March 9th was the Society of Young Publishers’, Publishing Vs. the World conference held at Surgeons’ Hall Edinburgh. The keynote speaker was none other than Nicola Sturgeon who made our collective days when she spoke about her jealousy over those who get to work with books! It was very refreshing and inspiring to hear a leader talk about the importance of reading and the value she places on the publishing industry.
For us young publishers, many of the speakers passed on their favourite tips to those just starting out. At the freelancing panel we were taught to know our own worth and set measurable goals to allow us to succeed without running into financial difficulties. Finances were a topic of discussion across many panels yesterday, one of which being the literature in translation panel, (Reading Between the Lines) which discussed the issues for funding smaller, independent publishers who get no funding in Scotland due to not producing Scottish authors’ work. This panel was very helpful for learning about some of the challenges that come with producing translated texts for the UK’s market. These challenges include picking commercially viable novels to publish, being able to compete financially with larger companies for translation rights, and the UK’s attitude to translated literature.
In the final panel for the day, Publishing Vs. the World, there was a discussion about diversity in books and creating representation for all. We saw some shocking statistics about the diversity in children’s books in the USA, not reflective at all of the statistics about the actual inhabitants of the country. Representation in fiction is so important for children to see themselves succeeding in all kinds of careers and roles so as to not feel limited by their race, gender etc. This panel addressed the issue that even creators struggle to break out of creating only white characters due to being conditioned by the industry to do so. Author and creator of imprint Rosetta Press, Zetta Elliott suggested that it is not about profit but about power instead. She struggled with getting funded and published for her books containing non-white characters so went through the self published route to show those in her community how they can be represented and become published themselves.
As with many publishing events, the major recurring theme of reading was prevalent. Nicola Sturgeon talked of her love of books, and the Editing Narrative Beginnings panel discussed the importance of a good book opening. It was lovely to once again be at an event filled with people passionate about publishing, and avid booklovers. The future all comes down to the importance of collaboration and encouraging young people to get involved. Supporting young people and providing opportunities for young voices to be heard is crucial in inspiring a generation of readers and creators that will carry on the important work that the publishing industry does.
Check out the tag #SYPVS on twitter to read more from those who attended and see photos from the event!