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Ewa Balcerzyk, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 19th, 2017 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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As most people studying on my course at Stirling, I’m hoping turn my passion for books into a job in publishing. This brilliant idea first occurred to me during my undergraduate course (Mediterranean Civilisation at the University of Warsaw in Poland), when I was attending some basic editing classes. However, I chose not to give up cultural studies and to carry on with a postgraduate degree in the same area. In the meantime, to become acquainted with the publishing world, I attended a one-year postgraduate course in editing and publishing at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Thanks to the skills I acquired there I was able to start working as an editorial assistant in an academic journal at the Institute of Sociology (University of Warsaw). I have also done some proofreading for the Warsaw University Press.

My publishing ambitions are centred around academic books. For a lot of my peers this doesn’t seem to be the most thrilling part of the industry, but for me this is where the most important work is done. Already during my first year at the the university I felt that after graduating I would really miss being up to date with all that exciting research going on in the humanities. The problem was that the perspective of becoming an academic seemed a bit daunting to me – I didn’t want to spend my life separated from the rest of the world by the thick university walls. Then one summer day it dawned on me that by working in academic publishing I could have the best of both worlds – I could have a “real” job and at the same be involved in the process of developing new knowledge!

The first few weeks of the publishing course here at Stirling have definitely showed me that there is much more to publishing books than just copy-editing. What’s more important, they convinced me that with enough determination I too will soon be a professional publisher.

You can find me on Twitter.

Bea Joubert, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2017-18

October 9th, 2017 by Bea Joubert | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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I used to get into trouble for reading.

My mother would call my name 4, 5, 10 times, trying to yank my attention away from the pages my nose was buried in. Luckily, she never stayed mad for long, and I never stopped reading. I began writing, too, as readers often do; that pursuit led me to my first Creative Writing class at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna, B.C. While I enjoyed developing my writing skills (which I still do every day), the best part of that class for me was editing my fellow students’ work.

After a semester at UBC I transferred to Mount Royal University in Calgary, where I eventually got my undergrad in English Lit. I took all the creative writing classes available to me, eventually co-editing the Advanced Poetry class project, a collection of poetry we’d written throughout the term. Knowing I wanted to be an editor, I then set my sights on the Publishing Program at the University of Stirling.

Before I could get my toes into the MLitt, though, I had to get a graduate diploma in Media & Humanities; here I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue a research topic of my choosing. Naturally, I chose to study what I love, and wrote ~15,000 words on Editing in the Creative Writing Workshop.

Currently, in the MLitt Publishing program, I’m learning everything necessary to be the editor extraordinaire I know I am fated to be. Getting comfortable with InDesign is especially enjoyable for me, and not an area I thought I’d be particularly good at … proof that one doesn’t need to be an artist to understand (and love) great design.

In other news, I’m super into Craft Beer, Tarantino movies, tweeting about books and cats and Canada, and Shakespeare (duh?).
twitter: @BeaJoubert

instagram: Bea Joubert

8 simple rules to survive Comic Con

March 21st, 2017 by michail_tsipoulakos | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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8 simple rules to survive Comic Con

Comic Con in Edinburgh is less than a month away and we have to be prepared for what’s coming my fellow nerds. Am I a comic convention veteran? Hell no! I’m coming from Greece where comic related festivals are nonexistent. Actually my first serious experience was a couple of weeks ago when I attended the capital sci-fi con in Edinburgh, which marked my first official experience at a nerdfest. Everyone was there, from Stomtroopers and Han Solo, to Chewbacca, Doctor Strange, Wolverine and Harley Quinn. Given the chance, cosplay as well my fellow nerds. That will give your con experience some extra fun. But whether you cosplay or not, you need to remember a few things that I will mention briefly in a while.

First of all, you need to understand that comic con is not a VACATION!!! OK, that was over dramatic. Actually it is like vacation but in a more nerdy way. Do you have chills when someone whispers the word Batman? Then yeah that will be some awesome vacation for you, otherwise don’t bother going there. And now it’s time to mention the rules I promised you about.

Rule number one, choose comfort over style. You will have to stand still for many many hours so style is not an option, you need to be as comfortable as possible.
In case you are cosplaying, then I’m sorry for you, but everyone will find you super cool so it’s totally worth it!
Advice number 2, embrace the lines. Seriously, there are lines everywhere, even when visiting the bathroom. And we’re talking about really loooong lines. Sorry pal but you can’t do anything about it. On the plus side, lines are a great way to make new friends and meet new people. So, accept the lines and try not to whine about them.

