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Scottish Book Trust

Visiting Speaker: Philippa Cochrane

March 31st, 2017 by shaunna_whitters | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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Call me biased but I believe every child should be read to from an early age. It’s fun, it’s key to development, it’s educational and it’s also a great way to establish relationships.

After today’s visiting speaker, I can’t highlight that enough. We were joined by Head of Reader Development at the Scottish Book Trust, Philippa Cochrane and I’ve never been so thankful for the support in Scotland for readers and writers.

Their main aim is to change lives through reading and writing with an incredible number of programmes such as Bookbug, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story and Reading People. It is obvious that the Scottish Book Trust are working hard to achieve this but Philippa was quick to point out one frightening fact: children who are not read to from an early age have a language deficit of 50,000 words compared to a child who is. It’s not meant to frighten parents to read to their children or be controversial, it’s true. Every child should have the same opportunities and help in their early development but sadly it’s not always the case.

I have my mother to blame (or love) for my book addiction. She pretty much had a bookshelf of baby books for me before I was born and for most of my life books have been an important part of our household. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so adamant that reading to a child is important: it helps to give a child the best start in life and helps develop skills necessary for educational and social purposes. It certainly helped me. These types of programmes and opportunities were not available when I was growing up and it’s amazing to see the support for readers and writers in Scotland has grown so well but it also needs to continue to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to grow and develop by reading.

The Scottish Book Trust is responsible for a number of programmes such as Bookbug, First Ministers Reading Challenge, Read Write Count, What’s Your Story, Book Week Scotland, Annual Story Campaign, book tours, author tours, live sessions and interactions with authors/readers. It faces challenges, as do most arts based charities, but they do receive donations, sponsorship and funding from not only the Scottish Government but also individuals, companies, trusts and foundations.

One of their most recognisable campaigns is Book Week Scotland which held over 1000 events across Scotland with a 150,000-book giveaway, a Scottish book-to-screen-adaption competition and even a book dare where a reader is given a book themed dare to complete (Philippa proudly displayed the tattoo she had done because of her dare but don’t worry they aren’t all like that!). It’s a fantastic event and is gaining more popularity every year to the delight of the publishing industry.

The Scottish Book Trust want to make sure that children are developing by reading, helping aspiring authors gain help and advice they need to achieve their dream, help people (not just children) who struggle with reading or loneliness by interacting with them and aiding them but not by shoving a handful of books at people or a leaflet offering advice – through several events, programmes and campaigns.

For me, reading is important especially at a young age and hopefully these events and campaigns continue to help families across Scotland develop.

by Shaunna Whitters

Internship: Scottish Book Trust

March 30th, 2017 by therese_campbell | Posted in Blog, Internships | No Comments
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Over the past few months, I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the Scottish Book Trust’s editorial board for their new online magazine, What’s Your Story?, which focuses on supporting and developing the creative writing talents of young people in Scotland. What’s Your Story? offers free support and advice to those under 18 who have an interest in creating content, be it poetry, short-stories, plays, or illustrations.

The internship is undertaken remotely, and as one of six editorial board members, it entails reading over submissions, offering feedback on each, and choosing a select few to be included in the magazine. My role on the editorial board mostly involves reading young people’s work and offering critical, yet encouraging feedback. For each creative piece I receive, I am required to comment on two things the writer or artist did successfully, while also highlighting a ‘wish’ which refers to something the author or artist could alter to improve their work. It is my responsibility as an editor to express my feedback in a way that will not deter or upset the author or artist, but rather that will encourage them to persevere and keep creating. The Scottish Book Trust hopes that What’s Your Story? will inspire and encourage young writers and artists who may not receive support elsewhere, and it is definitely eye opening to read submissions from young people from all over Scotland.

The training day for the role, which was held in Edinburgh on the 5th November, was particularly insightful and helped me understand the aim of the magazine and my role as one of the editorial board members. Organised by Nicole Brandon – Young Writers Co-Ordinator for Scottish Book Trust – we were guided through all that was required of us, and were given talks by YA author Keith Grey, as well as author and journalist, Kaite Welsh. While Keith Grey spoke of creativity outside educational boundaries, Kaite Welsh focused on how we might craft our feedback effectively when critiquing submissions. These talks were thought-provoking and definitely essential for us as new editorial members.

Since the training day, I have worked on two magazine issues for the What’s Your Story? website, with each issue covering a different theme. While this is a remote internship, we do get paid for each issue we work on (yay!) and I have found the process engaging. Each submission has made me realise that creativity is boundless, with each piece offering refreshing and unique perspectives. I have also been able to read submissions with an editor’s eye and offer helpful, yet direct comments which will – hopefully – help the authors improve their work and encourage them to continue writing. Each submission I have read has exposed me to a variety of genres and subject-matter, and by delivering useful feedback and advice, I am helping guide young writers who are just beginning to realise their potential.

