Sunday, December 14, 2008

End of the semester crash

As of Friday, I'm on holidays. I hadn't realized how exhausted I was until I finally crashed yesterday and spent most of the day asleep. I'm still tired right now even though I went to bed early and woke up later than my usual.

Looking back at the semester, I realize just how far the lecturers have gotten us. I started the semester thinking one year was not enough to be any good at this. Now though, I realize I know more about certain aspects of publishing than my supervisors at work and I understand pretty much everything else that's going on, why they do certain things etc. I also have a decent knowledge of marketing (although I really do not enjoy doing that kind of work and will not go into that if I can help it) and I notice the clever things other people do to get you to buy their stuff. In fact, it's kind of taken over my brain. I'm always spotting things I tell myself "I gotta remember that for when I'm working". It's evil. I also know about production, how to order a book, what paper and what kind of press should be used etc., stuff most people in publishing don't know or care about because they have other people to do it for them.
And finally, I know how to make a book look good.

One of our project this semester was to design a non-fiction fashion book. I was skeptical at first. We'd never studied design before, let alone book design, were just learning the basics of Adobe InDesign and didn't exactly know what was expected of us. We had a look at all the projects on friday and it was AMAZING! Everyone's work was professional and the look fit the purpose of the book. You had all sorts of styles from the traditional, discreet catalogue to gorgeous, striking and elaborate. Some people had a very classy, discreet look and other very modern, eye-explosion stuff.
We're going to get a CD with all the projects to have a look at. I am really impressed with how far we have come in less than 4 months.

I'm slowly realizing that I know enough to completely create a book from scratch all by myself. Not a lot of people, in publishing even, can do that. This is really a very well rounded program and although I often complained about having to take marketing when I don't want to go into that, I can see why Brookes students get hired so easily. We have a good knowledge of what everyone else does and how hard/labor intensive it can be and makes us better at collaborating.

I'm really looking forward to next semester, starting in 02/09. I'm taking the mandatory "New Product Development" and two electives, Children's Publishing and Digital Media Publishing. It should be really interesting.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reader response to the Green publishing post

Going through my spam infested inbox today, I came across a response to a past post about the environment and publishing. I'm reposting it here in the hopes that we can have a discussion about the topic which interests me enough that I'll be doing my dissertation/major project on it.


Hi Chantal,
I've just been reading your blog and tried posting a reply, but being the non-blogging luddite that I am I decided that email was easier anyway!
I was also at that seminar (I was the one asking about the impact of ink and water usage). What struck me as surprising is the seeming acceptance of inaccurate print runs. In all my experience of publishing, including a few yeas of postgrad study in Australia, I've learned that getting your print runs right first time is a crucial factor to running an economically viable publishing business. In the old days of printing from film it used to be much cheaper to do a short print run and then do a reprint when your stock ran out. Nowadays with computer-to-plate (CTP) processes it costs much more to do a reprint because the plates have to be reproduced.
What we were taught in my postgrad program is that a smart publisher gets their print runs right first time - don't print too many or too few. Pulping also costs money, and is obviously a huge waste, and I'm quite surprised to hear that it may be common practice (maybe it is here in the UK more than Australia). If publishers want to be good, they have to do their research before they sign off on their final print run. Pulling numbers out of thin air is not good business practice. Researching the market and knowing that you can sell every single copy of your print run is good business practice.
Perhaps pulping should be more expensive, or perhaps should be penalised more. Perhaps publishers/editors who end up pulping their stock because they've printed too many should be penalised by having their performance bonuses reduced.
There are many things we can do to make a difference (even if it's only a small difference; it's better than sitting back complaining and doing nothing).

Good luck with your publishing career (and studies).



Now that our classwork revolves around calculating costs, I understand what you mean about the cost of plates. It is pretty high and printing more seems to be almost always more economical than printing less. I think most people would rather just overestimate the number of copies they can sell rather than run the risk of missing out on sales when booksellers run out of stock.

I like the idea of coming up with some kind of punishment for waste although I don't know how it would be enforced fairly. Everyone will be trying to assign blame somewhere else, "the publisher overestimated the number", "the bookseller didn't do their part in the marketing process" etc. I think people won't try hard enough until they care about it for their own sake/conscience. I guess I'm still very naive :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

End of the Semester funk

I've been feeling horrible for most of the past 2 days. I skipped only one class though and managed to make it through yesterday's without being seriously unhappy. Then something like two hours of work in the Publishing IT room.

Time is running out (we have only two weeks left!) and we have a lot of group projects to hand in. Yesterday, I went to work early and finished putting in the pictures for our Design group's InDesign project. The assignment was to design a fashion book and my group picked Ethical Fashion. I was skeptical about our work at first but it's really come together. I did the page layout and inserted the pics. It's more work than it sounds really. However, there are two girls in my group (we're 4) who have very dominant personalities and basically they've taken over most of the work. They're not really teamworkers. Trouble is, we have to write a little about what we each did... It's not that I wasn't willing to do my share it's just that one of them stole most of my share. At least stuff gets done. There are groups out there who are way behind whereas we're practically done. It still is the most unpleasant of our projects (well, not counting marketing, haven't even started that yet!) but it's crazy how far we've come! It actually looks professional! Not very experienced maybe but definitely pro.

I can design a book!

In editorial class, we have to come up with a book proposal as if we were editors in some established UK company. We picked Random House because we wanted to do a book by Jacqueline Wilson. Easy you say. Not so much :) We picked something somewhat risky and interesting but that could pay big. A sex ed book for 9-11 year-olds. This is more like group work in that we each have a task we're expected to complete. Some work harder than others because they're more interested and it's coming a little bit slower than design but at least I don't dread every meeting (and it has nothing to do with my boyfriend being in the group). I have to do the costings. How many books should we print? How much of an advance do we offer the author? What percentage of royalties? How profitable is it likely to be? etc. Basically, is it worth the expense of using an author as expensive as Jacqueline Wilson?

It's very interesting but fairly labor intensive. I've been trying to get into the Nielsen BookScan online database but my name and password aren't working. A lot of people have been having trouble with the thing but it's got almost everything you could ask for, money wise anyway.

I also spent yesterday pm after class helping boyfriend out with photoshopping the cover art he made for the project. He doesn't know photoshop and I'd been using it for years. I'm no great digital artist but I can fiddle ok and they are looking better than okay if I may say so myself! He was geeking out on his covers :D More points for me, I hope.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Answering Questions

I'm posting here a conversation I had through Facebook (oh, how I love thee Fb!) with Julie (check out her very informative comment on Books Don't Need to be Perfect, btw). She's currently an editor in South America considering coming to Oxford Brookes. Welcome to the blog Julie, hope you stay, I'd love your insight into the realities of working in publishing, in South America or elsewhere :D


Hi Chantal. It's nice to hear from another south american young publisher :P ((Chantal: I am half Uruguayan))

I have lots, and lots, and lots of questions, the first one (two in fact) would be the obvious one(s): why did you go to Brookes? Why an MA in Publishing?
Oh, I am not sure if you want to write in spanish or english, so I just did in english, but whichever one is ok for me.

Thank you for your kind answer :)


To answer your questions, I've been meaning to go into publishing for at least the past five years (that's why I did my B.A. in English). [...] I figured with an M.A. I'd probably get interviews fairly automatically, not to mention better paid. The M.A. shows commitment and it counts as serious work experience too.

I looked up other places like City University London. I got interviewed as well. In the end though, Brookes won out because the lecturer who interviewed me was very informative, the program sounded great (they help you get work experience, seriously, within the first 2 weeks I was working at a local small publisher!), the lecturers are all currently working in the industry, they have guests over all the time and it's in Oxford ;) I found out when I got here that Brookes' is pretty much the best publishing program in the country and one of the best in the world too. Some of my coursemates are working for HarperCollins, Oxford University Press and other big names. The classes are very practical with one half being theory and the other all practice.

The price is steep for sure especially if you don't have a student loan (I don't) but I definitely don't regret it. Everything about England is expensive but I'm finding once you get into the rhythm of things, you can manage.

From a more human side of things, I've never been as happy as I am here. Yeah, there's some downsides (like costs and being away from family and friends) but the people in my course are so much fun. Everyone is very nice and although there's starting to be a couple of conflicts between some people (sometimes it's a downright "telenovela"), we go out together a lot, we can talk comfortably, we even help each other out when someone has financial problems. It's like nothing I'd ever gone through before. The lecturers are very friendly and available and hilarious (some of them make us laugh all through class). They're a little quirky sometimes (if you come and meet Leander you'll see what I mean :D) I honestly think OBU is the best choice when it comes to publishing programs.

From what you say I guess in South America is easier to get a job in publishing than in Europe (that kind of scares me, hehe). I got my current job without even meaning to, without even knowing what I was getting myself into. However, there are indeed fewer publishing houses. But there are also a lot of different kinds of always-available freelance jobs (translations, proofreading, evaluation of new material), and if you know the right people you'll almost always be required as a freelancer. Anyway, I am on the "lucky" side of the permanent staff of a publishing house, so I don't have to worry if there's job available or not :)

Which leads me to ask: what kind of work experience (what kind of tasks) have you had in Brookes? For how long? Are they paid? Are they compulsory for the masters?

Also, which of the masters are you taking? Why? I see at the website that there are different paths, like European Master in Publishing, Publishing and Language, International Publishing, etc, etc. It's kind of confusing to tell which one would be suitable for me (something related to language sounds perfect, but all of them are soooo appealing :P).

