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Stirling university

Between the Caribbean and the U.K.

December 11th, 2017 by Lucie Santos | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Between the Caribbean and the U.K.
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“Create tastes rather than following them” Jeremy Poynting

The best part of being a small and independent publishing company based in Leeds with a special interest in poems and Caribbean literature is that they can create taste instead of following trends.

Jeremy Poynting introduced a poetry small press: the Peepal Tree Press where two people are involved in full-time supported by six part-time helpers. Their aim is to encourage the authors and work with professionals in order to have the books in the hands of the consumer. This is why, currently, they publish fiction, poetry and general academic titles. The key point is to encourage books to be accessible to a more general reader. They publish writing directly from the Caribbean and this makes them actually the biggest publishing house in the United Kingdom for Caribbean literature. They operate because books should make a difference and take part of a dialogue about society as they think the process of working with authors is important and they can afford to take their time.

Because they are helped with funds from the Arts Council, they do not need to be market oriented. One of the objectives is to have “Great Art for everyone”: they do not only publish books but they are involved in social media events and one important part of a cultural company is the connection with people. The objectives are different than a big publishing house; they cannot have economy of scale but they try to keep the backlist alive.

So, one huge value brought by an independent publisher is the capacity of doing new things even if the audience is limited for a poet. Besides, because they are outside of London, they can develop a very international target market. They want to bring international writing into the country and to print diversity literary travel.

The story began in a garage and crossed the sea to the Caribbean

The objective is not only selling books in the U.K. but also selling books in the Caribbean because they want to nurture the roots from which they are coming from. The Caribbean’s literature is an essential part of British and Scottish culture.

Why is the area producing a Nobel Prize but does not have a publishing industry developed?

Shivanee Ramlochan explains “It is really difficult to be published in the Caribbean”. It is hard to get recognition of your work, and even harder if you write poetry because poetry is not old in the Caribbean. She is a poet from Trinidad and she wants to learn publishing skills from manuscript to print books and eBooks. Now she would like to teach others back to the Caribbean.

The publishing sector in the Caribbean is focused only on two parts of the market: university presses and professional but not fiction. Moreover the market size is very little and the number of booksellers is very small. There are few proper bookstores, the products are more focused on Christian books and schoolbooks.

The publishing sector is living through history of colonialism and there are a few people interested in Jamaican books; in Grenada for instance. There is no distributor in the Caribbean and it is difficult to reach every single island coming from the others. They transit through Miami to go to others islands and there are no direct flights.

But Shivanee Ramlochan shows us that it is not impossible to write poetry and to be published.

“Books should make a difference and be part of a dialogue.” Jeremy Poynting

So what about discovering poetry from Caribbean ? It is also a way for us to remember all the links we have with the Caribbean people. They are part of European history, indeed not the easiest part we’d like to face.

By Lucie Santos

What defines the best?

November 30th, 2017 by David Graham | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on What defines the best?
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The experience of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire Society.

By David MacDonald Graham.

I had the honour of being a shadow fiction judge for the Saltire society, six books to read, take notes and ultimately decide which one was the best. The books ran the gauntlet from the emotional, political, heartwarming, the despairing and the disturbing.

 Judging and reading is an interpretive game and sometimes you need to separate the enjoyment factor and concentrate on craft, tone, intent and relevance. Perhaps, when all of those factors fail, the enjoyment factor remains the only aspect left to work with. It’s a challenge, thinking in and outside of literary factors, determining merits or lack of them. As a writer myself, I had to distance myself from the knowledge, that crafting a book, whatever the reason we choose to create, is not an easy task. A lot of work goes into the craft, a lot of doubt and second-guessing.
I know the work ethic, the difficulties and the attacks of doubt, and I owed it to the writers on the basis of knowing how aggravating and rewarding the process can be, to be as robust as possible in my analysis.
I spent the evening of the panel talking about books with my fellow shadow judges, which is probably how most of us would like to spend our evenings. The discourse and debate was lively, certainly well moderated and when the time came for a consensus, there was one question that challenged my perceptions and ultimately changed my decision.