What’s Your Story? is a new magazine for the Scottish Book Trust and it has been exciting to be a part of the project from the beginning. It has allowed me to exercise my editorial skills – such as proof-reading, editing and critiquing – and this will aid me in my chosen career. It has also taught me not to have preconceived ideas regarding authorship and writing, and that, no matter how young an author or creator may be, they can offer a variety of different perspectives, experiences and styles of writing. I often find myself surprised by the submissions I read, which present ideas and life-experiences in comical, shocking and often eloquent ways, and being exposed to a variety of creative writing has definitely been the highlight of the internship.

by Therese Campbell

Saltire Society Literary Awards 2016

December 9th, 2016 by ruoqi_sun | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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As one of the event of Book Week Scotland, this year’s Saltire Society Literary Awards was held on 24th of November in Edinburgh. As a publishing student, I went there to participate in this activity and that was the first time I had ever attended such an event. Fortunately, I met some classmates and it made me feel much better.

To be honest, all the information I know about this award before the event comes from Wikipedia and Facebook. Saltire Society is an organization which aims to promote the understanding of the culture and heritage of Scotland. This organization has a long history, and it has established numerous awards, involving a number of cultural fields. The literary prize is one of them.

Before the award, we got half an hour to drink something and chat with others. At that time, everybody can share their experience with others.  It is amazing that we did not know each other before but the topic was very natural to start. A bag was prepared for each guest in the seating area, including some brochures which introduce the awards of this year, the annual review of Scottish Book Trust and this year’s new book etc. This year’s awards include a total of more than ten items, the specific awards can be found from the following timetable, because I do not want this blog be simply reporting.timetable

Next I want to talk about a few things that impressed me. The first one is about the “Publisher of the year”. The shortlisted publishers are Birlinn, Black and White Publishing, Floris Book, National Galleries of Scotland and Saraband. I remember the last month we just finished a presentation about Saraband. At that time, we searched and found almost nothing about this publisher on the internet, except their homepage. I even thought it was a tiny and financially struggling publisher in Scotland although they have published His Bloody Project which has been popular over the last year. But through this award I changed my mind, Saraband makes its own contribution to the publishing industry even though it is not a big publisher. Its efforts are equally worthy of respect, and its persistence is more worthy of recognition.  It is also because of these publishers who know hard but still insist on it, the literary industry can constantly develop.

The second one is about our professor Claire, I did not know that she was present as an honored guest until her name appeared in the timetable. This made me feel that as a publishing student, I am really involved in the field of publishing, and this kind of opportunity which provided to students are rarely happens in my country.

Finally, I would like to talk about the importance of this kind of awards shortly. As publishers, it can be said our work is less pretentious but very essential. Readers are always attracted to the design and the content of the book, but they do not know all the efforts made by publishers. The publishing industry is not as fashionable as the film industry, and our awards are not as high-profile as the Oscars, but we also need such awards to recognize our efforts during the last year.  Whether it is a publisher which has long history or just a novice, we all need to have such an opportunity to know each other, to see what’s happening in our industry. These good ideas can provide new ways of thinking for more publishers and this trend is also a kind of virtuous circle for publishing industry.

You can get more details of 2016 Saltire Society Literary Awards from here: http://www.saltiresociety.org.uk/awards/literature/literary-awards/

By the way, the performance by Niall Campbell during the activity was really nice, fond and full of emotion.  You guys can search the video if you are interested in it.

 

Guest Speaker: Lindsey Fraser

November 19th, 2014 by Leia Forster | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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On the 13th of November, Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates visited us here at Stirling to give a talk on the role of the literary agent.

Lindsey began by reminiscing of a time when book publishing was simpler. Books had one price; that which was displayed on the book jacket, and books were limited to paperback and hardback formats.

As the publishing industry adapted to reflect changes in the digital landscape, it became apparent that authors needed representatives who had their best interests at heart and would help them to manoeuvre the unfamiliar realm of publishing.

Having spent ten years working for the Scottish Book Trust, Lindsey and colleague Kathryn Ross had established that there was a need amongst Scottish authors for agent representation, and so they left the Scottish Book Trust in order to create Fraser Ross Associates. They are now part of the small literary agent community which forms The Association of Scottish Literary Agents.

When speaking specifically about the role of the agent, Lindsey said that she considers literary agents to be responsible for finding the best possible homes for books. She also expressed that a major part of the role is giving your writers confidence, and that it is important to remember that agents are sometimes the only contact that writers have with the world of publishing. Trust is essential in this relationship.

Lindsey went on to highlight that the agent is on the side of the author, and ultimately it is their aim to help the author make money from their writing. The agent also encourages the writer to respect publisher deadlines and teaches them how to deal with promotional events as well as showing them how to make the most of opportunities that are presented to them.

