18 Weeks in Wales – Ann’s Internship Experience

After 18 weeks, our most recent intern Ann is leaving us and going back to Denmark. In this blogpost she looks back on her time here.

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As some of you may be aware, these past four months I’ve been doing an Erasmus+ internship at Parthian Books. The internship is part of my master’s degree in English back home in Denmark, and I hoped it would help further my career in publishing. I had not, however, expected to feel quite so at home at Parthian.

From the moment I was picked up at the airport, I was given a warm welcome and a whirlwind introduction to the company, the office, and the other members – I say ‘members,’ because ‘staff’ just never seemed to cut it. To me, Parthian has always felt rather like a not-so-exclusive club, a network of book lovers.

Books I got from Parthian - Day 1
When I arrived in the office one afternoon, I immediately had free books thrust at me with the instruction to “just grab a copy if you see anything you want.” You cannot say that to a notorious book hoarder.

As an intern, I was struck by the flat hierarchy and the way even a ‘lowly intern’ like myself was invited to participate actively in editorial meetings and encouraged to brainstorm ideas. It has been lovely to be given so much influence and responsibility and to be allowed to grow out of my comfort zone and into an active and valuable team member. My internship started in the not-so-busy season so there was plenty of time for me to learn the ropes and get a feel for the job.

I was based in the cosy, little Swansea office and assisted Maria and Eddie with marketing and administration. On a day-to-day basis this included managing the company’s Instagram and Goodreads accounts, assisting with Facebook and Twitter, updating the website, and writing about our books and events here on the Intern Blog. I also created three seasonal newsletters and played graphic designer as I created marketing-banners for our events and new releases. I learned about the struggles of InDesign and the importance of layers and resolution.

Faithful followers of this blog will know that I traveled far and wide on Parthian’s behalf. Camera and pen in hand, I attended several book-launches and literary events to promote our brilliant authors on social media. This also gave me the chance to practice my non-fiction writing, and I am grateful to Richard and Eddie for all their insightful feedback, which has helped me hone my skills.

Ann and Maria at Eisteddfod Caerdydd
I had great fun at the Eisteddfod 2018, offending people with my lack of Welsh.

My Danish language skills and knowledge of the Danish publishing industry came in handy when Parthian decided to buy the translation rights for a Danish novel. This decision was actually made before I even came along, but what a fortuitous development. So, I got to reading; my first time reading a Danish novel with a view to publishing. A lot was at stake here, right? I had to make sure this novel was representative of my home country and fit for my new, albeit temporary, home here in Wales. And it was, luckily, so we got negotiations going.

When it became apparent that I was interested in editing, too, Richard gave me plenty of opportunities to try my hand at the editorial side of publishing. This didn’t just mean screening new manuscripts and writing reader reports, though. I also proof-read, commented and did light copy-editing on some of our works in progress; a task I was happy to be trusted with. There is a special kind of feeling to reading unfinished books for the first time – you really get to see the work in progress, and all the time you imagine what it will be like as a finished, printed book. Having loved books all my life, this little insight into book magic was especially valuable to me.

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My internship was very versatile, and they allowed me plenty of opportunities to try everything out at least once to help me better understand in which parts of publishing I preferred working. I ended up loving every little bit of it, though.

As such my Parthian internship has been an amazing learning experience, and it has helped me grow in so many ways, both as an employee, as an aspiring publisher, and as a person. For these opportunities I am very grateful.

A Danish Trip to the Eisteddfod

Our Danish intern Ann D. Bjerregaard writes about her experiences at the national Eisteddfod in Cardiff august 2018.

Our intern Ann writes about her experience of the National Eisteddfod and muses on the idea of Welshness.

Ann D. Bjerregaard & Richard Davies at the Eisteddfod, Cardiff 2018

This week, I spent two days at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

One of the things that was most immediately impressed upon me was how foreign I felt. I speak English fluently, and up until now, I had not had to deal with many language or cultural barriers, but at the Eisteddfod I was a total stranger. Everywhere, I was surrounded by people and signs speaking a language I had no idea how to decipher. These people didn’t necessarily peg me as a foreigner right away, and so I had more than the usual number of awkward encounters of “Sorry, I don’t speak Welsh” and “Pardon?”

