Publishing Scotland

Katie Lumsden, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-2018

October 6th, 2017 by Katie Lumsden | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Katie Lumsden, MLitt Publishing Studies 2017-2018
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Hi, I’m Katie and I’m currently on the Publishing Studies course at the University of Stirling. I also completed my undergraduate course at Stirling, graduating in June 2017 with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in English Studies. So it’s safe to safe, I’m a bibliophile, and I love Stirling!

I’ve been interested in writing and reading literature, and books in general, from before I could even read (bet you’ve never heard that cliché before!) I would carry books around with me and force my parents to read them to me until I was able to read them myself. I used to write short stories constantly, and when I first thought about coming to University, I looked into Creative Writing courses. After some research, I realised that I was more interested in the physical creation of the books and the marketing that goes into them once they are published, rather than the writing of them. As Publishing was only offered as a masters course, I figured the best way in would be to apply for English Studies and then apply to the masters course after my undergraduate course, which I did and the rest is history!

During my undergraduate years, a lot of my course was focussed on literature and linguistics, rather than publishing the content. However, the Business Writing and Communication module I completed, and the historical modules which delved into the creation of the first novel and the first ‘marketing’ strategies that were applied, were the ones I found most interesting. This pushed me to apply for the Publishing course and it has been the best decision for me.

Currently, I’m looking to expand my experience within the Publishing industry in areas such as editing, proofreading and marketing. I am actively looking for internships and job vacancies – not only as experience for just now, but to see what roles and careers are available in the future for people just starting out. I’m trying to get involved in as many things as I can: following publishing companies on Twitter, joining the SYP and attending events when I can and having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile for all those important business connections!

Speaking of social media and self-promotion… connect with me on:
Blog (WordPress)

Scottish Book Trade Conference: Launching a Debut on a Low Budget

March 23rd, 2017 by nicole_sweeney | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Scottish Book Trade Conference: Launching a Debut on a Low Budget
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Next up at the Annual Scottish Book Trade Conference is Sam Eades, Editorial Director at Trapeze Books, an imprint of Orion. She tells us that to make a book sell, you don’t necessarily need a big budget or a large marketing department in order to get good sales. She lists there tips for launching a debut on a low budget:

1. Be Creative!

Eades suggests that one of the most important things, is to be creative as possible. Newspaper stories are a fantastic way to promote a book, and rejection stories sell far better than ‘author has a new title.’ Come up with a story surrounding the book such as ‘Cancer Survivor gets million pound book deal’ to ensure the paper will run the story.

2. Look For Trends!

Eades highlights the importance of watching the various creative industries and their on going trends – particularly in film and television. She also highlights how crucial it is to watch the market for what new titles are coming out, and see if you can spot any similarities, or trends. She tells us of one campaign for a psychological thriller, released around the time of the buzz surrounding the hugely popular The Girl on the Train. Eades gave her debut author a reading list of titles in the genre, and pitched an article on upcoming psychological thrillers to a newspaper, with the article being written by the debut author. This coverage helped to raise coverage for the author, and resulted in 15,000 copies sold.

3. Partnerships!Image result for the snow child ice sculptures

Partnerships are a great way to promote a title, and they don’t always have to be paid for. With The Snow Child,
Eades was given very little marketing budget, but persuaded two sculptors to provide ice sculptors for free, and they were installed in Waterstones to promote the book.

Eades tells the audience to contact tourist boards, restaurants and as many different places as possible. It’s amazing what you can get for free. Be creative and try your luck!

4. Try some Stunts!

Image result for neil gaiman renamed street‘PR the PR that you already do’ states Eades. She gives us two examples of stunts that she organised in order to promote a title. Firstly for Neil Gaiman’s Ocean At the End of the Lane she managed to get a street name changed to the title in his home town, creating newspaper stories and buzz in his local area.

Secondly for debut thriller Ragdoll, the Trapeze team bought a mannequin and dismembered it, hanging it from the
ceiling at a publicity party, creating a buzz and sense of mystery around the title. This helps to spread word of mouth, and creates excitement about the title.

Finally she highlights some top tips:Image result for ragdoll daniel cole

– Spy on the competition, know what others in your sector are doing.
– Be aware of the trends, help to create a new one.
– Collaborate with your authors, allow them to come up with ideas and stunts.
– Be opportunistic!

by Nicole Sweeney

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

New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling

March 1st, 2017 by Sharna | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on New audience development: The advantages of cross-platform storytelling
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Okay, to start, a disclaimer: I wasn’t originally going to cover this section of the Scottish Book Trade Conference, but I was so inspired by Crystal Mahey-Morgan, that I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity! I mean, it could just be because I was so enamoured with her South London accent during the  presentation (we all miss home in different ways!) but beyond that, she made some really important points. So here goes.