I started at the end of september at a small academic publisher. I'm doing mostly marketing there, every monday 9-5. What you'll be asked to do depends on the where you're working but everyone's been talking about lately about how they give us an aweful lot of responsibility for interns and they ask for and trust our judgement.

Work experience isn't paid but most of them will reinburse any traveling fees (bus etc) to and from work. Mine even pays for my lunch :) They're not compulsory and I know plenty of people aren't doing any but they are highly recommended. Of course, since you already work at a publisher, you don't really need more experience.

I'm doing the simple "M.A. in Publishing". The others are interesting but I plan on staying in the UK or go to North-America afterwards anyway. They're all good and really, mostly the same. Right now, semester 1, we're all doing our classes together. In semester 2, those in European etc have 1 module that's compulsory to them that my group doesn't have. It's really the only difference.

One last question that I thought of today: what about entrepreneurs? are there any students whishing to stablish their own publishing houses? Any special approach that you've seen?

Oh, there are quite a few who would like to start their own publishing house someday. Not right at the end of the M.A. I think but after they have some experience.

One of the girls in the course runs her own charity in Africa and is doing the course so she can use it to support it. Oh, now that I think about it there is one person who's studying so she can open her own company in Macedonia but she's been working in publishing for a long time.

Honestly, we learn so much, we could probably handle a small publishing house on our own but experience is really important so I don't think we'd do it so well. Better to work for someone else for a while.

Julie has a blog (in Spanish) at in which she sometimes posts the funny things that happen to her as an editor.
I know I haven't posted about the paper issue. Sorry! In my defense though, I found a chapter of a book that ties in really well with that lecture. I'll read it through and come up with a decent post that's extra informative to make up for it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paper, it is clearly evil

I'm writing to you as a way to procrastinate on the incredibly annoying production cost estimate exercise I woke up early to do. It is evil if only for that. I believe in sleeping until noon at least, of course, I haven't actually been able to do that since the beginning of the semester. Have you ever gone to a real crazy Halloween party, gotten completely pissed and then waking up at 8 am anyway?

It's not human.

Basically, I'm coming up with an estimate of how much it would cost to produce a particular book in a certain number of copies. I'm doing 8000, 12500 and 16000. It's all straightforward enough except when it comes to paper.

I have to calculate how much paper to buy and how much it will cost me except the prices on the sheet we've been given are per 1000 copies of a 320 page book. My book is 688 pages. Too many numbers for me to juggle!
Have I mentioned I failed every class in High School that involved numbers? (actually, there was this one year where I failed everything except P.E. That was a straaaange year...)

Speaking of paper, we had a pretty interesting lecture last week on paper and ecology. I'll write about it maybe later today. It's a little on the other side of the "paper : bad or okay" argument.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Books don't need to be perfect

I bet you authors are getting all angry at me for the title. Don't worry, as far as your part of the work goes, you don't have to change your work ethics. Make your manuscript as good as you can make it.

There are some reason why a book doesn't have to be worked to perfection by the editor and subsequent fiddlers. Well, one main reason anyway, MONEY! (bet you didn't see that one coming)
Editing, copyediting and proofreading take time and with a tight schedule, there can come a time when the editor says "screw this, send it to the printer". Writers get nervous about their manuscript and would probably go on editing and tweaking forever if their editor didn't stop them. During the copyediting (in which the content is edited) stage this is what's supposed to be done. However, the work moves on to proofreading stage after the typesetting. This stage is to fix miskeyings etc NOT CONTENT. The author gets to look at the proofs and mark mistakes however, unless there is a huge mistake in the content (like placing one country on the wrong continent), this is it, you don't change anything but the typos. Sorry, move on.

So: copyediting = content change
proofreading = typo repair

Depending on what type of book it is and how much it's going to cost at the end, the proofreader might do a more or less intense job. This is why you sometimes come across typos and nasty spelling errors, bad punctuation, rotated letters etc. when you're reading a book. It's not that the proofreader is bad or that the author sucks. It's just that it was decided that the book didn't need that kind of quality and investment. It's not that it's a bad book. It's just, as a reader, you expect certain novels to be at certain price. Well, we gotta get it to be that price and still make a profit, we spend too much on it, we're going to pass that on to you, the customer.

Oh, here's a little something I don't think most authors know. Of course, when your book is being published, the money should go towards the author. However, at proofreading stage, there is a small percentage of costs that are allowed for the author to make changes to content, once that bit of money is spent, the author can be asked to pay for any additional costs due to their changes in the text. This is to curb the authors natural instinct to play with their work. At this point, you just have to trust that it's as good as you're going to make it (this time around anyway). Nothing sleazy about the practice.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Maybe that's why I don't get a lot of traffic here...

I was just looking through site stats and one of the search terms that brought up my blog was "hotties Oxford".

I'm flattered I guess and it's not last month's "im dieing" but that's not the kind of people I'm hoping will read my blog :D

Heheh, I'm a hotty.

It's November! Yay!

Yes! It's NaNoWriMo!

I don't know why I get ridiculously excited about it when I'm not going to be participating (much). I love NaNoWriMo but this year there's too much work and a new boyfriend I'd rather not ignore for the sake of bad prose. Or maybe we could co-write a really bad, sappy romance novel... hmmm...

This has been reading week and it has not been relaxing in spite of not having classes. We had a value engineering exercise assigned. Value engineering is about as exciting as it sounds. Basically, it's all about calculating what happens to costs when you have longer or shorter print runs and when you pick certain formats and types of papers.

It's all very boring spreadsheets and Excel work.

However, it is interesting to see how the unit price of each book goes down when the number of books go up. Basically, the more books you print out, the lower the price of each individual book. And this is because there are set initial costs for setting up the printing equipment as well as set editorial costs which are what they are regardless of whether you print 10000 or 1000 books.

They look something like this: 850GBP for the first 1ooo copies

But then, for a certain amount extra (the run-on), the price is much lower, e.g. 35GBP per 1000 run-on.
The figures are examples only, there's no set amount as it depends on many factors such as paper, format, printer etc.

This is tricky in a way because although more books means you can sell each for less (usually good marketing-wise), you also have to pay more in advance before you see any money back from the book sales. It's a balancing act between how much you want to spend outright, how good a book you want to produce and what you want the retail price to be. I might post my spreadsheet after everyone's handed theirs in if anyone wants to see what it looks like and make their own conclusions from it.

It's really quite interesting but I was promised no maths and I was clearly lied to.

I think it might be informative for authors in particular as there are figures about royalties. They can also see who's really making money out of their prose (and it's not really the publisher, sadly).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ghosts in the Machines

I'm writing from a blog workshop I signed up for. It seemed appropriate. I have another post on marketing drafted, for Marian who thought they were interesting. Speaking of marketing, I have a test on it this afternoon. I actually studied for a change. It still doesn't mean I'll get a decent grade but as long as I pass, I'll be happy. I do have a massive headache but I think that might be from all the sugar I had yesterday, I don't react well to it. It feels like a bad hangovers.

So, as previously mentionned, I've been doing work experience on mondays. This week was my second time. The first week, I proofread some publicity sheets (basically a paper with the titles of books coming up to get people all excited about them), worked out some discounts on order forms and then...was asked to print and photocopy. There must be some sort of AI in charge of the machines at VF. I was working on a mac that froze and refused to save my files and when it did, it changed the name. The printer refused to print half the time and the photocopier... We ended up printing out 145 BAD copies of work I had updated but had not saved correctly. I was soooo embarassed. I also accidentally printed out 14 copies of something instead of 4. I might have killed a couple of forests.

This week though, work went beautifully all day. The mac was more cooperative although it froze a couple of times anyway (was it testing me? teasing me?). I did more publicity sheets and review requests. I did this for both the important series. I learnt that the distributor (ours is Marston something) gets a letter requesting them to send out free review copies. We include the letters to the reviewers and labels (and occasionally flyers) but the distributors send them with the book. On the more expensive series, we only sent out a small amount of free copies (totally 500£) and send letters and flyers to people who might be interested in reviewing and can contact us for copies.

I had everything I needed, the prints were perfect, I had all the signatures I needed and then...photocopying. The paper jammed and the woman who had to sign everything was gone. I panicked a little then manually smoothed the paper and phtocopied them again. The copies came out perfect. I had beat the machine! Then, I sent everything out to where it belonged with no guidance whatsoever. I'm so proud of myself. I didn't make any mistakes (I think). In fact, my bosses are somewhat impressed with my tech skills (I don't know how they got that idea).

I have to say it's very satisfying to be working on things that are actually needed and will go somewhere. Those pesky order forms from last week were all folded (by hand, by me) into flyers that were sent the next day to the US to a conference where most people will probably just toss them into the trash without a second thought. But hey, I may have sold a couple of books.

I mentionned to one of my bosses I was very interested in women's studies and women's history. She's decided we're going to come up with a project for me on it. She asked me to research it online whenever she's busy and I'm between tasks. Yes, I got myself more work. Also, I've asked for extra work experience for study week next week. I'll be working with the Bod on the Electronic Enlightenment project which is something of a partnership with VF. It sounds very interesting.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Marketing just for Marian :D

Last post on marketing for a little while :) I'll go on to other fascinating things like "the purpose of page numbers" or "what tables of content are for" or how "a book needs a spine". Yup, we talked about these in class.


Now that I've been doing some actual marketing work on mondays, the kind that someone will actually profit by, I'm starting to understand some things in a more instinctive way. Don't talk to me about PEST and SWOT and crazy spreadsheets though.
I've mostly been doing research, making sure the journals we mail review copies or review invitations too are appropriate for the book we're trying to sell. With a small academic publisher, the list is fairly small but it can be pretty confusing because there's a lot of crossover between subjects.
However, it is crucial that you send the right book to the right place. First, because you want them to be read by people who are interested in the subject, second because you don't want to send expensive books to people who will not review them (or return them). If your books is under 15 GBP, you have a bit of room but if the book is over 100GBP and your print-run is about 250 copies, every single one counts.