So I went and bought a Welsh-English pocket dictionary, which quickly became a treasured possession. Suddenly, I could understand (somewhat) all the cariad, hiraeth and croeso that I saw everywhere on merchandise and souvenirs. My fourth Welsh word was bin sbwriel, courtesy of the kind people from Mermaid Quay who laboriously labelled everything.

Cymraeg T-shirt Eisteddfod
Cymraeg – probably the oldest living language in Europe”

In the mostly non-Welsh speaking south Wales, Cardiff Bay became a haven for Welsh, a tiny enclave of adamant Welshness. It was quite interesting to witness, especially given my academic interest in identity politics. I particularly enjoyed the Welsh-speaking kids’ events and seeing how much energy was spent on keeping the children interested in learning Welsh or giving the native Welsh speakers the equivalents of all the English language paraphernalia of childhood such as talking toys, posters and wall hangers. Had I doubted it before, this would certainly have convinced me that Welsh is very much a living language – not some antiquated relic that is being artificially sustained. It was a joy to be a part of.

Parthian had a lovely little stand in the Craft in the Bay area, where many of their titles were beautifully on display. Richard Davies, Parthian’s managing director, said I could just take a book if I liked it, but of course that was too much responsibility to handle for a book hoarder like myself, so I decided not to tempt myself. It was interesting to see the books in the ‘flesh,’ so to speak, as I am so used to only looking at the cover photos on a screen. It made the whole Parthian-business much more tactile and real, somehow.

Parthian's stand Cardiff 2018
Parthian’s stand at the Eisteddfod with neighbouring Firefly Press

During my visits, I saw how the Parthian stand became a meeting point for Parthian-lovers and Welsh literati alike, and I began to realise just how vast a literary network Parthian is a part of and how much the Parthian people do to sustain it. I also had the pleasure of meeting some authors and most of the Parthian team during the Parthian Get Together Friday evening. It was a nice introduction to the co-workers I don’t see every day.

I had an enlightening two days in Cardiff. It was a memorable experience, and one that truly showed me the depth of some Welsh experiences. After a month and a half in Swansea, I’ve felt that on the surface the city is rather like the rest of the United Kingdom. It wasn’t till I came to the Eisteddfod and saw the numerous stands and events that I could really begin to understand what people mean when they talk of Wales. Here, I saw the things that were highlighted about Welshness and national pride such as flags, dedicated literary talks, Welsh catchphrases printed on T-shirts, local and souvenir crafts and Welsh food and cakes.

Of course, the culture of a country is more than what can be found in a souvenir shop, and I can’t wait to delve deeper into the idea of Wales.

 

 

Internship Experiences at Parthian – Eva and Owen

[Originally published on the Parthian website, June 13, 2017.]

Former Parthian interns Eva Queguiner and Owen Locke write about their experiences at Parthian; the jobs they were given and how they found the placements.

Eva Queguiner

I am currently in my final year at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO) in France, where I studied languages (English, Spanish) and international commerce. As part of my course, I needed to find an internship in a company abroad. During three months at Parthian Books, I learned a lot about the publishing industry as well asabout my personal skills. Parthian looks to find each intern’s individual abilities and therefore it distributes work according to each person.

Over the three months, I had the opportunity to undertake a diverse range of assignments and tasks that suited me well, such as reading manuscripts and writing reader reports to help editors ascertain the quality of each manuscript and whether to move forward with publication. I also helped to promote events by updating the Parthian website and their various social media pages.  However, one of the duties that I enjoyed most is the creation of graphic presentations with page layout software applications such as InDesign. The first page layout project on which I worked is the book launch of Cheval 10, a collection of poetry and short stories from the entrants of the Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award 2017. To promote this event, I was responsible for the creation of an electronic poster advertising the book, which was displayed throughout the university on the interactive screens.

I also participated in diverse literary events such as the London Book Fair, the Hay Festival and a book sale in the picturesque village of Llandeilo. It was a great opportunity to travel throughout Wales and the UK and discover a culture different from my own. Indeed, it was the first time I travelled in a foreign country and Swansea was a warm and welcoming place to live.

