The Publishing Project: Group 5

By Camilla G Lunde, on 25 November 2015

For me, one of the major selling points of UCL’s Publishing MA program was the promise of the publishing project that runs through the course of two terms. The prospect of developing a product from the beginning stages of idea to completion seemed undeniably attractive, especially for someone with no prior publishing experience. I am an international student (Norwegian), and the chance to experience the process of publishing in this manner, on a university level, is not one I would have had at home. Subsequently, I was more than a little excited by the opportunity provided by UCL. So far, about a month into the project, the reality has lived up to its expectations.

infographicFor this module, before students even began thinking of an idea for a project, we were put into groups by our tutors. We go through different activities and exercises to help them organise groups they think will fit together well. My group consists of seven people, and even before we decided on what we wanted to do, our tutors were referring to us as ‘the digital group’ (so revealed to us a few weeks into the module). All things considered, this seems a rather apt description.

From early on, the seven of us jelled fairly well together, and quickly decided on an idea for our project. We want to create a collection of about ten to fifteen short stories to be available in both print and digital format. For each story, we want an accompanying illustration/artwork and original soundtrack that matches the overall tone and feel of the stories. The use of QR-codes will link to a website where we will host the music and artwork, as well as online editions of the stories and information about their authors. Everyone involved with the project, is essentially an ‘unknown’. There will be no prior published authors, no signed artists—we’re all works in progress.

It’s an ambitious project, but we’re determined to see it through. At this stage, we already have a selection of stories we’re happy to go forth with, and next in our project timeline is the editing process, drawing up author contracts, and plans to create a pitch for sponsorship.
Creating a project pitch is something students have to do regardless. This is separate from the sponsorship pitch, which my group is doing on its own initiative. For the publishing project, simply coming up with an idea is not enough: our tutors have to sign off on it. Each group is allocated twenty minutes to present their project idea, talk through the logistics of it, and convince the panel of tutors that it’s a viable project. It’s an interesting experience, even a little nerve wrecking, but an incredibly useful process to make sure every group member is on the same page and has the same expectations for the project.

We are still fairly early on in the project, and there is still much to do before Christmas break and the end of our first term. There is even work to be done over the break. Even so, I’m excited to see how we have progressed by my next update. Until then.

PS: While I’ll be providing updates about my group’s project once every month, expect to be hearing from guest bloggers as well. They’ll be students from other groups writing about their own projects.

Tips and Struggles from a Commuting Student

By Sarah L Osborne, on 18 November 2015

Today is the first blog of my blogging series: Tips and Struggles from a Commuting Student. I’m going to start off with basic tips that every commuting student needs to know. Everything I have written below is, of course, written in jest, but is also reality.


Photo by: Sarah Louise Osborne

Photo by: Sarah Louise Osborne

1. Accept the fact that commuting may be your future.

Commuting can be tedious and time-consuming. On average, I wake up three hours before my lessons start, and on every commute, I miserably compare the commuting time to the time it would have taken if I lived near campus – which equates to an extra two hours of sleep! In spite of this, I’ve tried to see the positive side of commuting. I’m only at university twice a week, if I complain now, then what is it going to be like when I work in London full-time?

2. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

When it comes to getting a seat on a train during rush hour, you are more than welcome to frown at the fortunate individual who claims the last seat from under your nose. That is the reality of commuting. If your station is one of the first stops, then you will probably not encounter this problem. However, commuting back from London at 5pm will undoubtedly be the opposite. Sometimes, you may encounter circumstances that do anger you. For example, people using spare seats as laptop stands or foot rests – you are well within your rights to take the seat!

3. Make the most of the commute.

When you’re studying a Masters, working, interning, blogging, and trying to desperately sustain any form of social life, you cannot afford to waste time on a train. Yes, sometimes standing on a train makes it difficult to concentrate, so allow yourself to play Solitaire or Uno on your phone for a while. But make sure this isn’t a regular occurrence! Bring two books (a textbook and a reading book) – the textbook for when you’re determined and energetic, and the reading book for when you need a break. You never know what mood you’re going to be in.

4. Be quick.

Keep your travel card close by at all times. Time spent searching through your bag at a turnstile, wastes everybody’s time.

5. Protect your belongings.

The most obvious piece of advice – keep a close eye on your possessions at all times.

6. TEA or coffee…

Commuting can drain your energy; it can be tiresome staring at the back of a chair for half an hour, so make sure you get a caffeinated drink either before or after the journey. Always make sure you have money reserved for these little necessities!