How many debut authors in Britain do you think were black males last year? Definitely a few, right? At least a handful?

Just one… Mahey-Morgan announces. I’m shocked, I look over at a few people and they’re clearly a bit shocked as well. You hear about publishing trying to branch out diversity-wise, but it’s pretty evident from this statistic that it’s just not happening all at once.

Rewinding a little, Mahey-Morgan then shows a presentation about her company’s (OWN IT!) recent project Don’t Be Alien. Don’t Be Alien started life as an interactive book, incorporating text, animation, and music for a fully immersion experience. This version retails at 99p. But it doesn’t stop there. As Mahey-Morgan explains, it is important for OWN IT! to cover a range of platforms in order for it to reach its target audience; those who would rather download a song or video onto their smartphones than a book (16-24). Therefore, you can buy the Don’t Be Alien track from iTunes for 79p and corresponding t-shirts for £30. Cross-platform! It’s a really well thought out way to get a younger audience to connect to the story. As well as this, when OWN IT! were releasing Robyn Travis’s Mama Can’t Raise No Man, they put on a launch event at Hackney Empire, which just so happened to sell out its 1300 ticketed seats. Pretty good going and is also proof that people are interested! People will pay for these things and they want to see these authors at events and buy these books.

Mahey-Morgan also explains the difference in the OWN IT! business model from regular publishers. Instead of paying their authors an advance, they split the profits of every outlet 50/50 with the author. The average annual income for an author is about £11,000. That’s less than minimum wage, which is quite frankly ridiculous. But this different business model would explain why No Place to Call Home author JJ Bola chose OWN IT! over several other publishers in a high-stakes auction.

When asked about branching out her storytelling lifestyle brand, Mahey-Morgan insists that she wants her company to publishing diversely throughout the country as well as globally, and in spite of their .london domain, they are not London-specific.

The most important point (in my eyes) that Mahey-Morgan made during her presentation is that publishers shouldn’t be publishing BAME authors because ‘it’s the right thing to do’. I mean, it is the right thing to do but publishers should be championing these authors; they should be publishing BAME works because they want to and because they believe in the content, not just because they’re obligated to!

You can follow Crystal Mahey-Morgan and OWN IT! on twitter @CrystalMMorgan and @OWNITLDN or you can check out their shop and support them (do support them, because they’re doing great things!) at their website:

– Sharna Vincent

Scottish Book Trade Conference: Barry Cunningham’s Keynote Speech

February 27th, 2017 by Stephan Pohlmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Scottish Book Trade Conference: Barry Cunningham’s Keynote Speech
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For the book trade, or indeed, any trade conference in February 2017, there are certain topics that simply cannot be avoided – both in the light of recent developments and in the foreshadowing of events still in the making.

When this year’s Scottish Book Trade Conference began on 22nd February in Edinburgh’s Central Hall, shortly after 9.30 AM and what must have been the third coffee for several delegates (this being inferred from personal experience), one could hardly be surprised to hear statements more of a socio-political relevance than what would have been the norm. Literary agent Jenny Brown, in whom Publishing Scotland had found a remarkably passionate chair for the event, opened the conference by emphasising the cross-national power of the written word, and Publishing Scotland’s chief executive Marion Sinclair subsequently took a similar line, speaking of no less than the book trade’s adaption to a possible new world order, while also stressing the catalyst power of hope as an engine of the book trade.

The keynote speech of the day, however, was given by Barry Cunningham, managing director at Chicken House, and widely known in the industry as the editor who signed J.K. Rowling for Bloomsbury. A children’s publisher – an interesting choice in the preceding context, but one that was proven the absolutely right one. Capturing the essence of the conference, he began by stressing the overall success which the children’s sector is currently experiencing, and he explained how to encourage (and financially support) new authors. Cunningham also peppered the keynote with socio-cultural undertones: While stories were being read in many different ways around the world, it was always the villains who “make the most difference – whether it is a situation or Lord Voldemort.”

The speech did not fail to grasp long-term changes in a genre that was once highly educative, moralising, and always teaching children “about good deeds” – something Cunningham later contrasted with the “more real issues” in children’s books today – where, for example, adults are no longer patronising and infallible moral institutions, but instead appear as they really are: “interesting and flawed.”

Addressing successful formulas of the present and challenges of the future, Cunningham pointed to the growing significance of reader connection: the existential importance of browsability and discoverability as well as the rise of fan fiction. For the stories themselves he gave a slightly more concrete advice: the “enormously important way to secure an audience is the sense of humour.” (The speaker himself had absolutely won his audience at the moment he cited J.K. Rowling who, when asked why Cunningham had taken on a book that many others before him had turned down, allegedly described him as “the only publisher who was a giant costumed character himself.”)

