[UCLPUB2015] Week 9


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 9: 30th Nov – 4th Dec

I have been absolutely dying to finally use my December graphic for this series! The term is almost over with only two weeks left until the Christmas break (WHAT). I have an essay due on the final day of term and plenty of homework to squeeze in between now and then. The topic is pretty open; we can choose between four essay titles and the last option is almost a ‘write your own question’ type. I’ve liberated the necessary books from the library and looks like tomorrow it’s time to get started!

This week we sent out a call for submissions to find writers who want to accompany our confirmed illustrators for The Arcanum. We’ve had such an overwhelmingly positive response and we could not be more excited about this project! We have lots of talented and creative people involved and are always open to hearing from more – if you’re an author or illustrator willing to contribute to a YA collection of mythology, legends and fairytales then please get in touch! We have a small number of pre-set myths that we’re specifically commissioning artwork and stories for, but we’re also looking for myths from all over the world.

Call for Authors.pngAll the details can be found over at our blog: thearcanumbook.wordpress.com

Asimpsons-fires part of our Publishing Skills class, our group also filmed a vlog to be uploaded onto the course YouTube channel. Our only brief was that it had to be part of our scifi theme (other groups were given themes like YA, crime, cookbooks etc) so we decided to have a go at creating our own tag. None of us felt like acting on camera and I found it much more comfortable to just be myself and enjoy filming! I’m not sure when it’ll be uploaded but rest assured that if it’s as horrifically embarrassing as I think it will be, then I will never mention it again (but seriously, it’ll be fine right?).

In Author Management we looked at the relationship between authors and their literary agents, paying specific attention to the contract an author can expect to sign as part of an agency. In the afternoon, we had a lecture on the effects of globalisation on the publishing industry and whether it’s necessarily a bad thing (spoiler: I still think it is). We talked about the importance of translation in the publishing industry and tried to address why the UK publishes such an embarrassing number of translated works every year.

My thoughts were that our lack of diversity in books available stems from the lack of diversity in the people we employ. It’s no secret that the publishing industry here is dominated by white women who are increasingly being told that they don’t need another language to work in this industry. English-speaking Editors aren’t commissioning any translated works because they simply can’t or won’t read them in the first place. I’ve sent countless brilliant books to publishers overseas for translation whilst on my internship, but we just don’t return the favour. By not exploring authors writing in their first language we’re missing out on not only a lot of amazing books, but also the opportunity to grow and learn.

Charlotte x


[UCLPUB2015] Week 8


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 8: 23rd Nov – 27th Nov

It’s been another busy week on the course with a pretty varied collection of topics. My final week at HarperCollins begins tomorrow (already!) and the deadline for our Theories of the Book assignment is looming, which can only mean that Christmas is coming!

On Tuesday morning we had a workshop on vlogging. We spent a lot of time talking about Zoella and other famous YouTubers who have stormed The Bookseller’s chart recently, but I was kind of expecting more of a focus on the role of BookTube in the publishing industry. We have to upload a short vlog for our publishing channel so it would have been cool to get to grips with the practical side of creating content and filming too.

In the afternoon we launched the Twitter and WordPress accounts for our project: The Arcanum! We’re currently looking for artists who would like to contribute to a collection of YA mythology stories, poems and illustrations (the details for authors will be released soon!). Take a peek at our call for submissions and visit our blog for more info.

Illustation Call for Submissions.png

In our Author Management class we broke down foreign rights and permissions from both a trade and academic context with Lynette Owens and Diane Spivey. I’ve really been enjoying our recent in-depth lessons on contracts and copyright, especially as we’ve considered them from an author’s, agent’s and publisher’s angle. It’s an area of publishing I didn’t expect to feel this comfortable with but thanks to my internship I’ve had the opportunity to see (and even write!) tonnes of contracts – I’m so grateful!

Thursday afternoon was a fun lecture on literary citizenship and how we can contribute to the wider publishing and bookish community. Sam asked us to draw our own literary citizen-ship (we do love a good pun) and it was brilliant to see how creatively and differently each group interpreted the brief. Check out some of our ships on the UCL Instagram!

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 21.45.27

Charlotte x

[UCLPUB2015] Week 6 & 7


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 6: 9th Nov – 13th Nov 

With no lectures during Reading Week, I wasn’t originally planning on writing a post to cover Week 6. I spent all my free time frantically finishing off my first assignment for the course and my usual three days at HarperCollins. I can’t believe that I’m over half way through the compulsory 20 day internship now; it’s absolutely flown by!

Even though I had to go into work on my birthday (welcome to the real world, sigh) I still managed to have a great time. All staff were invited to the HarperCollins Summer 2016 Highlights meeting, so I got a sneak peek at what each imprint is publishing next year and saw how each division works within the company umbrella. I marked off quite a few upcoming books in my guide that I’m excited for – I can’t wait for the Bondi Harvest cookbook (me, cooking? I know right) and there’s some seriously dark YA fiction that’s caught my eye too.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 21.30.28There was more than a little competition for the best presentation. Each imprint brought along prizes, specially filmed videos and even free cookies from Bake Off contestant Martha, but it was Collins, the education imprint, which really stole the show. Bringing in some beautiful animal helpers definitely brightened up my birthday. Just look at this gorgeous little thing!


