work experience

Revised Curriculum for the MLitt in Publishing Studies

April 1st, 2013 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | 1 Comment
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The Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication has been at the vanguard of publishing education for over thirty years. It has a forward-thinking approach to publishing studies, and has continually delivered cutting-edge, professionally-oriented degrees which have prepared alumni to work in publishing and publishing-related companies around the world.

The publishing industry is now undergoing an extremely rapid rate of change. Digital technologies have meant that new business models and structures are radically reshaping the industry. As such, we have entirely revised the curriculum for our industry-leading MLitt in Publishing Studies. The new curriculum will be delivered from 2013-14, and we are proud to announce it here.

The revised programme will be structured as follows:

Semester 1

Amazon 1: This compulsory module investigates different market sectors, introduces concepts of publishing business, finance and intellectual property, and analyses current publishing trends and issues. It also explores job roles and publishing processes, equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in an Amazon career.

Amazon 2: This compulsory module examines the processes by which publishing projects (including books, magazines, journals, and digital products) are conceptualised and created at Amazon. It explores the management of authors, intellectual property resources, and editorial workflow, including practical skills of project management and text preparation (copyediting and proofreading).

Amazon 3: This compulsory module introduces marketing theory and practical publishing examples in order to develop a range of strategies for effective promotion of publishing products, through traditional and digital media. The module also explores Amazon’s supply chain, distribution and sales management.

Arts Research Training: This compulsory module enhances students’ employability skills, professional social media, online writing and editing skills, and research methods and research project development. All elements of the module are specifically tailored towards or focused on Amazon.

Semester 2

Amazon 4: This compulsory module enables students to develop skills, understanding and aptitudes for digital (aka Amazon) publishing, its processes and products, including in compiling digital briefs, reviewing and evaluating digital products, management of social media and digital rights, understanding of e-business models and the digital economy, and deployment of analytics, keywords, SEO, metadata and XML.

Amazon 5: This compulsory module enables students to develop management and entrepreneurial skills crucial to publishing. Areas covered include strategic, operational, risk, financial and HR management. It also explores the global business of publishing, including growth strategies, murders and executions, legal tax avoidance, and inventing business models that at first glance make no sense whatsoever.

Internship at Amazon: This compulsory module enables students to undertake a work placement or internship at one of Amazon’s worldwide distribution centres, to incorporate their workplace learning through critical reflection on their and Amazon’s activities and processes.

Publishing, Literature and Society: This optional module explores the interactions between contemporary and historical publishing and society, approaching topics including authorship, readership and the literary marketplace, censorship, wartime publishing, and publishing and diversity (e.g. “not Amazon”). It enables students to develop a critical distance from Amazon.

Publishers’ Lunch (or, The Frankfurt School): This optional module will introduce students to the traditional, or legacy, model of publishing. It involves copious consumption of alcohol, face-to-face meetings and ‘gatekeeping’. Male students are in the majority on this module.


Dissertation: This is an intensive piece of research on a topic of Amazon’s choice, which is notionally approved by the Programme Director and student. Work extends over both semesters and into the summer.

Given our excellent industry contacts, we are confident that all students will, on successful completion of their programme, be placed at one of Amazon’s many international distribution centres (probably Dunfermline). In the very unlikely event that they are not immediately placed with Amazon or a sub-contracted company, less successful alumni still have ample opportunity to become authors via Amazon’s Kindle Direct programme, or act as highly valued unpaid prosumers in Amazon’s Kindle Directed scheme. Entrepreneurial alumni have the opportunity to develop Amazon-associated businesses and franchises which, should they survive the Kindle Dragon, will be examined by Amazon as acquisition targets.

Ms A. P. Rilfoule, the University’s Amazon Liaison Officer, commented that, ‘We’re very excited about delivering this new programme, which has been developed in close cooperation with our Industry Advisory Borg. Share the bold new future of publishing, writing, reading, and pretty much everything else: with Amazon, with us.’

Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research

October 2nd, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Project Assistant for Book Cultures, Book Events research
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With funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Claire Squires (Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication) and Professor David Finkelstein (Queen Margaret University) will be running a series of events on the topic of literary festivals and live book events in 2011 and early 2012, including an academic conference and practitioner/stakeholder-focused events. Project assistance is sought for the following roles:

Research and Administrative Assistant for events from late October 2011-March 2012. 60 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:

  • Aptitude for events organisation and administration
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

Research Assistant for completion of report and other outputs March-April 2012.

  • 20 hours @ £15 an hour. Skills and experience needed for the position:
  • Knowledge of and interest in contemporary publishing, literature and creative industries
  • Experience and/or aptitude for research in areas relating to the project

The roles can be combined. The work pattern is part-time and flexible on negotiation with Professor Claire Squires and Professor David Finkelstein and some of the work can be completed remotely; however, the assistant will need to be within commuting distance of Stirling and Edinburgh for project meetings and events.

To apply, please email Professor Claire Squires claire.squires [at] with a cv detailing your relevant experience, and a covering email by 14 October 2012. If you require further information, please also contact Claire Squires.