7. Last-minute homework.

Although I shouldn’t be admitting this, train journeys are great for last minute bits of homework. I don’t mean assignments (I’m not that crazy), but if you really didn’t have time to finish your homework, then train journeys may be your saving grace. They are particularly useful if, for homework (UCL MA in Publishing particularly), you are required to make public observations of reading spaces.

8. Acquiring a cheetah’s stealth.

Once you’re off the train, people will try to jump on the train before allowing you off – this can make you angry. You must therefore adopt the speed, and sneakiness of a cheetah. If you are short like me, then you will adapt quickly. Slip under arms and through the sides of people, and think ahead. Watch out for pedestrians who are about to walk into you. A lot of people march through the station assuming people will dodge them. Avoid slow walkers who think they’re on holiday, and rapidly accelerate in front of them. Sometimes, it can shock you how fast you make it from one side of the station to the next.

9. Comfy clothes are key.

Forget nice clothes! Wear something comfortable and find a balance. Long sleeve tops and jumpers are obviously advisable during winter, but expect to sweat on the underground. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in. Debate whether laces will negatively impact your speed, or whether a skirt will be awkward on an escalator ride. Always be prepared for all types of weather – after all, this is England.

10. Travel light.

Finally, travel light. If you want to bring your laptop, then sacrifice something else, like a notepad. Half of the time, half of what you bring with you, isn’t used.


I hope these few tips are useful for everybody, even if you’re not an MA in Publishing student. If you enjoyed my witty remarks, then please follow us on Twitter @UCLPublishing or via my Twitter @SarahLouiseOs. Bear these tips in mind during Christmas. I can imagine train journeys will be even more hectic, and I’ll follow up with some of my personal, commuting encounters next month!

Welcome to the new MA in Publishing cohort!

By Sarah L Osborne, on 11 November 2015

It’s November 2015, it seems so early on in the course, yet our heads are buried deep in our degree.

First and foremost, let me introduce myself and my 4 fellow bloggers. It’s only been a month and a half since the UCL Centre for Publishing have again, started teaching a new group of MA students. 4 of which include me (Sarah Louise Osborne), Elisabeth Wilkes (otherwise known as Niki), Camilla Lunde, and last but not least, Stephanie King.

We were fortunate enough to bag ourselves the titles of “Blogging Manager” for the UCL Centre for Publishing blog, and we’re all really excited to get stuck in!

What to expect from the blog?

From now on, until the end of our degree, the 4 of us will blog once a month on our own chosen blog series. Guest bloggers, and interviews will be interspersed throughout. We aim to show aspiring publishers what our course involves, tips on how to handle university workload, and most of all – show everybody why the publishing industry is so great.

The 4 blogging series are as followed:

  1. Sarah: Struggles and tips from a Commuting Student
  2. Niki: The Publishing Industry today
  3. Camilla: International Perspectives
  4. Stephanie: The Publishers’ Atlas

Each series will be published on a monthly basis, every Wednesday at 5pm.

Not just a blog, but a whole Media Team!

So, as the title states – we’re not working alone. We are working with other students controlling other media platforms – and shall together, be bringing you lots of interesting material. The platforms involve:

Twitter: @uclpublishing – Managed by Zoe Sharples and Kirsty Mackay.

Youtube – Managed by Mirjam Coenraads.

Instagram: @publishingucl – Managed by Delia Caroline Bennett, Hannah Reed, and Charlotte Parker.

All of our team are committed to bringing a variety of material and information on publishing (at UCL and in general). Twitter will be posting 2-3 times a day, Instagram 1-2 times a day (including series: Saturday Shelfie, UCL Pub recommends, lecturer’s and guest speaker quotes, and Commuter Diaries). Finally, Youtube will be posting videos on: the MA in Publishing at UCL, student experiences, guest speaker interviews, event videos and the London Book fair.

We hope that our posts are enjoyable and informative, and stay tuned for our first official series post next Wednesday!

P.S. Stay up-to-date via our Twitter @UCLPublishing, or our own Twitter accounts: Sarah @SarahLouiseOS, Niki @enwilkes, Camilla @CGLunde, Stephanie @stelkisays, Zoe @zoesharples, Kirsty @la_squish,  Mirjam @freudhasdreams2, Delia @delia_bennett, Hannah @HaReIllustrate and Charlotte @fireflyreads

June Reflections

By Samantha J Rayner, on 8 June 2015

It’s that time of year again: this year’s group of MA Publishing students are now mostly off-campus, either doing work placements, researching dissertations, or in some cases starting new jobs.  Next year’s cohort are in the wings, but already real presences waiting for the new term to start in September.  So for the staff team, as we wait for news of job offers, or of confirmation that place offers on the course have been firmly accepted, it’s a time for celebration, and of anxiety, and of anticipation.