Even so, marketing is expensive. I mentioned in another post that for one of the books we do, we sent out 5 copies, totaling about 500GBP. Then there is the paper and all the fliers we sent out to conferences, the order forms (with discounts!), the going to the conferences... This is why authors can't be expected to do the marketing of their own books themselves. They play their part but there's only so much they can do and so far they can go. No publisher can survive by selling their books only in the immediate vicinity of the author. It wouldn't even make up the costs of printing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Books are made by marketers

So, as promised, a post about marketing. By the way, thanks to the people who have commented on recent posts, it's good to know the voices in my head aren't all imaginary. I've been thinking about the environment since the talk and I think I might do some more posts on that. It really bothers me that the world has to suffer so I can have my beloved books. I'm going to do some research first though. So, if you're interested in the subject, stick around.


Now, back to the topic at hand. Marketing.

At first I thought the practical side of selling books would be incredibly boring. I like the idea of brainstorming to come up with creative ideas to make people see why they should buy my product but the actual number juggling? Ew.

Learning about PEST and SWOT analyses has not helped to tell the truth (nor reading through a MINTEL report on publishing - dry and painful). But overall, it's not so bad. I find I can enjoy it on a different level (do not quote Joey Tribiani at me!). For the record, PEST stands for "political, environmental, social, technological" and SWOT is ... I forgot. I'll get back to you on that one. Basically, you find factors that affect your company and the product you're trying to sell, both external and internal.

Oh! SWOT is "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats". Go me!

Anyway, all of this is important because marketing basically is publishing nowadays. Supposedly, this doesn't mean it is the end of creativity and literary quality in favor of cash. Books compete with a lot of other more or less necessary (or made to seem so) products and unless publishing is really effective in its marketing, books will quickly be left behind. You don't need books to survive, even if us bookworms think so.

Marketing is customer driven. You concentrate on them and their needs and try to find what aspect of your product is going to convince them to shell out their money for it. Therefore, it can sometimes seem that marketing is all about pushing people to buy things unwillingly. This is not so. You can't sell someone something they really do not want. I'll quote Alison Baverstock's book "How to Market Books":

"Marketing is about offering:
- the right people
- the right product by saying
- the right things in
- the right way
- at the right time and
- in the right place."

Most of those are fairly self-explanatory. What is meant by "the right things" is that you don't list every single benefit to owning your product. Instead, you pick the few most relevant. Does it come with extra items (CD/CD-Rom etc)? Will it make you smarter/prettier/more popular? etc. And this has to be said "the right way". This means you have to figure out what will convey your message more clearly. Is it in a poster? With what type of font? Writing or images only?

All of this takes a ridiculous amount of research. First, on your product. What is it? What does it do? etc. Then, on the market. Who's your target audience? What do they need? How much money do they have? You have to know the market really well and this means doing the legwork. Go to bookstores and see what people are buying. Do online surveys or paper surveys to ask people's opinions. Get a focus group going (although this costs money and we don't like that in the industry ;) ) and surf the websites of your competition to see what they are doing and how to beat them.

I have some homework to do now. I'll post more on the subject if anyone is interested :)

The Three Marketeers

I like the word "marketeer", sounds exciting. Makes marketing sounds like it might be an adventure. I guess it is for the people who've chosen to make it their career. It seems interesting, don't get me wrong, but sooooo hard! How do they juggle so many things at once?

I'm about to find out, I suppose as I just got offered a work experience placement at a local small publisher which is going to be mostly marketing with some editorial. It'll be the first time in years that I do 9-5 and the first time at all that said hours are not school related. Oh yeah, I went to the interview yesterday, I was so nervous and unprepared but my secret superpower is looking more confident the less confident I feel. It's actually very useful as far as lame superpowers go.

Hopefully, I will be able to do the job. I didn't understand exactly what they were talking about when they were explaining the job. I guess I'll find out next monday (ugh, will have to wake up extra early to catch the bus).

Work experience is a great thing. Especially when you have never had any kind of job before, like me. The professors say that even without any, just going through the Brookes M.A. in Publishing will get us a job. "You will all get a job," she said. It's very encouraging and the stats say 96% of us get a job. I don't know what's up with the last 4%, did they die or something? With the epidemic of fresher's flu that's going on, I wouldn't be that surprised.

I have to go to have breakfast - er, change first, my jammies do not entirely cover all of that should be - and then class but I'll write more about marketing this afternoon unless the birthday/block party starts earlier than I expect. Yeah, studying publishing is so hard. There's all these parties to attend...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dirty little marks, Publishing and the Environment

Last Tursday, I attended a talk on "Greening your Publishing". The presentation was supposed to be about how you can make publishing more eco-friendly. Let's face it, it's one of the worst industries that way. I'm all for being greener even if I'm often too lazy to separate my trash. I do buy organic as much as possible and avoid wasting energy and water. It's a first step. I'll get better.

Anyway, I and most of the classmates that showed up were pretty dissapointed. The presentations didn't really propose anything new and there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the already employed audience and presenters. I understand that publishing is a business and that books are absolutely necessary or I wouldn't be studying this but trying to be eco-friendly is good. Token gestures to be politically-correct or for good PR is pointless. Basically what they were saying is "try to buy recycled paper or from legal wood farms but if it's too expensive, whatever, the buyers aren't going to care anyway".

We did learn a few interesting things though.

We had no idea just how much paper was involved in the publishing business. Obviously we knew it was a lot, duh, but what goes in books is only part of it. Aside from the obvious waste of paper in offices (unnecessary photocopies, printing etc), the practice is to print about twice as long a run as is likely to sell which means that half of the books printed end up being pulped. The problem is, once pulped, that paper can't be recycled into book grade paper again.

What do they do with those books? Sell them for cheap to tissue/toilet paper companies. In the words of one of our presenters, "I happen to know for a fact that we are XXXX loo paper." So now you know, you're wiping your bottom with someone's deathless prose.

There are some publishers making more of an effort than others, Earthscan is the leading publisher on all things environmental and apparently they're doing their best to be carbon neutral, whatever that really means for the environment.

POD might help though. There really is no need for gigantic print runs when you can do several small runs fast and affordably. We touched a little on ink but not much. One of the things they didn't discuss until someone asked was about water. Lots of talk of paper but no water. This brought out the fact that the paper industry is TERRIBLE for water. They are finding ways now to use the toxic remains of making paper but from what was not said, I assume it's not going great. Plus, there's the social aspect. A lot of paper is bought from poor Asian countries where people are displaced so they can grow more trees, everywhere ancient forests are cut down, companies illegally cut down trees they are not supposed to touch etc.

There are organisations that research companies and vouch for their practices but the problem is that the paper is expensive. Also, the term "recycled" paper is used for virgin paper that's gone through the process again and some companies "recycle" their own paper just to put the label on it and get an automatic pass.

We also learned that the price of paper is going up all the time. The world basically runs on it, think about it. Paper is everywhere and in everything. It takes a long time for a tree to grow and there are almost not enough of them to keep up. Publishing relies on paper so the more expensive it becomes, the less careful we're going to be about where we're getting it. Depressing.

Books are a necessity but so is nature. I promise I'll be as eco-conscious a publisher as I can. Publishing isn't the whole guilty party though, paper is much more important to us than to many other industries. If they would please lower their consumption of it, maybe there'll be more of it (and the good kind) for the rest of us?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Long Tail

In Marketing class we also talked about "Long Tail" Marketing. You can read the original article by clicking here.

Basically, the author of the article is saying that there is more money to be made from online sales of non-hits than there is to be made from hits. His thinking is that although they are priced lower, there are so many of them you can't help but make a profit. Of course, this requires you to have plenty of bandwith and memory but that's fairly nonexpensive in comparisson to the kind of money there is to be made.

Hits make a lot of money at first but only about 20% of everything produced will be a hit. The rest will die pretty quickly and soon be out of print or otherwise unavailable. Stores like Amazon though, make pretty much everything there is available and with POD (print on demand) there is no reason for anything to ever be "out of print" again. Tools like the product recommendation program pull customers towards similar products and they become aware of less mainstream interests.

We didn't discuss this much in class although I wish we had. I'm not entirely clear with the article so I don't agree or disagree with it at this point. It seems to make sense, for music anyway. As for books, I'm not convinced at all and I don't think anyone else was either. It would be a good way to fill certain niches as the internet doesn't require people to be within a certain distance of a brick and mortar store but I think most people still prefer to buy their books from a physical store and have it immediately. They'll also tend to make more impulse buys in an actual store than online.

I think most everyone agrees going to an actual bookstore is nicer (but then go and buy online like I just did - hey! textbooks are expensive!)

There's something attractive to the idea of "everything is always available", from the buyer PoV anyway. But where does that leave quality? If you can afford to offer everything in the "off-chance it will find a buyer", then there's very little need for people such as editors and agents who separated the wheat from the chaff. I don't think it would be much good for authors either. When you're associated with crap, people assume you're crap too whether it's true or not.

So... thoughts? Comments? Explanations on how LT marketing really works?

4 Ps

The second class was Marketing Management. Well, not entirely true. We had an Excel workshop in the morning. The workshop was ok, not the most fun software to play with but a good refresher for those of us who haven't used it in years.

The most important thing we learned in the intro marketing class were the 4 "P"s. Product, Price, Place, Promotion.