Advice number 3, have an extra phone battery with you (sorry iPhone people, you can’t have that!) or at least a power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying in the middle of a selfie with Dr Strange (a fake one obviously, not Cumberbatch) or the moment you take a video of the Game of Thrones panel. You need power!

Advice number 5, bring money with you.  Yeah I know, you don’t need a weirdo to tell you that! What I mean is that you need actual-physical money and not a debit card. You’re going to a comic con convention not the Opera. So, bring money with you and don’t neglect the change, you need them as well.

Advice number 6, bring food with you. The alternative is you starving or dying of diabetes due to the food they serve there. Really it is that bad! We are talking about hot dogs (literally speaking!), or nachos with what they claim to be melted cheese, which I know for a fact that it isn’t. Just wake up an hour earlier and make some food. You don’t have to win the Michelin prize, do something simple.

Advice number 7, don’t get super frustrated if you can’t attend every single panel. You are only human after all. Try your best and choose carefully the ones you prefer more. That’s why we have YouTube after all, something will inevitably be leaked on-line a few hours later.

Finally, advice number 8, be prepared to get sick right after. No, I am not joking. There are hundreds of people there which means millions of germs. Even if you rub your hands with a sanitizer every 5 minutes or eat the whole bottle, it makes no difference. You will get sick eventually. My experience left me with sore throat, low fever and sneezing. But hey, you can now say that you have the con-flu and this is a big achievement within the nerd community!

And that’s pretty much it, follow my advice and you’re gonna have one hell of a time! I forgot to say “have fun” because you’re gonna have fun anyway! See you there in a few days my fellow geeks and remember to wear comfortable shoes. Seriously, If I hear you complaining about your feet hurting, you will feel my nerd rage! Unless you’re huge and intimidating… 

 

In praise of serendipity

December 16th, 2016 by morven_gow | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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img_2140In praise of serendipity

Over this semester, we have all enjoyed learning at the collective knees of visiting speakers. They have represented all sectors of the publishing industry – bar one.  Best represented by the chaotic, Bernard Black of Channel 4 TV’s Black Books I confess a deep and abiding love for the mostly unkempt and tatty world of the preloved book.  Every place associated with a book is sacred and has the air of a temple. For me, there is no other book buying experience to top the emotional pull of a second-hand bookshop.

Crossing the hallowed threshold, it’s best to be in a state of mindfulness – open to the calls and vibrations coming your way from the waifs and strays on shelves, on tables or piled high in columns around you.  “What a load of tosh!” I can hear some of you cry out.  But others will agree with me.

You will discover exactly the book you didn’t know you needed or wanted on that day and at that time you ambled into the shop.  We behave quite differently depending on the reading material we require at any one time and, while a bricks/clicks-and mortar bookshop, or Amazon and others, can supply you with exactly what you know you want, their book shelf categories and algorithms cannot hope to compete with the happy discoveries which occur when the infinite random variables in your brain meet the ideas and thoughts bounding off the shelves, tables and columns.

If you are concerned about the ‘dark’, second-hand book economy, with authors, publishers and agents missing out on remuneration, as long as you remember to sing the praises of the books on sites like Goodreads, you will be playing your part in the book selling process, encouraging others to buy and read the books. You may even replace the preloved one with a new copy, if it’s a bit too tatty and it’s captured your heart.  In the photograph, there are some titles which called to me from shelves in Wigtown, Galloway; Arklow, Wicklow; Glasgow and Dunlop.  They have found their ‘forever home’ with me.

Go on.  Find your local ‘Black Books’. Bernard may even have a glass of wine waiting for you.

By Morven Gow

The terrifying experience of drawing in public

December 8th, 2016 by michail_tsipoulakos | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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https-%2f%2fcdn-evbuc-com%2fimages%2f25635246%2f79986262757%2f1%2foriginalThe Edinburgh Comic Art Festival took place in Summerhall Venue on 26th and 27th of November, and of course I couldn’t miss it. The whole exhibition offered a variety of visiting speakers, free workshops to test your artistic capabilities, and panels with Scottish and British comic book artists displaying their work. And if you are a geek like me, all these things hold an extra value!