Talking more about the encouragement that should be offered to authors, Lindsey noted that they are particularly vulnerable after having their first book published and are beginning to consider the next. It is important to help them through this period of insecurity. She commented that authors have a tendency to look at what was not right with their book and need to be reminded of what was good. She also said that sometimes after having a book published, authors would like to have a period of rest, but there is an important issue here regarding the children’s book industry. Children grow up quickly, and their interest in certain books changes. If you are publishing a children’s series, you need to ensure that the books are published before your readership outgrows them. Sometimes it is necessary for an author to produce a number of books in quick succession, especially if their books are doing well.                                                                                                                              scottish bt

Nearing the end of the talk, we were informed of The Scottish Book Trust’s live literature scheme which provides funding for author visiting sessions at schools in Scotland. They pay half of the author’s fee as well as traveling expenses which allows more schools to benefit from visiting sessions while authors also get to promote their books and interact with their readers on a more personal level.

Lindsey’s talk offered wonderful insight into the role of an agent in the publishing industry. She shared with us her refreshingly honest thoughts and opinions regarding some issues within the industry, and I particularly liked her comparison of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to speed dating which highlighted once more the importance of networking in this industry.

Best Books Are Not Necessarily the Ones That Sell – Lindsey Fraser as guest speaker

October 30th, 2013 by Aija | Posted in Blog | No Comments
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One of the most interesting parts of having guest speakers come to the Stirling Publishing class is the varied mix of individuals from all fields of publishing. This time the guest speaker was the key step between an author and publisher; a literary agent, who gave an astute talk from someone who has seen a varied side of the publishing trade.

Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates spoke to the MLitt Publishing class of 2013/14 on the long path that led to the start of her own business together with colleague Kathryn Ross. For a time Lindsey was aiming to become a teacher, until the teacher training proved to Lindsey that it was a wonderful career to be admired – but it was not for her. What came out of her studies was the realisation of deep love for books. Therefore, Lindsey went to work at James Thin bookshop, and worked at the children’s books section until becoming part of the family run company of Heffers in Cambridge. Heffers was another children’s bookshop, an experience Lindsey emphasizes invaluable for those wanting to work within the publishing world – learning the tricks of the trade from the other side, from the booksellers’ perspective and creating those ever-vital connections for your future networking. During her time at Heffers, Lindsey learned the value that was placed on who reads, what and how it is accessed. Lindsey warmly reminisced about how Heffers were diversified in this respect compared to all other booksellers before and at the time, and Lindsey got to hone her skills at readership development.

A career move eventually was inevitable, and so Lindsey came to work with the Book Trust Scotland, where she waved her magic wand until founding Fraser and Ross Associates in 2002. Slowly expanding, at the moment Fraser and Ross represent some fifty authors and illustrators, with the benefit of having two – slightly – different personalities with different tastes working together. Whereas Lindsey would be more squeamish and un-impressed on some titles, Kathryn sees the potential and pushes for it – or vice versa, and there comes the beauty of Fraser and Ross Associates diversification.

Knowing the editors within the publishing companies, and knowing the publishing companies’ aims in and out, is the key. A literary agent should not submit the same title to more than a couple of imprints at the same time, as that would be fishing for someone to catch on a title you are not backing one hundred per cent, but not offering it to more than one would also limit the chances of the title being picked. Whereas one publisher might have something similar already in process or is not particularly keen on the content of the novel, another publisher might see it as the gem it is.

Lindsey also remarks on how the publishing industry initially got terrified by the emergence of digital publishing, and how she sees it a near god send for convenience and actually a sensible way forward. And some publishers have even improved the quality of their print books, for noticing that e-sales have increased their print sales as readers who liked the book in e-format more often than not want to buy a hard copy. And ultimately, the eventual experience is the same; you read a book and you either hate it or love it. Only thing Lindsey truly criticises e-publishing for is the low royalties that come toward the author, which should in all senses be higher as e-publishing has not nearly as high costs as printing.

As parting wisdom Lindsey remarks on publishers who hold on to the rights of a title even if the title is not in print; the rights ought to be relinquished so the author can go on to find another channel for their book to keep out there. Generating income for a literary agent or the author is not always a straightforward line; a lot is to do with selling and maximizing rights – having one publisher in the UK and another one in US, but always trying to make sure it is the authors’ rights that are respected, as much meeting profit margin demands. The literary agent is responsible of much of the negotiations between author and potential publisher, as well as being the gatekeeper for first drafts, offering initial feedback. What this boils down to is not the individual likes and dislikes and quirks of personalities, but also being aware of the target audience and the market demand, for what has been a phenomenal success in UK does not mean it will also fare well in other countries. And here it is, the sad truth; best books are not necessarily the ones that sell.

The tweets from Lindsey Fraser’s Visiting Speaker session are Storified here.

Aija Oksman