What is marketing?

"Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying custormer requirements profitably." - (Chartered Institute of Marketing).

You have to find a need that you can fill adequately.

During the production driven era, you had to make do with what there was (e.g. only black cars were produced so you got a black car). During the marketing era though, things are driven by the customer's needs and wants. The focus is on the buyer and products have to fit the customer's lifestyle and provide a need and benefits. It's the beginning of diferentiation. Customer Relation Marketing is driven by loyalty and customer reltions. Meaning, try to hold on to your customers for as long as possible. Keep them coming back. An example we were given in Amazon. The "people who bought this also bought" feature can be a powerful marketing tool, when it works. Amazon recommendations don't always suit the customer.

Timing is very important in marketing. When a book hits the stores can determine whether it lives or dies. Obviously Christmas is very important but apparently, a lot of publishers have become a little rigid in that are and forget there are occasions for book selling throughout the year. If you miss the right moment, you're pretty much screwed. I better work on my scheduling skills.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's an editor got to do?

This week's Editorial class was mainly intro. So there isn't an aweful lot here you won't have already read about in other people's blogs or websites. Still, I thought it was good to hear it again from my professors.

The editorial process begins with an idea. The OED defines "idea" as:

I. General or ideal form as distinguished from its realization in individuals; archetype, pattern, plan, standard.

Yes, they used "ideal" in the definition, just goes to show the OED is starting to lose touch. The idea might come from the editor or an author or even someone else. Once there is an idea, it needs to be put into motion. If the idea comes from the editor, s/he will need to decide whether it's worth turning it into a book. There are a lot of great ideas but not all of them would turn a profit and that's what an industry, any industry, is about. Sometimes, you just have to sacrifice it either because you don't have the ressources or there's no market for it.
If the idea's good, then the editor will look for an author to write it. This is commissioning. Then, the author sends a manuscript to the editor and the long process of making it the best it can be starts. This process involves a lot of people in a lot of departments.
If the idea comes from the author and an editor decides to take it, then it's called acquisition. But you already knew that, right? ;)

It is important to build relationships. A good relationship with the author, with other people in your company as well as outside the company (freelancers etc) are crucial. The editor has to be the champion of a book within the company after all s/he will have to fight for the book to be published so they must really believe in it. There are very big risks taken in publishing. Imagine you offer a huge advance to a celebrity for their biography then that biography doesn't earn out? That's a lot of money lost right there. Or you commission a book that should sell like hot baguettes in a Paris boulangerie but the process is delayed for whatever reason and the book is published a little too late and...doesn't earn out?

An editor needs to know to know a lot of things and juggle them deftly (hence why I'm considering joining the circus society, hardeehar). Obviously, the market is one of them. You'd be surprise how disconnected you can actually be from the market. You think you know what's selling lately but you're likely to be wrong. You have to do your research. What is the need you can fill? You either have to guess right or react very quickly.

You also have to know about trends. Sometimes it's good to publish for a trend but remember somethings become over done very quickly like tragic childhood memoirs, and , IMO, vampires (but the damned bloodsuckers are getting a revival now, we'll never be rid of them will we?). Sometimes, you'll do your research and see there's a market where there is no competition. Sometimes this means "brilliant untapped niche market!" and sometimes it means "there ain't no money here".

So if you want to be an editor, you have to be creative, imaginative, patient (publishing is slowwww), have a thick skin, good with people, dedicated and financially aware, you know, among other things.
Oh, and... you fail more often than not. Kind of like being a writer I guess. Except the writer doesn't stand to lose a couple tens of thousands.

Week 1 summary

*downs a cup of hot Blackberry & Nettle tea*

Well, that was the end of week one and I feel remarkable more evil. Well, not a lot more evil but some. I've been to the pub more times than I can count, got incredibly drunk once and did a lot of stupid things (I wish I could say I'll never drink again but it would be a lie). Basically, I'm really enjoying myself. Pub quizzes are fun, my team almost won but were definited in the last two rounds. We still got a lot of free beer and a fiver. Pretty lame but better than nothing. Another course team got the 45.

Here's one thing that is incredibly annoying. Money goes really, really fast. I spend as little as possible but somehow, the money just zooms by. Also, I can't seem to get a job. Some of my course mates managed to get a job within the week, I haven't even been called back for an interview. What jobs there are are pretty lame with low pay and either too many hours or not enough. It would still be enough to eat on but the hours are mostly all wrong for my schedule.

We've had a couple or really lovely sunny days. Yes, just after google announced it was officially autumn *grin*. UK weather is being rebellious. Still, the trees are starting to redden a bit but they are mostly green. I have a pretty nice view from my room window. Did I mention I have a private bathroom? Well, it bears repeating, except, of course, I have to keep it clean myself. Nothing is ever easy, is it?

Anyway, in more interesting news, all my classes were very interesting. It still looks very challenging but incredibly exciting as well. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to be doing this. I figure I'll write one post per class, detailing what we learned and so on.

The classes are: Editorial Management, Marketing, Design and Production (split into two). In between, we have some extra lectures occasionally and IT workshops.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Already hard at work

Er...I just found a draft for this post. It's all the way back from week 1. I don't know how I missed it :)

So, we've already got homework to do although classes haven't really started yet. We've been put into groups (my group's name is "Rush", I kinda like "Devil Bones" better though) and we had to go visit bookstores and check out what they're doing to sell their books, how they organize the store etc. We each went to visit one store (it seems like we're the only ones who thought of splitting up). I took the Oxford University Press bookshop on High Street.

I find it fairly interesting since it sells books by just one publisher. I went there on thursday since it was the only weekday I had free and spent a good while just roaming. Funny how much you notice when you actually start looking.

They have their dictionary series right at the entrance of the store along with with ELT books. Everyone knows the Oxford English Dictionary after all. The shorter version (because the full one is many volumes long) was set on a pedestal, heheh. Then you have textbooks and sexy subjects like physics and other sciences. It was a little harder to find the English and Linguistic sections in a more crampes, low-ceilinged lower floor for some reason.

Most of their sales are to tourists, professors and Oxford University students and they have books on every subject imaginable it seems so no wonder they do alright for themselves. They don't really have an online store though which I found strange.

I have a loooong list of things I noticed at the shop. I wonder what sort of things I've missed and will come out in class on wednesday.

This past wednesday and friday we had computer workshops. Excel was boring but informative. I know how to use it basically but it was good to have a refresher course on it. The more interesting one was the workshop on InDesign. We made a very simple brochure for some books which took us through the basic functions and then we converted it into a pdf.

Friday evening we had a pub golf tour with the Oxford SYP (Society of Young Publishers). It was a lot of fun but I think next time I will drink less. I was acting very silly towards the end but my team won! Woooo! We were 2 Americans, 1 Canadian and little French ol' me so winning a booze contest was a matter of honor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And we're off!


Today was Induction/Enrolment day. I was a little worried that something would go wrong at the last minute (as it usually does) but everything went super smoothly. I met up with people I had met at a pub outing and then again on monday when we had a Chinese buffet dinner (we owned that restaurant that night!).

I have to say, I'm very happy with my classmates! I've never been very comfortable talking to people but today, I was a perfect socialite. I talked to everyone! I was really comfortable with all these people. It felt perfectly natural to start chatting with someone I had never seen as if we were old friends.

The day started in the Buckley Building which houses the publishing center. It's a very modern building, all glass and white painted metal on Headington Road. I got there very early so I helped Ros Ockwell, the Senior Tutor, set up the cookies and booklets. Good cookies.

The room was fairly packed with all the Publishing programs students as well as art students (not that many of them really). They dissappeared after a while to go do their own things. Claire (with an "i") talked a while. She's really quite funny and...she quoted some silly things I'd said on the facebook group, which goes to show you really do have to be careful what you say online. It was the best thread ever, I was in tears reading it.

We laughed a lot during the prof's presentations. One of the more important things we learned today was that there is Claire and then there is Clare. Or the i-less Clare, if you will. This is crucial to our success at Brookes.

I won't bore you with a detailed retelling of what we're going to do because it wouldn't mean much to you in one dose. It'll come up anyway. We already have a little project to complete for next week but tomorrow it's IT workshops and such. We've recieved our schedule for the semester and it looks like it's going to be fairly intense. We have one day free (monday) so that'll be work experience day. Somehow, I'll have to find time and space for a part-time job AND homework in all of that. I might even have to actually work to get this degree (*le gasp*).

We finished the day with pictures and a social. We had wine and chips (and the cookies). We mingled, talked, laughed a lot. I got to talk to all the people I hadn't talked to before as well as the professors all of whom were great and not intimidating at all. Well, maybe Leander is a little scary...

I'm the kind who sticks close to the wall during social events and leaves as quickly as is polite. Today was the first time in my life when I didn't want to leave but I was starting to feel the effects of the wine and, regardless of what Leander says, I didn't want to make a fool of myself (not yet, anyway). I mean, these were all relative strangers!

If things keep going this way, I think I'm going to have one of the best years of my life. No exageration. Well, I might be a little giddy from the booze but I don't think so. I can tell classes are going to be hard but I'm feeling so motivated and eager to start. A very strange feeling indeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Induction week starts tomorrow

This is going to be my last night at the hostel. I admit I've rather liked the hostel experience but I'm definitely feeling the need to not share my room with 11 people. On the other hand, I won't have Sky TV in halls so no more TV series for me. My computer doesn't play sounds anymore (but I defy you to find a laptop that's lived to be 5 years old with the care I give mine) so no DVDs either. Unless I buy a DVD player, we'll see if I manage to get a job.