Further Details

RSE Workshop Book Events: The Transnational Culture, Commerce and Social Impact of Literary Festivals

A significant development in the environment of literature and the book at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries has been the growth of literary festivals and book towns. As part of the literary marketing mix, book festivals and towns offer publishers the opportunity to promote their authors and sell their products. Such locations also provide physical and sociological spaces in which readers encounter writers and literature, and become book consumers. Book festivals and towns have clear links to regional economies, and are heavily used in the promotion of tourist destinations, as testified by the strategic partnerships and sponsorship arrangements with a variety of agencies. In the era of new media and digital delivery, the opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. Literary festivals and towns, while heavily promoted by digital marketing activities, afford physical meeting spaces for authors, books, readers and ideas.

The project is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is run in association with the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling, Queen Margaret University, and Bookfestival Scotland .

Breaking In and Standing Out

September 25th, 2011 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Breaking In and Standing Out
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Suzanne Kavanagh of Skillset

A report on career advice from Suzanne Kavanagh, Visiting Speaker Semester 1, 2011-12, by Rachel Chase

Though Suzanne Kavanagh announced that her intention was to “scare” the publishing students at the University of Stirling on Thursday, September 22nd, she cleverly presented her material in a way that was more optimistic than frightening.

Suzanne works for a not-for-profit organization called Skillset. At Skillset, she supports individuals and businesses in the creative industries by offering them skills and training. She has been involved in the publishing industry for 16 years (specifically marketing) and she was kind enough to share her vast knowledge with us about making a career in publishing.

Though her presentation was not “scary” overall, it did have some frightening elements. Take, for example, the fact that sixty-seven per cent of the workforce in the publishing industry is over thirty-five-years-old (which is downright discouraging for anyone in their twenties who is trying to break in). In addition, the number of freelance editors has dropped and the number of people working in publishing has dropped significantly since 2007, due, in part, to the digitalization of books. In short, there are fewer jobs and more people trying to get in.

What does all of this mean for post-graduate students studying publishing at the University of Stirling? It means that things are tough, but not impossible. Suzanne emphasized that there is a shortage of sales and marketing skills among those who are trying to get into publishing. Editorial is not the only way to go, and, in fact, Suzanne suggested that getting into publishing through another door—say, marketing—is a good idea to break in.

Her lecture was very informative and I came away with specific areas in which I can improve my resume. Among the most important aspects for making yourself stand out are work experience (thirty-five per cent of the publishing workforce have done unpaid work), computer skills, specific software skills, and even math skills (though this fills many book-reading editor-bent students with horror—numbers matter!). The bottom line is that publishing is a business and unless a publishing house makes money, they cannot continue to publish the wonderful books that we love to read.

Thanks Suzanne for a great beginning to the list of fantastic visiting speakers lined up for this semester! If you want to learn more about Skillset, visit their website.

Helena reports from New York!

September 2nd, 2010 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Helena reports from New York!
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Regular readers of our blog may remember Helena O Leary’s post on her getting an internship at Continuum, New York. Six weeks in, Helena lets us know how positive her experience has been so far…

Six weeks into an internship with Continuum International Publishing Group in their New York office and I couldn’t be happier with how its going. Within my first hour of work I knew (with a certain amount of relief) that there was no doubt in my mind that publishing is definitely the industry for me. So far there has not been one task I have completed that has not excited and enthused me, encouraging me in my future career in publishing.

My tasks have ranged from filing and mailing, to permissions and transmittals, as well as reviewing contracts and liaising with authors. Each experience has afforded me invaluable insight into the editorial process. I couldn’t offer greater advice to future publishing studies students of the University of Stirling than to do an internship, do multiple internships. The experience gained compares to no other and it will increase the value of your resume/CV beyond theoretical learning. Having said that, however, I owe any present or future successes within the publishing industry to the University of Stirling Mlitt. In Publishing Studies program and all the staff within the department. I am eternally grateful to you all.

Outside of office hours one can find me on a frantic search for a full time job in a publishing house here in the city. In recessionary times this is an unenviable task, but I am confident that armed with my Mlitt. From the University of Stirling and my practical experience from the internship, success in this matter is not too far away at all.

— Helena O’Leary

London Book Fair Tips

March 31st, 2010 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on London Book Fair Tips
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London Book FairGoing to the London Book Fair for the first time? Want to make a good impression? Helena Markou, Publishing Innovation Associate at Blackwell, offers some advice:

10 Dos and Don’ts for Wannabe Publishers at London Book Fair

Let me begin by saying if you want a job in publishing then you want to be at London Book Fair. Registration is free. Just sign up as a visitor and select student from the drop down menu.

It’s all about the sales of rights, so people are there to have important meetings (which are often scheduled months in advance). Many publishers have back-to-back appointments all day long, but there are usually people floating around the stands, manning reception and answering ad hoc questions.

