What do you like best about your role?
The best thing is the variety – we are a very small team, so I am involved in all parts of a publication, from commissioning to launch events. I also enjoy working with people who have a real love for what they do and bring insight and expertise, whether they are authors or others across the industry, such as photographers, festival organisers and magazine editors.
Working for an organisation like Historic Environment Scotland means that there are some fascinating resources, and many of my colleagues are experts in their fields. We use all of this when working with internal or external authors to create beautiful, high quality books.
Which new projects or titles are you working on at the moment?
We have a couple of exciting books being published in the next few months. The first is For the Safety of All: A Story of Scotland’s Lighthouses by Donald S Murray. Donald has brought his unique perspective to the subject, and we have sourced a range of amazing photographs and drawings. The other is A Life of Industry: The Photography of John R Hume by Daniel Gray. John R Hume took thousands of photographs of industrial Scotland, and this book shows a fantastic selection of images, with Dan providing an insight into John’s work and what was being recorded.
What skills do you need for your role?
Enthusiasm for the books is really important. I also think that problem solving and presenting different creative solutions can be essential. I have to be flexible enough to work with a range of requirements or opinions, but remain clear about the direction for the book. This means looking at the big picture for each publication, while ensuring that all the details fit into the larger ideas. It is also important to be organised and to be able to prioritise, so that everything hits the right dates.
What advice would you give to those looking to work in the industry?
I would say don’t doubt yourself and don’t hesitate to put yourself forward. Learn about all the roles available across the industry, and consider the ways in which your skills and interests could be transferred to a variety of roles. Organisations like SYP can be really valuable for this, and also don’t be afraid to chat to people in the industry about their work. And always pay attention to what is doing well in bookshops – but if you are interested in publishing or bookselling, you are probably doing that anyway!
How has the pandemic affected your working life?
Working from home has been a big change. While the day-to-day work has been fairly easy to transfer, I have definitely missed seeing people in-person. The more casual aspect of work, where you are chatting through ideas or concepts, or just coming across projects that others are focusing on, becomes a bit more formal when you have to schedule a meeting to discuss things. However, on the plus side, I have certainly realised that since so much can be accomplished remotely, it does allow for new opportunities.
How did you get to your current role?
After studying at Glasgow University, I carried out placements at Virgin Books and the Glasgow Film Theatre. Then I worked at Luath Press and following that I joined the Production Department at Canongate Books. I have now been part of the Publications Team at Historic Environment Scotland for about five years, focusing mainly on editorial and production, but with a lot of other things mixed in.