Apparently, the cost of internet isn't included in the rent for the halls. I hadn't realized that until today when I was rereading the info on the website. That seriously sucks. I basically live on the internet and I don't want to pay extra. Cheney's already the most expensive of the halls.

But that's all boring stuff anyway. Let's talk about more fun things. Like me getting lost, repeatedly. Without an umbrella.

Pretty much the first thing I did on getting here was to get myself a library card. It's awesome, they don't ask for proof of address or anything! I've been going to the library fairly regularly and managed to get my hands on Inside Book Publishing by Giles Clark and Angus Phillips (one of my profs, btw *brags for lame reasons*). It's pretty much a must read for anyone interested in working in the industry and writers. I admit I haven't read anything non-fictional in a while so my brain is a little slow to keep up. I just need to get it warmed up and running again. It's very interesting. I think I'll read some more and maybe write a little essay about it for the blog.

Anyway, after these outings, I like to take a different way back to the hostel. It gets claustrophobic in here quickly so I need to take at least one long walk everyday. And it keeps me in shape *cough*. On the latest of these, I thought "hey! Why don't I just follow the Thames? That should leave me right at the little bridge next to the hostel!"

Now, Oxford is fairly small. So small in fact, that you can probably cross it on foot without getting tired. At least, I could. But 2 hours later, I was still walking. It was a pretty walk and there was even a little sun but I had no clue where I was and I had forgotten my umbrella. It's a given that it will rain every day at least a little and I could see those clouds coming and nothing but green fields and woods around me. Of course, I was too proud to just turn around and follow the way back to where I had started. After a while, I managed to find my way into a nice residential neighborhood through common sense (this is why men should never go exploring without a woman - we can find our way even if there is no one around to ask). I just followed the distant sound of cars.

And I ended up...back at the library. I just got back to the hostel the boring way after that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sun! Rain! Sun! No definitely rain...

I have now spent a couple of days in Oxford. I had meant to go house hunting a bit but I don't really know how to go about it, I have very little money and I don't know how to use English buses yet so I have not moved beyond the city center.

Also, I know I have a room in Cheney so it's not like it's a life or homelessness situation for me. I'm going to walk all the way to Headington on Monday and go talk to people, make sure there won't be any nasty surprises on D-day though.

I've also sort of started looking for a job and, it sounds incredibly stupid but, I don't really know how to do it. Give me a break! I've never had a job before! I have some old CVs I have to fix or make a new one that's more exciting or something since the few times I sent out CVs it came to nothing.

I have been visiting some. The city center is nice, very lively with lots of people and activity every day. There are some gorgeous old buildings, pretty much all belonging to Oxford U. which apparently is called "the one down there" while Brookes is "the one up there" (Cambridge is "the other one"). There's also a nice long walk along the Oxford canal that is lovely, especially when it's sunny (just about once this week really). I've been spending most of my afternoons out and enjoying myself at a very tight budget of close to nothing.

The hostel has been a good experience up to now. I see people come and go and although this is my first hostel experience, I am now the senior inhabitant of my room. I chat with everyone, often in their own languages (helps to be trilingual). I've made friends with a girl from Germany who's a lot of fun. We took a tour of the center and colleges together which was nice and stopped at Aziz to have some excellent curry. And I know curry, I lived in India for 4 years. It was affordable splurging too. She leaves tomorrow though so I'll have to find someone else to hang out with.

Yeah, in spite of all the raining, I'm really enjoying this city and it's hard to remind myself that I LIVE HERE. Yes, this is my hometown now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are we there yet? YES, we are! (Now stop hitting your sister)

Guess what? I'm in Oxford. That's right, the city of dreaming spires. I'm writing from the computer room at Central Backpackers where I'll be staying for the next 10 days or so (the hostel, not the computer room).

I left my aunt's husband's house yesterday, inhumanly early in the morning I might add. Aunt refuses to drive into Paris because it's easy to get lost, hard to park and the traffic is very bad. I don't know how true it might be at the time we decided to set out.

Instead, we took the train which conveniently left us right at the international station, Paris Gare du Nord. Just imagine, an older woman and chubby little me pulling on The Monster (a.k.a. My Suitcase) while being crushed by a computer bag and a "handbag" that weighed a ton each. We manage to make a few guys pity us so at least someone else handled the stairs for us. I had put on my nicest top which brings out my bosom rather well. Alas, it also brings out my love handles but I was counting on the bosom part getting and keeping the attention anyway. Not to say it wasn't hard work anyway.

Still, we got to Gare du Nord at least an hour early. It was lucky we did, you need all the extra time you can get in order to check in with Eurostar. There were a lot of people inside the station and it's not like at the airport where checking in takes forever but you do need to be in the line at least an hour early instead of the 30mins they say. I had just the time to go to the rest room, which were really clean btw, I was surprised, and have a coffee before I had to queue for the check in.

I had to get my bags all the way to the train on my own. This was the hard part because everyone was busy finding their wagons and relatives who aren't travelling can't accompany you to the train. I accidentally climbed into the wrong wagon. There was a nice Dutch man who helped me lift the suitcase in then out again. He was also in the wrong wagon. I hurried to the right one and for some reason he didn't offer to help me again. So, I pulled it up half way before another guy figured I had blocked the entrance long enough. I was all red and sweaty and so not sexy anymore. Also, stinky.

The woman next to me was a professor of history of dance in the U.S. She wasn't very friendly actually. She made it pretty clear that she was very annoyed at not having both seats to herself.

The trip itself went smoothly. It's an incredibly fast train and the view is fairly decent the whole way but then, the French countryside is always gorgeous. There was no warning when we got to the tunnel so for five minutes I thought "Is this it? Or are we just going under some city incoveniently on our way?". After a while I figured we had to be in the tunnel because it was taking forever. I know, I'm a little slow on the uptake. It was dark for a very long time. Not as exciting as expected but then, it never is, is it?

And just like that I was in England.

I got down in London and oh disapointment! the door I took to go get a taxi didn't lead the front way where the pretty Harry Potter facade is. I couldn't take any pictures of it. Still, the taxi ride to Victoria Coach Station was exciting in itself. I couldn't look fast enough! I'll go back and visit as soon as I can.

Things were just as easy at the coach station. Got my ticket at student price, boarded 5 mins after and rode in a very comfy bus all the way to Gloucester Green station right here in Oxford. It was a bit of a hassle pulling The Monster to the hostel. The afternoon was fairly hot as I was walking and I had my jean jacket so more huffing and puffing and then... it hailed! I kid you not! One moment I'm sweating and the next I have mini-ice cubes falling on my head.
A second later, it was done.
English weather is really fucked up.

Monday, September 1, 2008

T- 24h

Yes! Finally! I'm leaving for Oxford tomorrow morning!

I'm more than a little nervous to be honest. I'll take the 11h13 Eurostar train at Paris Gare du Nord and arrive at London St. Pancras at 12h28. Very fast trip! It's very geeky of me but I can't wait to take pictures of the Harry Potter train station. I think I've said it before but it bears repeating.

From there, I'll take a taxi to Victoria Coach Station because I'm not going into the underground with all I have to carry. I'm leaving one suitcase at my aunt's which I'll come back to pick up at some indeterminate time in the future.

You know when they tell you to pack light to go study abroad? They are not kidding. Listen to them the way I seem incapable to do. Remember that you will be travelling a long way, on your own and will most likely arrive in London. Travelling by plane with a suitcase is fairly easy. It's a little harder to do when you have to carry it around.

I'm emptying my camera today so I can go photo crazy. I'll put them up tomorrow evening if I can. I'm staying at Central Backpackers and I think they have wifi access.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One more week!

Gah! One week only left before I move to Oxford!

I still don't know where I'll be living... Yeah, they're making us wait until this week to tell us when, supposedly, everyone who applied before the july deadlina should have heard back mid-July. Not happy!

Still in the middleof nowhere (the cows are so used to me, they eat out of my hands when I go near them instead of running away in normal cow fashion). I get to check my email once a week when we come see my cousin because his mama can't stay away from him too long. Sigh.

I stayed up all night yesterday worrying so today I called Oxford and reserved a bed in a hostel for the first two weeks. My nails are in an aweful state.

One word of advice if you ever think to take the Eurostar train (the one that goes under the Channel) to Paris or Brussels or back to England from there: buy your ticket early online. I didn't and am paying twice what I could have paid a couple of months ago when I first looked it up. Still, I have my ticket which really helps to realize I'M GOING TO ENGLAND!!

Can't wait!

Friday, August 1, 2008

See you soon

It's my birthday today, I'm now 23. By 19th century standards I am an old maid. I asked my parents to buy a house with an atic I can live in because we all know what happens to women who are not getting any (marital) sex.

We are leaving La Rochelle tomorrow. We'll spend one more night in Paris and then my parents and sister are flying back to Peru and I am going for a month in the Ninth Circle of Hell (ladies night at the Judecca Bar!).

I'll be spending all of August at my aunt's country house in Normandy, smack in the middle of nowhere. There is no internet, no cable TV and only my aunt for conversation (or in her case, conversion). What I'm trying to say is, I won't be updating the blog until September when I (finally!) go to England.

A bientôt!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sony e-book reader

Nathan Bransford recently blogged that Sony will be opening up their reader to files by competitors. I've been secretly wanting an ebook reader since I found out they existed. I wanted a Kindle when they first came out although I think it is ugly but I'm thinking maybe the Sony.

At this point, it's just talking as I don't have 300$ to spend on a reader. It's still cheaper to buy actual books. Don't go thinking I don't like paper books, the smell, the feel... nothing makes a house look cozy like walls covered by bookshelves. Like all proper bookworms, I rewatch Disney's Beauty and the Beast for that scene where he gives her the huge library. I would have fallen in love with a much uglier creature if he'd given me that place.