Overall, this internship at Parthian was an enjoyable experience, personally and professionally, that give me the opportunity to understand how a small independent publisher works and to discover the culture of Wales. I am grateful to Parthian for this great experience.

 

Owen Locke

I’ve spent an amazing few weeks with Parthian, and it’s tough knowing that soon it will cometo an end. It will be strange not coming into the office every morning, setting up my computer and waiting for another day to just fly by. It will be so weird not having a dozen tabs open to a dozen social media feeds at one time. And it will be hard not having whole days of bookish activity and conversation ahead of me, to be indulged in with people who, after only a short amount of time, have come to be my friends. But, despite my sadness at the thought of leaving, I’m coming away with so much excellent experience and so many happy memories from my time at Parthian, and that’s what I’m here to tell you about.

The Parthian Marketing and Editing Office is situated at the centre of Swansea University’s Singleton campus, and as I am a Swansea University student looking at a career in publishing, this was the perfect chance to gain some experience in the industry. The Employability Office here at Swansea is always e-mailing us with opportunities to enhance our CV’s, and this was an opportunity that really caught my eye. I applied without delay, and before I knew it, I was being sent a task to complete: a blog post to write and ways in which to market the post online. It was an excellent way to get a flavour of what we would be asked to do on the placement; I finished and submitted the piece faster than anything I’ve done before, and from there, all I could do was keep my fingers crossed! I was invited to interview and, meeting the wonderful people working at Parthian and seeing their lively office, I knew this was the perfect place to gain some publishing experience.

My application was successful and suddenly I was sat in the Parthian office, amazed to be there. My supervisors were fantastic: they gave clear instructions, offered help whenever it was needed and maintained a constant stream of tea and coffee. They were also incredibly flexible when it came to my timetable: the placement fell on the eve of my final exams and they were more than happy to accommodate my study and exam schedules to ensure I achieved good results, as well as a first-class experience in the office.

Assigned a range of tasks in different areas of marketing and editing, I began to get a feel for what I did and didn’t like in the publishing game. I’ll never be a designer, as I learned when making a poster for an upcoming event, but my passion will always be writing, and so I was set to work managing the company’s social media accounts, updating their blog and submitting reader’s reports of the manuscripts that crowded the desks and the mailbox! My supervisor made sure I was always doing something I enjoyed and that each job played a true role in the day’s work. There was no mindless photocopying or throwaway tasks for the interns: everything I worked on influenced the company. A particularly proud moment for me was when an idea of mine – a social media campaign centred on International Coffee Day – was given the go-ahead. Having that sort of true effect on the work Parthian does only drove me to work harder.

Another facet of working for Parthian were the events they hold to showcase their authors andtheir work. Getting to attend book signings and literary festivals which featured Parthian authors was a privilege I never envisaged when applying. These events stretched from Swansea to Llansteffan, Hay-on-Wye to Fishguard; I couldn’t attend them all, but those I missed felt like missed opportunities. Parthian was always offering me new skills and ways to be a part of the publishing industry, and being able to be a part of and to attend these events, was an amazing experience.

All good things must come to an end, or so the cliché goes, but I wish my placement at Parthian would keep going and going. I’ll never forget the skills, experiences and contacts I was introduced to during my time there, no more than I will forget that cosy and chaotic office and the amazing friends I made there. If you get the chance of a placement at Parthian: take it. I promise you: you will not regret it.

An Intern’s Experience of the Llandeilo Book Festival

[Originally published on the Parthian website, May 08, 2017.]

Former Parthian intern Emily Wood writes about her internship experience with us, and about attending the Llandeilo Book Festival.

As a Parthian intern, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Llandeilo Book Festival on 29 April. Being the first literary event I’ve attended during my time with Parthian, it was not only a great chance to learn more about Parthian’s publications but also provided me with the possibility of meeting other publishers, both from other publishing houses as well as self-publishing authors.

If you were at the book fair, you may have seen me on the Parthian/Library of Wales stall in the Civic Hall with other Parthian colleagues, promoting our collections and selling a wide range of literary delights from the Parthian catalogue!