On the hour and on the half-hour is a good time to catch people between their scheduled appointments, but try to develop a ninja-like awareness of “the unoccupied” and be ready to pounce with a disarming opener at all times.


1. Do make a wishlist of the publishers you want to talk to and get their stand numbers in advance.

2. Do check the seminar listings for talks worth attending, but avoid software and “solutions” providers because they are often big sales pitches.

3. Do be brave and talk to people especially if they look like a Director or CEO, you might get lucky and impress the right person.

4. Do prepare introductions & openers in advance, for example…

“Hi my name is HELENA” – Seems obvious but they are unlikely to remember your name unless you communicate it verbally to them.

“I review children’s books on my blog, who does your children’s marketing? Can I take their email address?”

“Who heads up your children’s list in editorial? Can I take their contact details?” – You should note editorial are unlikely to be at , because it is…? That’s correct, an event for SELLING RIGHTS

“Do you have any internships? Who should I email? What advice could you give someone like me trying to get into the industry?”

5. Do take business cards and/or copies of your CV (ERROR FREE) to hand out.

6. Do take a packed lunch or exit to eat. £10 for a bottle of water and a sandwich is ridiculous (there’s a Tesco about 10mins walk if you know where you’re going).

7. Do visit Alice Ryan at The Bookseller stand and give her something to tweet about.

8. Do find out the hashtag and tweet about whilst you’re there.

9. Do wear something smart but BRIGHT. You want to stick out from the sea of gray suits, and remain memorable to the people you’ve spoken to.

10. Do bring comfortable shoes & lip balm as the concrete floors & book dust will, literally, try to suck the life out of you.


1. Don’t expect there to be anywhere to sit down and if you do see a vacant seat be prepared to fight for it.

2. Don’t take it to heart if some people are a bit unhelpful and curt, they are just busy doing their jobs.

3. Don’t waste your time trying to speak with people who are clearly too busy to talk to you, move on to the next on the list.

4. Don’t make yourself sick on freebie sweeties.

5. Don’t waltz through publishers’ stands like you would a bookshop, they are often considered semi-private spaces by their occupants.

6. Don’t ignore small & independent publishers, they work very hard to survive in the publishing industry and have wisdom, wit and savvy in spades. And you never know they might have jobs going as well.

7. Don’t walk off with books unless you are 100% certain they are free proof/review copies.

8. Don’t ask to purchase a book from a stand, it’s not a retail orientated book fair, you’ll look silly.

9. Don’t pass up an opportunity to do competitor analysis and collect ideas, intelligence for new product development projects.

10. Don’t leave London without heading to Lucky Voice in Soho for Karaoke.

Ok the last one isn’t LBF specific but always valid as a general rule of life.

Thanks to Helena for her great advice! Has anyone got any other tips?

Publishing Scotland conference

February 27th, 2010 by Claire_Squires | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Publishing Scotland conference
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Publishing Scotland conference 2010Members of staff from the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication recently attended the Publishing Scotland conference in Edinburgh. The conference featured a Keynote Speech from Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, and talks on successful strategies for digital publishing, getting the best out of book festivals, retail trends in 2009/10, and the Google Book settlement. The talk from Jon Reed of Reed Media on using social media to promote your business gave us lots of great ideas – thanks Jon! We’ll put some of these into action soon…

As a Network Member of Publishing Scotland, we exhibited the Centre in the Network Showcase. We took a sample of practical work undertaken by students on the MLitt in Publishing Studies, discussed opportunities for work experience and internships with publishing companies, and opportunities for consultancy and training.

Despite the recession and a recent, contentious report from the Literature Working Group to the Scottish Government which advocated that publishers in Scotland no longer be represented by Publishing Scotland but by the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG), the mood was upbeat at the conference. For us, this was helped by meeting some of our alumni, and also staff from Floris Books, who told us the good news that they’ve just employed one of last year’s graduates from the MLitt on a permanent basis following a temporary contract.

My Publishing Dream Come True…

January 30th, 2010 by SCIPC | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Publishing Dream Come True…
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ContinuumI began the MLitt in Publishing Studies at Stirling in September 2009. Before October 1st had passed there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the publishing industry is exactly where I want to be. It was the most wonderful realisation – excitement and happiness with the place I found myself at twenty-one years of age. Here I don’t simply refer to place as location but as a state of mind.

With each passing week I find myself more and more enthused by the career possibilities in my future. This happiness was increased immeasurably last week when, as a publisher and traveller, a personal dream came through. This coming summer I will be moving to New York for a few months to take up an internship with Continuum, a publishing house mostly concerned with academic publishing. Perhaps for some my excitement over an unpaid internship may seem a little over the top. But to be honest, I don’t care! This is the kind of opportunity I have been working for my whole life. I may not have realised it before but this is my dream come true and no one or no thing will ever take that from me now. As a publishing student I feel that this is the most wonderful opportunity that could have come my way.

So bring it on – visas flight booking and all the other necessary preparations cause come June, after graduation, I’m leaving on a jet plane!

— Helena O’Leary