But you have to admit, ebook readers, like iPods, are damned convenient. It's the diffence between carrying 30 CDs in your bag or 4 days worth of music in mp3. I know, I know, maybe it's illusory. Who reads 160 books at the same time anyway? Not me, I stick to three or four. But you never know when you might feel like reading something else. Or when you might need a quote. Imagine going to college with just the one tiny reader instead of the 3t textbooks? Think of the children!

Plus, for us future editors, having all the stuff we have to read on hand can't be bad. I just hope they don't start putting games on it or I'll never get any work done.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer reading

If you are ever in La Rochelle, go have some ice-cream at Ernest Le Glacier. It's on a little street by the port. It is awesome ice-cream. I'll have to write to them and suggest Lucuma ice-cream, though.

If you're in need of something to read this summer that is related to publishing, here's the list we were sent as suggestions by the uni:

Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies

MA in Publishing/International Publishing/Publishing and Language/ Digital Publishing/ European Master in Publishing

Suggested preparation reading


Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, Inside Book Publishing, 4th edition, Routledge, June 2008.

Carole Blake. From Pitch to Publication. London: Pan. 1999.

Editorial Management

Gill Davies. Book Commissioning and Acquisition. London: Routledge. 2004.

Marketing Management for Publishing

Alison Baverstock. How to Market Books. London: Kogan Page, 2007. Fourth edition.

Jan Nathan and Thomas Woll: Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishers, 2006

Design and Production for Publishing

David Bann. The All New Print Production Handbook. Hove: Rotovision. 2006.

Erik Spiekermann and E M Ginger . Stop Stealing Sheep and Find out how Type Works. Berkeley: Adobe Press. 2003. Second Edition.

*Mitchell and Wightman. Book Typography A Designer's Manual Libanus Press. 2005. ISBN 0 948021 66 7* Website:

*Please purchase a copy of this book in advance of the start of term as you will need this for the first week*

Monday, July 21, 2008

Run over by my own karma?

I think we'll just say this blog is updated randomly throughout the week :) Makes me more spontaneous and loveable, don't you think?


I am now in La Rochelle and have easier internet access although I'm still stuck with a stupid Azerty keyboard. Whoever thought it was a good idea to invent different keyboards for different sides of the pond should have been charged for hate crimes. I keep typing q instead of a. I haven't thought so much about my typing since I got my first computer back in the Dark Ages (yanno, before iPods).

Still don't have my own 'puter so I haven't been able to do any writing. As usual, I am now full of great ideas for it and no sign of the writer's block I experienced while in Peru and nothing else to do all day except write. I must have been a horrible person in my last life.

Still no word about where I'm going to be living but I did hear back about the Random House scholarship. I didn't get it. Well, I didn't expect to anyway. I'm still waiting on the Hachette Livre one although it'll probably be a no as well. I really feel bad having mom pay for my studies although I insist on repaying her as soon (and as often) as I can. The student loan option is still open although I probably should get around to it sooner rather than later.

Maybe I should sell a kidney online. In the mean time, I'll go see if I can't find opportunities for getting some good karma credits.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Rare species: a Brookes related post!

I still haven't gotten word about where I'm going to be living. We've talked about it on the 2008 Publishing M.A facebook group. I was relieved to find out I'm not the only one who hasn't heard back about halls. There are also several who will be house hunting in September so if it comes to that, I might be able to move in with my future classmates.

By the way, I don't know if I mentioned it before but everyone in the program I've friended on facebook is very nice and friendly and most of us like the same things. Some of us are planning on meeting up during the first week of September, get to know each other in advance... Pretty cool.

Those who have gotten rooms in the halls are mostly in Cheney Student Village in the post-grad block. It'd be awesome if we could all end up in the same place! We could rewatch Firefly every night! Yay!

I'm the sex

Still in Paris but only until tomorrow morning. I have so many pictures I want to share but it will have to wait until I can get the internet on my own computer.

Today, I went with my mother to the Pere Lachaise cemetary. That's where most of France's (and elsewhere's) important and famous are burried. We found Edith Piaf, Colette, Gericault, Paul Eluard and Oscar Wilde. There are many more but mom was tired. There are also a lot of monuments to the dead of both world wars, especially the victims of the death camps.

It was a great trip, the place is very nice. Some areas are better kept than others. For the most part, it is not sinister or anything.

Coming back, mom stopped at a lingerie store where they were having a sale. I ended up buying some La Perla stuff. I feel like a dirty mistress in a CSI epsiode.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So, this keyboard is incredibly annoying.

Anyway, we went to Normandy and spent the day there. My cousin's children were there and they are so sweet and affectionate! I love them! I expected a horrible day but ended up regretting we were leaving. They are that cute!

Still, on the train back I was about ready to collapse. I have never been that tired! I was sure I wasn't going to make it! But I did and I hope never to feel that lousy again.
Yesterday, we went to the Arc de Triomphe and walked all the way down the Champs Elyses. We got home exhausted but it was worth it. I love Parisian buildings! They are so beautiful! Not the modern square boxes obviously but the older ones with the sweet little windows with tiny balconies.

I'm loving this city although crap hasn't stopped happening. The 14th, our luggage arrived but we weren't home. Then, the concierge and the plumber had to get into the house through the balcony to turn off the water and broke a lamp. I don't know what they did because it looked as though the thing had exploded! we found broken glass in the toaster!

Then of course, we had no water. We were filthy and couldn't shower... They cut it off again today. It sounds like it's back on but...

I still have no idea where I'm gonna live in Oxford. The Brookes PIP thing says no decision has been made yet. I joined the publishing M.A group on Facebook and it seems like a lot of us are going to be in Cheney postgrad accomodation. I hope I can be there too.

Speaking of the others, we've all friended each other on Fb. It looks like we all like pretty much the same things! It seems like all those years of not having anyone to share my interests with are at a spectacular end! Woohoo!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good beginnings

It's 5h30 am in Paris and I haven't slept yet. Stupid jet-lag.

I'm trying to write as quietly as possible because I'm not supposed to be using this computer. It's one of those annoying keyboards with the "a" in the wrong place.

It's all gone wrong from the start. First, I got , my period the morning we left. Oh joy! 24h travelling over the Atlantic with the cramps fro, hell and a lame Jack Black movie about so,e video store. We arrived the day before yesterday to find out that the one hour wait to leave Caracas (Venezuela) was our luggage being left behind. They were supposed to arrive yesterday morning and of course, they didn't. We're hoping to get our things tomorroz now because today everything is closed. It's the 14th of July, Prise de La Bastille. And I don't even get to go see the parade and fireworks. Dammit!

You know what's great? Everything I own is in those suitcases. Including all my papers which I'll need in England. My offer letter from Brookes is in there! We better get our things back or I'm flying to Caracas and kicking some serious butt! Ok, probably not. But there will be tears and cursing.

And they better not have been opened!

Anyway, we still went to visit Notre Dame yesterday. Paris is indeed gorgeous and I'd show you some pictures if only the camera cable weren't in the suitcase. Stuff is expensive but Air France is going to reimburs the cost of the new underwear we bought (sexy stuff *wink*). Today, we're going to Normandy for dad's birthday so we're getting up relatively early so no sleep for me it seems.

I'm gonna leave you now. I'm afraid someone will wake up and realize I'm on the computer (which is not ours). I'll try to post again as soon as I can.

Happy Bastille day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A taste of Peru

I don't feel like blogging about the future today. So, this is not a post about Brookes or any related subject. There will be plenty of opportunity for those later.

Instead, I'm gonna tell you abouta Peruvian dessert and even give you the recipe. No, this is not going to become a food blog. Hey, this stuff could probably be made in the uni dorms on a tight budget, so I guess it is a university post. How about that? :)

Suspiro de/a la Limena.

This is probably one of the most pornilicious ultra-sweet things I've ever had. It's hard to describe. It's pudding-y at the bottom but not thick and light and fluffy on top.
It's so easy to make too. It sounds complicated because of the syrup but it's not as involved as it looks.

Basically, you boil one can of condensed milk (about 1-1/4 cup), 1 can evaporated milk and a cinnamon stick stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Let it stand for about 10 mins. Beat 5 egg yolks and add a tsp. of vanilla essence and slowly incorporate into the milk (I personally slowly mix about a cup of the milk into the eggs first before mixing that with the rest so I'm sure the eggs don't get scrambled).
Pour into individual serving cups or one big cup (I think individual is better). In a saucepan, combine 1 c. of sugar and 1/4 c. of port wine (or any sweet-ish liquor or heck, even water, basically, make a syrup) and boil until it reaches soft-ball stage (spoon a bit of the syrup into a glass of ice water and squish it between your fingers. It should, appropriately, form a soft ball of sugar.
Beat 2 egg whites until stiff and slowly pour syrup into them, beating constantly until the meringue is cool. Top the cups with a layer of meringe and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

This thing is crazy good! I just had a couple of spoonfuls because I'm on Atkins and this stuff is loaded with carbs. Hey! I couldn't leave this country without having some Suspiro de Limena!
It is extremely sweet so it's a good idea to share one serving with someone else because it probably gets overwhelming quickly.