Overall, Cunningham did not disappoint in the least, delivering a speech that was informative and trade-specific as well as inclusive of wider socio-cultural trends – perhaps no less important, it was entertaining and humorous enough to set the tone for what was to be a diverse and interesting conference up until the end. And if one was to reconstruct the chord in which the keynote was given, they may be reminded of how Cunningham quoted a young girl that, when asked in school about the reason for reading a book, replied: “We read so our own story does not have to end where it began.”

– Stephan Pohlmann

Publishing Prizes 2015-16

November 25th, 2016 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Prizes 2015-16
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication is delighted to announce this year’s MLitt in Publishing Studies prizes, shortly before the cohort of 2015-16 graduates. Our Prizes are sponsored by members of our Industry Advisory Board.

The Routledge Prize for Most Distinguished Student goes to Patrizia Striowsky. Zia is awarded £200 of books from Routledge. Zia is currently completing an internship with Sujet Verlag in Bremen, and starts working in January, as sales and e-commerce assistant (German: Volontärin in Vertrieb und E-Commerce) with Gräfe und Unzer in Munich. She can be found on Twitter at @ziabooks.


Eva Rojas’ prize-winning project A Miracle for a Moose

The Publishing Scotland Prize for the Best Dissertation goes to Emma Buckingham, for ‘Protection vs. Progress: An Examination of Government Involvement in the Gulf’s Publishing Industry’. Emma wins £100 of Scottish Books from Publishing Scotland. She can be found on Twitter at @emmakbuckingham, and is planning a career in rights in publishing.

Eva Rojas (aka @literarycoffee on Twitter) is the recipient of The Freight Books Prize for Publishing Design, for her Publishing Project A Miracle for a Moose. She receives £100 of books from the Freight Books list, and £100 of cash. She plans to work in children’s or illustrated books.

Finally, the Faber & Faber Prize for Digital Innovation goes to Emily Underdown, for her work on our PUBPP24 Digital: Process and Product module. Her award is a trip to meet the team at Faber Digital, plus £100 contribution to expenses. You can follow her on Twitter at @EmilyUnderdown.

Congratulations to everyone, and thank you very much to our sponsors!

Visiting Speaker: Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland

November 21st, 2016 by chiara_bullen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speaker: Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland
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Last week’s guest speaker was the Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland, Marion Sinclair. Publishing Scotland is a collective organisation with the purpose to ‘help Scottish publishers do business’. The group of founders were sick of travelling down to London for publishing meetings so they decided to do something about this. Soon after, Publishing Scotland was born in 1973 and has being going strong ever since.

Publishing Scotland have approximately 70 members and unusually survives almost entirely through state funding as opposed to subscriptions. They aim to work with smaller and Scottish publishers to help them network, grow and thrive in an industry that requires more man-power than is often affordable.

Going through the list of services on offer to their members, Marion paints the vivid picture of Publishing Scotland being an incredibly valuable resource for Scottish publishers who are facing difficulties that come with operating out of the London-centric hub of the industry. Services include (but are certainly not limited to) training courses, funding to help publishers attend book fairs outside the UK, networking events and marketing.

Marion spoke enthusiastically about the new publishing start-ups across the country and even encouraged us to think about potentially starting our own, noting that many successful publishing start-ups have been established by people in their twenties (and beyond of course!).

She discussed the 4 main challenges facing Scottish publishers and these are challenges that Publishing Scotland will work hard to face during the upcoming years. These are:

  • Getting products out to an international market, which is something Marion assured us Publishing Scotland will be prioritising.
  • Competition- it’s a crowded market! Visibility is everything and smaller publishers don’t get the same marketing space or opportunities as bigger publishing houses.
  • Lack of digital expertise to navigate the ever-changing digital market.
  • The ‘Lure of London’. Smaller, Scottish publishers are excellent at spotting talent and producing best-sellers, yet this success also invites interest from bigger publishers with more resources. This is sometimes a tempting offer for authors looking to further their career.

She concluded by discussing, with an energetic buzz, the increasing activity within Scottish publishing. With new start-ups, existing publishing houses starting to grow and more attention coming our way, she announced that it was an exciting time to get into the Scottish publishing industry. It’s a good thing more than half of us admitted we wanted to work in it!

by Chiara Bullen

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

Emma Morgan, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-2017

November 3rd, 2016 by emma_morgan | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Emma Morgan, MLitt in Publishing Studies 2016-2017
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Ever since I found out that books didn’t grow on trees, I’ve wanted to have a job that would let me work with them in some way.  Or at the very least, to own a Beauty and the Beast-style Library.  While I’m still working on the massive library, I’m excited to have started working on the career in books.

