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publishing

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

Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101

March 13th, 2017 by rachel_mccann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Internships Anonymous @ Publishing 101
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The Internships Anonymous panel at the recent SYP Scotland’s Publishing 101 conference (3rd March 2017) provided some valuable insight into ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of publishing internships.

Unfortunately, paid internships are hard to find in publishing, which is problematic as it limits the number of people who can afford to undertake unpaid internships. However, it can’t be denied that internships are vital in gaining experience, and give you an edge in applying for publishing jobs so it is helpful to try and do as many as possible.

Luckily, the Internships Anonymous panel provided a number of tips to help you secure that all-important internship:

  • Get in touch! Some places such as the Scottish Book Trust don’t advertise their internships, so there is no harm in sending an email to enquire;
  • Attend as many events as possible: this way you can keep up to date with everything that is happening in the industry. Most importantly, use these events as networking opportunities and talk to as many people as you can. Who knows where a simple conversation could lead?
  • Volunteer where and when you can: book shops and book festivals are excellent opportunities to learn more about the industry. If you have any free time, then you have time to find some relevant experience;
  • Remember: all experience is relevant experience, so just keep volunteering and applying for everything.

The following are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your internship, once you’ve managed to pin one down:

  • Remember that you are not there to do someone else’s job for them: you are supposed to be learning, not replacing a paid position;
  • Stuffing envelopes, making tea and walking the manager’s dog are not publishing skills, and therefore are not acceptable for an internship (no matter how cute the dog is);
  • Show off your talent and passion. Make the most of your time with the company and they will remember you;
  • The Scottish publishing industry is small and it is important to remember that everyone knows each other and talks to each other about their interns. That means if you impress in an internship, it could lead to something else. Likewise, if you make a bad impression, it could impact further internship and employment opportunities;
  • Proper guidance and feedback is crucial because you won’t learn anything otherwise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you are being asked to do something you are unfamiliar with. It’s better to ask for help than to mess up completely.

In some instances, an internship can result in a paid job, but does that make a bad internship worth it? The final, and most important, piece of advice from the Internships Anonymous panel was that it is ok to say no, especially if you feel like you’re being exploited, or what you are being asked to do makes you uncomfortable.

– By Rachel McCann

 

Luath Press Internship

March 9th, 2017 by emma_morgan | Posted in Blog, Internships | Comments Off on Luath Press Internship
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I went to work at Luath Press for a week during the University’s reading week, and it was definitely a different experience to other office experience that I had.  Operating from a house on the Royal Mile, with a window looking up to the Castle, it’s about as central as it’s possible to be.  I got there early on day one, thinking that it would probably take me a while to find it and this was a good idea because I took the most awkward, indirect route to get to the office, made even worse by the fact that I walked by the entrance twice before I found it.

Luath Press is a Edinburgh-based publisher of generally Scottish-centric fiction, non-fiction and they have produced a wide range of titles and genres in their decades of operation.  I was keen to find out how they operated, since the breadth of their titles and the length of time they had been in business seemed quite unique to me.

I was interested to see what this particular publishing office would look like, and it involved as many piles of books as I had hoped.  The staff were lovely, and busy, and so it was straight to work on day one.  I had hoped to gain some experience in editing since this was something I had quite enjoyed this during the publishing course.  I got to read multiple manuscripts, and mark up changes to be made in them.  There was also a few envelopes to be stuffed with invitations and promotion, which I have plenty of experience in from various past internships (publishing and otherwise).

I think what this internship highlighted for me was the importance of paying very close attention and double-checking your work.  While this was obviously something I knew before, I got to see the level of personal attention which can be offered by an editor on staff of a small publisher to an author and a book, and the importance of being willing to pay this level of attention and devote that time was clear throughout the week at Luath.

I also enjoyed the broad range of duties and roles which were taken on by the people involved.  I liked the idea of working with a small publisher because of the ability to gain experience across a range of departments, and I think this was clear at Luath.  Everyone was involved and their opinions considered, and while each person had a clear role that they were tasked with, I liked the supportive atmosphere which I think is far more common at small publishers than large businesses.

