What’s Coming Up in December

By Jessica B S Brotman, on 12 December 2017

We simply can’t believe this year has almost come to an end. Though 2018 is just around the corner, 2017 still has a number of exciting publishing and literary events to offer us. We’ve gathered some of December’s best events to round out the year, and we hope you enjoy!


13th(-21st): Late Night Shopping with Mulled Wine and Shortbread at Foyle’s –


13th(-22nd): Christmas Evenings at Waterstones ­ –


14th: Write and Shine: Early Morning Writing Classes with Gemma Seltzer –


15th-16th: Harry Potter Quiz Night at the British Library –


15th-16th: The 2017 London Children’s Book Fair –


18th: Elena Favilli in Conversation with Sarah Shaffi –


19th: Keats House by Candlelight –


22nd: A Christmas Carol with Professor Michael Slater –


24th: A Very Dickensian Christmas Eve –


Interview with Daniel Boswell

By Hannah M Smith, on 8 December 2017

The blog team thought it might be fun to use this opportunity to find out more about our lovely lecturers! So, first up: Daniel Boswell!

Favourite book.
Don Quixote de La Mancha – Of all the classics this is my favourite. Arguably the first ‘novel’, certainly one of the earliest examples of the form, I don’t really think it has ever been surpassed; themes of love, hope, ambition, ageing, class and comedy all seamlessly interlinked. It’s a book about a bibliophile who takes his passion a little too far. Publishing students take note. If you can read the original, not in translation.

How did you get into publishing?
Getting into publishing was as much about getting out of a series of successive industries I didn’t belong in after I finished my first degree. Life assurance was a low point. However, I’d always been around writers, my father was a journalist. The direct answer is that I attended a panel discussion at the Edinburgh Book Festival in the mid 2000s about changing trends in genre fiction and ended up having a very long and interesting conversation with, Marion Sinclair, the director of Publishing Scotland. She encouraged me towards some postgraduate study which led me to the Scottish Centre for the Book (SCOB) at Edinburgh Napier and the rest is (21st century) history.

How do you interact with your chosen field?
Publishing Studies is a small and developing field. This has pros and cons. The challenge is being able to draw diversely on a established body of contemporary academic sources. On the other hand, as a developing discipline, most academics working in this area know one another, at least in passing, and we have a wonderful, friendly network for collaboration. Over the past few years we have been gathering in Florence for a developing, publishing focused conference called ‘By the Book’, which is helping to ground this network. At the level of teaching, all of the UK Publishing courses are members of the Association for Publishing Education (APE) and we meet on a regular basis.

Favourite piece of research you’ve been part of?
Well, I should probably say my PhD thesis, a comparative analysis of industrial dynamics in Scottish and Catalan Publishing fields, but I also really enjoy the editorial and development side of journal and special issue publication, and have been involved with pieces for Book 2.0 and Scottish Comics that were fun. And a few MA dissertations that I’ve supervised stick in my mind as well.

What advice would you give a Publishing MA student?
Don’t Panic (That’s an SF joke)

A fun fact about yourself.
I collect pink elephant related paraphernalia.

A book that we might be surprised you have read?
Oh wow, that’s a doozy of a question. How am I to interpret this – would you be surprised because it’s not something you would expect me to like, or do we simply mean the sheer perseverance of a long, difficult text, or is this more about introducing the unfamiliar? Is the question designed to propel me towards confessing some inner shame or should I reinforce the idea that there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure? Hmm… I hope this will do…

As far as supervising dissertations go, when students want to consider particular genres or authors I do try to make sure (as far as possible) that I am familiar with the material as well (this does not stretch as far as Harry Potter, do not push me) I did read all of the Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent YA dystopian series in order to be more familiar with these for studies. I thought the Hunger Games series was quite good.

Shame confession – I managed 20 pages of fifty shades, what’s all the fuss about?


Thank you to Daniel for giving some time to these questions amongst a busy term and lots of marking! If any of his answers have interested you, I’m sure he’d be happy to talk about them further!

Finally, here are the answers to the literature quiz:

1) The Catcher in the Rye
2) 1984
3) Harper Lee
4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
5) Stephen Hawking
6) Bridget Jones Diary
7) The Adventures of Pinocchio
8) Roald Dahl
9) A Hegdehog
10) Yann Martel

Literature Quiz

By Hannah M Smith, on 2 December 2017

Books in a question mark shape

Getting in the festive mood, here are 10 literature questions that you may come across over the holiday. How well will you do?

