[UCLPUB2015] Week 4

UCLPUB2015 HALLOWEEN

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 4: 26th Oct – 30th Oct

I always really enjoy my Tuesday classes, I love the opportunity to get some practical experience and get to grips with the skills we’ll need for a career in publishing. In the morning we had a session on proofreading and copyediting, and apparently no, they’re not the same thing! I already do some freelance copyediting and language editing for job applications, so it was super helpful to get some more specialised training. After a discussion with Wendy Toole, Society for Editors and Proofreaders, we tried to take on the BSI symbols by ourselves!

My group’s pitch for the Publishing Project is starting to come together and we’ve decided to focus on a collection of YA short stories and a mythology based anthology. We pitch to our lecturers and a few special guests on 3rd November and they’ll let us know which idea we can take forward to actually PUBLISH IN A REAL LIFE BOOK. I’ve somehow ended up in charge of the finances so erm, please buy it? Pretty please?

On Thursday we had some really interesting discussions with Dr Shafquat Towheed and Dr Danielle Fuller about the history of reading and the historical differences between reading aloud and reading silently. Coming from a linguistics background, I’m much more comfortable with practical analysis and investigation than I am with Foucault or Barthes, so the reading is taking some seriously hard work on my part. Despite my apparent inability to understand a text the first time I read it, I’m actually enjoying this theoretical module a lot more than I expected to. The lecturers and speakers so far have made it an engaging and intriguing space and I’m even kind of looking forward to researching my essay topic… WHO AM I?!

Finally, I feel like I’ve fully settled into my internship with HarperCollins this week and I’m really enjoying my time there. It’s still super busy after Frankfurt Book Fair and it’s so exciting to see all the foreign publisher contracts. The new Geek Girl is all over the office at the moment too – only a few days left until publication!

Charlotte x

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[UCLPUB2015] Week 3

UCLPUB2015 AUTUMN

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 3: 19th Oct – 23rd Oct

It’s crazy to think that only a month ago I was just about to have my induction and now I’m interning at HarperCollins! It’s been a bit of a return to madness with joining the Children’s Rights team 3 days a week and in uni for 2, but it’s nice to get out into the industry and really experience what we’ve been learning about in the classroom.

On Tuesday we had a great session on using InDesign, the programme we’ll be using to format our books for the Publishing Project. I love these more hands-on sessions because I can see the results immediately and know that I’m understanding the processes properly. I’m starting to really get a feel for design and production and am definitely looking forward to my Applied Creativity module in second term.

In the afternoon we grouped up and got to grips with the practicalities of our Publishing Project. We’ve had our full brief on budget, time scale and what we’re expected to (attempt to) produce and our team managed to bring it down to three possible paths by the end of the session. We followed the creative process Anna Faherty encouraged (read: forced) us to use last week and had so much fun with it! We have to plan our schedule and pitch our final idea on 3rd November – it’s going to be tough to choose just one!

Thursday is Author Management and Theories of the Book day. In the morning, we talked about the editor’s role and what editors look for when they take on a book, as well as the process of a structural edit. Hannah MacDonald spoke to us about the realities of being an editor and her move from large publishing houses to setting up her own indie – September Publishing.

The afternoon was a blur of book history as we took a tour of the British publishing industry at the speed of light. It was actually a really fun three hours and as someone who hasn’t studied history in about 9 years, a refresher was definitely welcome! Sam made it so much more interesting than I expected and it’s plain to see that she has a real passion for it. I’m kind of looking forward to delving a little deeper into the history of book now!

My internship with HarperCollins has been incredible. The office is just breathtaking with piles upon piles of books on every single surface and a huge open plan deskspace. I feel like I’m learning a lot about the way contracts are written and how deals are made already –  I’ve even been allowed to handle contracts from the last 100 years (the paper is just as wonderful as you’re imagining). When I see the new Walliams or Judith Kerr out in the wild I can’t help but feel just a tiny bit emotional, even though I’ve only been there a week. What will I be like at the end of my internship?!

