A typical day begins with a team meeting – at the office we catch up on a briefing from the rolling weekly agenda, and connect via Zoom with team members working remotely.
We have our publishing schedule mapped out into 2023/24, so the focus for each week is known in advance, but there is always scope for new ideas. Particularly when it comes to marketing and launch events – we have to be on our toes to respond to the latest news; current events local and international. Sometimes an event comes about out of the blue, such as when we had the opportunity to present the leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya with copies of our books from Belarus; Alindarka’s Children and A Large Czesław Miłosz With a Dash of Elvis Presley, when she visited Scotland. So you can arrive in the office to discover that you have an exciting event to attend that very evening!
More usually we have a bit of time to plan for things, such as our attendance at the London Book Fair in April, and next up, going to the Frankfurt Book Fair. There is a lot of work to do in preparation for book fairs. These trade events are primarily for buying and selling international rights, exchanging ideas with other publishing houses, and overall to eye up the competition! We have our own front list titles to promote, and may look out for possible collaborations on projects from overseas.
The morning meeting often continues for over an hour, and we decide who will do each task. My role is primarily as an editor, of biography, memoir and history, but I am happy to get involved with drafting copy, blurbs for book covers, and I also create the monthly newsletter.
With books that I have been closely involved in editing, I naturally keep an eye on relevant news stories which could tie in with publicity, and potential promotional opportunities, and forward these ideas onto the marketing manager.
It is always hugely exciting when we get the first review copies of a new book back from the printers. It is very satisfying to see the culmination of months of research, planning, editing, design, and to hold the actual book in your hands.
Receiving the review copies prompts a flurry of activity; parceling and packaging to post out numerous copies to reviewers in the press, complimentary copies to those who have been involved in the book's production, and all importantly arranging to meet the author and presenting them with their copies.
Tea or coffee. One of us will nip to the kitchen to make a quick brew!
Then back to our computers to check and reply to emails. I check both individual accounts for internal and external messages, and the general account for enquiries and external contacts, such as existing authors who keep us up to date on their ongoing work.
When editing, although some times you can be reading from a physical manuscript, most often we work in Microsoft Word, to edit or proofread. As the manuscript progresses from draft to proof, you will likely be reading a pdf copy. As well as editing manuscripts for book creation, I often do some proofreading, copy writing and updating of the company website, all online.
Other team members create the essential assets we need to present to platforms and people within the book trade, such as the catalogue, an ‘AI’ (advance information sheet) for each book, event images in the company branded style, virtual review copies, and banners for social media. I proofread these and remain up to date with all our titles, non-fiction and fiction.
Lunch. I will either have something brought in from home (washed down with more tea!) or go out to a local bistro. Or, to get a bit of fresh air plus complete sending our mail for the day, walk to the post office and eat near there. Occasionally if we have a celebration, we might go out for a team lunch at the Willow.
A typical afternoon task would be thoroughly line or copy editing a manuscript chapter by chapter. This often involves close collaboration with the author, to fact check, check their intended meaning, and agree on revisions. Large hardback biographies often have plate sections of colour images, so a small aspect of compiling a thorough biography is sourcing these, extracting content from the text to create captions for the images, and writing a list of acknowledgments. Referencing and indexing are also important.
In February, when we have our open submissions window, there are many new manuscripts to read, from fiction and poetry to history and biography. I really enjoy the variety of material. If I have time in a day I will catch up on reading the fiction, short stories and poetry that Scotland Street Press has published or is working towards publishing, so that I am familiar with all of our output and can contribute ideas.
Some evenings there are launch events when the author and publishers come together to present the book to the public. I always attend the launch events for books I’ve edited, and often go to diverse poetry and fiction events, to support the event organiser, and to gather photos and images for social media and the monthly newsletter. The events are a major highlight of life in publishing! Book Festivals and Book Fairs are also great for exchange of ideas and networking, and I am looking forward to Frankfurt next week. I’ll be posting on our social media channels about the Frankfurt Book Fair itself so keep a look out!