The Publisher’s Atlas: Guide to Being a Foreign Worker

By Stephanie King, on 22 June 2016

This post should honestly be called ‘Guide to Not Getting Your Hopes Up.’ Publishing is a competitive industry all around the globe. Thousands of people are trying to make their way in the industry, so even getting a job in your home country can be difficult. Trying to make a career in the UK if you’re not from here seems almost impossible. But it can be done, and arming yourself with this knowledge from the beginning will help you.

For all the international students coming in for the 2016-2017 MA Publishing course, this one’s for you:

So I’m a student on a Tier 4 Visa

Great! You managed obtain permission to stay legally in this country for 16 months! That is a feat unto itself. That means you have the right to stay in the UK as long as you are working on completing your course.

Can I work on a Tier 4?

Indeed you can, up to 20 hours a week during term time. During vacation time you are allowed to work fulltime, but remember, the UCL MA Publishing is a year-long course, meaning the summer time counts as term time since that’s when you’ll be writing your dissertation.

When can I start working full time?

After you’ve been studying for 12 months, or after you’ve completed your degree.

Cool, I’ve done one of those two things, so I can just switch to a Tier 2 General work visa right?



Unfortunately this is where things get really tough for non-UK and non-EU workers (N.B. this is being written before the referendum vote, so things are subject to change). Here’s what you’ll need to get a Tier 2 (from the lovely people at ukvisas.com):

  • An offer of a suitably skilled job from a UK based Company that holds a sponsorship licence: ‘Suitably skilled’ basically means a job that requires a certain amount of education to be able to perform. If you want to look through all the jobs that count as unsuitable, take a look through this document. The sponsorship license means the company you want to work for has the ability to sponsor your Tier 2. To look up companies who are registered to sponsor, check this document. The fee to sponsor is about £1,500 a year.
  • To score sufficient points for their ‘attributes’– applicants are awarded points if they are issued a Certificate of Sponsorship from the UK company and if they will receive at least what is considered to be the appropriate salary for the particular job role under the codes of practice: Like you had to earn points for your Tier 4 visa, the same is true of Tier 2.
  • To score points by showing that they have enough money for their maintenance (living costs) in the UK: Right now, that means finding a job with a minimum salary of £20,700 per annum.
  • To score points by demonstrating they can speak English to a basic level.
  • The employer needs to have carried out a Resident Market Labour Test to ensure that a member of the UK resident workforce was not suitable for the job: Basically the company has to prove that you, the expensive foreign worker, is without a doubt the absolute best candidate for the job, and a no other UK residents that applied could perform the job even half as well as you. There is one bright side to this dream-crushing requirement – in the four months after you finish your degree in September to January when your Tier 4 visa expires, companies do not need to perform the Resident Market Labour Test. So those four months is the best time for you to apply apply apply!

Well, that was terrible. But knowing about it now will help you know what you’re up against There are people who do it, who beat the odds and are able to work in the UK despite not being a UK or EU resident. There are always exceptions and loopholes to take advantage of (if you’re from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan you might want to take a look at the Youth Mobility Scheme), so make sure you do all of your research.

The best thing you can do for yourself now if you are really determined on working here is to make yourself known within the industry – so internships, go to events, join societies, talk to people. Try as hard as you can to make yourself invaluable so people are willing to pay the fees and jump through the hoops because they know you will enrich and diversify their company.

So to all my international homies, good luck, keep fighting, and if all else fails – find a rich Brit to marry so you can still get a passport and then find a job.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see what Prince Harry is up to…

Licensing: Moving a Story Beyond Books

By Elisabeth N Wilkes, on 15 June 2016

This next department is not one often thought of when people enter publishing, but it is one that is growing. Licensing is a segment of the industry where either books’ merchandising rights are negotiated with companies, or a publisher buys the rights to turn products, such as films, tv shows, or toys, into book products. This has become a growing segment of the publishing industry. According to Claire Somerville, the Deputy Manager Director at Hachette Children’s who gave a lecture on licensing to our class last term, the licensing industry was worth £10.2bn in the UK in 2015.

Merchandising has been a major source of revenue for the publishing industry, not to mention a major component for the spread of book culture and brand awareness. If the following sounds like you, perhaps you should give this part of the industry a little more thought.


  1.     You are a culture buff– Perhaps you really like books, but also love your Netflix and movie nights just as equally. This is a great section of the industry where that love of other mediums really comes in handy. You will be poised to make better judgments as to what is worth buying and who is worth selling to.


  1.     You like fandom culture– Not only are you all about different types of entertainment, but you love to go on Pinterest and collect pins of someone who has made their own Harry Potter mix-drinks. You will be a better judge of which brands are likely to get people excited and what types of products fans would enjoy the most.


  1.     You are especially interested in children’s publishing– This is where licensing is the most versatile and most lucrative. You can work with companies to produce merchandise that older fans are less likely to purchase, such as toys, sticker books, board games, and the candy. It’s an exciting way to make the younger readers more obsessed with your publisher’s stories or characters.


  1.     You can ‘sense’ the next big thing– Are you constantly finding yourself saying, “I liked such and such before it was cool”? Are you amazed at how often the shows you love suddenly get really popular? This sense is incredibly important for people working in licensing, especially for books, which take longer to produce and put out than a doll or a shirt. Being intuitive of what could be big allow you to strike while the iron is hot and not miss the boat, only to be stuck with books and products that are no longer popular.


Licensing can be a fun way to spread your publisher’s stories that goes beyond the pages of the book. While it is a fine line between “selling out” and creating extended interest, it can be fun to work on building an extension of these books.