Week 7: 16th Nov – 20th Nov

Back to working hard this week has me pretty worn out. The content has all been quite heavy-going but I’m trying my best to get through everything from both my internship and my course. I’ve not had much chance to update my book reviews this month but I’ve still been doing plenty of reading!

My group now knows which book we’ll be bringing to life for our Publishing Project module – our mythology collection! We’re so excited to create this for real so we took the opportunity on Tuesday to really get started on our schedule. We’ve been playing around with a few ideas for a name to fit our target market too; once we’ve decided there will be a Twitter and WordPress set up so please do keep an eye out for our open submissions. We’ll be looking for short stories and artwork/illustrations based on myths from all different cultures – I’d love to see as many of your ideas as possible!

giphy.gifOn Tuesday we also had a lecture on metadata from possibly the best named man in the business, Dr. Merlin Fox. It might not sound like the most thrilling of topics, but understanding how to search for, collate and handle data is such an important aspect of becoming a well-rounded publisher. As well as discussing ONIX, XML and BIC, we also chatted about book piracy. Before this week, I didn’t even realise that piracy was really an issue for publishers and authors, as it’s something I’ve only ever encountered in the music and film industries.

Thursday morning we learnt about how publishing contracts are written, the law they are based on and the premise of negotiation from both the author and the publisher’s point of view. It’s definitely interesting to see what’s important depending on which corner you’re fighting in! I feel a lot more confident with my contract knowledge after a couple of sessions and my internship in rights – I’m finding the law surrounding publishing and copyright a lot more interesting than I ever anticipated I would!

We finished up this week with some casual critical editing of early modern texts. As hopeless as I am at reading handwritten letters from the 1800s, learning about the process of transcribing, editing and presenting these old texts turned out to be pretty enjoyable. A good high-octane action tale about the race to LE MORTE D’ARTHUR manuscript always helps too! (Wait. Arthur… Merlin… Owls…?! 😳)

Charlotte x

[UCLPUB2015] Week 4


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

[UCLPUB2015] Week 3


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


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

[ARTICLE] The Reading Room

The Reading Room, described in its handsome book companion as a “space designed to nurture those most gravely afflicted by the desire to know just a little bit more”, melts into the Wellcome Collection’s mantra of ‘a home for the incurably curious’ all too perfectly.

In that Threshold Moment, every face entering the room turns automatically skywards and admires the artistry randomly, never quite knowing where to look next. The Reading Room is a carefully curated selection of books, artwork and medical equipment, meant to reflect the duality of Henry Wellcome’s interests. An “eclectic, exotic springboard for the exploration of the human condition” (Reading Room Companion), the room is an awe-inspiring mélange of textures, themes, feelings and activities. There is an overriding sense of comfort and ease amidst the body parts and straitjackets, with plush beanbags, soft rugs and gentle lighting to subdue the terror of the dentist’s chair lurking in wait.

The Reading Room is a wholly tactile environment. While most readers will cautiously grope the books on display in Waterstones, peering round corners to ensure they won’t be caught sniffing the pages in dirty shame, The Wellcome Collection actively invites readers to touch, feel and play with the space in a uniquely interactive way. Stations dotted around the room encourage readers to perform an autopsy, study their own face, share what they see in an inkblot and lounge on the amoeba-inspired cushions strewn down the stairs. The readers don’t just make the space their own, they become a part of the architecture.

As well as this physical interaction with the space, there is also an emphasis on creating an emotional connection. Brightly coloured recommendations from past visitors are wedged between the pages of the books, markers revealing deeply personal thoughts from readers we will never know or identify. There’s a feel of Post Secret about these innocent bookmarks; divulging the most base of human emotions to a complete stranger, transcending time to give the future reader a glimpse of your past life.

One funny book with nothing but pictures of dogs on each page spurred some heartbreaking confessions. One reader left a note detailing how deeply the recent death of a pet had affected them and another simply stating “When I die, I want to come back as a dog”, creating a gorgeous juxtaposition between the humous intent of the book and the somber emotions it incites.

The Reading Room is split into 10 distinct niches. From Alchemy to Travel to Pain, this organisation of the space takes you on a journey through the human history of life, death and everything in between. The books on offer are a delightful combination of old and new, fiction and non-fiction, giving a rounded and reflective representation of the niche. Grey’s Anatomy sits snugly against The Fault in Our Stars, sharing the shelf like old friends.

The zones give a sense of character and personality to the space. The books are stickered and shelved in a way that encourages exploration; assorted but not messy. There is no hushed reverence as readers are forced to bend in worship, scrabbling on the bottom shelves for D 280 CLA in the Blue Zone
– no talking, no phones, no food. Instead, The Reading Room allows readers to run their hands across the spines in freedom, choosing the titles that grab their attention and pique their interest.

Ellis, Seebohm and Sykes (1995) see bookish spaces as “nurturing, a comfort zone, an escape hatch, a
place to retreat to for tea and talk, thinking and reading, recapturing memories, regenerating spirit and ideas”. The Reading Room at the Wellcome Collection manages to tick every one of these boxes, capturing the very essence of what it truly means to fall down the rabbit hole.

Reading Room Collage

Charlotte x

Ellis, E., Seebohm, C. and Sykes, CS. (1995). At Home with Books: How Booklovers Live with and Care for Their Libraries. New York: Carol Southern Books.

Faherty, A. Reading Room Companion. [Last accessed 16th Oct 15].

All photographs my own.