It was lovely to work in Edinburgh, but I was very quickly aware of the hidden cost of working on the Royal Mile, right next to the castle.  Bagpipes.  Hour after hour of bagpipes.  This was however, a small price to pay for a really fun and hands-on internship in which I learned a lot about manuscripts and the role of editor.  It was great to see how a publisher of this size and scale related to their authors and how they operated.  I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to do this internship and feel like I got chances to do a lot more and sample far greater areas than I would have expected in just a week.

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

My Internship with Barrington Stoke

February 2nd, 2017 by evangelia_kyriazi-perri | Posted in Blog, Internships | Comments Off on My Internship with Barrington Stoke
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2017 could not have started better for me, as I was offered an internship at Barrington Stoke. Barrington Stoke is a children’s and YA publisher, founded by Patience Thomson and Lucy Juckes, a mother and daughter-in-law team with personal experience of the way that dyslexia can lock children out of the world of books and reading. They came up with the idea of books that would open the door to more young people.  They developed a dyslexia-friendly font, pioneered the use of tinted paper and began to commission short, achievable books from an amazing range of authors.

The Perks of Being a Publishing Intern!

Over the years, the company has gained many awards, such as Children’s Publisher of the Year, and many supporters due to their collaborations with exceptional and award-winning authors and illustrators. Working for a children’s publisher for 5 weeks is an amazing experience. Currently being in the middle of my time there, I received valuable guidance, advice and the chance to develop my editorial, social media and design skills, as I’m responsible for updating the company’s blog to a great extent, using WordPress.

Working in an office is one of the best experiences I could have gained, because I always wanted to work in this environment, collaborating with other workmates and get an insight into working for a publisher. Barrington Stoke  is small but very friendly company, with many tasks and responsibilities for the staff. As an intern, I’ve undertaken various tasks so far, helping by completing office administrative tasks such as mailing the new book catalogues to booksellers such as Waterstones. My favourite task was definitely blogging, because I own my own food and lifestyle blog, so it was interesting to create blogs about book titles and mini author interviews called ‘Five Questions’.

Working on blog posts for the book titles!

 

During my internship so far, I’ve been using Indesign and Photoshop tools, to edit pictures and create banners for the blog posts I was responsible to create. This helped me very much to practise my design skills and familiasize myself with design tools, which will help me in my future career. At Barrington Stoke, I’ve also been responsible for proof-reading some of the book catalogues and stock lists, and have explored the editorial department.

I consider myself lucky to have worked at Barrington Stoke and I believe this internship strengthened my passion for social media and digital marketing, helping me pursuing a career after my postgrad.

 

By Elina Kyriazi-Perri

Diverse Reads

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

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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

 

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

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

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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

 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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

 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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

 

By Marian Pérez-Santiago

The terrifying experience of drawing in public

December 8th, 2016 by michail_tsipoulakos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The terrifying experience of drawing in public
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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!!!

An Evening with James Robertson.

November 28th, 2016 by ailsa_kirkwood | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on An Evening with James Robertson.
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For the fifth year running, Scottish Book Trust have organised a week of nationwide events, ranging from author readings, spoken word, interactive workshops and theatre for Book Week Scotland 2016. With hundreds of events to choose from, Book Week Scotland aims to bring people of all ages together to join in a weeklong literary celebration.

My personal highlight from Book Week Scotland 2016 took place on a cold and frosty Wednesday evening in November. We piled into a small community library in Auchterarder, seeking refuge from the sudden chilling onset of winter, to enjoy ‘An evening with James Robertson’. Rather than hosting the event in one of the numerous bookshops, cafes or art spaces in his current home city of Edinburgh, the setting for Robertson’s only talk of this year’s Book Week Scotland may seem understated for an author of six popular novels and a Man Booker Prize longlisting, but in reality could not be more fitting. A prevalent feature of his novels is the depiction of life in rural Scottish villages, and having grown up in Bridge of Allan and attended a nearby school in Perth and Kinross, Robertson pays homage to his upbringing, heading back to where it all started.

Robertson begins by reading us a few extracts from 365: Short Stories, this collection, unsurprisingly, comprises of 365 short stories, each constructed of 365 words. He described the challenge of writing a new short story for every day of the year as “an anal way to write a book”. However challenging he found this task throughout the year, his research for the stories, interest in the storytelling tradition and regular evening encounters with a toad, gave way to the comic novel that would become To Be Continued.

