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The Popularity of Book Events Across the UK

February 8th, 2017 by chiara_bullen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Popularity of Book Events Across the UK
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The launch of a book, especially one that kick starts an author’s writing career, is undoubtedly a special occasion. This was certainly the case on the 2nd of February when Cranachan Publishing, who began their publishing journey in early 2016, launched Ross Sayers’ ‘Mary’s The Name’ to a room filled with a bustling crowd and festive atmosphere.

To celebrate the book’s release, which follows the story of an 8-year old girl on the run with her Grandpa, Cranachan Publishing hosted a lively night of music, food, drink and a charismatic interview with the author. The night was a sell-out, demonstrating that small publishers can certainly put on a big show.

This is a scenario you’re likely to come across in venues across the UK, as book events are increasingly popular. In the next couple of months there are at least 260 book events taking place across the country.* Of course, there always have been events to pull in crowds, but with the introduction of technology that encourages virtual events- such as Twitter Q+As with authors and online tours- it’s encouraging to see how physical and digital events fall hand-in-hand with each other instead of one coming out on top.

The success of #ScotLitFest, the largest online-only book festival launched in 2016, shows there is clearly a demand and an audience for virtual book-events, most likely because of how convenient and easily accessible they are. Thankfully, the popularity of physical events doesn’t seem to have wavered despite the demand, and last year’s launch and immediate success of Harper Collins’ ‘BookGig’ illustrates this.

BookGig is an online resource that allows you to enter your postcode to see what bookish events are coming up near you,  allowing you to buy tickets and find out more about the event. This makes it easier to find events close and convenient to you, helping spread the word and drawing crowds to events they might have potentially missed out on. The importance of the prominent presence of physical book events is demonstrated in a comment from Brian Klems of Writer’s Digest:

‘Although today’s virtual world allows authors to connect with their audience without ever leaving their house, virtual communication cannot replace the physical experience of sharing your book and knowledge with a room full of real people at a book signing. Successful book signings help drive word of mouth, move books, built your credibility and platform as an author, speaker and expert in your field and allow you to get a true-life sense of your audience.’

The roaring success of the Mary’s The Name book launch in Stirling truly represents the popularity of physical book events across the UK. With the introduction of successful and easy to use resources making them more accessible, it’s a positive sign of times to come for events in the publishing industry.

Cranachan publishing can be found on Twitter, as well as BookGig.

*Stats from BookGig

Chiara Bullen

Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse

February 9th, 2015 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Gaelic Books Council Scholarship report – Liam Crouse
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Liam Crouse, the first recipient of the Gaelic Books Council Scholarship, reports on his award:

Profile-Publishing1My initial interest in Scottish Gaelic literature was fostered during my undergraduate degree in Celtic and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. Two forms of prose, the short story and the novel, were instrumental by both fostering my linguistic ability and cementing my interest in Gaelic-language literature. Following graduation, during my return home, my once fluent conversational skills began to ebb. However, by engaging with the modern literature, I was able to keep some semblance of fluency. It was during this period that I recognised the importance of literature to minority languages – not only in terms of cultural value, but also to foster usage and regeneration.

Unlike the English-language publishing industry, in the Gaelic world we need more – more books, more authors, more publishers, more support. That was one of the reasons for creating the Gaelic Books Council scholarship. Initiatives within the past decade have focused on populating the literary corpus with quality works of prose. All the while continuing with those initiatives, new efforts are being exerted towards developing publishing capacity.

Through the course at the University of Stirling, I have gained an industry-oriented knowledge-base of the publishing industry, both in Britain and abroad. Courses in marketing strategies, business acumen, digital skills and publishing dynamics complemented each other in insightful and appealing ways. These skills were brought together in my publishing project – a geospacial app mapping out the life of the celebrated Gaelic poet Duncan Bàn MacIntyre along the West Highland Way, for which I was awarded the Faber & Faber prize for digital innovation. Towards the conclusion of the course, my thesis concerning the market for Gaelic books allowed me to investigate the multifaceted industry in a way which combined my zeal for the language with my interest in business and marketing practice.

Throughout the course, I gained first-hand experience working with publishers both big and small. The Gaelic Books Council arranged two internships at Gaelic-language publishers, one in Stornoway (Acair)and the other in Highland Perthshire (Grace Note Publications). While working with Grace Note, I helped in the translating of a children’s book which just recently was published in late November. I also secured an internship at the multinational publisher, HarperCollins, working on bilingual dictionaries. The contrast between large and small, multinational and local, and English and Gaelic made for interesting comparison.

I further became involved in Gaelic publishing in a more entrepreneurial spirit in December 2013, when news broke about the termination of Gaeldom’s sole magazine. A small group of enthusiasts and I rose to the challenge and established the first e-zine in the language called Dàna. The past year has been immensely enjoyable and enlightening, allowing me to directly apply many points from the degree. The e-zine is a tangible project with which I feel like I am helping to progress the language’s literature and we intend to continue developing the site’s outreach and influence in the coming years. It will certainly keep me busy!

The scholarship and degree have been both interesting and engaging. To those prospective publishing students: not only will it provide the keen librophile with a good balance of business sense, it will also equip you with the knowledge and connections that will allow you to thrive within the industry.

Note: Liam will shortly be taking up a post as Gaelic Development Office at Ceòlas Uibhist Ltd.