  1. Holden Caulfield, an icon for teenage angst and rebellion, is a fictional character in which American literary classic?
  2. Which book begins ‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen’?
  3. Which author, who passed away in 2016, was portrayed by Catherine Keener in the 2005 film Capote and by Sandra Bullock in the 2006 film Infamous?
  4. ‘The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it ‘the Riddle House” is the start of which book?
  5. Who collaborated with his daughter Lucy, in 2007, to write the children’s book George’s Secret Key to the Universe?
  6. Which book starts with ‘I will not drink more than fourteen alcohol units a week’?
  7. Which Italian novel for children has been adapted in over 240 languages?
  8. Who wrote the line ‘These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr. Bucket’?
  9. In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which creature was used as the ball in the game of croquet?
  10. Who wrote the award-winning fantasy novel, ‘Life of Pi’?

If you can resist checking on Google, the answers will be at the end of the next post! Enjoy!

Christmas Gifts for the Literary-Minded

By Wendy C Tuxworth, on 29 November 2017

Everyone knows how difficult buying Christmas gifts can be – but never fear! The UCL Publishing lot are here!

100 Books Scratch Off Bucket List Poster: this is an excellent gift for the literary-minded! You ‘read and enjoy one hundred amazing books and each time you finish one you can scratch off the panel to reveal a hidden image’. What a cool idea!

A tote bag is always a good idea for the book lover in your life – how else are we supposed to carry all of our books with us?! This Penguin Pride and Prejudice tote bag is a particularly wonderful example of tote loveliness!

A book subscription service is another great way to treat your bookish friends and family – there are lots of examples, including Illumicrate, Fairyloot, and Book and a brew!

If you’re buying for someone who likes jewellery, these book earrings might just do the trick, or perhaps some bookish pins like Jane Austen or Kurt Vonnegut’s heads!

Some more novelty socks are always on a book lover’s list – what about having Shakespeare, banned books, or typewriters on your feet?

Finally, if these ideas weren’t enough – just buy them a book! Some of my favourites this year include Stay With Me, When the Moon Was Ours, and Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.

Literary London Spots to Visit This Holiday Season

By Jessica B S Brotman, on 28 November 2017

The festive season is nearly in full swing, and there’s no place quite like London during the holidays. When most think of London at Christmas, classic holiday sights like sparkling Oxford Street and the glow of Hyde Park come to mind. As publishers, however, we’re seeking out holiday hotspots that are a bit more bookish. Read on for a few of our favorite festive and literary-inspired spots to visit this Christmas season.

Charles Dickens Museum

No Christmas sightseeing list would be complete without a mention of this quaint museum at 48 Doughty Street. The former home of the Man Who Invented Christmas, this museum is wonderful at any time of year but becomes particularly joyful during the holidays. Each room boasts holiday decorations and Dickensian relics, making the space heavenly for fans of both the author and the season. At this time of year, the museum also hosts special events like costumed walking tours, holiday-inspired lectures, and a Christmas Eve celebration.

Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is the stuff of dreams for any Harry Potter fan, and it only becomes more bewitching in the November and December months. The film sets adopt a celebratory air as visitors encounter the tour’s Christmas experience, aptly titled Hogwarts in the Snow. Along with the tour’s usual sights, guests can also enjoy an ornately decorated Great Hall and a truly stunning Hogwarts model dusted in snow. Though it’s a bit of a trip outside of central London, the holiday-inspired magic is no doubt worth it.

Agatha Christie Statue Near Covent Garden

This memorial statue is a must-see for any fan of the murder-mystery maven, and it also happens to be located in one of London’s most festive neighborhoods. The statue, which is crafted in the shape of a large book and includes a bust of Agatha Christie herself, pays homage to the prophetic author and playwright. For a perfectly literary December evening, visit the statue and toast to the queen of mystery with a holiday drink in glowing Covent Garden, just next door.

Saturday Sanctuary

By Hannah M Smith, on 24 November 2017

Since 2015, bookshops across the country have relished Civilised Saturday – the antidote to the madness of Black Friday. In the lead up to the busy Christmas period, people rush to stores to speed along their present buying. Black Friday represents a huge commercial drive to encourage and entice buyers.

Civilised Saturday, however, spreads a different message. It is a day to celebrate all the bookshops have to offer and their calm and peaceful atmosphere in our hectic daily lives. Whilst browsing and purchasing of books is obviously not turned away (and hardly possible to resist), it is a day to remind booklovers why they love books. Not only can you escape the mayhem in a good book, you can escape the mayhem by simply relishing the atmosphere of your local bookshop.

