[UCLPUB2015] Week 5

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 5: 2nd Nov – 6th Nov

It is well and truly autumn and the weather is becoming more miserable by the day in London. I’ll be moving on to my winter banner in no time! Somehow we’ve hit the quarter-way mark in the taught portion of the course, and that thought is absolutely terrifying. I feel like I still have so much to learn and we have so much time left, but in reality we’re almost done with the first term!

Tuesday was a little more stressful than usual, with a morning class on finance and accounting that took me by surprise! Our guest speaker was brilliantly funny but, as a hopeless maths student, I couldn’t help but feel like I was drowning in numbers and unfamiliar phrases by the end of our three hour slot. I will definitely have to go over my notes a few times before we revisit costings for our project! (Again, how did I end up as the treasurer?!)

In the afternoon we had our Publishing Project pitch. We were the last group so had plenty of time to practice while we stuck around on campus, prepping our presentation on our two ideas for publication. One of our lecturers seemed really into our mythology collection and, while we haven’t had any confirmations yet, it looks like we might end up with the project that the majority of the team really love. Even so, which ever project we’re assigned will have an open submissions period for YA short stories, so if you’d like to get involved make sure you keep an eye open for our announcement!

Thursday followed on nicely with a catch up on finances in Author Management before moving on to discuss copyright law with Richard Mollet, CEO of The Publishers Association. Richard was a fantastic speaker and I definitely feel like I have a good grasp of copyright now, especially with my internship in a Rights department. Theories of the Book was a lot of fun, holding a debate on the author based on our Foucault and Barthes readings and casting our minds forwards to think about publishing in the 22nd century (all glory to the robot overlords).

Next week is reading week so I will likely be frantically catching up with all the work we’ve been set for the course. Our first formal assessment is due on 13th Nov and usually at this point I would be blaming my human tendency to procrastinate for the rush (hey, we all spend too much time watching cat videos sometimes), but this time it’s purely down to how busy I’ve been. With uni two days a week, an internship three days a week, two jobs and a blog, I am definitely looking forward to a couple of days off!

Charlotte x

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[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

[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

[ARTICLE] Literary Bloomsbury

LITERARY BLOOMSBURY

Given the title ‘Literary Bloomsbury’ and told to run with it in any direction we saw fit, I spent more time than I care to admit racking my brains for a topic. Before moving to London, I had never even heard of the apparently infamous Bloomsbury Group and my knowledge of the area only went as far as UCL (and probably Bloomsbury Publishing) being a part of it.

Turns out that Bloomsbury is home to more publishing houses than you can shake a hardback at. As part of our Publishing Contexts module, my class was given the incredible opportunity to nosy round Faber & Faber and meet some of the lovely people who work there. Inspiration hit.

I’ve loved Sylvia Plath since I first picked up one of Faber’s many editions of The Bell Jar on one of my regular angry teenage shopping trips. Stomping through Waterstones, I can’t imagine what attracted me to pick it up. At the time, I was almost exclusively reading manga, costing me nearly £10 a volume and devouring each one in a matter of hours. The Bell Jar was my first leap into the ‘literary’ or ‘classic’ genre, and I have yet to find another book that even comes close to it.

Sylvia, born in Massachusetts, came to the UK on a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Cambridge University. She had excelled in academics throughout her entire life and through her short stories, won an editorial internship at Mademoiselle magazine in New York. Her experiences there utterly exhausted her and later became the base upon which she built The Bell Jar.

Bell Jar OpeningDetailing in vivid imagery the crushing disappointment, resentment and loathing she felt in New York, The Bell Jar was the first novel I read that showed depression in such a raw and real form. Sylvia was repeatedly told how gracious and grateful she should be for such an incredible opportunity, that she should be having the time of her life. She simply wasn’t.

Faber publish The Bell Jar as part of their Children’s/YA list. Why? Everything about it screams mature, warning, parental guidance. The themes may be hard to swallow, but they’re real.

The number of 15 and 16 year olds with depression has almost doubled since 1980. And that’s only the ones brave enough to seek help. Young readers are experiencing these sudden extremes of emotion, squashed into boxes that don’t fit them by academia and society. Crushing down feelings of inadequacy and fear, teenagers are forced to compete against the projections of perfection endlessly plastered across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

We are failing them. By maintaining this shroud of taboo around mental health and making it so difficult to talk about our emotions, we are not teaching these burgeoning adults how to cope with their emotions in a healthy way. The number of children admitted to hospital due to self-harm has increased by 68% in just ten years. And that’s only the ones brave enough to seek help. 

By publishing The Bell Jar in the YA list, Faber are speaking frankly to young adult readers and allowing them to take ownership of their education on mental health. We need books that create an open and honest space to discuss depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar and all the other labels we like to slap on each other’s foreheads. The Bell Jar. All the Bright Places. The Silver Linings Playbook. My Heart and Other Black Holes. Books like these allow young readers to identify their own difficulties, find solace in knowing they’re not alone, learn how to talk to people they’re concerned for and provide a springboard for seeking out more information. Mirrors and windows.

Carefully choosing to publish books that facilitate this discussion is a vitally important responsibility of our industry. 

Faber & Faber summarise Sylvia Plath’s brilliant life in just five key milestones – one being her birth and the other her death. Her first key moment? Meeting Ted Hughes. This incredible woman achieved so much in her life but is defined merely in terms of her romantic relationships. Clearly we still have a lot of work left to do there too, but that’s an article for another day.

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Charlotte x

(All statistics from Young Minds.)