For this story, I will share with you the experience I had while participating in the quick-draw activity. As the name itself states, quick-draw was one of the many activities where you actually had to draw different images on a drawing surface, as fast as possible. Our instructors were Mr.…. and Mrs.…... Ok I admit it; I was late and missed the part where they introduced themselves. For our convenience, let’s call them Mr. Tall (for obvious reasons) and Mrs. Red (due to her bright red hair). 20161204-963567316_editedThe whole activity was designed for people who are new to drawing, for others with some existing experience, and for those who are TERRIFIED by it, like me!

The participants had to experiment with a range of different materials like white or coloured paper, different sketching pencils, markers with several colour options, while using different techniques, to explore the way real life illustrators create their work. The motto of our two wonderful instructors (Yes I’m talking about Mr. Tall and Mrs. Red) was: “You don’t need any fancy equipment to draw your hearts out. Some white paper and a black pencil and your empty canvas will transform into a work of art”. The first thing we had to do was draw a funny face. “Draw a line here and here, and there and remember, don’t push your pencil too much” Mr. Tall said. He made it look so effortless which by the way, wasn’t! I had to try really hard. The end result after 15 minutes of drawing and connecting lines looked like an uglier version of Mr. Potato from Toy Story. And yes, Mr. potato is already ugly enough! The first session was officially over with not much success.

Next stop, Nature! How to draw trees and flowers with a few easy techniques. Instructions followed again, this time by Mrs. Red. Initially, it seemed easier than drawing a face. Well it wasn’t, especially for someone who can’t draw a straight line, not even with a ruler. My picture was a complete disaster. Probably something that a 3 year old would draw. When Mrs. Red saw my picture, she was literally speechless. I managed to give the world talentless a whole new meaning. I’m quite sure that if we lived in a fantasy world, where Mrs. Red was the queen, she would have ordered my immediate incarceration, to prevent me from creating new abominations! All jokes aside, she was super cool and funny, and despite her initial shock, she was all smiles and compliments.

fotor_148081045839063Finally, for the third and final task, we had to draw anything we wanted. I decided to go with Doctor Strange. Since I had a cover of him in my bag, I didn’t have to search for my inspiration. The end result was quite tolerable. Finally, after all this time, I managed to draw something! Even Mrs. Red complimented me for my effort! And that was it, almost 45 minutes later, the quick-draw activity was over. The purpose of this workshop was to gain confidence in developing your own drawing skills. Did I become the new Dali? Hell no! But I had a great time, met interesting people who are equally bad at drawing, and finally had the chance to use a range of materials and techniques utilized by professional comic book artists. Now that I’m equipped with all this knowledge, I feel super ready for the Edinburgh Comic Con festival in February.

CAPITAL SCI-FI CON, here I come!!!

SYP Scotland: Freelancing 101

November 21st, 2016 by Amalie Andersen | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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notebook-1757220_640Arriving at The Society of Young Publishers’ freelancing event with two minutes to spare, the Stirpub students were forced to take the seats that no one else had dared to: the seats in the front row. This along with an archaic lack of phone signal that hadn’t been experienced in years meant that there was no live tweeting and no one checked in on Facebook. Everyone listened intently. After a stressful week of being told countless times (two times) that their future profession is one of the lowest paid, everyone was hopeful to hear that freelancing is the way to go. This was until the most dreadful words of them all were said. Networking. Socialising. Creating and maintaining good work relations. A gust of wind blew through the room, everyone felt a chill work its way down their spine and the room fell silent.

No, it wasn’t actually that bad. The incredibly skilled panel consisted of SYP Scotland’s own Heather McDaid; freelancer and co-owner of publisher 404 Ink, freelance editor and proofreader Julie Fergusson, Fiona Brownlee; freelance publishing consultant in the fields of marketing and rights management, as well as Jamie Norman who does freelance marketing. Together the panel discussed the benefits and challenges of working freelance.

Julie and Jamie were both new to the industry and working freelance had been a way of getting their foot in the door. They both stressed how important internships and volunteer work are in networking when you’re new to the industry. Fiona had previously worked as a publicist but needed to come up with a solution when the publisher she worked for was forced to close. From previous jobs she had got to know people within the industry and, even though she found it incredibly scary to begin with, saw the possibility of working freelance. Once started, they were all surprised at how quickly their freelance career had taken off and that one job had always led to another. Julie even had to turn down jobs as they didn’t correspond with the direction she wanted her career to go in.

