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

Publishing and the ‘D’ Word

By Caroline A Murphy, on 19 February 2015

By Marianne Tatepo

Of the thousands of online witticisms causing the SYP 2014 Conference hashtag (#sypconf14) to trend, one tweet stuck with me to this day: “It’s kind of hilarious how few people have chosen to attend the #sypconf14 session on diversity.” (Miriam H Craig, 12:15 PM – 8 Nov 2014, @miriamhcraig).

You’ll have heard of the ‘d’ word. For some it may be equated to ‘race’. But diversity is not colour, gender, or ability specific. Was the ‘diversity’ session at SYP aimed at those few minority groups (ditto about such print issues by The Bookseller)? Many will be most aware of their own underrepresentation: diversity is being able to scan a room and see, or hear about both others like you and those unlike you. A room where each attendee can’t think to themselves “there are other people like me AND unlike me” is not diverse – the same goes for an industry. Still: it’s difficult to tackle the issue of diversity if none of those concerned are included in such discussions – so here’s my own input, following on Caroline Carpenter’s piece.

My contention is: a diverse industry is one inclusive of those who have had to deal with marginalisation or disparities at a range of possible levels. Mental health issues; lack of social mobility; gender or racial imbalances or discrimination; physical impairment or disability; and other major factors that may lead them to feel there are no ‘people like them’ around.

Identity is not one-dimensional. On the one hand, there were a plethora of others like me at SYP’s 2014 summit: literature or humanities degree bearers, and probable Student Finance benefactors, who are only mediocrely digitally skilled. On the other hand, it was honestly disappointing to have to acquiesce to some of the facts outlined in The Bookseller’s November issue regarding the status quo of variety in publishing – even ten years on, post-Web 2.0.

As both a hyperbole and simile: a love for publishing can sometimes feel like having Stockholm Syndrome – we’re captives of something we’ve grown to feel an attachment to, in spite of the perils presented (e.g.: ‘death of the book’ and other doomsday fear-mongering), and this often causes onlookers to equate our loyalty to insanity. At ‘budding publisher’ level, this translates into the sacrifices some must make in order to intern for periods of up to a year (dixit many of SYP 2014’s despairing attendees). The labour is often unwaged, and worse yet: there is no guarantee that you’ll reach Promised Land.

You’ll hear about books being rejected by publishers because the demographic depicted in said books is not that of ‘the reader’ or ‘the customer’ – that is to say, not white. To say that minorities aren’t ‘the reader’ doesn’t recognise the fact that they are often unrepresented in stories, despite the infinite amount of stories out in the world. Not reading every book that refuses to acknowledge you could be seen as a silent, peaceful protest of sorts – a sign of a malignant illness tainting the reading experience.  How can catering to a wider audience be achieved whilst simultaneously telling said audience – by way of ellipsis, by way of vacuum – that they don’t exist?

What you won’t hear enough about is people like Nikesh Shukla or Malorie Blackman – both of them catering to different age groups, but certainly to wider groups than many past and present writers did altogether. A diversity workshop, I believe, would have been most beneficial to future agents, editors, marketers, publicists… That is to say: anyone likely to unearth the next Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Junot Diaz, or John Elder Robison and whose instincts may be muddled by a one-dimensional idea of ‘the reader’.

What you won’t hear enough about is that the next generation of writers is tucked away in places like The Baytree Centre, in Brixton. In this all-women’s culture and literacy centre, young girls of BAME background aged 10-14 are attending Creative Writing and Reading classes voluntarily, and will soon submit their edited, original creative writing work to the Global Girls Project, with the hope to be published.

However, you will certainly hear about the commercial benefits of diversity. What you won’t hear is about the value of culture – especially in a melting pot like the UK. What you don’t hear enough is how good, loyal employees are the ones attracted not to the commercial aspect of the industry, but the fact that their presence is reflected in the workplace; that they are part of a community – just like ‘the reader’. The fact that when, finally, they get that book proof on their desks, more than once in a blue moon, they can read about ‘others like them’.

The momentum is now, and the opportunities are here: where there is a will, there is a market. If Nichelle Gainer could sell out for an illustrated coffee book like Vintage Black Glamour (£30 apiece) and even a major cultural institution like the V&A is doing a Black British Experience exhibition after recognising a “gap” in their knowledge… What’s stopping the publishing industry from recognizing the full scope of ‘the reader’?

Weekly Calendar

By Caroline A Murphy, on 7 December 2014

PaulHollywoodHi all,

Here is your last calendar of the term, so here a small selection of things that are going on this week that you might fancy!

Tuesday 9th:

10am: Last Sales, Marketing and Promotion lecture with guest speakers from Taylor & Francis and Rising Stars.

1pm: Author Management lecture with editorial and publishing directors from Gollancz and Michael Joseph.

UCL’s Chamber Choir are holding a Christmas concert at the North Cloisters at 6pm. It’s free and there are refreshments. So if that’s your kind of thing, get yourself there!

7pm: Storytelling Live – Robin Hood, with Wendy and Michael Dacre at Waterstones Piccadilly.


Wednesday 10th

1pm: Paul Hollywood is doing a signing of his new book British Baking at the Bloomsbury Institute


Thursday 11th

10am: Publishing Skills lecture on interview skills with Evan Hancock from UCL Careers service

1pm: Publishing Projects – we’re all updating each other on the progress of our projects!