“What is the best book, what deserves the award?”

Well, to me, these are two questions.

The best book is not necessarily the one that deserves the award. An award is a powerful thing, it creates visibility, it calls attention to both the author and the themes explored in the text. The question then becomes, who needs the award? There are, after all, some books that will always sell based on genre, subject matter and the author’s reputation. There are others that make important points, comment on society and explore culturally relevant issues that may not always be comfortable to read about. It’s possible these books may not find an audience without an award to champion it.

Another question is then raised, which is the most important book?

Bearing in mind, I had only been asked one question and my interpretation threw up four more in the space of seconds, including, is the most important book also the best book?
In a matter of seconds, I found myself asking internally if I had the right to judge, and mentally imagining myself saying to my previous decision;

“It’s not you, its definitely me. You’ll find your way.”

We all have a relationship with the books we read, and I essentially broke up with mine. Luckily there are plenty of books in the metaphorical sea. The book I eventually choose, quite simply, had a role to play that was beyond entertainment, it was a book that needed to be read.
The shadow judging was an invaluable experience, one I would be keen to repeat, armed with the knowledge that my preconceptions could be challenged by a simple question. I extend my thanks to the Saltire society; it will be interesting to find out on the 30th of November if our overall consensus matches up with the judging panel.

If you would like to get in touch, you can;

Twitter me @davidjonwinter

facebook me under David MacDonald Graham.

or LinkedIn me here:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-macdonald-graham-557605b1/

Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes

November 10th, 2017 by Mireia_Paune | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Literary Dundee – Peggy Hughes
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On Thursday November 2nd, Peggy Hughes, manager of Literary Dundee (but changing to Program Director of Writers’ Centre Norwich this month), visited Stirling University and enlightened Publishing and Creative Writing students in our future possible paths in the book industry.

With a lot of enthusiasm, Peggy talked about her adventure in this sector, beginning with her English Literature studies at St Andrews. While studying, she knew that she didn’t want to become a teacher, so she applied for a job in the Edinburgh International Book Festival to get some experience in the book industry. She got rejected (as life is full of rejections) but she got involved with StAnza Poetry Festival, a very useful experience that helped her get into Edinburgh International Book Festival the following year.

West Port Book Festival

Then she graduated and started to work in the bookshop Armchair Books, located in Edinburgh, which the sitcom Black Books was based on. As a result of working there and seeing the potential of the area for housing a book festival (West Port had six bookshops and a nice pub), she set up the West Port Book Festival with some friends.

It was not easy to re-brand the area and start a project like this without funding, so they pre-crowdfunded the project (the clients of Armchair Books contributed to the cause) and learned how to develop a festival like this. West Port Book Festival was celebrated for five years (from 2008 to 2012), which is not difficult to believe, regarding that some of the authors of the first year were Ian Rankin, Ali Smith and Alison Louise Kennedy.

After that, Peggy worked for nine months in the Scottish Poetry Library (at one point the 4th most influential library in Twitter) and later in the press and marketing of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, where she got to promote unique events celebrated in Scotland. In 2013 she got a job in Literary Dundee, where she is currently working as a manager, as said earlier.

Literary Dundee

This cultural organisation, associated with the University of Dundee, celebrated Dundee Literary Festival for the first time on 2007. Since then, the organisation has organised lots of different and uncommon events, as talks with authors, involving music, biscuits, networking and a brilliant atmosphere. This October the festival had Laura Jones and Heather McDaid (404 Ink), Jenny Niven (Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland) and Laura Waddell (HarperCollins) among others.

This November, Peggy starts a new chapter in her career as the Program Director of the National Centre for Writing at Dragon Hall, a magnificent medieval building in Norwich that will become a literary centre and where she will be working within a team. She is very excited to start a new adventure in this dreamy place.

