Tag Archives: Publishing

Working full – or part-time while studying – doable exhaustion?

Penguin

A discussion on Reddit sparked a wander down a memory lane. Contributor j_icicle enquired  How do people bring themselves to be in full-time work and part-time education at the same time? For this contributor the mere idea seemed inconceivable;

I just can’t see my self sticking with it, I can’t drop full-time work because of rent and life ect but I’ve been doing shit jobs for 8 years with very little increase in pay. My GF would never let me just up and take out huge loans to get my through university and it would be unfair to her if I did.
Taking 4 years out of my life, by the time I get anywhere I’ll be 28. I also get paid to play music a few times a week so I’d have to drop my social life as well as that extra income would be gone.

Child, please – I was lucky to go through big chunk of my studies without having to work but once that option was gone, I worked and I worked hard – there was no question. While studying full time, I had two part time jobs as well as being involved in student advisory body at my undergraduate institution

So many other contributors have lived through it, and they know the reality of it –

I work a full-time job and go to school full-time as well. Is it difficult? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You’re just going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. That might be not grabbing a beer with your buddies every weekend due to studying. As long as you remain focused, you’ll be fine. (OhPraiseHim)
In 4 years you are going to be 28. Do you want to be 28 with a degree or 28 without a degree?
Eye on the prize, mate. Little pain now for greater gain later. (Pun_In_Ten_Did)
I am currently working full time and attending school full time. I had the same issue you seem to be having, what’s the point of going back to school if I’m going to be 28 by the time I graduate? If you let that thinking take over, next year you’ll be 29 by the time you graduate instead of one year closer to your goal.
Can it be stressful? Totally. But I keep telling myself that I’m going to bust my butt now so I can have an easier life in the future.
My suggestion is to try going to school while maintaining your full time position. If it gets to be too much, there’s no shame in cutting work back to part time while taking out some loans. Loans can be a great resource if used properly. (DC_lurker)

 

Once I decided to do my postgraduate and move to a new country (best choice ever – by the way!) I knew I would have to work. I ended up being unemployed for several months but eventually through volunteering I met some good people, got my first job in a new city and never stopped working since. At the busiest time I had 3 part time jobs while studying part time in a university that was in a different city than where I lived. And I was making enough to make ends meet, not to save much or have that “out all night, sleep all day” student life. I had weeks when I would together with the commute work anything between 60-72 hours a week, plus studying time. My friends and family were asking me when do I find time to sleep? August 2014 was my reply – that would be when I have handed in my thesis and I wouldn’t commute, I wouldn’t write, I wouldn’t research, I would just work. Just one job. I would have a regular 9-5 life like so many people and I would love it.

As I put on my penguin gown and listened to the speeches, as I walked in a line, got “capped” and my hand shaken and patted on the back by friend and families, I swore never again – never again would I study as it had drained me dry and it was hard and I had achieved what I was out to get education wise. It was time for a change. I was exhausted.

And now I work. Yet I haven’t really found the haven I was looking for. It’s not the job; I enjoy my work (or aspects of it…).

My jobs have exhausted me more than my studies did; I commute, I work on shift-pattern, I come home, I eat sleep and repeat. I haven’t got much time or energy to socialise, and I seem to recluse myself without realising, making bad excuses for not going out or avoid making plans all together as I know I might have to work. And I have started to consider options. My work has made me see how much I enjoyed studying, how much I enjoyed the reading and researching, the constructive arguing and the writing, the testing my own abilities intellectually. I have realised I long to be back in an University setting; I am a fish out of water without it.  Although there are so many questions to answer before a decision can be made. Questions like; “will someone supervise my idea?”, “is my idea good enough?”, “am I good enough?”, “will I have the energy?”, “will I get bored?”, and so many more, but most importantly – “how will I afford it?”

Is going back to university, working throughout full or part-time really worth it? Would I do it again? The answer is simply yes. I’ve done it, and it burned me out very quickly. But damn did it not also kick my but in gear. I am older now, I’d like to believe I have more discipline and determination and I definitely have learned to skimp and not have the kind of social life most students dream of.

Now I just have to make words into actions. Easy, eh?

 

onlyWay

 

 

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The Way Forward in the Form of a Rant

You know the tap in your bathroom or kitchen that no matter how tight you close it keeps dripping and dripping and dripping and eventually you end of screaming at this inanimate object out of frustration ultimately realising your frustration towards that tap is a symptom not a cause? It’s not the tap you’re annoyed with. It’s the dripping that slowly fills you to the brim.

