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careers

Visiting Speaker – Rights Director Andrea Joyce

April 3rd, 2017 by rachel_kay | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker – Rights Director Andrea Joyce
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Stirling’s MLitt Publishing students were recently delighted to hear from Andrea Joyce, who spoke to us about her role as Rights Director at Canongate, and what it takes for a book to successfully transcend geographical borders.

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

Keeping Pace

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

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

Choosing Wisely

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

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

Making Changes

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

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

Working in Rights

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

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

Many thanks to Andrea for an informative talk!

by Rachel Kay

Visiting Speaker – Kathryn Ross

November 11th, 2016 by rachel_kay | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker – Kathryn Ross
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Last Thursday, our publishing class had the privilege of spending a few hours with literary agent Kathryn Ross. Alongside Lindsey Fraser, Kathryn runs Fraser Ross Associates Literary Agency and Consultancy (www.fraserross.co.uk), which the pair established in 2002.

logoKathryn didn’t take the traditional route to becoming a literary agent. She began as a secondary school English teacher, overseeing the school library, and eventually collaborating with the department head to set up a mobile bookstore in a van. When this venture did well, she left teaching and got a position running the children’s tent at the Edinburgh Book Festival, afterwards moving on to work at the Scottish Book Trust. Kathryn spent ten years here, where she met Lindsey and built up a long list of author and publishing contacts. Finally, with the encouragement of author Vivian French, the pair took the leap of setting up their own literary agency with Vivian as their first client.

Fourteen years down the line, she says her job is hard work, hugely rewarding (emotionally, although not always financially), and that she gets a lot of joy from seeing authors set off, and in helping them grow their careers. Fraser Ross Associates now represents about sixty-five writers and illustrators, most of whom work in children’s fiction (although some write across all age ranges and genres).

booksWriting for children is challenging. There’s a lot to accomplish in a short format, including fleshing out the characterisation, problems, and emotions that form a complete story. Children’s books must be equally appealing to parents- these are the buyers, and the ones who will be reading the book over and over. Children’s authors need to be good at summing up and pitching their content, and are now expected to do more marketing and publicity than ever before. An author’s success has increasingly come to depend on things like doing events and getting positive online reviews.

Agents are integral within this process, acting as sounding boards, cheerleaders, and business advisers to an author. This includes ideas development, networking, brand-building, and actively pursuing sub-rights. When taking clients on board, Kathryn and Lindsay look for long-term partnerships, where the content and the personalities both fit. Good communication is essential, as are trust, openness, and honesty, as everyone needs to be able to talk through ideas and problems.

Authors / illustrators and literary agents are often recommended to each other, one of the reasons that networking is vital. Kathryn and Lindsey also seek out new talent, such as by attending end-of-year college art shows. On top of this, they receive unsolicited manuscripts, about 200 per month. Many of these come via email, and Kathryn says she misses the physicality of receiving packages in the post- although she doesn’t miss the occasional extras, like glitter stars, crushed biscuits, melted toffees, etc. Kathryn has gotten some extremely creative submissions over the years, and was able to give us extensive, and often hilarious advice on what not to do, including why penguins and polar bear must never meet.

Each ‘day in the life’ of a literary agent is different, but typical tasks include:

  • Reminding publishers to pay invoices
  • Checking/negotiating contracts
  • Polishing submissions before they’re sent to editors – lots of editing!
  • Meeting with publishers, especially in London
  • Pushing for better royalties for her clients
  • Reading Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and The Bookseller
  • Attending launch parties
  • Negotiating permissions fees
  • Talking authors through outlines, edits, and cover design
  • Giving advice to cold callers
  • Informing authors of success / rejection
  • Discussing deadlines, delays, relationship problems, moving house, etc. with clients
  • Paying authors
  • Submitting manuscripts
  • Sending congratulations cards of all types
  • Reading unsolicited submissions
  • Attending book fairs, especially Bologna
  • Reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, reading, … and emails.

Many thanks to Kathryn for sharing her time with us, and for bringing back the nostalgia of story time for us Masters students!

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

My Internship with Eland Publishing

May 5th, 2015 by Helen Griffin | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Eland Publishing
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Eland BadgeIn February of this year I had the opportunity to work for Eland Publishing, one of the foremost publishers of classic travel writing in the world. Eland is a very small and determinedly independent publisher located in Exmouth Market in London. The publishing house is owned by travel writers Rose Baring, John Hatt and Barnaby Rogerson, run with the assistance of a team of self-motivated freelancers: Jennie Paterson [website creation] Antony Gray [typesetting and page design] and Stephanie Allen [Publicity Director]. Eland’s mission statement is to keep the great works of travel literature in print.

Eland Picture 1I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to work for Eland because everything was run from one small attic room that had a bohemian, dusty sort of air to it, spread around large piles of books. The office was everything you imagine a publishing house should look like. All meetings and every aspect of book production was covered in this tiny little space and so I was able to see and hear all the work and planning that goes in to every stage of the book making process. I was also able to meet and have conversations with some incredibly interesting travel writers, who in a larger publishing house would have most likely been tucked away in private offices to have their meetings.