Some final tips and book recommendations

Apart from seeing Peggy’s steps and how her career has brought her to Ireland again, one of my favourite moments of her visit and, probably not only mine, was when she gave us some top tips for working and getting into the book industry:

  • Keep calm and love spreadsheets: have a good relation with numbers and with Excel, as being confident with it will benefit employment opportunities.
  • Look for a mentor.
  • Live and learn how to prioritize.
  • Do your research: be accurate when applying for a job and think about the person that is in the other end and receives your email (as there are people there).
  • Read, read… read: if someone asks you “What are you reading?” you should be able to answer.
  • See an opportunity and do it: this is what 404 Ink did.
  • Say yes, and yes: the first time is frightening, but you have to try. Only if you know for sure that you can’t do a good job say no.
  • Just be nice.

She also gave us two book recommendations: Align me by walking by Sarah Bomb, a novel that shows you how to stay motivated and remain hopeful, and The faraway nearby, by Rebecca Solnit.

She finished her visit in the best way possible: with free books to a lucky winner and the quote “how you spend your days is how you spend your life”, affirming that we had to feel like a cat with balloons, meaning that what we do has to make us feel happy. The truth is her visit and her enthusiasm (and its terrific end) made us feel really happy.

 

By Mireia Pauné

Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group

March 20th, 2017 by helene_fosse | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Visiting Speakers: Witherby Publishing Group
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When I first decided I was interested in publishing, I knew very little about the business, and – as many laymen do – thought that trade fiction was the only way to go. It was the only thing I wanted to do, because it was more or less the only thing that came to mind when I thought “publishing”. And I wanted to be an editor.

In my final year of undergrad, I had made some inquiries about the publishing course at Stirling, and consequently was updated by email about publishing events that I could attend. The visiting speaker sessions was one of these events, and I went along.

When I emerged from the talk two hours later, my whole conception of publishing was shattered and all the little pieces had reformed into something entirely different. Publishing is so much more than trade fiction, and if it is publishing you want to do, I have come to realise that the nature of the content isn’t always that important. And so I went into my Masters with much more of an open mind, thanks to the lovely Gillian Macrossan and (Stirling alumna) Jo Marjoribanks.

Sitting through the talk for the second time, I could remember some things from the previous year, but being almost two semesters into my degree this time, things made a lot more sense. The importance of things such as carbon footprint, living wage and paid internships are examples of things that I could not put into context two years ago, but now I know how important these things are for the health of the publishing business. Also, cheaper isn’t always better if you want a good quality product, and it might actually turn out not to be cheaper at all. For example, production might be cheaper in China, and you’re sitting in your office rubbing your hands together … but then the shipping bill comes and evens it all out.

Something else that becomes apparent in this talk is the importance of editing. It can literally be a case of life and death if a mistake is printed. Witherby publish marine literature, manuals, guides, training literature for mariners (not seamen, we do not like that word!) among other things. They might be massive bricks about one particular part of a ship, and laymen wouldn’t look twice at them, or their price tag. But can you imagine what can happen if a mistake went unnoticed when it comes to something as massive and heavy as a ship? Death isn’t actually that far-fetched.

One other thing that I took away from this talk (both times) is how important it is to network, apply for internships, be openminded and to not shy away from opportunities. This inspiration I mainly got from Jo, as she landed the job at Witherby through an internship that kept on getting extended until she finally was given a full-time job. I will admit that my brain was exhausted just listening to all her different responsibilities, ranging from fighting pirates to editing to doing copyright work. But imagine getting a job like that where you can do so many different things! That has to be the dream.

All in all, this visiting speaker session is something that everyone, if you’re interested in publishing and want a real boost of inspiration and energy, should attend. Gillian and Jo are two very talented women who make the publishing business a much less scary place to a mere mortal.

And remember: Editing kills.

– by Helene Fosse

Sarah Elizabeth Webster MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015

October 22nd, 2014 by Sarah Elizabeth Webster | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Sarah Elizabeth Webster MLitt Publishing Studies 2014-2015
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Me!My name is Sarah Webster and my home is the Peak District in Derbyshire, a.k.a. the home turf of Mr Darcy.

For the past four years I studied on both the BA in English Language & Literature as well as the MA in Romantic Literature & Culture at the University of Leeds. I am now studying on the MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling.

