The Practical Publishing Seminars

by | Nov 1, 2021 | Events, News, Seminars, Workshops/training | 0 comments

Hosted by Manchester University Press, in association with Creative Manchester, this short introductory course offers an overview of current publishing.  Practitioner-led, we will explore the processes of commissioning, editing and marketing as well as design, production and formats.

Participants will learn about the practical operations of successful publishers, and about the debates which are re-shaping the business now. 

o  Nov 12  seminar 1: Simon Ross, MUP in discussion with John McAuliffe

o   Nov 19 seminar 2: Luke Brown / Serpents Tail (Commissioning and editing fiction)

o   Nov 26 seminar 3: Ellah Wakatama / Canongate (Commissioning and editing fiction and creative non-fiction)

o   Dec 3 seminar 4: Michael Schmidt and John McAuliffe / Carcanet Press & PN Review (independent presses publishing poetry; magazine publication)

o  Dec 10  seminar 5: Chris Hart, MUP to present on Marketing

Nov 12: Simon Ross will be in discussion with John McAuliffe about the landscape of academic publishing, including opportunities and challenges, and the value of today’s university press in supporting scholarly communication, its host university and beyond. The discussion will also introduce Manchester University Press, its publications, and mission.

Simon Ross joined Manchester University Press as Chief Executive in 2016 after nearly 10 years with Cambridge University Press as MD of Journals and Deputy MD of the Academic Group, spending the last 4 years based in New York. He has held senior editorial and management positions at Sage Publications, Pearson Education and the Times Publishing Group, and is a past Chairman of ALPSP. Before moving into publishing, he was a researcher and university lecturer in psychology and computer science and later earned an MBA from the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.

Nov 19: Luke Brown will talk about the challenges of publishing fiction today, setting it in the context of the twenty years he has worked in independent publishing, and will answer any of your questions. He will focus on his work as commissioning editor (fiction) for Serpent’s Tail, which was founded by Pete Ayrton in 1986 with a mission to introduce British readers to risk-taking world literature no one else in the UK was publishing. The list established a reputation for its diversity of voice and fearlessness, publishing writers of colour from all over the world including Langston HughesErnest J Gaines, Nella Larsen, Walter Mosley, Alain Mabanckou and Lola Shoneyin, and LGBT authors including Virginie DespentesJayne County and Neil Bartlett. Serpent’s Tail launched the careers of major authors such as David Peace, Michel Houellebecq and Colm Tóibín, and turned the transgressive book The Sexual Life of Catherine M by Catherine Millet into a bestseller.  After two decades of independence, in 2007 Serpent’s Tail joined Profile Books, also independent, where it continues as an imprint that celebrates originality.

Luke Brown worked for ten years for Tindal Street Press, a small press based in Birmingham, who were known for major-prize successes, including reaching the Booker Prize three times in the 2000s. He has worked as the deputy editor of Granta magazine, and currently commissions fiction for Serpent’s Tail. He is a novelist and lecturer at University of Manchester.

Nov 26:  Ellah Wakatama: this seminar will cover key stages in editing process and the class will draw up a checklist together. Additional reading materials will be reviewed and supplied. The goal is to develop skills as a critical reader and strategies for effective self-editing.

Ellah Wakatama OBE, (Hon) FRSL is Editor at Large for Canongate. Is was the founding publishing director of the Indigo Press and former deputy editor of Granta magazine. She is the Creative Manchester Senior Research fellow. She is the Chair of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing and serves as a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund.

Dec 3: Michael Schmidt and John McAuliffe on independent presses publishing poetry; and on magazine publication.

Michael Schmidt, OBE, founded Carcanet Press in 1971 and PN Review in 1974. Carcanet started as a poetry publisher, which it has remained, while branching out into fiction in English and translation, and other literary zones. Carcanet is one of the leading poetry publishing houses in the UK, long based outside London and devoted to an international editorial programme. PN Review is a crucial editorial tool for Carcanet, an editorial net that draws in excellent work by new writers and provides critical evaluation written for literary readers and not confined to academic exercises.

John McAuliffe is Professor of Poetry and Director of Creative Manchester at Manchester and is also Associate Publisher at Carcanet.

Dec 10 Chris Hart will talk about a number of areas of marketing, including brand presentation, book promotion, and how a marketing team works with authors. Topics will include publicity, events, social media, outreach and what authors can do to support the marketing of their book. Chris will also do a walkthrough of what marketing look for when reviewing a new book proposal.

Chris Hart is Head of Marketing at Manchester University Press. He has held positions as a senior commissioning editor for a large academic publisher, an assistant editor in trade publishing and a bookseller/buyer for Waterstone’s.

Book in for the series here:

Week 2 is zoom-only, but for Weeks 1, 3,4,5 ten students can attend in-person at MUP’s offices on Waterloo Place near University Green.


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