Another thing that is crazy good is Lucuma ice-cream. Lucuma is a tropical fruit grown in the Amazon area of Peru. It looks a little like an avocado but has bright orange flesh. It's not eaten natural but is awesome in desserts. It's the most popular flavor for ice-cream over here and you can find lucuma cheesecakes, puddings, mousses... anything. They have Suspiro de Lucuma which I haven't tasted but I'm sure is nice and this other thing "Crocante de Lucuma" also untasted by yours truly but I want it! Anyway, the ice-cream is to die for! It has a soft, nutty flavor and something that is entirely lucuma-y and I don't know how to describe (heck of a writer I am, eh?). Very, very good. If you ever visit Peru, try it.

Another thing I love is Chicha Morada and Mazamorra Morada (heh, I just bought some of that). Mazamorra is made from Chicha which is made by boiling cobs of purple maize. It's an incredibly refreshing drink that's easy to make at home (I make my own)...if you can find purple maize.

I also loved Camotillos, basically, candied sweet potatoes. Mmmmh! Again, extra sweet.

Okay, enough :D I'm making myself hungry and I promised myself not to eat all the Mazamorra AND Frijol Colado today.

Oh, by the way, I finished packing and am horrified at how much I have to leave!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm dieing a little bit inside

I'm mostly done packing.

I'm sitting in my room, on the floor. My left leg is cramping and all I can think of is how I only have three more days in this country which I have LOVED. I'm sorry, I'm getting all emotional and that's not really my style.

As usual, I feel like I'm leaving a country before I even got to know it. Funny thing is, I've seen more of Peru in these seven months than I have of countries I have lived in for 5+ years. I really like it here, I'd stay longer if I could. So, I have three days to say goodbye to it and I don't know what to do. Should I go back to all my old haunts (as in Larcomar and Jockey Plaza)? Or should I play tourist for these next three days? Both options seem unatractive and shallow.


I think maybe on Thursday evening I'll ask if we can go to San Ceferino. It's a fancy, expensive restaurant that's literally next door. You pay European prices but the food is ten times better than anything I've had at fancy restaurants in North America (as is always the case in Peru, bless them). I adore their Ostrich in Mustard Sauce and it would come as a nice circle end as this is the first place I ate at when I came (it was almost New Year). It will be a special dinner.

Closure, you know?

I know I have another two months in France ahead of me but France doesn't feel like a holiday. After all, it's really just "going home" in a way, even though I never really lived there. Not to mention, I will be staying with my aunt for half of that time. I foresee many evangelising sessions ahead (I'm determinedly Pagan, sorry aunty).

My sister came into my room earlier and exclaimed "Oh my God! This room's gonna be so empty!" I thought it was so unconsciously sweet because, really, I don't have that many things of mine in here so it won't be empty in a literal sort of way.

Well, I'll leave you and go be all introspective.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

One week left in South America!

Ack! I thought I had at least two but it turns out we're leaving for France next Friday!

As you can imagine, things have started to get hectic with my mother running all over the place dragging me to her favorite markets for clothes shopping. She's screaming at my youngest sister right now, sister is crying, other sister's getting involved now, how long until my father joins? Hahah! Is there a family that isn't crazy?

I'm driving mom insane because I'm not doing any packing yet. I hate packing. It's so final. I've liked it here very much. The food is awesome even if I can't have as much of it as I'd want. (Oh! Now mom's trying to pick a fight with me. She's wasting her time.) I loved the places I've visited, in fact, last night mom dragged youngest sister, dad and me to a farewell party for one of her colleagues which was held in the "Bus Parrandero", the Party Bus. We did a very short tour of the center by night while drinking and dancing. It was ok. Would have been a lot more fun if there hadn't been older folks but one of mom's young colleagues hit on me for a while! He's cute as hell so it's all good. Maybe it had something to do with me wearing that blue and black girly top I mentionned in an earlier post *winkwink*.

I've bought so many new clothes, I feel like a bleached blonde TV teen-girl (you know the type). I still have to get new jeans.

I'm going to be in Paris for a week, I was thinking I'd go visit Oxford while I'm there but there are so many places I want to visit since I took a history of art class that I don't know if I'll have the time. I might just leave it for when I'm living with my aunt in Normandy and do it alone.

Anyway, all this to say that if I don't post as often as I should, please don't hold it against me. I might have been murdered by my parents in a fit of travel-packing rage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Like I said, he's going insane

Yup, my dad is losing it.

When my parents moved to Peru, they rented a house that came with all the furniture so we have a lot of stuff that just stayed in its boxes. Last week, my dad started opening boxes compulsively and getting random fits of rage. "What do you mean leave the boxes closed? What if there's stuff in there that you NEED?", "Get into the garage and look through that stuff! NOW!" etc.

Funny and scary at the same time.

Today he was convinced I absolutely needed my kung-fu uniform although I haven't used it in over four years. I keep telling him to leave the boxes alone. If I boxed it, it means I don't need it immediately and keeping everything packed will make it sooo much easier when I settle down in my own place and they have to send me my stuff. But he's sure there's big important stuff in there. I think what drives him even crazier is how (apparently) relaxed I am. He was shredding up bubble-wrap with a knife earlier, furious because I was baking a cake for my sister instead of doing important things like...oh, I don't know... ripping up my old baby clothes (mom is going to kill him when she finds out).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Already July? Gotta start packing

I just realized that it's the 30th of June.

I've been in Peru for seven months already and doing pretty much nothing productive (that includes my worthless attempts at prose *grumblegrumble*). I started my application procedure pretty late so the next two months may be hectic. At least I'll know soon whether I'm gonna be in the halls of residence.

I was so worried because I sent my deposit pretty late and I was worried I'd be in the last round of room allocations in which you only find out if you have a room in September! Can you imagine going to a country you've never so much as visited without a clue as to where you're going to live?

I'll also find out if I'm gonna get a scholarship or not. I don't have a good feeling about it. I liked my application essay but I don't think it's what they want to hear. Oh well! Besides, it might be better not to in the end if I decide to get a student loan.

The pre-move stress is officially here. My dad blew a fuse the other day about how I was so lazy and useless and totally not ready to live on my own. A lot of hurtful things were said but then, I know he's just worried. He didn't oppose my going but he does reproach my mother for "pushing me" to go. Really, mom doesn't want me to go either but she knows I have to so she gave me full support. I think my parents are stressing more than I am.

Anyway, yesterday I went to the shops in Jesus Maria to get cheap clothes and new panties. Seriously, people, if you're going to be moving out of home, BUY NEW UNDIES! You do NOT want to be seen in the laundry room washing your shabby panties (trust me on this one).
I also got a cardigan in a color I don't usually wear, it's a little old fashioned but kinda nice and did I mention how cheap the stuff here is? And I got a waterproof winter coat for a very small fraction of the cost in Europe of the same thing. It's a normal, black, feather filled thing, nothing out of the ordinary but it matches with anything. My green pseudo-suede wintercoat from Canada was very nice and warm but it's not waterproof and it's gotten too big for me (woohoo! First time I get to say that since...well...forever).

I also got a very pretty, girly top, dark blue and black that I'm dieing to show off. Soon, I'll go buy some new jeans and maybe get my old ones tightened up (more woohoo!) 'cause they're too large now.

In more shopping trips I'll buy:
- a couple of turtlenecks
- boots (rain and otherwise)
- gloves (lost mine)
- bras (can never have enough)
- some nice tops (mine are lame or too big - oh oh, I think I'm becoming fashion conscious!)
- a baggy for bathroom stuff

I'm thinking of buying the maximum of stuff I'll need anyway here where it is cheap but I also don't want to overload myself with stuff. Still, it's a whole year before I know more or less where I'm gonna settle, I mean to stay in England for a long while at which point I'll have my parents send me my boxed stuff from Canada. I can't live off two jeans, a t-shirt and coat.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Spam comments

I've gotten a couple of comments on my posts that were more or less irrelevant plug's for people's blogs or websites lately. It was pretty clear that they hadn't read the posts but were going simply by tags.

I have no problem with people directing others to posts on their blogs or other websites if it's relevant but I won't publish spam comments. If you want to link outside this blog, go ahead, just leave a little message explaining what it is and how it's relevant so I don't feel used.

I'm saying this for anyone who might have something to contribute in good faith so their comments don't get accidentally deleted.

Hit me like a moving truck

I got my final, unconditional offer letter yesterday (finally!) as well as my booklet, "International Pre-arrival Guide" (which I had already read online). That's when it really hit me: I'm a student again (crap!)! My stomach's all in a knot now and that less than palatable chicken my dad cooked up is not helping.

Then, of course, I realized that I'm leaving for France in a matter of weeks so now it's time to pack up and decide what I need to have on hand both for France AND England. Let the stress race begin.

I think I'll pack the smallest suitcase I have (small enough to be allowed in the cabin of the plane) with the stuff I'll need immediately after arriving at Oxford. I'll also pack a big suitcase with stuff I'll need to survive longer than that (I can't afford to buy everything over there) and leave it at my aunt's in Normandy where I can either come pick it up over the winter holidays or she could send them to me or I could just take two extra train rides under the Channel. The downside to leaving it at her place is that she'll insist I spend the holidays with her and I don't like her much (yes, I can write this because she doesn't understand a word of English).

I made the mistake when I moved into my former university's residences of bringing too much stuff with me. It was easy then because I was already living in town (ten minutes away actually) but getting everything ready to move back out was hard. I had to leave a lot of stuff I would rather have kept because I just couldn't handle the trip to Peru with so much stuff. Also, my room at the residences was a pig-sty! I don't want to live like that anymore.

I asked for a room in Cheney Student Village as first choice because the contract is the longest. It's a little more expensive than some of the others but still, I don't want to have to worry about finding some other place to live in too soon. I dream of my own bathroom, even though I'll have to clean it myself. I considered a catered hall for a short while but I need to keep a close eye on what I eat because I put on weight very easily and lose it very slowly. Also, the catered halls are, for the most part, farther away than I want to be from the main campus.