I’ll be juggling my time next week but I’m planning to pick up my reviews again. I’ve got a lot of ARCs and other review books to get through at the moment and I can’t wait to share all my thoughts with you guys!

Charlotte x

[UCLPUB2015] Week 2

UCLPUB2015 AUTUMN

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 2: 12th Oct – 16th Oct

This week brought our first taste of the regular 2-day timetable. While we were in uni for less time, the workload has still been pretty intense. It’s taken some adjustment to keep on top of the reading and the random assignments to stalk people in Waterstones (apologies if you felt personally victimised by UCLPub whilst book shopping this week!), but I think I’m just about getting there.

On Tuesday morning we were given a crash course in using Nielsen BookScan to search for total volume and value sales of a particular book, as well as track trends and compare results across tonnes of variables. I really enjoyed getting to grips with some practical publishing skills and I love a good database to have a nosy about in. After mastering the basics we were set a few tasks in class (I admit I fell apart a bit here) but I can access my account at home to practice.

In the afternoon we had another session with the brilliantly enthusiastic Anna Faherty. She taught us how to break down the creative process and inspired us to push past our ‘grounded’ thought patterns to come up with the truly unique ideas that solve problems. I had an absolute blast in this class and definitely think that I underestimated my own creativity in the past!

Our Publishing Project class will eventually be a timetabled space for us to get together and manage the entire publication process from commissioning a book to printing and distributing it. I am SO excited to get going and can’t believe how well our group fits together already. We took a heap of personality tests in Induction Week and our tutors have carefully curated our teams based on the complimentary working styles we naturally bring to the table. Apparently I’m a combination of the Innovator, Team Player and Completer – if you’re a sucker for a personality test too then check it out!

Unfortunately on Thursday one of our lecturers was out of action with the flu, so we only had class in the morning. The Author Management session was run by Mal Peachey and Rachel Calder, covering a host of topics from the first copyright laws, to what authors want from their publishers (and what they hate about us too). It’s really interesting to hear the author’s view of the publishing process and even more interesting to see what they would pay extra for if self-publishing. Even though I’m leaning more towards marketing and publicity at the moment, it’s so important to get a diverse view of the industry to aid communication.

Next week I’ll be starting my internship with HarperCollins, helping the Rights division deal with the aftermath of Frankfurt Book Fair. It’s going to be absolutely crazy but I can’t wait to dive right in!

Charlotte x

[UCLPUB2015] Week 1

UCLPUB2015 AUTUMN

Welcome to my new blog series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Week 1: 5th Oct – 9th Oct

Wow. This week we achieved the impossible – an entire Masters module in five days. We were promised an intense week and we certainly got it! We’ve had the pleasure of meeting a range of publishing professionals, all speaking or giving workshops on their area of expertise from editorial to rights to production. It’s been a bit of a crash course on the wider contexts of the publishing industry and I’ve loved every caffeine fuelled minute of it.

IMG_4730On Monday we were given a general overview of the industry, exploring the different types of publishing and the various departments that make up a publishing house. We talked about the landscape of the industry today and who the major players are, before choosing our own publisher and putting together an adhoc presentation on their background, backlist and website. Only having 30 minutes to prepare was a little daunting but I think we did Nosy Crow proud in the end!

Tuesday morning was spent in a hustling masterclass with the Queen of Twitter, Sam Missingham. We talked about marketing ourselves as well as books – learning how to cut through the noise and build credibility with our audience. The rest of the day was focused on editorial with panelists from a real variety of publishing backgrounds to give us a wide view of the roles available, and the individual challenges we will face.

Operations Day was a full-on, hands-on exploration of book production hosted by Karina Luke from BIC. I loved seeing how books are brought to life (even if it did mean dissecting them first!). I’d never really thought about the printing process before so actually being able to hold books in various stages of production was brilliant. The jacket finishes talk was so much fun – how gorgeous is this foil offcut of George’s Marvellous Medicine?!