 

GoddessThroughout my internship I was able to sink my teeth into some real publishing activities such as organising and attending a book launch for their newest release: The Living Goddess by Isabella Tree. I also had the exciting job of cataloguing all of the entries for the Stanford-Dolman Best Travel Book of the Year Award, which meant that I was the first person to see all the potential candidates for the award.

 

Eland Picture 2Barnaby and Rose were both excellent people to work with. I was the first intern they had ever taken on and so I was very appreciative of how welcoming and enthusiastic they were to ensure that I would gain as much experience as possible from this work experience. They would explain the reasoning and importance behind every task I was completing and how each contributed to the overall running of their business. They would also involve me in all of their meetings and engage me in the conversation so that I was not just a mere spectator to the activity.

Eland Picture 7My time at Eland allowed me to develop a fine eye for detail and gave me the confidence to voice my own ideas when I felt I could contribute. I am very grateful to Barnaby and Rose for the support I was given throughout my time at Eland. This experience gave me a broad understanding of the work that goes into book production and showed me the pride they felt for the content they were producing. It was a privilege to work for a company who strive to keep classic travel literature in print and to be able to say, that for a while, I was a part of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Internship with Floris Books

April 29th, 2015 by Callum Mitchell Walker | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Internship with Floris Books
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9781782501824In February of this year I began a  4-month internship with Edinburgh based children’s and non-fiction publisher Floris Books and have greatly benefitted from this experience by enhancing my classroom learning in a professional environment. Mainly focused in the marketing department, I learned valuable new skills and was able to improve the abilities I had prior to my time interning. Although most of my tasks were marketing focused, one benefit of Floris being a small publisher is that I was given the opportunity to work on a wide range of tasks across other departments too and develop a greater understanding of the ways in which departments work together to optimize the effective running of company procedures.

Although Floris are a small Scottish publisher, they publish a wide range of non-fiction titles in areas such as biodynamics and holistic health as well as their popular children’s books. I was able to work on many projects across the different lists published by Floris and enjoyed working on marketing different books to different groups of readers.

9781782501251-3At the start of my internship I was warmly welcomed by the lovely Floris team and was introduced to the extensive Floris tea collection that I was encouraged to enjoy as often as I liked, before getting straight down to work. Throughout my internship I was able to work on a wide variety of tasks for the marketing department including writing press releases, drafting advance information sheets and designing promotional materials for events. I was unaware before my internship how often I would be utilizing my InDesign abilities in creating marketing materials and my first few weeks interning encouraged me too really practice these skills. However my tasks were not restricted to marketing, as I gained valuable editorial experience proofreading content and reading and reporting on submissions for the Floris annual Kelpies Prize, which encourages Scottish writing for children. I also helped assist the Floris team at the awards ceremony for the Kelpies Design and Illustration Prize, which awarded designers and illustrators who reimaged the cover of a classic children’s book in the Kelpies range of Scottish children’s fiction.

I’m very grateful for my time spent at Floris as I have received support, guidance and feedback from such a dynamic company. I have learned many essential skills that will benefit me in my future career from a fantastic, passionate small team. My internship has given me much more confidence in my abilities and has encouraged me to work on other skills to improve my employability when looking for my first job in the publishing industry. This experience has been completely invaluable to me by providing me with a hands-on approach to publishing practices and helped me to feel more enthusiastic than ever before about my future endeavours.

Lectureship in Digital Media and Publishing

November 14th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Lectureship in Digital Media and Publishing
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We’re very sad to announce that Dr Padmini Ray Murray will be leaving us at Christmas (for a post in India on the teaching faculty at the Centre of Public History at the Srishti School for Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore). We’ll miss her greatly, but we’re sure future collaborations will ensue.

That said, we’re happy to be announcing a vacancy for a Lecturer in Digital Media & Publishing, to teach and research both in the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication, and also in our Division of Communications, Media and Culture.

Full details and the job specification are available from here. Please do contact our Director, Professor Claire Squires, if you’re interested in informally discussing the role.

Visiting speaker: John Innes – Think Publishing.

October 15th, 2014 by Heather Margaret McDaid | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting speaker: John Innes – Think Publishing.
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Whale Dolphin Conservation“We want to create content that connects with the reader, and has its own aims and objectives,” says John Innes, associate director of Think Publishing, the second of the MLitt’s visiting speakers for 2014-15. Heather McDaid reports:

The company currently has 58 staff, 38 clients and 45 titles they handle, with 4.5 million copies per year printed. But it’s not just content creation they handle; as with any competitive company within publishing they offer a full service to meet their clients’ needs. This can range from editorial and design, advertising and research, to finance account management.

Just like the service they provide, their client base is broad and varied. Publications include Historic Scotland and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), as well as Whale & Dolphin, with digital copies available on ISSUU. Though there’s a stark contrast in some of the content, Innes notes there are lots of similarities in dealing with membership magazines that makes it easier.

“We need latitude to make it look interesting,” he notes, explaining that it’s hard to work within a rigid brand. To avoid it looking like a corporate brochure, they need to evolve the publication to keep it interesting for readers. He deems it “Brand+” – they take the basic brand and add to it to create a better product.