We are lucky at UCL that we can genuinely recruit our students from all the applications we get in:  we interview ones whose application forms look promising, and then if the interview goes well, we offer a place.  We are, very simply, looking for the best potential out there – regardless of previous experience, degree subject, or place of origin.  It’s a bit like being a publisher:  we have to review all the ‘raw’ manuscripts (ie applicants), judge which look like they will be responsive to work with, and then commit to editing skills so that each individual is an enhanced and employable person at the end of the course.  It’s a responsibility we take very seriously:  increasingly, we need employers to realise the value a UCL graduate has, and that means trusting us, as a team, to pick strong students.  The strengths may be very varied, and come through in all sorts of industry-relevant ways, (our alums have jobs all over the world, and in every sector of publishing), but the core thread that connects us all is that commitment to keep learning, to keep trying to improve, to be open to new ideas, and be able to explore them with a realistic appreciation of commercial and cultural contexts.

Each year group is unique, and as such it is like building a new company every time the course kicks off again:  will the students all ‘gel’?  Will we be able to help them fulfil their expectations?  What will we be able to achieve this year?  Every year our students help drive our course ambitions, and encourage more risk-taking activities.  2014/15 saw us team up with BiC to run a production module that was not only industry-led and relevant, but also saw the class produce an amazing book, London Life, in just 12 weeks.  Thanks to the energy and belief of Heather O’Connell and Karina Luke, this module enabled students to really appreciate the exciting range of job roles within production, and to consider careers linked to this vital part of the industry.londonlife

The Publishing Project module, in its second year, saw students take and run with projects that were all challenging – some with external partners that meant steep learning curves all round!  We have been deeply impressed with the patience and professionalism showed, however:  the William Morris Society at Hammersmith will soon be taking delivery of a book created by one team, while this year’s UCL Publishers’ Prize Anthology is already selling well in Waterstones Gower Street.  Jeremy Bentham’s Cookbook, another project working with the UCL Transcribe Bentham team, will bePUBPRIZE coming out over the summer, and there is more to come from other groups, too!

We’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to work with some amazing people from the industry this year, too – and we are deeply grateful for their input and support.  It is critical that we remain closely connected to publishing companies, and responsive to the need for new skills (consumer insight has been an area we’ve tried to focus more on this year, for instance – thanks largely to our alum, Kate Jervis, now Marketing Analytics Manager at Harper Collins): the MA is a professionally focussed course, with the ma9780905937113in aim of training people in skills and knowledge of how the book trade world operates so that they can gain employment in it as soon as possible once the course has finished.

We are very proud of all our students, past and present: no matter where they are, or what they are doing, it is definitely our privilege to work with such talented people, and a joy to spend time with them.  It’s why every year flies by so quickly, and why it is always such a pleasure to share good news from them.  UCL Press, which launched last week, took Samuel Johnson’s definition of “To Publish” as the text on their tote bags:  ‘1.To discover to mankind; to make generally and openly known’.  I cannot think of a better aim for our MA than to try and help make each of ouFullSizeRender (2)r students happy, confident, productive and valued members of the publishing industry, and to continue to connect with and promote their successes beyond the life of the course.   So, good luck to the class of 2014/15, and welcome to the incoming class of 2015/16!  Keep in touch – we love hearing from you all!

The Bookseller and UCL Careers Speed Dating Session

By Yasmin Morrissey, on 18 March 2015

The Bookseller and UCL Careers Speed Dating Session – Wednesday 25th March

Where – 10am-noon

What time – G31 Foster Court- UCL campus.

Who’s coming and what are they going to tell me

Emily Baynard works for FMCM as Senior Communications Manager and can give you the lowdown on book publicity

Saskia Warwick is a recruitment consultant at Redwood Publishing Recruitment and can give advice on CV’s and cover letters 

Sarah Nicholson is a Foreign Rights Assistant at Lonely Planet and will shed light on working in rights

Ella Pocock is Marketing Executive at Quercus Books and can describe a career in book marketing

Anna Cunnane is Export Sales Manager at Kyle Books and can tell you about working in International sales

Peter Cary is an Assistant Editor in the Scholarly Humanities team for Macmillan Science & Scholarly and will be on hand for academic publishing insight

Maria Vassilopoulos AKA Jobsinbooks – Maria will help with any job search questions and general publishing advice

Lovely. What are we all going to do? 

This is your chance to make new connections in publishing so make sure that you bring questions with you that you want answered. You will each have a turn to talk to us for 10-15 minute slots. Bring business cards and contact details too and an open mind about all the different areas of the book industry.

Will there be Tea and Cake?

Of course! And a copy of The Bookseller!

Look forward to seeing you there!