Thursday was dedicated to sales and marketing, cIMG_4727haired by the brilliant Martin Neild. Hearing from Jason Bartholomew and Anna Alexander, we scratched the dusty surface of rights and contracts, as well as whizzing through the basics of campaigning with Jessica Killingley (readying the bunting as we speak). We revisited jacket design with Auriol Bishop and by the end of the day I ended up completely falling for marketing and publicity. The first rule of marketing? You do not talk about marketing WHO WHAT WHERE WHY and HOW (but seriously, the publishing industry seems to really hate talking about marketing).

Like most people, I originally applied for my masters dreaming of walking straight from my graduation ceremony into a Commissioning Editor role at Penguin Random, gown and all. Almost every speaker this week asked (with a very knowing look) “Who wants to be an editor?” and as we learned more about the industry, less and less hands went up each time. If this week has taught me anything, it’s that the publishing industry is as diverse and fascinating as its consumers are. There are so many exciting and varied roles in publishing – make sure you get out there and try as many as possible!

By Friday we were all absolutely exhausted but a combination of the excitement of being allowed in the Faber & Faber offices (we were booked in, we didn’t just storm the building), free tea and Jacks Thomas’ enthusiasm for The London Book Fair kept us going. It was brilliant to get some MA advice from Helen, last years Faber Scholarship winner, and contextualise everything we’d learnt this week with real life bookish examples from Joanna Prior.

IMG_4776We rounded it all up with an INCREDIBLE trip to the Wellcome Collection with Anna Faherty, visiting the absolutely gorgeous Reading Room and touching books from HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO (Hi, my name is Charlotte and it’s been 2 days since I last sniffed a book). Anna was the perfect host and I cannot wait to get back in there as a library member!

I am exhausted just writing this up. Publishing Contexts has been an absolute blast and I can’t thank all our speakers enough. They had to take precious time out of their insane pre-Frankfurt schedule to visit us – we are eternally grateful!

Spending this week with my current friends and future colleagues has been so special. We’ve had to quickly learn how to be there for each other and 1 week, 300 whatsapp notifications and countless Harry Potter/publishing puns later I feel like we could take on the world together.

WE DID IT GUYS! I need a lie-down.

Charlotte x
squad goalsPhoto: Samantha Rayner @samartha

[UCLPUB2015] Induction Week

UCLPUB2015 AUTUMN

Welcome to the first post in my new series – UCLPUB2015! Every Sunday I’ll be posting a roundup of my week as a student on the UCL MA Publishing course, talking about my experiences and passing along any handy tips I pick up along the way. I’m so excited to share my journey with you and hope that maybe these posts will help other aspiring publishers too!

Induction Week: 28th Sept – 4th Oct

This week has mostly been about introducing us to the university, the department and each other. We started on Monday with a quick departmental enrolment and, after a cup of tea of course, were whisked away for a tour of campus. We spent the afternoon in a more general introductory lecture, getting the chance to meet other graduate students across the whole department and ask some questions about our courses.

Tuesday and Thursday were easily my favourite days this week. We spent both days with our programme directors and professors getting to know each other, learning about our module options and generally having a lot of fun. We braved the Marshmallow Challenge on Thursday (our tower sadly collapsed at the final second) and took a handful of personality quizzes so the tutors can team us up for group work later in the term. We even had our very own Harry Potter style sorting, complete with Sorting Hat (10 points to Caxton!).

On Thursday afternoon, we had free rein of Bloomsbury to go discover the areas publishers, bookstores and iconic places. Check out the hashtag to see all our #literaryme tweets! It was amazing to get out and explore what a perfect spot we’re in for publishing. I definitely feel like I know my way around at least a little better too. We’ve been set homework on our Bloomsbury Bonanza, so keep an eye out for another blog post soon!