This year, BAMB have replaced Civilised Saturday with Saturday Sanctuary. Creating an atmosphere much like the trending Hygge books, bookshops aim to treat their customers – with cosy reading corners, herbal teas and other relaxing activities.

Some Hygge-Inspired books to encourage this frame of mind are:

The Little of Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg

The Danish Art of Happiness

The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme


The Art of Hygge by Jonny Jackson & Elias Larsen

The Art of Hygge

Enjoy Sanctuary Saturday and best wishes for a peaceful, relaxed and bookish festive season!

Interview with Helena McNish

By Wendy C Tuxworth, on 22 November 2017

We are very excited to announce that we have an UCL Publishing alumni here on our blog today! Here’s some of the questions we asked Helena McNish:

Why did you choose to do the Publishing MA at UCL?

I knew I wanted to be in Publishing but I had absolutely no idea where in the industry I wanted to go. Everyone knows the big three departments – Editorial, Publicity, Marketing – but I knew it was more complex than that. The best way to not go into it in the dark, I felt, was to do a master’s degree first. I also knew it would be a great way to make contacts, find work experience and internships, and the course itself sounded interesting beyond just being professional training. It has a bit of an academic dint too!

What was the main thing you learned from the degree?

The main thing I would say that I learnt was experience and exposure to the publishing industry. Having contextual knowledge and experience of how the industry works, like how they hire and what the market looks like is invaluable. You get immersed in that world which is the most useful thing about the degree, I think. I also met some really awesome people who are now doing cool things!

What was your dissertation about? Do you have any tips for us about writing 10,000 words?

I did my dissertation on medieval women and their access and usage of books, focusing on the period around the 15th century and two women specifically: Margaret Paston and Elizabeth Woodville (the one from ‘The White Queen’ by Philippa Gregory). I actually had a different idea in mind when I first started thinking about what I would like to do – an ethnographic study of bookshops based on what I’d done for Booksellers and Bookselling – but that’s the great thing about a publishing MA: you can be really creative with your topic choice. Publishing is a wide-ranging academic discipline with a long history, so don’t be afraid of pursuing something that might at first glance seem a bit irrelevant!

Another key tip I have, that has helped me through two 10,000 word dissertations, is to really enjoy the topic you choose. It’s really hard to work for four months on a project that you don’t enjoy and don’t want to constantly pursue around the other things you’ll be doing while researching and writing! And give yourself at least three days to edit before you hand it in. You will be super glad that you did.

What have you been doing since graduating?

After going through about three months of job applications and interviewing, I now work for a media company called Kantar Media as an Entertainment Researcher on their forward planning service. Every day I use skills that I gained from the Publishing MA (though I’m not technically in Publishing right now!) and the job itself acts as great experience. I’m hoping to move back into Publishing in the near future, but it’s definitely a tough industry that you have to work hard to get into. I took the job I’m in to help me towards that.

Other than that – and I only really finished my dissertation two months ago – I’ve been enjoying living in London, and considering what I’m going to do next. Currently I’m starting the process of applying for a part-time PhD in History, using my Publishing dissertation as a basis for a doctoral project. Sam is very kindly helping me out! That’s definitely some advice I would give here: stay in touch with your course friends and with the course itself. They provide great support, networking opportunities, and, let’s be honest, keep a twitter feed really amusing

Finally, do you have any advice about entering the publishing world?

First thing is not to being disheartened by rejection – it happens to everyone! Next is to be prepared for any cover letter or CV you write, or interview you attend. You need to know what the company you’re applying for does, what they want from candidates, how what skills you have apply to the role. Essentially, don’t batch apply! Tailor everything you submit to the specifics of the job advert, and prepare for each interview as specifically as you can. Also remember that every application and interview is practice, and you will get better at it! I definitely did.

Also, if you don’t follow @PubInterns you should be. They are fabulous advocates for people starting out in publishing and are a great resource for job adverts and advice! Twitter is also a valuable resource, so make sure you get really familiar with the key voices on there (the SYP accounts, publishers, and The Bookseller are good to keep an eye on too).

Helena can be found on Twitter @helenamcnish.

