor belt after this to allow the glue time to cool and after that it is sent to the trimmer.

The result is a finished book, in our case this was a new adult colouring book (because the world needs more of those). But in the end, as Derek Kenney reminded us at the end of our tour, it doesn’t really matter as long as people are still reading. So whether print really is dead (something that Derek strongly denied) or if it will continue to thrive indefinitely, as long as we read we’ll be alright. Because once we lose our interest in books we lose our interest in learning and growing.

 

Thanks to Barb Kuntova for letting me use her photos.

Morven Gow, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 7th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Morven Gow, MLitt Publishing Studies 2016-17
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“How brave of you.” “How inspiring!” “I’d love to do that – good on you!”
Reactions to news that I have signed up to be one of the first humans trying to grow spinach in a cloche on Mars? Or perhaps to an announcement that I am contemplating a fire-walk, swimming Loch Lomond, and cycling the world? Neither of those. I find myself a Hero for the Middle-Aged Worker simply by returning to Uni.
What has brought me here to study publishing at Stirling? I wanted to shake up my skills and go back to the future, to focus on writing. After 30 years planning and buying advertising campaigns, with some PR experience, working on campaigns for some of Scotland’s bastions of culture (National Museums, National Galleries, National Library), newspaper publishers, retailers, banks, whiskies, political, and public health campaigns, I thought I would brush up my writing skills to suit the digital age adding what is known in the trade as content marketing to the skills I could offer my employer and my clients. A quick Google brought me to the Publishing Scotland website, and information about a day course on the subject. But I wanted something with more depth. I read information on the site about PG courses in publishing, and although I discounted the idea at the time, a small persistent voice (coupled with the louder voices of my friends) kept asking, “why not? Books are a passion for you, and you love a beautifully designed hip posh mag”. After a meeting with the course director, Frances, the idea blossomed, I applied – and here I am, loving my new life as a student on a well respected course, thinking new thoughts, on a beautiful campus, with fellow students from all over the world.
Now that the course has begun, I can see that the Publishing Studies course will repurpose me for the next stage in my life – rather like a classic G Plan chair, reupholstered and reoiled.
Officially self-employed, I am a consultant for my previous company combining blog writing and communication advice with media planning and buying, and looking for some experience in book and magazine marketing from publishers before I graduate, with an eye to moving into that area as a consultant at the end of the course.

I can be found at@Morv60 on Twitter and at Morven Gow on LinkedIn

The Man Booker Prize 2016

October 28th, 2016 by Aleksander Pęciak | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Man Booker Prize 2016
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The Man Booker Prize logoWho would have ever thought that one of the most prestigious British book awards may be given according to one, simple criteria: “the best novel in the opinion of the judges”? The uniqueness of the Man Booker Prize lies also in the jury which is not (as someone would predict) contained only of literary critics or professors of literature – but also readers reflecting multiple backgrounds: politicians, actors or journalists. Honesty and simplicity that is expressed in this prize seem convincing even for me, a rebel always skeptical to the tastes of highly regarded authorities. And it must mean something.

The general idea behind the prize is to encourage readers to read the winning book – and a true success of it can be measured by the increase of its sales. Every year since 1969 winners are granted with £50,000 for their books published in The United Kingdom, which makes it one of the richest prizes in the world. In addition to the main prize since 2005 there has been the International Man Booker Prize awarded to those whose work’s translations appeared in English. The money are shared between the international author and the translator of the book. The winner of the International Man Booker Prize was announced earlier this year – “The Vegetarian” by Korean author Han Kang, a story about woman embracing her idea of living “plant-like” existence, translated by Deborah Smith, a founder of non-for-profit Tilted Axis Press.

In 2016 we can be sure that satire is still alive. On 25th of October Paul Beatty became the first American winner of The Man Booker Prize. Two years ago the prize changed its rules and opened to authors from outside the Commonwealth, what makes his winning even more significant. His winning book, “The Sellout”, “takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and snarl”, and is, as described by judges, “a novel for our times”. Parodying racial stereotypes, Beatty presents the story of Bonbon, African-American living in Dickens, Los Angeles, and his struggles with accusation of reintroducing slavery and segregation in a local high school. The author has received the trophy from the hands of the Duchess of Cornwall. A victory of Paul Beatty is also a victory of small and independent trade publisher – Oneworld. Based in London and active since 1986, Oneworld presents novels advertised as “intelligent, challenging and distinctive”. I could not imagine better gift for the year of their 30th anniversary.

The Man Booker Prize for Paul Beatty is also a great disappointment for the raised hopes for Graham Macrae Burnet’s “His Bloody Project” published by Contraband, the crime imprint of Saraband. It was the bestselling novel on the shortlist and had the best recognition amongst its rivals. A Man Booker Prize would be the true icing on the cake – “His Bloody Project” translation rights in six countries as well as film and TV adaptation permissions were sold. The publisher is struggling now to meet the demands for the books.

But in the terms of the mission of the prize, we can easily say that it is completed – sales for all the nominated books has risen, which proves its real impact on the readership and readers’ choices.