I studied Law at the University of Glasgow, and while that wasn’t directly linked to books, I learned a lot.  Mostly, I learned that I do not want to work in Law, but I’m still glad that I worked hard and managed to get my degree since it was a challenging course that made me push myself.  Once I realised that Law was not for me, I began to think about what other areas might suit me, and there was nothing so obvious as publishing, though it took me a while to find it.

I began to think about publishing as a career in my third year, when I was studying abroad at the University of Granada in Spain.  I think the combination of studying Law and attempting to speak Spanish whilst doing so was enough to make me realise that whatever I chose to pursue as a career, I wanted to really love it.  I have always had a love of travelling, and planes are an excellent opportunity for reading, so in my year abroad, I got to indulge both my passions and returned to Scotland convinced that I wanted to work with books, and sadly without even the slightest hint of a tan!

Once I did my research and applied to the University of Stirling, publishing seemed like an incredibly obvious choice for me, and my family, friends and everyone who has known me for longer than half an hour agreed that I should have thought of it long ago.  Everything I’ve begun to learn at the University of Stirling has helped to convince me that I am in the right field, and that getting a Masters degree from Stirling will help me find a job in the publishing industry.

When I graduate, I hope to have gained the skills and experience that will give me a head-start in this competitive but exciting industry.  I would love to work in editorial, and in fiction, but at this point, I am eager to gain as much experience of the industry as possible, to try to narrow down my options.  I would like to think that when I graduate, it will be the start of a long career producing and publishing books, and I’m sure that I’ll be one step closer to the enormous, impractical library of my dreams.

I can be found on Twitter or Facebook.

Publishing Scotland Conference 2016: Adapting Books for TV & Radio

February 29th, 2016 by Isobel Anderson | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland Conference 2016: Adapting Books for TV & Radio
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TV & Radio panelOn 25th February Publishing Scotland and the Booksellers Association held their annual Scottish Book Trade Conference in Edinburgh. While all of the presentations were extremely interesting and informative, with one involving a number of amusing Star Wars references, the session I was most looking forward to was Adapting books for TV & Radio. Chaired by journalist Sheena McDonald with panelists Gaynor Holmes (Head of TV Drama at BBC Scotland) and Bruce Young (Head of Radio Drama at BBC Scotland), the session provided an informative insight into the work it takes to successfully adapt a novel for television or radio.

In the past decade eleven of BBC Scotland’s fifty eight television productions have been adaptations, such as Case Histories and Hamish Macbeth. It can take anywhere from eighteen months to three or four years to adapt a novel for television so those in charge look for known titles, award-winning or best-selling novels, to adapt in order to increase their chances of attracting the five to eight million viewers who regularly watch BBC One dramas. Gaynor explained that while it is inevitable changes will have to be made to the original content, producers must adapt the novel with a great deal of integrity and remain respectful of the original intent. When trying to get around obstacles in the adaptations, writers sometimes change element after element of the plot in order to suit television, but Gaynor stated that it is at this point a step back must be taken and the following question asked: should we just write an original drama? Sometimes the plot of a novel is simply used as inspiration to create original content, such as Monarch of the Glen.

While many of us wince when we hear that our favourite novel is being developed into a television show or film and instantly worry about the content that will be changed or simply ignored, Gaynor explained some of the challenges of adapting a novel. The majority of productions are bound by their budget and so merge characters and locations together, especially as there isn’t enough time to develop each individual character if they are not integral to the plot. Some novels simply do not lend themselves to adaptation at all, such as stories that involve a lot of internal monologue. One of the main rules of television is “show, not tell”, and this simply cannot be done in some cases.  While BBC Scotland try to remain as faithful to the text as possible, it must be accepted that the content will be different for different mediums. Perhaps these are points we should consider the next time we are about to despair that one of our favourite scenes didn’t make the final cut.

Though some books may not be suitable for television, they may be easily adapted into radio productions, and Gaynor light-heartedly bemoaned the fact that a number of books she has failed to adapt have been made into radio programmes by Bruce. Sixty hours of drama and readings are commissioned for Radio 4, Radio Scotland, Radio 3 and Radio 4 Extra each year, and Bruce said that Radio Scotland try to strike an even balance between producing readings of international books, such as the recent East of Eden, and Scottish books, such as 44 Scotland Street; this is in spite of a recent complaint asking why so many Scottish voices were being heard on the radio. The question was raised whether authors have a hand in adapting their material for radio and Bruce answered that most leave him to do the work, with one author stating something along the lines of: “If we take the money, we must accept the changes”. However there are some authors, such as Alexander McCall Smith, who write both the book and the adaptations; quite an amazing feat. Once radio adaptations are made they are enduring and can be enjoyed by generations for years to come.

The forty five minute session passed by extremely quickly and the panelists were fantastic to listen to. It certainly gave me an appreciation for all the work that goes into creating BBC Scotland’s wonderful productions and I look forward to seeing what they will adapt next.