5 Bookish Podcasts

By Wendy C Tuxworth, on 19 November 2017

I don’t know about you, but I find podcasts are a perfect medium for modern life – often short and snappy, I can listen to them on the tube or whilst doing chores around the house. Here are 5 of my favourite bookish podcasts

1. Reading Glasses

This is without a doubt my favourite bookish podcast. Mallory and Brea are fun, enthusiastic readers who don’t believe in book shame and who talk about a plethora of genres. Their most recent podcast talks about self-help books, and includes a quick review of some bookish perfume! (Interesting!) You can listen more about Reading Glasses here.

2. From the Front Porch

A little podcast by booksellers Chris and Annie, From the Front Porch is a delightful and quick listen about books, being a bookseller, and all things about living in the south of America! Recently they discussed classic novels, and paired them up with modern recommendations. It is definitely worth a listen! There are new episodes every Thursday.

3. What Page Are You On?

This is a much newer podcast by Alice and Bethany, a pair of UK authors who discuss books throughout this often political and insightful podcast. Although there are only 5 episodes out so far, I can definitely see this becoming a firm favourite of mine, as their book tastes are wonderfully similar to my own. What Page Are You On can be found here.

4. What Should I Read Next?

Anne of What Should I Read Next has new guests every week, and together they tackle the age-old question for book lovers – what to read next! I really like that Anne really focuses on each guest, and tailors the interview to each one. No podcast is the same with What Should I Read Next! You can check it out here.

5. Book Riot

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Book Riot, one of my favourite bookish podcasts. Although on the longer side, Book Riot talks about aspects of the book world and community that some of the other podcasts don’t. In their most recent episode they talked about the new Barnes and Noble bookstores, the Harry Potter version of Pokemon GO, and much more. Excitingly, they’ve just started a new podcast called Hey YA which is, you guessed it, about young adult books! This sounds really awesome (no pun intended!)

Do you listen to podcasts? What ones would you recommend? Let us know!

What’s Coming Up

By Hannah M Smith, on 17 November 2017

Image of London SkylineSo far this term, we’ve been to oodles of events. If you’ve missed out, you can find some event reports (including lovely pictures of Publishing students) in our recent posts. If you’d like more information about any previous or upcoming events, please message one of us and we’ll put you in contact with a helpful someone.

To keep everyone in the loop and make sure we don’t miss anything accidentally, here are some exciting things coming up:


18th (-16th Dec): Kingston Children’s Literary Festival – https://www.visitkingston.co.uk/events/kingston-childrens-literary-festival-18-11-2017

20th: SYP London – November Book Club – The Siege by Helen Dunmore https://thesyp.org.uk/london/event/syp-london-november-book-club-the-siege-by-helen-dunmore/

21st: The Ventriloquist’s Daughter: A Talk with Author, Translator and Publisher https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-ventriloquists-daughter-a-talk-with-author-translator-and-publisher-tickets-39693486286?aff=es2

21st: Writing About Conflict with Caroline Brothers and Anita Sethi http://www.bloomsburyinstitute.com/upcoming-events

22nd: SYP November Workshop: Discovering new authors and working with publishers


27th: How are Independent Publishers Shaking Up The Book Industry? http://www.bytethebook.com/events/byte-book-publishing-networking-groucho-club-november

28th: Independent Publisher Conference (I’m not sure we can actually go but it’s maybe worth knowing that it’s happening!)


28th: An Evening with Sherlock Holmes https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/an-evening-with-sherlock-holmes-tickets-38456798319?aff=es2

30th: Black Women in Publishing https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/black-women-in-publishing-tickets-39685338917



4th: Eat, Drink and Be Merry! https://bookmachine.org/event/eat-drink-merry/

6th: Jingle & Mingle https://bookmachine.org/event/jingle-mingle/

15th-16th: The 2017 London Children’s Book Fair http://parasol-unit.org/whats-on/education-and-events/the-2017-london-childrens-book-fair/


Careers Events

Don’t forget to sign up to any of the careers events that take your fancy at the end of November (all in an email from Sam):

28th: Get into Publishing

29th: Get into Broadcasting: TV, Film & Radio

30th: Journalism Workshop

30th: Get into Marketing, PR & Advertising


Finally, please don’t forget that CHRISTMAS IS COMING and there are a crazy amount of festive-themed events in London to make the most of!