Rather a stale idiom, isn’t it? But it works. My brim came full the other day when I found out things that I just could not fathom any professionals would or even could stoop down to. So I have decided to open the taps full and start all over again. I don’t mind where I go from here, as long as I’m moving.Aija Oksman, MLitt Publishing

Due to disclosure agreements and possible social media monitoring that the company conducts and other rather inconceivable ridiculousness I’ve encountered, I won’t be naming or shaming. But I will quite happily wonder about the future.

I’ve finished my degree. MLitt in Publishing  and am slowly coming into terms of not being a student anymore. It’s about damn time, I think. Difficult part now is to figure out what next?

Is publishing what I really want to do? What in it appeals to me? What kind of publishing would I want to be involved in? Am I corporate material or rather independent publishing type? Editing? Proofreading? Marketing? Translating? Literary agency?

Actually, I know exactly what I would want. I know exactly what I would be good at and where my passion lies. But it’ll take a while to get there, and requires experience and experimenting. Of course in the ideal world I could combine my love for cooking/baking and coffee with working with independent publishing, minority literatures and translations.

One can dream, right?

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The Pursuit Project

WebsiteThings are moving along nicely.

Saila and I have now started the English version of the succcessful Oman Elämänsä Prinssessa blog, under the titular The Princess of her own Existence. Rather dramatic name, but the story and journey of Saila are just that. Dramatic.

I cannot pretend I know anything about postnatal depression,
but I do know something about self-harm, depression and issues with eating – perhaps that is why I have always felt strongly about Saila’s experiences. And that is why I believe it is a journey worth sharing. Saila has very unashamedly shared deepest personal feelings and shown an insight to the world of a woman, a mother and a wife in the grips of depression. Something too many are still afraid to admit, to speak of and to express as openly as Saila does.

FatherWhat women endure in silence is exactly what Saila expressed loudly and proudly – together with her husband, Timo. They have been a team since the beginning, with Timo eventually becoming Saila’s photography partner. No one ever thinks about the father in these situations, sadly. Therefore, for the Pursuit Project it was clear from the beginning that we wanted to include the father’s perspective. In the sample book this was one spread, but in the plan for the full-length version the father’s contribution will be much more extensive, both in form of his own words and the photography.

At the moment, Saila and I are focusing in creating more space for the project in forms of social media and contacting publishers and potentially also agents. Although, honestly, I wouldn’t mind taking the role of agent here. This project, for Saila as well as for myself is very personal. For very different reasons, probably.

The next exciting part is that Saila is attending the Helsinki Book Fair 23–26th October, and will hopefully be able to reach a lot of people. Helsinki Book Fair10406956_10152820717569273_7258743995735808228_n is very different to the other book fairs that I have been lucky enough to be acquainted with. Another thing the Finnish publishing and Finnish literature are doing right, and the world fairs would have a thing or two to adopt from Helsinki Book Fair. The Helsinki Book Fair is an open doors event, meaning that it is not aimed just for the trade people but invites the public, which directly results into having more visitors, more acknowledgment and more spread. And finally, the Helsinki Book Fair has the policy of actually selling titles at the fair not just representing them, which has a direct correlation to the popularity and spread of the reputation and success of the Book Fair itself.

As the idea for the book begun as a graduate project for the University of Stirling, the final work was submitted as a sample of a book. It was always about creating something necessary, something for where there is an obvious market gap – and even bigger necessity of accessible, first-hand experience. Simple reason why Saila and I are working at creating this book, is to provide those suffering from postnatal depression with assurance that there is a way out, that it is not a taboo to speak out and you will not be stigmatised for admitting you need help. The first step to admitting and accept you cannot do it on your own anymore, is hearing it from someone who has been there before.

Saila’s openness, perseverance and current position as a spokesperson and mental health experience expert are an inspiration.

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Martins the Printers

April 24th, 2014 | Posted in Blog by Aija Oksman
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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

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Christmas in the Oksman House

DSCN4612It is Christmas. This is one of those gushing, love of the written word and love the print book writings that I could not help but to write, after having been stuffed with food and warm drinks, after having opened the sweet presents, and as the tradition follows, having come home to myDSCN4644 mother’s house, where books are everywhere – by the last count 1750 counted for books cover the walls of mother’s Belgian home’s and Finland‘s summerhouse walls, books that I have admired and some that I have read, books that have been read to me and books I hope to one day add to my own slowly growing collection. Books everywhere.

Christmas is all about books for us as well; traditionally Santa brings us both bundles of books – this year I got to add Charlotte Brontë’s Villette in my collection, together with Shakespeare Unbound and a book on coffee and pasta! My mother found from her stocking a Booker price shortlister, another one for her Anne Donovan collection, the first of Simon’s Cat series as well a trip to memory lane with the orginal of an old favourite, one she had only ever read in translation before.