During my time in Leeds, I volunteered as an archivist in the Special Collections of the Brotherton Library where I worked on the Simon Armitage, Tony Harrison and Melvyn Bragg collections and I also listed audio records for the library. This opportunity allowed me to handle a variety of literary materials and projects, whilst giving me invaluable experience in arts archival research.IMG_7317411

For the past couple of years I have worked as a theatre journalist for The Public Reviews, covering shows predominantly in the Yorkshire region including ballet, puppetry, drama and musical theatre. The role has demanded a great deal of organisation and the ability to write to very tight deadlines in a succinct and nuanced style.

With my firm foundation in literature and theatre journalism I would now like to make the transition from content provider to editor and from journalism to publishing. As a creative person who plays the piano and enjoys sketching and drawing I am also interested in the design and production aspects of the publishing process.

Martins the Printers

April 24th, 2014 by Aija | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Martins the Printers
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How are books made? If you ask a publishing student, you are in for an earful on the wading through a pile of slush in the hopes of discovering the next Hunger Games-trilogy or the next Booker Prize winner – something that stirs either financially or inspirationally. After that you will get an in-depth description of the editing and the decision-making processes all the way from typesetting, cover design to the final version. You might hear about the printing but the emphasis definitely is in the processes pre- and post-printing. That is what we know. That is what we can do. A publisher would not explain the whole printing process not as much for the lack of knowledge than for the fact of it being very mechanical and very distant form the publisher’s actual job. Therefore, the class of 2014 was in for a treat when we got to visit Martins the Printers at Berwick-upon-Tweed and get that rare glimpse to the inner workings of the printers.

David Martin, the sales director at Martins the Printers, kindly welcomed our group and gave us some history to the printers (printing since 1892 with newspapers and since 1950s they have focused on books) before unleashing us in two smaller groups to the belly of printers. Our guide Paul Waugh took us through each of the specific processes required in making a book, showing us the function of each machine and explaining in detail the time frames, the order in which each step is made and the differences between litho and digital publishing. As David and Paul both emphasised that is good for us young publishing hopefuls to know: the biggest differences that have come up through developments in printing is the effective cuts in costs; no more warehousing and the whole process is becoming faster and cheaper, enabling publishers to keep up with times and move their stock much easier – and this is definitely where the future of publishing is steadily moving towards.

The best way to show the process of printing is to visualise it through the snapshots taken through our tour.

Paul showing a printing plate

Printingplate2

 

First of all we went to see the creation of the printing plates, and how the printing plate is then entered into the machine that in the offset printing (economic way of producing large quanitites in one go) prints on the large sheets of paper before those sheets are taken to the next step.

Folding1

Printingplate3

 

The next step is the folding. The machine actually folds the large print sheets into correct combinations of pages and spreads. The man standing there then stags the fold onto a gurney, ready to be wheeled to the next step.

 

SownAfter the folding the pages are then sown together, the binding and glueing ready to be made. After sewing the covers get glued on and a version of the paperback is done.

 

The boys at the glueing machine were over-zealous in their testing, ripping Gluedcovers2covers and pages apart, destroying perfectly well-made ready books for the sake of testing. Heartwrenching. As seen in the above picture of tossed pages and covers of Tim Burton’s book. Never thought I could make such girly shrieks.

 

 

FinalisingThere is one more machine to be mentioned, besides the amazing hand-made Warmbookwork that follows each procedure to ensure perfection – and that is the “finaliser”. It is a machine that rounds the corners and compacts a hardback, to give it that book-look. There is nothing better than having that fresh-from-the-oven book in your hand, warm like a roll on  Sunday morning.

 

Definitely a tour every publisher needs to make regularly to keep up with the changes happening in the developemnts, and to understand the actual process of printing. It is a process to be appreciated and respected. It takes knowledge and skill and is an integral part of book making. Insightful.

 

IMG_20140213_144719

Our excursion ended with a long-awaited visit to Barter Books!

London Book Fair and Digicon 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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