Book Christmas Tree


Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference 2017

By Hannah M Smith, on 15 November 2017

Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference Room

On Monday (13th November) the London Book Fair and the Publisher’s Association held the second Inclusivity in Publishing Conference. The day was insightful and motivating, filled with interesting and inspiring panel members. The aim of the day was to address the diversity issues in the industry with a big emphasis on what we can do to move forwards! A quick summary of the day goes:


Managing Disability in the Workplace

Kiren Shoman – SAGE Publishing (Chair), Andie Gbedeman and Mark Brooke – Dimensions UK, Vicki Partridge – Books Beyond Words

We need to move away from the misconceptions regarding what people are capable of and look at what every individual can offer. The recruitment process needs to be flexible; for example, working interviews are less intimidating for people with learning disabilities. Training can be provided for employees to help them communicate with colleagues who may communicate differently to them, including using pictures, accessible easy-read documents and ‘Listen-Up’ training. It is vital to provide positive narratives about people with disabilities in children’s books and not to make disability the focus.


Keynote: Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Creative Industries

Different perspectives are invaluable in such a diverse country. Positively, new imprints are emerging that are focused on diversity and schemes have been setup to improve diversity in entry level roles. A theme that continued throughout the day was the economic benefit of diversity. ‘Diversity is opening the door. Inclusion is inviting people through it’.


Mirroring Inclusivity – How Role Models are Building an Inclusive Industry

Simon Dawson-Collins and Nancy Adimora – HarperCollins

Role models need to reflect the diversity in society so that all young people can see themselves mirrored in higher roles. To ensure this happens, there need to be lots of different people involved in the recruitment process. They also mentioned the importance of talking about diversity. For our industry this will both develop a more diverse readership and the ability to understand and reach them in the employment force. Unconscious bias training should be given to recruitment employees, and to as many members of staff as possible.


Looks Like Me

Selma Nicholls

Selma told us the story of her daughter feeling out of place in society and not considering herself beautiful because of the images she was bombarded with everyday. Selma, passionately and proactively, then told us what she has done to change this. Looks Like Me is a talent and casting agency that strives to create imagery that reflects all young people. They work with many companies and started the incredible campaign: #sowhiteproject. She invited us to be the change we want to see, a call for all of us to address injustice.


Getting Writers from Minorities Published – Supply Chain Challenges

Chris Gribble – Writer’s Centre Norwich (Chair), Sharmaine Lovegrove – Dialogue Books, Emma Paterson – Rogers, Coleridge & White, Monica Parle – First Story.

There needs to be a genuine desire to make diversity happen. It’s not about the industry doing BAME citizens a favour, it’s about what they can do for us. The panel discussed ways in which we can achieve truly publishing for the whole of society: being less London-centric and making jobs more transparent (so people know of the abundant roles in publishing and can strive for them). We should look forward to the day that this conversation can end.


Audience Development: British Asian Community

Abir Makherjee

As a British Asian, Abir Makherjee says that we must change to cater to the demands of this changing society. As an accountant, Abir was appalled by how much further ahead the finance industry are in battling this issue. Paying for diverse talent is not an expense, it is an investment. We need to see growth in genre fiction from BAME writers, to extend marketing into other channels, to forge links with key community organisations, to take minority authors into schools and societies. Publishers need to be more culturally aware.


Broadening Inclusivity in Entry-Level Recruitment in Publishing

Nancy Roberts – Business Inclusivity (Chair), Linas Alsenas – Pride in Publishing, Heidi Mulvey – Cambridge University Press, Siena Parker – Penguin Random House

This panel discussed the ways in which their companies are trying to increase diversity. CUP have created many apprenticeship roles for people leaving school. Penguin Random House have started a randomised work experience program to give everyone an equal opportunity. They also now use video interviews and other technologies for the recruitment process to focus on talent rather than ‘type’ of person. Linas Alsenas has recently created ‘Pride in Publishing’ which aims to create a networking and social space for LGBTQ+ employees.


Diverse City

Jamie Beddard

Working in the arts industry, Jamie described how storytelling is key to: understanding, empathy, contextualising and re-imaging. We need to be telling untold stories and listen to unheard voices to develop a more inclusive and understanding society. We need to value people’s differences.


June Sarpong in conversation with Razia Iqbal

Razia and June discussed June Sarpong’s new book, Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration, and her career in the media industry. June addressed how far we have come and how far we still have to go. Her book not only addresses issues of race but also age, disability and gender. To hear more from June herself I would recommend listening to the CTRL, ALT, DEL podcast here.


The day finished with a presentation from Equal Approach on what they can do to help our industry diversify and company and individual’s pledges to address this issue and move forward, hopefully ending the discussion altogether.


To see more follow #inclusivityconf2017

MA Publishing Students at Building Inclusivity in Publishing Conference