On top of adding to my collection I have a new “hobby” – I’m lucky to get to read slush for a publishing house, which keeps me busy on quiet moments (I do not fare well with nothing to do – keeping busy keeps happy). Having just finished one manuscript that I DSCN4592was happily surprised with, I have moved on to read a proof of another publishing house‘s upcoming book, and find myself immersed to the rich language and story. Reading for work at a holiday – mad some say. But I don’t find my work that worky, to be honest. I enjoy every bit of the reading, planning, imagining and then the tasks that will follow afterwards. My internships are a treat for me, a proof for me that I am in the right field. I love to read, I love the feel of a book in my hand, I love having grown up with the smell of books and having been read to aloud since I was a few weeks old. A tradition that still follows in our family, with my brother reading to his gorgeous girls.

Although, each of Stirling University‘s guests this semester and previously, as well as the professors, have all emphasised how love of books is not enough but publishing is a business, and should be treated as such. Sure. After Christmas. Now where’s my book…

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Books, Beer and Biscuits – Marion Sinclair Talks Books and Publishing

Another riveting guest speaker at the university of Stirling’s publishing course – Marion Sinclair the chief executive of Publishing Scotland, and herself a 1987 alumna of the Publishing course.DSCN4609

Marion informed the class of how the combined turn over in Scottish publishing is roughly 350 million, with around 17.000 professionals directly employed within publishing, with also much of publishing related work being outsourced out of house. This means the Scottish publishing industry s roughly the same size as the cashmere and salmon industries – the two biggest export goods from Scotland. Banks, biscuits, books and beers is what the Edinburgh city as founded upon, and this is why Publishing Scotland is actively encouraging growth within publishing business – and here Marion’s message to the publishing wannabe’s coincide; it is a great time to be entering the industry. The industry is in constant move, and even if a main street publisher disappears from Edinburgh, another will start in Glasgow and eventually vice versa.

How does Publishing Scotland fit into the Scottish publishing scene and why does the publishing business need a support organisation? As a small nation with so much to offer, it makes sense to have a collective voice, a collaborative organisation that can voice concerns and operate as a liaison between organisational bodies.  Publishing Scotland is “the network body for the book publishing industry in Scotland, working to promote and protect the interests of its members, both nationally and internationally”; with over 60 members (or over 95 per cent of Scottish publishing industry). These members consist of suppliers, universities, booksellers, literary agents, publishers, and other relates to the industry either directly or indirectly. Publishing Scotland, as an non-governmental, charitable organisation, can collectively on behalf of book industry professional negotiate and find the most beneficial deals, assist in setting goals and all in all find the best solutions to all questions and issues raised for all parties involved. As Marion explains, the Publishing Scotland as an organisation offers specific, targeted advice, planned activities and events for publishing industries – including magazines, libraries and schools who are out to find the best opportunities. These activities and advice include training opportunities, marketing advice, infrastructure projects and tailored advice related directly to your organisation and the goals you have set out to achieve. And what is more, Publishing Scotland helps you find the right kind of funding. In collaboration with Creative Scotland, Publishing Scotland offers the Go-See Grants Fund; purpose of the fund is to enable Scottish-based publishers to attend national and international book trade fairs for the first time. (Deadline for this is next week – there is still time!) The other notable fund Publishing Scotland and Creative Scotland have teamed to administer, is the Go-Digital Fund which is aimed to help publishers in three areas:

(a)   in accessing training or consultancy on digital matters;
(b)  attending digital events in the UK and overseas; and
(c)   marketing their digital books and content

This fund is especially interesting, considering how the evolution of book industry is moving; it is necessary to embrace all things digital; we might not wish to consume digital but it does consumer us.

All the support that Publishing Scotland aims for is to aid the publishing professional and those just entering the business to be responsive to the sector needs, operating as the network body, offering advice, digital support and helping to get the message out there, enabling contact and assistance from government bodies where necessary. Much of the work is relating to consumers and the nature of the market. Simply put – Publishing Scotland is there to strengthen the business capacity of the members of the industry and to support them to be the best they can be, to build their sustainability in a precarious book industry; for publishers by publishers.

DSCN4610Considering that Scotland already has strong government objective for supporting creative industries (a category under which publishing fits), and how there is a strong national sense in how the knowledge economy needs to be supported Marion maintains there would not be reason for anything to change drastically whether Scotland achieves independence. There would be no sense to start creating trade barriers, alienating Scotland as a separate, peripheral entity. Marion sees the future as re-birthing of a nation, re-creation and refreshing and rather than hinder will help the creative industries stance within Scotland as a vehicle of celebrating nationality and uniqueness.