In order to do that, he continues, they need to satisfy all three of their customers without encroaching on another – the client, the reader and the advertisers.

“Every issue we produce should be better than the last” in at least one way, and they use workshops heavily in order to meet the client’s needs while creating a quality product. This goes beyond a mere print publication at times, with digital content being generated for almost every client, from extracts to video content. People are platform agnostic, he adds, but it’s still important to make each one functional and appealing.

With this digital age, there is one key issue: “there is no such thing as news in an internet environment”, instead they’ll try generate interviews and analysis, not “news that happened last week”. In a world where information is available instantaneously, print publications can’t compete.

But what about those who would like to work with Think Publishing? “The best question to ask is ‘why?'”, says Innes. They need people not only with an interest in their work, but the ability to ask why they do certain things, why competitors do certain things, and whether that’s something they should consider. They need people who want to make the publications better and more interesting, and encourage people to look into their internships if it sounds something they feel they’d be suited for.

Blake Brooks, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-13

October 7th, 2014 by SCIPC | Posted in Alumni | Comments Off on Blake Brooks, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2012-13
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BlakeBrooks‘StirPub supported me from day one of the course, allowing me to pursue the areas of publishing I was interested in. By helping me with internships they allowed me to gain the experience I needed, and the course provided wonderful networking opportunities. Without the experience and education I gained from the course I would never have achieved everything that I have. The course is the perfect first step to a career in Publishing.’

Blake Brooks, Marketing and Events coordinator, The Bookseller

The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15

October 7th, 2014 by Kiley Pole | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The First in Our Visiting Speakers Series, 2014-15
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On Thursday October 2, we had the first in our visiting speakers series. Chani McBain, Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev provided us with a plethora of information on not only their specified topics but also their experiences in the publishing industry.

To start the session off Leah McDowell and Nadia Suchdev introduced us to the Society of Young Publishers Scotland (SYP). We learned how the organization is run by volunteers with the aim to help and inform those who have been in the publishing business for less than 10 years, or those like us who are attempting to break into the business. SYP Scotland offers different events and workshops available to members (to become a member it costs £24 per annum) that help put their name out there and start the all dreaded networking. Included in the membership is free entry to all events, a newsletter, job bulletins, discounted tickets to the annual SYP Conference and participation in the mentoring programme.

Some of upcoming events include, “How to network for those who hate networking” on October 23rd and the Booksellers Panel Event on November 19th.

Leah and Nadia also encouraged us to not only join, but apply to become committee members. As a member of the committee you would have a hand in putting on the events throughout the year that really help people.

You can find them on Facebook SYP Scotland and on Twitter @SYPscotland.

Chani McBain spoke to us about Floris Books and more specifically the internship available from them. She gave us some useful advice about using our time in the course to make those connections and getting a lot of different experience in the different fields of publishing. Her main tagline about internships being that we might be wrong. In our heart of hearts we may think we are meant to be editors when in reality we are best suited for production or marketing, that really we could love a field that we never thought possible.

The internship at Floris Books is one day a week (which day that is they are flexible and willing to work with us) in a “marketing focused” capacity. That does not mean that the intern (one this semester and one next) will solely be stuffing envelops, although that is part of it, but that they will be working on press releases, marketing briefs, and flyers to name a few. Since Floris Books is a small company, composing of 11 employees, the interns will have the opportunity to witness and be part of many small projects and get to see the whole publishing process.

What Floris lacks in number of employees they make up for in their plethora of teas to chose from.

These three ladies gave us lots of useful advice, stemming from their experiences as newcomers to the industry and from when they were students as well. Namely, that internships are good, if not essential in getting to know the business as well as getting to know yourself. Are you really an editor? Or, are you a literary agent? This is our industry, it pays to become involved. Take advantage of every opportunity, not just internships but events, panels, book and literary festivals. And, when it comes dissertation time, choose a topic that is useful, something that not only will inform you about the industry but something that is geared to the type of job you want.

Kiley Pole, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 7th, 2014 by Kiley Pole | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Kiley Pole, MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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10690336_10154601180970510_4246123074955421661_nWriting about oneself is always difficult, especially when coupled with the idea of having to post it on the internet. There are too many considerations, especially for someone like myself who does not enjoy the spotlight. I suppose I should just “lay it out there” and go forward from that point.

I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. To be more specific I’m from London Ontario Canada which just confuses a lot of people because of the really famous London in the UK. Here at least I can clarify. I did my undergraduate studies at Western University in London Ontario. There I studied French Literature and Spanish Linguistics.

How did I get here? I studied in France for a year of my undergraduate degree and while I was there I made the trip to Scotland. In all of my travels, I have never felt so at home as I do in Scotland. When the opportunity to study here, at Stirling University, came about through the MLitt in Publishing Studies I could not say no. It was a long, hard journey (both literally and metaphorically, I have the worst luck with traveling) to get here and thus far it has been worth it.

To say that I love books would be redundant, if I didn’t love them in some or in my case, every capacity I would not be here. What I am hoping is that through this programme of study I will be able to expand that love to all aspects of book publishing.