Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Phillipa Barker reflects on her work experience with the Emma Press

Back in September, I had just finished an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. I was beginning to explore what a career in publishing might look like, whether it might be something I'd like to be part of and how I would even start to venture into the notoriously competitive industry. I'd only recently heard of the Emma Press, but after taking a look at their website, was immediately drawn to their beautiful books. Emma very kindly not only agreed to meet, but to take me on for a period of work experience, one day a week over eight weeks to peer behind the scenes of the Emma Press.

Now You Can Look, by Julia Bird
In the larger publishing houses there are different departments for Editorial, Sales, Publicity, Marketing, Production, Rights etc. What I valued about my time with the Emma Press was being able to see, and be a part of, a range of different tasks from various 'departments'. Over the eight weeks I wrote a press release for Now You Can Look by Julia Bird; compiled anthologies; emailed anthology poets; was introduced to InDesign and tasked with typesetting an anthology manuscript; updated spreadsheets; emailed printers for quotes; and helped with packing orders from the online shop.

First fox, by Leanne Radojkovich
One of my favourite tasks was interviewing Leanne Radojkovich, author of First fox, for the Emma Press and Valley Press blog. As well as asking Leanne about her influences and the themes that shaped her collection, we discussed her writing practice and experiments with flash fiction.

Another firm favourite was reading prose submissions and translations, writing an editor's report and drawing up suggested edits. This was partly because it felt like familiar territory after critiquing the work of other students for my Creative Writing MA, but mainly down to the fact that there is much joy to be found in reading new writing, discovering new authors, and sensitively shaping an early draft into its final form.

My time with the Emma Press has given me an invaluable introductory insight into the numerous tasks that keep an independent press running and take a book/pamphlet from start to finish. Real creativity, passion, kindness and innovation goes into each Emma Press publication and I've been inspired by their skill, commitment and drive in championing new writing and forging a new kind of publishing.

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