After a thorough insight into the inner operation and mission statement of Publishing Scotland, Marion reminds the students of how it is a great time to be entering the industry; book industry is not dead or dying, but it is changing. And this is why the skills gathered through the publishing course will allow each of us to set ourselves apart; the degree can show we have abilities and keen insight into the industry already as we enter it, instead of entering blindly. It is a complex industry, requiring perseverance and hard work – with the constant changes and other industry advances, there is no other way than to keep up to date. Marion especially emphasises the importance of networking – become known and know the key players, as within creative industries it is often who you know rather than what you know to be able to get ahead and to get that chance. And another rather different advice Marion gave, one we have not heard in class before, is to become numerate; know the key facts, statistics and figures and make sure you understand what they mean to your sector as well as in grand scheme of things. There is power in numbers, and ultimately – publishing is a business.

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Set yourself apart from the norm – visiting speaker Sara Hunt of Saraband

Sara Hunt of Saraband gave an invigorating guest appearance at the Stirling Publishing course, the day after their Edinburgh launch of Lesley McDowell‘s Unfashioned Creatures. saraSaraband is a renowed independent publisher, known for its engaging, well-written non-fiction and attractive illustrated books, and also becoming renowned as an innovator in digital publishing, as well as the winner of Saltire Society Scottish Publisher of the Year Award.

Sara started off with emphassing the hanges that are happening in publishing. With the introduction of all imaginative, exciting cross-platforms and available transmedia, it is all the plurality and diversity of opportunities they provide that makes this the most exciting times for publishing. Theoretically, Sara says, those (read: us) entering the publishing business now are better off as we are by nature and education more media, digital developments and social platforms savvy than the generation of publishers before us. Almost anyone can start a business now, and there is a sense of optimism in the air. Publishing business is healthy in the overall revenue, though under the bonnets of individual publishing houses there are unseen challenges yet to be conquered.

Sara notes, with a tinge of despondency, how the value of the book has drastically eroded in recent years, for reasons that are as varied as books published. The consumer confidence is lacking and with the plurality of choices available make planning within publishing very challenging – to make the choice of what project to take on and back all the way is not always as obvious as it had been before. Another challenge faced by publishers – the conglomerates as well as independent – is how is the consumer going to find the new title you put out in the huge sea of published titles? People do not use the bookshops to browse, they use the internet and the web is never-ending source of all the information anyone could ever want, and investing in any one project above others is always a gamble. Though, Sara states, publishing decisions are always an informed gamble. Especially in the expanding culture of self-publishing it is the publisher whom is needed for discoverability. They have the know-how, the venues and the connections to bring out a title in the best possible way.

Speaking of discoverability and the changing market – apps. Sara is keen on the opportunities for marketing and visibility that an app brings to any title (though not all titles are app-able; if is to be made into an app, it has to have an element of interactivity). An app has to be more than a book converted into a phone compatible format. If this is done right, an app becomes that monetising part of the titles success. Yet, why apps? They are time consuming and expensive to produce, and monetising an app is even harder; the digital age generations has come to expect for everything online to be available for free or (thanks, Amazon) very, very cheaply. Sara explains how the answer is simply that there are more smart phone users out there now than there are readers.

Sara explains how digital marketing is in its prime now – social media, video trailers, audio clips, D2D and the mere scale of ebooks are the thriving force in modern marketing. Although, it is fallacy to think any of this would be easy; it is time consuming and expensive, and as all of it changes nearly over night, any campaign taken on becomes obsolete faster than you can type obsolete. Also, if there is a successful campaign of any sort, it will soon be adopted by others, making it a norm rather than an unique strategy – the window of opportunity here is minimal and the margin for error is massive. One definitely good way to get notices is to make sure you are not just following another trend, but to attempt to top the hot topics with something matchless. Saraband, for example, has just published A Capital Union by Victoria Hendry – and the review in the National Collective agrees taps into that “political atmosphere in Scotland today raising the stakes for any political work of art“. Scotland voting for independence in 2014, what better time would there be to bring out those titles that will discuss the impending referendum whether, like A Capital Union, from the historical point of view or then taking part in the current discussions. Knowledge is power – that is the gist of things; to think outside the box, and to think globally.

Sara ends her visit with a handful of helpful tips for the publishing wanna-/gonnabe’s, with the most important tip being to extend your skills. Learn more, read more and become an expert in something. Have something to show for those abilities you have obtained, be it InDesign or copy-editing, a keen sense of marketing or editorial knowledge. Show commitment and set yourself apart. Scavenge the vast amount of available information and use it to your advantage, and most importantly – find an outlet for your skills and opinions.