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The book fair provided an excellent opportunity to see the wide variety of literature being created and published in Wales. There was something for everyone; from historical fiction to thrillers, from fantasy to children’s books and poetry. It was brilliant to be able to talk to authors who were so passionate about their work and who were so eager to encourage reading and the discovery of new literature amongst readers of all ages!

Being a linguist and current Welsh learner, a particular highlight for me was being able to purchase literature published in the Welsh language and practice conversing with Welsh speakers.

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Llandeilo book fair is organised by Carmarthenshire author, Christoph Fischer who has said that the idea of the fair is to showcase the writing talents of the Welsh writing community and provide authors with an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

If you didn’t have the chance to go this year, then it’s definitely an event you will want to put in your calendar for next year!

 

Emily is an intern with Parthian’s Marketing and Editing office in Swansea. She obtained a BA in European Studies with French and Spanish and an MA in Interpreting and Translating from the University of Bath. After deciding on a career change, Emily is now studying for an MA in International Journalism at Swansea University. In her spare time she likes reading, practicing yoga and still works as a freelance translator and copywriter. She is passionate about European literature and film and hopes that these interests will feature in her future career.

Jantine’s Internship Experience

[Originally published on the Parthian website, November 21, 2016.]

Former Parthian intern Jantine Broak writes about her four months spent in Wales, and the opportunities and tasks that she experienced with us.

My time at Parthian Books has been brilliant. As soon as I got the green light for my internship, they were concerned with giving me a thoroughly enjoyable working experience, picking out duties that suited me and engaging me with projects via e-mail before I arrived. The moment I stepped into the office on a predictably rainy morning, I was steeped in Welsh hospitality and given cakes, tea, and a pile of Welsh literature to take home to read. Over the next three months, I had some very diverse duties: writing press releases and assisting with the marketing campaign for Stand Up and Sock It to Them Sister, meeting with authors, blogging for the website and writing newsletters, creating promotional flyers and booklets, and writing reader reports for manuscripts that arrived on our doorstep. A bit of everything, really, and as my master’s was in editing, I was happily given plenty of opportunities to proofread, correct and oversee the various stages of the production of manuscripts. They were happy to hand over the reins, giving me plenty of responsibilities and learning opportunities. Communication (and the coffee machine) were sometimes erratic, but it was all part of the spontaneous and slightly chaotic environment of a small publishing house.

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In the meantime, I travelled to literary festivals all over the country that featured Parthian’s books, including Gwyll Aral in north Wales, Penfro in the west, the National Eisteddfod and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It was a wonderful opportunity to see as much of the UK, and mainly of Wales, as I could. My coworkers and friends gave me the full Welsh treatment, taking me out for drinks at the ubiquitous pubs, making sure I ate enough cawl and cheddar, and introducing me to the Welsh literary canon. If you’re not familiar with the works of Dylan Thomas when you arrive in Swansea, you will be soon enough. On weekends I took the bus to the gorgeous Gower peninsula, just an hour away from Swansea, to enjoy the unspoiled Welsh beaches, forests, cliffs, and castle ruins, walking sections of the Wales Coast Path and on my way back stopping in Mumbles for one of their famous ice creams. I visited vibrant Cardiff a number of times, which is only an hour away by bus or train, and on hot summer days (of which there were at least five!) I was happy to dip my toes into the ocean in Swansea Bay, which practically reached to the doorstep of the office on the university campus.

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Overall, Parthian have been a huge help in giving me necessary experience in publishing, introducing me to many interesting people in the field, and making sure I got to taste everything on the menu—not just editing, but also marketing and administrative tasks. It has been an absolute pleasure to contribute to their catalogue and do my bit to raise the profile of Welsh literature.  Furthermore, it was great to dive into the Welsh literary canon and learn more about the history of Wales, which, undeservingly, is little discussed outside of Wales itself. I’m very grateful for the warm welcome and the equally warm goodbye party they gave me, and hope to continue to keep in touch with them in the future.

I’ve written more about the things I got up to during my internship on my blog, jantinebroek.wordpress.com. For more info about the work I did for Parthian and my services as an editor, copywriter and translator, visit my website, fabulatextservices.wordpress.com.