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.
On 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, chaired 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.
We 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.
Photo: Samantha Rayner @samartha