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

October 30th, 2013 | Posted in Blog | Aija

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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

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Publishing in a small nation on the brink of independence – Adrian Searle of Freight Books

What happens when an award-winning design company expands to create a publishing imprint? Back by popular demand, Adrian Searle, of Freight Books and the editor of Scotland’s leading literary journal Gutter, gave an insightful guest appearance for the Stirling MLitt Publishing class of 2013/14.

Adrian kicked his talk off with a wee slide show on all the expectation many have concerning what career in publishing will be like – money, fancy travels and big parties, more money and private jets… Before a big red X took over the screen and Adrian launched into the thick of it; publishing career is a lot more sweat and tears than money and fancy parties. Much more spending money than gaining money, a constant struggle for making that profit margin.

Adrian explained how publishing actually chose him rather than him actively pursuing the career in publishing – and it did not harm to do Masters in creative writing, after being lured into the spell of creative writing after the anthologies he published. Though setting up the imprint was far from easy, and ultimately took years to have all aspects figured out, and Adrian says a lot of it was thanks to the recession, and the “spaghetti plan” of other publishers. Though it might seem ominous to thank recession for enabling the success of another imprint, but it is a cutthroat business out there.

Combining the best of two worlds, going beyond the minimum both in published titles as well as their design, is what Adrian thrives towards. A great example of this is the Look Up Glasgow, a collaboration of the writer side of Adrian and the specialist architectural photographer David Barbour. The design of the book is all sorts of amazing, from the clever jacket that opens into one large photo on the inside of the jacket, to the clever cover design. Adrian, though, does admit he is perhaps not as motivated by money as he should but he does explain how the long-term aim is to make decent enough profit that allows them to publish without compromise those that truly tickles their fancy. On the one hand this means publishing a lot more non-fiction than fiction, but then the fiction that is published is something truly remarkable – such as the new translation of The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu. The advice to be learned here is, as Adrian emphasizes, publishers need to diversify – not just publish fiction.

Freight Books aims to branch out from what has become expected publications from Scotland – more than golf or whiskey books as there is so much more to be discovered from Scottish literature scene, as well as from international scene. Some of the title Adrian explains were from the start known not to be big sellers, but were done with prestige and diversification in mind. Such as the Pedro Lenz book, Naw Much of a Talker, which was originally written in Swiss vernacular and translated into Glaswegian. Personal pet projects combines with the anticipated bestsellers.

Commercial decisions do rule much of the published titles, but as Freight Books is not limited to just publishing of new titles, but also branches into design and journal fields, Adrian and co. have created one of the most successful Scottish publishing labels that keeps on surprising.

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Visiting speaker: Peggy Hughes, City of Literature

November 17th, 2012 | Posted in Blog | Aija
Tags: City of Literature, Edinburgh, events, literature, Peggy Hughes, publishing, UNESCO, visiting speaker

The delightful Peggy Hughes amused the Publishing studies 2012/2013 class  with her lively presentation on the UNESCO badge of City of Literature  – a designation, which was bestowed upon Edinburgh back in 2004. The City of Literature Trust  is head by Peggy herself and her boss Alison Bowden.

Why Edinburgh should be designated as a City of Literature by UNESCO, you might ask. Well, when a group of prominent figures in the literary scene having a post-prandial discussion they came to the surprising conclusion that as Edinburgh was “brilliant at books,” something should be done to make sure this would become general knowledge. Simply because Edinburgh has a huge literary heritage, and has a vibrant contemporary scene – already hosting some of the world’s most well-known and largest poetry and literature festivals and events.

Organisations from grassroots up to government level Edinburgh worked together to create The Bid, an audit of all Scottish literary accomplishments in two volumes – talking about putting things in a nutshell – We Cultivate Literature on a Little Oatmeal. It took a bundle of Scottish treats (whiskey, haggis, bagpiper among others) to convince the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Among her lively and very fast paced presentation, the class was entertained with best bits of past events that had aimed to hold Edinburgh to its badge of honour as well as a selected few spoilers over the upcoming events. Working together with other Edinburgh literary events and organisations, the City of Literature has proven to be worth every bit of the designation, more than holding its own among the others with its goals of establishing partnerships, promoting participation, learning as well as advocating awareness towards Edinburgh and keeping the focus on creativity, bringing people together in literature.

Thank you to Peggy for the grand insight into the Scottish literature scene and its uniqueness, and I’m sure the class cannot wait to see the ‘Stache-mob or join the Literary Salon.

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