Some of the challenges of working freelance that the panel discussed were:

  • The uncertainty of not having a fixed income and the fact that there is no such thing as paid holidays.
  • Knowing how much money to ask for. If you undercharge you might get the job but the industry will accept the low wage and freelancers will be underpaid.
  • Taxes are difficult and so is registering as self-employed. Jamie has lost a lot of money because of this and stressed the importance of doing it right.
  • You will work harder and for longer. Julie said that you can quickly lose evenings and weekends if you don’t keep to your work schedule. It’s tempting to sleep in and take the Monday off when you’re your own boss but you will end up working nights and weekends to make up for it. Jamie stressed the importance of having friends, partners and hobbies outside the industry in order to switch off.

But that being said the benefits of working freelance are obvious. Being your own boss means having the freedom to be picky about which jobs you want and to work from anywhere in the world. Julie also said that it’s the best feeling when a publisher comes back with a second job as it means that you’ve done a great job on the first one.

The panel all agreed that the thing which makes a successful freelancer is the ability to find out what a publisher is doing wrong or isn’t doing at all and convince them that they can make money by paying you to do it. Heather McDaid had slagged off a publisher’s website (even though she doesn’t recommend doing this) and was asked to improve it. If a publisher is losing out on sales because they’re not using social media to promote their publications offer to do it for them.

On a final note, Julie mentioned the website reedsy.com which connects authors with freelancers. Here you can offer your services in copy editing, proof reading and marketing for authors to see.

by Amalie Anderson

Puyu Cheng, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 15th, 2016 by Puyu Cheng | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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Hi, I’m Puyu. I come from Beijing, the capital of China. From a young age, I wished to have the opportunity to study aboard. Now I am studying in Stirling, which is the best experience in my life.

When I was an undergraduate student, my major was editing and publishing. To be honest, this major was chosen by my parents, and they think the subject is very suitable for me. So I was just following my parents’ wishes. However, after studying some courses, I think this subject is really interesting. Reading is one of my favorite hobbies, so learning how to produce a book is always attractive to me.

As I was saying, studying abroad is one of my dreams. So when I graduated from college, I was wondering if I could go abroad for a master’s degree program. My parents have always told me that they will support any decision I make concerning my future. Therefore, thanks to my parents, I had the opportunity to come here to study.

The reason why I chose to study here is that there is a cooperative project between my university in China and the University of Stirling. So I believe it’s a wonderful chance that I can study publishing in depth. I am very glad that I chose the University of Stirling, which is known for future career prospects for the graduates and there is the most beautiful campus that I have ever seen. Also learning here is a challenge for me, due to the fact that English is not my first language and the teaching methods in UK are quite different from China. But I’m excited to face these challenges. It is good for me to learn some new approaches.

When I graduate, I aspire to work for a fashion magazine in china. Actually, in last summer, I worked as an intern in Marie Claire magazine, which is one of the most famous fashion magazines in China. And that experience was really interesting. So I want to be a fashion editor in the future. I hope my experience in Stirling can help me to pursue my career goals.

Find me on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Rachel Kay, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 10th, 2016 by rachel_kay | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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I can best characterise myself as a bit of a mix; having grown up on two continents as the poet in a family of scientists, I am both creative and analytical in my approach to the world. It is probably this mix which drew me to publishing, a field which I see as a fascinating combination between the worlds of art and business.

Growing up, I dev13007171_1163686976998578_3313351118242217563_noured books, composed questionable poetry, and edited various student publications. I have always found the written word a natural way of connecting with people. This was especially true when my family relocated from Florida to Italy when I was sixteen (collectively we spoke about ten words of Italian), and I got my introduction to a new school and culture through editing, designing, and producing our student magazine (the previous editor having just retired, probably out of exhaustion).

Inevitably, I gravitated towards an undergraduate degree in English, but before that began, I moved to Cambridge and spent a year working in a high street bookshop. Here I observed first-hand which titles and authors were selling, how marketing changed throughout the year, and how the categorisation of books impacted their readerships. This enlivened my interest in contemporary fiction, which I then pursued (from a more scholarly perspective) through four unforgettable years in the coastal town of St Andrews.