SYP Festive Celebrations – This is free if you’re a member. Click here are more details

UCL Publishing Christmas Party? – As you’re all aware, we’ve had some booking issues with our original plans for a Publishing Christmas Party :( We shall update this as soon as we know what the plans are!


Friday 12th

DEADLINE: Author Management.


Have a very good Christmas break, and we’ll return in the New Year with more exciting London and UCL events!


Your Weekly Event Calendar…

By Emily C McCracken, on 30 November 2014

Enjoy this last relaxing week before the deadlines and Christmas events come for you!

Tuesday Dec 2nd

Publishing Case Studies in Sales, Marketing & Promotion

Tom Chalmers, founder, Lizard Press
Ian Lamb, Head of Children’s Marketing and Publicity, Bloomsbury
Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Online and Digital Account Manager, Penguin Random House
Katie Sadler, Digital Marketing Manager, Fiction, Harper Collins

Literary Agents  in Author Management

Introduced by Iain.  Masterclass panel with Carole Blake and Peter Robinson.


What does a literary agent do?   This session will give you the answers, with some of the best in the business!

Links: Peter Robinson: http://www.rcwlitagency.com/agents/peter-robinson/

               Blake Friedmann: http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/

Please familiarise yourselves with Carole Blake (easy, as she is a real Twitterati!) and her agency’s website, BlakeFriedmann (http://blakefriedmann.co.uk/ ) and Peter Robinson (http://www.rcwlitagency.com/agents/peter-robinson/ ) as well as Rogers Coleridge and White’s website (http://www.rcwlitagency.com/)

Also, chapters 3, 4, 6, and 13 ​from  From Pitch to Publication ​will be particularly useful to you.

Wednesday Dec 3rd

For all you international students who were lucky enough to get a place at this event, here is your reminder….
UK VISA talk at  1PM in the Christopher Ingold XLG2 Auditorium

Thursday Dec 4th

Project Management in Publishing Skills

Guest speaker: Philippa Middleditch
–> Room: Malet Place Eng 1.03 <–

Saturday Dec 6th

BookMachine London: Meet and collaborate with the most inspiring people in the publishing industry today! This week’s speaker is Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Planning at iStock BookMachine.

Finally,  your Author ToolKit Countdown is …….12 days
Thank you and hope you’re enjoying Christmas time in London so far!


Celebrities Use Pink Post-it Notes Too! – Russell Brand at The Reading Agency

By Caroline A Murphy, on 26 November 2014


Photo courtesy of Amy Davies

By Caitlin Mehta (@CaitlinMehta)

Every now and then when reading a book I’ll struggle to find a book mark. While I used to use the (barbaric) method of folding down the corner when I was young and foolish, the older and more considerate me now opts for old train tickets, receipts (for food most likely) and occasionally the odd post-it note. This may seem completely unrelated to the fact that a few of my course mates and I went to hear Russell Brand give The Reading Agency’s annual lecture, but bear with me!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening: was it going to be a serious affair? How could it be with Russell Brand as the guest speaker? Would he focus on books? What’s his favourite book? Would he talk about political affairs? Would it just be about reading? I should have already been able to answer a lot of these questions based on my knowledge of him. It’s funny that feeling of familiarity we get when thinking of celebrities we’ve actually never met. Having grown up hearing about this man constantly in the news and seeing him prance around in an (admittedly) hypnotic manner on my television screen I should have known.

It wasn’t all jokes but at the same time it wasn’t deadly serious or even the ‘b word’ (boring) either. There is something about Russell Brand when he gets going on a good rant that you just can’t ignore. Perhaps it’s the purposefully intricate vocabulary he utilises that you may not have previously understood, but do now however due to the context and manner in which he so eloquently weaves it into his speech (that was a pretty good attempt at his style of speaking, right?).

The narrative theme of Russell’s lecture (a title I would use very loosely), was to explain what reading meant to him as he read extracts from books gifted to him by family, fans and other famous people. One particular highlight was his rendition of an early chapter of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. Before mocking the crude seeming, old-fashioned names ‘Dick’ and ‘Fanny’ in typical Russell style (there I go pretending I know him personally again), he went on to explain to the audience that this book, bestowed upon him by Auntie Pat, showed him that books could open portals to other worlds. This is a notion that I feel some adults forget as life gets in the way of reading for pleasure.

Whilst reading from these books I suddenly noticed that curiously, much like myself, Russell Brand also seemed not to be in possession of a real bookmark. Sure enough as the comedian worked his way through the hefty stack of books he brought on stage it appeared that in each one he had marked his place with a bright pink post-it note. One of these even got stuck to his trousers much to my amusement.

I realise this was not the main message to take away from the evening. Books really are fantastic; libraries are too. That was the eventual point of the long-winded lecture. However to me, the makeshift post-it bookmarks were a sharp reminder that yes he is a “celebrity” but still  a human being not so far flung from myself. A human being with flairs and flaws who likes to read stories both factual and fictional as a means of escapism. It is stories, as Muriel Ruysker was quoted as saying, that make up the universe.

That and funny men with long hair and pink post-its stuck to their legs!


Check out Caitlin’s blog at www.caitlinlouisemehta.wordpress.com