I even looked into homesharing. That could be fun and free (heheheh), I wouldn't mind helping out an old person or someone with a disability in exchange for a room at their place. You can find information on homesharing at these websites:

Oxfordshire County Council


It sounds like a neat idea to me. We'll see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This blog needs pictures

I was looking at my blog and aside from all the typos, I noticed that it's just one long wall of text. It's pretty depressing.

This is a picture of the Machu Picchu taken by yours truly. If you bend your head to the right, you'll see it looks like a profile. The guide said it was not likely to be just a coincidence.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Parental Support is Nice

I've been looking around the web to figure out how I can pay for university without using up my parents' savings.

We're lucky to have travelled so much during most of my life (we started moving about when I was 6), especially living mainly in third world countries. The pay is much better than if my mother had taken us to France. There, we would have had a pretty hard time, instead, my sisters and I have been pretty spoiled. I love being an expat's kid.

Canada was a bit expensive but still much better than France so my mom paid for my undergrad degree. The advantage there was that as a French student in Quebec, I was allowed by a treaty to pay like Canadian students. So, I have no undergrad debts to pay off.

Now, my mom wants to pay for my post-grad. Heck, she'd pay my way through a Ph.D. if I asked her to. Let's be realistic though, she's retiring in a year or two and going back to France with a pathetic pension to thank her for over 30 years of working for the government. I also have two sisters, one of which is not out of secondary school yet and my father who takes med for his heart and who get an even lamer pension from France for being the spouse of an expat (which has prevented him from working on his own).

So, I'm considering a student loan. My mom refuses to listen and I'm too far from Europe and I guess ignorant to take one on my own. I guess the downside to following my mom around the world is that I'm not familiar with how things work in Europe. She's terrified of me starting out my life in debt. I don't like the idea much myself but I wouldn't be the first person to do it. I did apply for a scholarship through Brookes, we'll see how that goes next month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

It's a good thing that one thing you do find online is info on student loans. Everyone is talking about it.

If I do end up letting my mother pay for my master's, I can always pay her back over time and I'll have my aunt spy on her and dad (she'd like that) so I know when they need a little extra help because I know them, they'd never tell me. I won't be making a lot at first, but I don't need a lot either. I like a lot. But I can live well from little. Except books, I need books.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Peru is Hard to Leave

I swear this country is trying to make it harder and harder for me to leave.

I went to the gym yesterday evening because I'm in serious need of a workout. I was feeling a litte dizzy when I was done so I went to the snack bar downstairs. It's more like a little restaurant, really, and they make delicious food (Peruvians are to food what Don Juan was to women). It's all very simple, cheap fare. Anyway, I asked for a glass of milk and some crackers (thereby ruining my diet, but whatever). It took them a while but they brought me a cup of hot milk and...get this...they warmed my crackers and presented them prettily!

Wow! I've never had anyone warm my crackers! I may not have asked for caviar and Champagne but still, I appreciate them going that extra step.

Here's a bit of an embarassing confession:

I love crackers and milk! It's the two things I am not willing to completely give up forever. Anyone who knows me knows that I love fine cuisine, exotic dishes, the more complicated the better. I'll give them up for a lifetime supply of soda crackers and milk. Oh, and the milk here? Really good! Nothing like the cartons of milk in North America. It actually tastes like milk. I'm hoping to find a nice farmer's market or a farm around Oxford that will sell me good, unadulterated-by-the-industry milk.

I'm trying to experience as much of this country as I can before I leave because I don't know for sure that I'll come back to visit. Now, I just have to taste Alpaca and Cuy (guinea pig).

Monday, June 23, 2008

I hate parting with my (mother's) money

I'm still waiting for my final offer letter to come from Brookes. I sent my acceptance letter from Mexico a couple of weeks back through DHL. Yeah, I took a short vacation to Mexico with my mother, I'm so spoilt. I don't know what's up with it because apparently the university only got my deposit a short while ago.

I don't know if it's for all applicants or just those of us who are international but when you recieve your offer letter, you have to send back a letter saying you accept the offer and a 1000 GBP deposit fee. Then they send you the final offer. The money goes into paying part of your tuition of course. Thankfully, my mother is paying but I wish it had been explicitly written on the website. I figure other applicants who have to pay their own way might be surprised by it. City only asked for 500, by the way.

Don't get me wrong, I totally think deposit fees are a good idea. How else can they make sure you really come but by asking for your money? Still, I don't like to be asked for large amounts without good, advance warning. I like money. It's hard to part with it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

For future US undergrads thinking of studying in the UK

I came across an interesting post on a livejournal community about whether it is financially doable to get a bachelor's degree in the UK versus in the US.

Briefly, if you don't want to read the whole thing, some people say that it is more affordable to do an undergrad degree in the US where apparently there is more funding available (for US students) than in the UK. However, once you get to the postgrad level, the the UK becomes a more interesting possibility. The whole LJ community has a lot of good info for it although it is meant primarily for US students.

Read it but beware, there are scary debt amounts.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Choices, so many choices...

So, back to my favorite topic: me.


Once I realized I was going to go for a Master's after all, the decision came down to what was I going to do. It never really entered my mind to go for a more traditional English degree. I mean, I looooove nineteenth century fiction by women and gothic novels. I could totally have done an M.A. in that and enjoyed it a lot.

But where would that have landed me? I can very well study that stuff all on my own, and sure, I won't have a fancy paper after a year or two, but I wouldn't have had to write a bunch of essays for the same pleasure of reading and learning. Also, why go for an M.A. in English when I have a perfectly acceptable M.A. in Publishing which will get me the same job I would have applied to after my M.A. in English much more easily (I hope)?

So, I applied to three places. I don't feel entirely comfortable saying where, actually. It feels rude to the people who accepted me and I had to reject. But, I'll say it anyway because you might as well know.

The first place was City University London, their M.A. in Publishing.

The Times Good Universities Guide had them among the top universities for employability and that was very important to me. I don't particularly like their website but they have a good reputation in journalism and business. I found close to no information on their publishing program though. That was very annoying and no reviews about the M.A itself. The reviews I did find were mainly for journalism and they made me worry. They'd go on and on about how bad the student union is, how the facilities leave a lot to be desired, etc. On the other hand, the reviews were barely literate at times so not very reliable.

On the other hand, they have a decent list of more or less known alumni and of course, that employability score. It also seems to be a very international school. Reviews were from people from all over the globe. Now, I'm French, but I've lived all over the world and I enjoy being around people from cultures vastly different from my own so this was a very big plus for me.

So I followed my gut feeling and applied. Response time was UNBELIEVABLE! I kid you not, the same week I sent my application in (through DHL, I was applying rather late), I got a call from Mary Ann Kernan who interviewed me on the spot and basically offered me a place right there and then. I don't know if it's just that my application and interview skills are that good or if something just resonated with her particularly well (I like to think it's because I'm that awesome). Anyway, I liked her immediately. Very nice and informal and just overall cool. Gave me a good feeling about the place.

Also, the university is in London which is drool-worthy by itself. The problem is it's too expensive for me. NOTE: Even if you're an EU national, you won't get the lower fee if you have not lived at least the three previous years in the EU. I did my B.A. in Canada. Mary Ann tried very hard to try and get me those fees though so extra points.

Information-wise, it was more or less the same for Brookes. Finding reviews was hard but it also rated okay on the Times. They are consistently called the best new university. I did hear a lot of good things about it's student union. I'm not much for socialising but it's a good thing to keep in mind any way. It's in Oxford, which is like student dream-town I guess and still close enough to London to go there and enjoy. Somewhat cheaper, although I don't delude myself. It's not Peru where a taxi will get you anywhere for less than the price of a cup of coffee. The campus looks good and I'm told the facilities are very good too. It also has an international flavor although it seems less so than City. Like City, it's also more professions oriented as a former polytechnic.

I was interviewed by one of the lecturers, Sheila Lambie. Also, very likeable on the phone. I have to say, if everyone in publishing is like Mary Ann, Sheila and Rosalyn Ockwell (the Senior Tutor), I'm gonna like it even more than I thought! It's nice to work with and for good, relaxed people. Internships are apparently very important at Brookes, which is huge for me as I have no professional experience in anything. Sheila really put to rest a lot of the things that were worrying me. I felt a lot more confident after talking to her. I recommend anyone thinking of going to university and who has misgivings to just call them. There were no particular questions I had, but the way she talked about the program and the school did a lot to tip the balance, aside from the lesser cost of the city. I just had a very good gut feeling.

The last place was King's College London but it was an M.A. in Cultural and Creative Industries. It sounded fascinating but I wanted something a little more specific in spite of the College's excellent reputation. I also had a gut feeling I wouldn't be happy there. It sounds a little silly but really, trust your gut. I've never been wrong to follow my instincts, only the times when I did not.

So, although I didn't have as much info about Brookes as I would have wanted, I felt that the scales were well tipped in its favor. I still agonized over whether I had made the right decision for a while. I think I did. I hope I did. We'll see in September, I'll tell you all about it.

There, I hope that made some sense. I'm sorry I don't have anything more specific at the moment. When I was doing my research I didn't think of saving the links. I hadn't planned on starting a blog. In fact, it's only when I started thinking back on all my anguish that I realized I could at least provide some relief by being a guinea pig for other (is it a bad omen that many South Americans eat guinea pigs?). It might not help too much if you needed this info for this year (sorry!) but it might help those who are planning to join the ranks next year. I'll see if I can retrace my cyber steps and come up with some interesting links to post at some point.