Well, this is the last section I will be discussing for this blog. There are other sections of the industry, so always explore to see what will be best for you. I do hope that these monthly posts have given you something to think about when you go job searching though. It has been a great year and I am happy to have shared what I have learned for aspiring publishers. There is much more to Publishing than being an editor, so be sure to be open minded about what part of the industry you want to enter.

A Tiny Break

By Elisabeth N Wilkes, on 10 June 2016

We on the blogging team have decided to take a break from our post to recuperate from our finals and deadlines. Fret not, we will have a new post this coming Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Tackling a Dissertation: Final Notes

By Sarah L Osborne, on 2 June 2016

Photo by: skdevitt | Flickr

Photo by: skdevitt | Flickr

As this is my last UCL blog, I’ve decided to round off with some key dissertation tips. Having now met my dissertation supervisor, I feel enlightened and able to provide stronger insight. Having expert advice can get you on the right track. These four tips are new knowledge to me and vital for dissertation success.

Don’t assume that your methodology is correct

Although it’s tempting to plan schedules and think of which research method you are going to use, it might be too early. For example, I immediately jumped on the idea of doing a survey and to my dismay realised that I shouldn’t just assume what I’m doing is what NEEDS to be done. After my dissertation meeting today I realised I have to figure out EXACTLY what my dissertation is trying to show. Even if your methodology feels right, it might not be the best option for your choice of topic.

Don’t focus on the numbers

When dissertation time approached I started thinking of the dreaded word count, and the amount of sources I have to trawl through. Looking at too many sources might instead hinder your progress and ability to see deeper into the dissertation topic. Focus on sources that are relevant. Don’t feel the need to add sources to your bibliography just because you want to seem like you’ve done lots of research. Get inside the sources. Have fun and get to know what you’re working with and how to use it. The word count and bibliography will come with it. It won’t seem so bad and before you know it you’ll have the word count. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

Leave time

When writing your first draft proposal it may feel like the finished product. It’s not. When you have your meeting with your supervisor you’ll realise that your proposal really is one of the first steps that can produce success or failure. It sets you up and helps you focus on exactly what you need to do. Learning how to approach the dissertation can be the most difficult part – I found out the hard way. Crystallise ideas and get in the dissertation zone, or you could end up writing 10,000 words of nonsense.


Commit to write every day if you can for however many months you plan to write. Read, write, edit, read, delete, write, edit… Maybe you throw in a source because you think it’s important but after more research you realise there is better out there.  Don’t reach the 10,000 word count and think you’re done. There is always room to improve.

And finally… use your supervisor to your advantage

Ask your supervisor to help you keep on track, whether it be just keeping you accountable or working together to make a good schedule. Think of them as your guardian angel for a few months. Don’t ask and you don’t receive, right?

Remember how much of your degree the dissertation is worth and POWER THROUGH!

I enjoyed blogging and hope that my blogs have entertained and helped you. It’s time for me to get cracking with my dissertation based on my words of wisdom and I’ll leave the blogs for the future MA Publishing students! Good luck!

Book Review: The Sweary Lady has something to say

By Stephanie King, on 25 May 2016

Continuing on with the UCL Centre for Publishing’s partnership with the Desmond Elliot prize, I will be reviewing one of the three novels shortlisted for the award: The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney.

The Glorious Heresies is told through the stories of five outcasts in modern day Cork, brought together by one crime. The opening chapter launches immediately into the visceral, gritty, and sense-filled descriptions that make McInerney’s writing so enticing. First love and first murder are juxtaposed one right after the other, two matters of the flesh and primal human compulsion weaved together by McInerney’s lyrical, pithy prose; while schoolboy Ryan loses his virginity to the girl he idolizes, Maureen is busy killing a home invader with her Holy Stone. She is then forced to employ her gangster son Jimmy to clean up the scene of the crime, who in turn recruits Tony for help, who happens to be Ryan’s father. Meanwhile, Ryan is dealing drugs to Georgie, the girlfriend of the man Maureen killed, and the web just gets more and more tangled.

And yet none of this feels like coincidence. Perhaps it is the looming presence of the Catholic Church in the story, but it feels as though these people were meant to be brought together, not to save each other or to make each other better, but to rage against the society of, as McInerney puts it, ‘the arse end of Ireland.’ Survival trumps salvation in most of the characters’ situations, so scenes of coke getting snorted off of Bibles does not feel out of place.

It is pointless to try to boil this work down to fit it neatly into one genre; you’d have to bash it in with a Holy Stone to describe it just as a teenage romance, a gangster thriller, or a redemption story. It is all these and more. McInerney’s background in blogging in no way inhibits her ability to tell a well-formed story, and aids her in the creation of punchy sentences that can easily be pulled out of the book and slapped into a tweet. In her personal blog she almost gleefully admits, ‘I’m much better on page than in person. I hate phone calls. I hate meetings. I love emails, tweets and texts. I don’t love letters, because writing anything by hand makes these digital digits feel like they’ve spent an entire victory parade attached to the wrist of Queen Elizabeth II.’ This is the kind of sentiment you can find all throughout the book as well. A personal favourite quote is ‘That was the truth and the truth had fuck all respect for Sir Issac Newton and his axioms.’

Unabashed, loud, tender, sweary, edgy, beautiful, funny, brilliant: The Glorious Heresies is a must-read, and McInerney is a bright new talent on the literary scene that will not be extinguished soon.
The other two shortlisted titles for the 2016 Desmond Elliot Prize are The House at the Edge of the World by Julia Rochester, and Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea. You can check out twitter reviews of these two fabulous novels by fellow cohort members @zoesharples and @HaReIllustrate. The winner of the 2016 Desmond Elliot Prize will be revealed at a ceremony at Fortnum & Mason on 22nd June, where he or she will be presented with a cheque for £10,000.