In addition to his detailed accounts of everyday life in both urban and rural Scotland, many of Robertson’s books and short stories pay special attention to Scottish history and Mythology, imaginatively portraying relationship between the two. His latest novel is set just shortly after the result of the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014. Although the referendum is mentioned in the book, it does not play a big part, but instead is used more as a plot device. The humorous story of To be Continued is Robertson’s way of dealing with the political outcome of the 2014 referendum. The result for many was devastating news. Robertson however, in attempt to avoid getting bogged down in an overtly political novel, explains his decision to write an outrageous farcical story of Scottish adventure, harking back to an earlier era of Scottish writing.

In To Be Continued, Robertson alludes to depictions of Scotland, and Scottishness, from literary and cinematic works from the 1940s/50s. He draws inspiration from the novels of Compton Mackenzie: Whisky Galore, Monarch of the Glen; as well as films like Brigadoon and I Know Where I’m Going. Although some readers in the current post-referendum version Scotland may wish to take a step back from the stereotypical characters and tartantry promoted in these books and films, Robertson is promoting the search for new perceptions, an adventure of rediscovery of self. To me, this seems like an important representation of the journey many of us faced to understand again what it means to be Scottish. Reading from the first chapter of the novel, we listen as protagonist Douglas Elder sets off on his own adventure to the Highlands, accompanied by his newfound friend Mungo, a talking toad he befriends whilst drunk in the garden. They go in search of Rosalind Munlochy, a woman with a lifelong involvement in radical Scottish politics – 100 years to be exact, as she happens to be celebrating her 100th birthday. In 2014, this milestone is of great significance, as Robertson sees her as a symbolic figure that represents a mother figure of a nation – a nation in unprecedented need of maternal guidance. Buried beneath the surface of this comic novel lie notions of a fractured nation, in search of yet another reinvention of identity. This is a story for the disheartened, its humorous narrative and story offering the reader an adventure of rediscovery, which comes as a glimmer of hope.

As the evening wound down Robertson admitted that he used to think that his job as a writer as trivial. But to go back to his initial introduction to his talk, he reinforces the idea that storytelling is important, it has always been an important part of life, for culture, for people. “Writers write and readers read, we need these things to explain who we are and to get us through life.”

by Ailsa Kirkwood

Design by the Book: A Scottish Publishing Showcase

November 28th, 2016 by Stephan Pohlmann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Design by the Book: A Scottish Publishing Showcase
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Of the multitude of tasks and activities assigned to you when studying publishing at Stirling University, keeping up to date with bookish events is certainly one of the most pleasant ones (not the most pleasant one though, which would definitely be the fact that you are effectively “doing something for your studies” whenever you have your nose in a book).

the-mileIt so happened that Book Week Scotland 2016, the annual “celebration of books and reading” (as described by the organiser, the Scottish Book Trust), had the students swarming out to several of these events and I, in this context, had the pleasure to venture through Edinburgh Castle for a first-hand look at the highlights of Scottish book design in 2016, presented at the Design by the Book exhibition. Finally, there was full justification (unintentional publishing pun) to buy a ticket to Edinburgh Castle, and considering that any foreign-national visitors there are likely to get lost in thoughts, just as they can be quite certain to get lost literally, it was probably a good idea to keep clear the full Monday afternoon to go there.

gu-leorHaving eventually arrived at the destination, the entrance being to your left just as you are about to enter the Crown Square, the first thing catching the eye of the bibliophile publishing student is a remarkably complete absence of books: The room is filled with information boards instead, displaying pictures of the most intriguing book designs Scotland produced over the past year (personal favourites being The Mile by Pilrig Press and Acair’s Gu Leòr). A second part of the exhibition is devoted to the formidable results of a book cover art competition which Publishing Scotland had launched in August of this year, encouraging children between the age of 5-8, 8-12 and 12-18 to draw covers for their favourite books, with at times remarkable results.

It might be worth mentioning that some information on the book designers and the design process could have significantly improved the exhibition, the empty envelopes on the information boards giving the exhibition a slightly unfinished look. However, the event is most certainly standing out in the medievalist scenery of Edinburgh Castle, and is definitely going to achieve its purpose in providing a bit of spotlight for all Scottish publishers represented in the exhibition.

by Stephan Pohlmann

SYP Scotland: Freelancing 101

November 21st, 2016 by Amalie Andersen | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on SYP Scotland: Freelancing 101
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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