‘Scotland has a very welcoming and inclusive publishing scene based on work ethic and new ideas.’
When I started working for Bright Red Publishing last Spring, one thing became clear pretty soon: we needed to prepare; the beginning of the school year was coming. Now, almost six months later, the academic year has well and truly begun, accompanied by a heap of exciting publication plans and brand-new books – the Bright Red office has been buzzing with marketing ideas!
It is my first back to school season since joining the company last spring, and I am really quite fascinated by the change in the atmosphere at the office. The whole team is in full gear, working extra hard to carry out our new projects and to ensure all our study guides are up to date with course changes, but we are also preparing for all of the challenges and events the year will bring.
It is a new beginning, and it requires careful planning (and a good deal of excitement). Teaching conferences and parents’ nights are on top of our events list for the autumn, which means that I get to vary my work routine to make space for trips out of the office and around Scotland. Aside from the obvious reasons for doing this (getting direct feedback from parents and students; meeting teachers and authors at bespoke conferences; spending a whole day without looking at excel spreadsheets), this has the additional perk of allowing me to explore Scotland a bit more and even to pet the occasional snake, which is very exciting.
And in all frankness, excitement is the word that comes to mind most frequently if I think back to most of my experiences within the Scottish publishing industry. Ever since I first moved to Edinburgh two years ago, there has not been a dull moment, and that is largely due to the welcoming nature of the Scottish publishing scene.
When I moved to Scotland for my postgraduate studies, I never would have believed it had anyone told me that two years on I would be navigating my parents through EIBF to show them books of the publishing company I worked for. And that, not for any particular reason but the fact that I did not think Scotland could ever feel like home. And yet, here we are. As hard as it was to move, what I found when I got here was well worth the trip: a very welcoming and inclusive publishing scene based on work ethic and new ideas.
Starting with the many Edinburgh Napier University alumni who took the time to introduce their businesses and publishing houses to the new cohort of students, and with the SYP Scotland and their comprehensive list of events and talks, the feeling of being part of a wide and strong network was immediate. This impression was then confirmed when I had the opportunity to attend Bologna Book Fair and to witness first-hand the support network Publishing Scotland provides independent publishers with.
Approaching it as an outsider, I must admit that at first, I did fall for the cliché image of the publishing industry as distinct and fascinating, if a little antiquated. To my initial stupor, I was presented with an energetic, passionate group of independent publishers, with fresh ideas and an ever-stronger impulse towards innovation and improvement.
This has been confirmed every step of the way as I got the chance to work on and help deliver exciting new projects – exhibit A being Bright Red’s new digital assessment tool, which has been awarded a SMART fund for innovative development by Scottish Enterprise. This will be structured and catered specifically to the Scottish curriculum, with the aim of improving attainment and engagement levels in schools by providing students with a gamified testing environment. Which, quite frankly, makes for a very exciting job spec, and a very hard time explaining to your relatives what it is exactly that you do for a living.
Overall, Scotland has provided me not only with essential knowledge to build my career upon, but also with a network of people and events to support my career choices. For the future, I am looking forward to building on those and by practicing what I learnt by attending a Digital Project Management course at the Publishing Training Centre (kindly funded by the Printing Charity). I am also hoping to raise awareness on how to make proper carbonara, one homecooked meal at a time.
Laura Borrelli is Digital Editor at Edinburgh-based Bright Red Publishing. You can find out more about Bright Red’s activity as one of Scotland’s leading educational publishers in this article previously published on Books from Scotland.