After graduation, it took another two years to fund my next step. I was well-aware by then of Stirling’s celebrated MLitt programme, and worked mere corridors away from the publishing department as a laboratory technician. I vividly remember being the source of grammar advice for reports in our office, and dashing off to the visiting speaker talks during my lunch break. So near and yet so far!

Eight weeks into the course, I’m grateful to be studying again and encouraged by the vast array of skills we are already developing. Publishing is an industry which is famously always in flux, but that only makes it more dynamic, multifaceted, and exciting to be a part of. Whatever my specific role in its future will be, a career spent promoting literacy is a pretty satisfying prospect.

You can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Rachel Patrick, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 4th, 2016 by Rachel | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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pictureFrom a young age, I always had a passion for reading and decided to do an English degree when I left high school. I ended up at the University of Stirling, which was quite convenient for me as it wasn’t too far from my hometown.

Since there’s no obvious career path to follow when you’ve studied English Literature, graduating from my undergraduate degree was an exciting time but also a slightly scary one as I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do next. After an awful lot of panicking and pondering I decided I wanted to undertake further study of some sort, but it had to be something involving books. Considering how much I had enjoyed my time at the university the first time around, I ended up looking into postgraduate courses at Stirling. I’d heard about the Publishing Studies course a few times already and had always thought it sounded like something I might like to do in the future, since the process of how books are put together is something that really fascinates me. I was particularly sold and excited after reading how highly past students had spoken of the course.

Before starting the course, I wasn’t sure which part of the publishing process I wanted to be involved in, but I think the recent SYP Editorial event I attended convinced me that I’d love to work in editing one day. I think this course will provide me with the skills to feel confident enough to pursue that career eventually.

I’m on Twitter and LinkedIn although I haven’t mastered either so far.

Stephan Pohlmann, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-17

November 3rd, 2016 by Stephan Pohlmann | Posted in Student Profiles | No Comments
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In a small town with forests, ironworks, two hiatuses and one diphthong in it, which was called Georgsmarienhütte, lived my past self by the name of Stephan Pohlmann. While I consider myself still very much alive, I have since moved to Scotland, from where I am hereby introducing myself to the internet.

My home town is in Lower Saxony, in the northwest of Germany, an area best known for the Teutoburg Forest, which used to be smiling at me through the window of my room. That might actually be why, for the most part of my time there, I ended up devouring books with extensive woodlands in the script, be it the forest of Fangorn, the primeval forests of Nordic and Celtic mythology, Birnam Wood, the Forest of the Carnutes (explicitly in the Asterix series), or Sherwood Forest.

I did my bachelor’s degree in what we so cryptically called “European Studies”, investigating laws, politics, literature, languages and culture of the European Union and its nations. Questions of nationhood and how literature branded these nations became my speciality, a further focus lay on Scotland and Ireland. Effectively, I did European politics combined with Anglophone language and culture, a combination that has risen just a tiny little bit in significance and media coverage during the last months. I might have contemplated going into politics, however I somehow must have found myself to be either not disillusioned enough or too idealistic for the job when, instead, I decided to dedicate my future life to influencing fictional worlds.

By autumn 2015, after an internship at a literature centre, I had made up my mind that it would have to be publishing. Furthermore, seeing that I spent the two previous years doing research on Scotland, I figured it would be about time to finally spent more than a holiday there. I found Stirling University, stopped looking for something else, and so far have not regretted the decision.

I am here to stay for a while, at least until I can finally understand MacDiarmid’s A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle. For the distant future, I would say that I will utilize my not-too-bad command of the German language and go into copy or translation editing on the German or UK market, but preferably in the intersection between the two. And regardless of how Jon Snow will be treated by the following A Song of Ice and Fire novels, I would like to prevent him from the most horrible fate of all; having his name translated even one more time into “Jon Schnee” for the German books. That is cruel. Moreover, I still very much like the idea of putting ideas out there. But right now, I am absolutely open to the possibility that these ideas might be about The Very Hungry Caterpillar; how to make proper Scottish shortbread; the next inspiring crime-solver; Bernd the Bread; the next forestal fantasy publication or whatever people will be wanting to read in five or ten years.

Feel free to find me, on Twitter and LinkedIn, either worthwhile connecting with or rather uninteresting.