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind week of making friends and getting to grips with UCL, but everyone I’ve met has been so lovely and welcoming. Everyone on the course is wonderfully bookish and we’ve already spent a lot of time in the pub talking about Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and everything in between. Our tutors Sam, Mel, Dan, and Martin have made the week so much fun and have been more than happy to help us out already. I can’t wait to learn from them and pick their brains this year!

Next week we have an intensive Publishing Contexts module to get us up to speed on the industry today. I’m really looking forward to getting started on the course and I’m especially excited to meet all the amazing industry professionals coming in to speak to us. It’s going to be exhausting but I’m ready!

Charlotte x

[REVIEW] Alice and the Fly – James Rice

23588512Summary
Characters – 3/5
Plot – 4/5
Setting – 3/5
Style – 4/5
Overall – 3/5

In a Tweet
Greg’s obsession with classmate Alice slowly spirals out of control, as he tries to understand the world of loneliness and fear surrounding him.

Review
ALICE AND THE FLY is the debut novel from Waterstones bookseller, James Rice. Greg is a troubled young man, trying to make sense of the fine line between love and obsession, in a home where he’s ignored and a school where he’s shunned. Struggling with an intense and life-halting phobia of Them hasn’t made things any easier for him, labeled a ‘psycho’ and forced to act as a happy family while everyone crumbles around him. His diary, intended to help him find the words to express his innermost thoughts and fears, has slowly morphed into an open letter to Alice, the beautiful girl who smiled at him once on the bus.

Reading Greg’s diary allows the reader to really get inside his head and see the world through his eyes, making building a close relationship with him extremely easy. While I sometimes didn’t agree with his personal decisions, I understood and truly sympathised with his behaviour due to this intense first-person perspective. My favourite chapters were those written in one continuous prose, no punctuation whatsoever. They were real and completely absorbing, creating such a huge sense of urgency and fear.

To keep the plot pointing in the right direction, there is the occasional police interview with Greg’s friends and family interspersed with his diary entries. While these weren’t always the most informative or interesting, they acted as tiny breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout to keep the intrigue alive. There is a little mystery in this novel, but ultimately I figured out the ending long before I came to it.

The story itself is very engaging, focussing on themes of loneliness in all its manifestations and how we try to hide it from the world. There is a sense of painful truthfulness in Greg’s journal that often made me feel uneasy; he has a sharp mind and a veracious voice. His perceptions of his family, Alice and himself can be difficult to swallow in their child-like honesty, but this only makes the relationship between reader and protagonist stronger. Greg is a real underdog and will quickly get any reader on his side.

An obvious drawback to choosing a journal style is that we don’t have the opportunity to closely experience the other characters. However, I feel that Rice did a great job in representing each character through Greg’s astute observations and more intimately through the transcripts.

While I enjoyed ALICE AND THE FLY very much, I was unhappy with the conclusions drawn about Greg towards the end. It is clear throughout that Greg is struggling with certain aspects of his mental health; he is isolated and withdrawn, has a severe phobia with compulsions and may even be experiencing hallucinations. For me, creating a character like this places the onus on the author to handle him responsibly.

Towards the end, Greg is slapped with a label to explain his actions – a sweeping under the rug of his problems that absolutely does not justify or resolve anything that has happened. It feels like this label is supposed to be a eureka moment for the audience, as though we have been waiting with bated breath to finally hear his diagnosis. This conclusion not only doesn’t fit Greg’s personality and behaviour in the first place, but also serves to perpetuate a multitude of misconceptions around mental health. To jump straight to such a complex, difficult to diagnose and commonly misrepresented disorder feels irresponsible and stigmatises those who may identify with Greg. I would have given 4/5 overall if not for this, as issues such as this are too important for me not to dock a point.

Generally, I would absolutely recommend this book to those who want to read something a little different. Greg is a breath of fresh air and I was privileged to hold his hand through his tragic journey.

I received ALICE AND THE FLY from Hodder and Stoughton in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own opinion.