London Book Fair and Digicon 2013

May 11th, 2013 by Blake Brooks | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on London Book Fair and Digicon 2013
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Blake Brooks, MLitt in Publishing Studies student, reports on London Book Fair and Digicon 2013:

It’s been an intense year of studying and interning, going from being a freshly graduated undergrad to hardcore postgrad, and all that energy and learning culminated in two events in April: The London Book Fair and the Interactive Scotland Digital Conference (Digicon).

Although as a Londoner the London Book Fair was a chance to go home, the trip was still predominantly about working, networking and seeing the publishing industry in practice. Still, even a lifelong Londoner like myself can underestimate journey time, and so at 9.30am on the Monday morning I went dashing into Earls Court trying to get to my first seminar. I only paused briefly to marvel at the stands that stretched out before me like a hundred tiny showrooms, a sea of metal squares with banners and photos all vying for attention.
Whilst I enjoyed the seminar, I felt somewhat disorientated and so decided to forgo my next intended one for a chance to walk around and familiarise myself. However that feeling of disorientation never went away. I found I largely spent my time trying not to crash into the marketing executive of HarperCollins, desperately attempting light hearted and jovial conversation with stern-faced and unamused stall-dwellers, and smiling with nervous hope at disinterested business people rushing from meeting to meeting with no interest in anyone with the word ‘student’ emblazoned across their badge.

A world away from the rush of the main fair, I did enjoy the seminars and I was even invited to partake in some meetings with my internship company Saraband, which were interesting, nerve-wracking, and brilliant. I felt like everyone was communicating in another language, but every now and then I caught familiar words or had a feeling I knew what they were really talking about, and I loved it when I had something I could contribute, though for the most part I preferred to listen.

I did however find it disheartening how little care was shown for students (theoretically the future of the publishing industry) and how hard it was to approach people, even at networking events. I’m not a wallflower but I really struggled, and some people were just downright rude when you did try. That’s also the feedback I’ve received relatively unanimously from the other Stirling students, too.

However the Fair itself is definitely worth going to; a great educational experience that is interesting and often enjoyable. I loved sitting with a glass of wine and chatting publishing with those I had connected with, I enjoyed live-tweeting in excess until my batteries died, I smiled as I played LBF bingo in my head and ticked ‘William Boyd’ off my list (but not a bin, which were few and far between).

The seminars were interesting, although I only made half of my intended ones as my feet hurt and my energy ran out as the days are long and tiring. The stalls were fascinating, especially seeing how some were so open and full of life like Penguin and Button Books, whilst others, like Canongate and Lonely Planet, built both literal and metaphorical walls around themselves. Many people at stalls encouraged conversation, others were all business and meetings. Overall I left with two business cards but fifty new twitter followers, a heavy heart but an enthused mind, and a sense that the publishing industry was not going to be quite as kind to me as I’d once thought – even though I also came out feeling like those that were kind were more than making it up for those who weren’t.

Digital Day was a totally different and utterly positive experience by comparison. I showed up expecting it to feel much like the London Book Fair, which, by this point, I’d reflected on as a worthwhile but disappointing experience. However, we were greeted in a small room by tea and breakfast rolls, surrounded by small stands that were open and welcoming, much more like a market than a fair.

This was a more casual, interesting and positive event and, as the main conference started, I was curious to see what the core of it was about. Digicon doesn’t quite specialise in publishing, although Pearson were there, telling us all about teaching our three-year-olds Mandarin using the iPad, and much of it does relate to the industry.
I tweeted everything and garnered numerous new followers, as I sat at the back of the conference room watching hundreds of faces lit up in the dark with the glow of tablets and phone. Everyone was excited, everything seemed fascinating, and best of all there were limitless supplies of tea. The afternoon seminars were even better, with one on ‘brand identity’ and one on ‘visibility and marketing’. The seminar leaders were funny, charismatic and confident, they led interesting discussions and imparted wisdom that felt worthy of writing down. When I came out my mind was abuzz with marketing ideas and I wandered around the stalls happily chatting with professionals who were open and friendly, undoing all the self-doubt I’d felt after LBF. The networking event was wonderful, I had a lovely time drinking free wine with Sara and Catriona (from Publishing Scotland and alumni of the course) whilst talking to numerous people. I didn’t feel awkward handing over my card, or taking anyone else’s, and my smile felt genuine this time. Although it’s perhaps not as necessary to go to Digicon I felt it was a great experience and perhaps more beneficial than LBF, especially if you’re interested in digital technologies.

I’ve come out of both events feeling that they were beneficial and I definitely got something out of both. I think the London Book Fair is an important event, it’s good if you are interested in publishing in general, but it is not a networking event as everyone is busy and students are largely superfluous. Still, the companies I did interact with; Cargo, Forlaget Hetland, Saraband, Freight, Button Books and Publishing Scotland; were all wonderful, open and kind.

Digicon is an optional addition to the publishing calendar, but a truly enjoyable experience and I think worth going to if you can afford it. You can reap the ticket cost back in food and drink easily (the entire day is catered) and the advice and guidance in the seminars was more useful and inspiring than anything I heard at London Book Fair.

However perhaps the best recommendation I could give is to say do it all. Both experiences were beneficial even if not totally positive, both were educational, both were enjoyable at times and all that I’ve learnt will help me in the future. so it’s worth it.