The business behind the book – an experience of publishing at Pan Macmillan

by Rachel Calcott

As my last year at the Academy drew to a close in a flurry of results, celebrations and goodbyes, I prepared to embark on a gap year that I hoped would answer a frequently asked and increasingly pressing question: what field of further study and career path did I want to pursue? With this in mind, I decided to throw myself into as many of my different spheres of interest as I could in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of my passions and what subject I wanted to dedicate the next four years to.

As all my teachers can testify, I have had a conspicuous passion for literature from a young age, so in my first months of freedom I decided to investigate the world of publishing and editing – the fascinating journey from author’s pen to readers bookshelf. At first the path to securing a work experience placement at one of the big publishing firms seemed fairly simple; many companies offer two week placements for young publishing enthusiasts with no previous experience, and applying was as simple as filling out an online form. Of course, the reality was a bit more complicated. The volume of applicants for places at big-name publishing houses is vast; without an insider connection or incredible amounts of luck, its unlikely to get accepted on your first attempt… but I was only going to be in England for two months, so deferment wasn’t a option. Feeling this opportunity slipping away, I decided to call the publishers, publishing assistants and receptionists of all the firms I had applied to in an attempt to explain my situation. After a few weeks of unsuccessful badgering, a human relations assistant finally got back to me with the good news: there was an opening for an intern in the editing department of Pan Macmillan in Islington, London.

March in London is cold, windy and predominantly grey. On the first day of my internship, after an hour-long commute through central London, I arrived at Pan Macmillan’s glass-walled office building and  stepped into a book lovers daydream – the trendy foyer displayed old classics and new releases from famous authors whose books had shaped my childhood and loaded my bookshelves. Here I was met by Jane, a bustling editors assistant who gave me a brief overview of life at Pan Mac and my humble place within it while sipping her Latte and herding me into the elevator.

A trip to the fourth floor of Pan Macmillan London reveals the true face of publishing – the continuous hum of lowered voices discussing punctuation, reader markets and cover designs, editor assistants frantically typing out release schedules and publicity meetings and, of course, the potent aroma of strong coffee. Having been ushered cheerfully to a spare desk and given a company laptop, I was eager to dive into this world of words. Within a few minutes an email ping announced the arrival of my first official task – writing a manuscript report.

Big publishing houses receive hundreds of manuscript submissions from prospective authors and agents, and from these submissions the wheat must be separated from the, well, less publishable pieces… Of course the editors don’t have time to peruse every submitted work, so that task often falls to editors assistants and interns. Jane briefed me on the intricacies of report writing, handed me a few examples, and set me to work.

Writing my first report felt like the greatest responsibility I’d ever carried – my words would be used to justify the acceptance or rejection of an unpublished authors manuscript – but I soon found myself caught up in analysing and appraising the writing. The report required me to weigh in on the writing style, syntax and grammar, storyline and characterization, similar titles that might be saturating the genre, consumer attraction, and relevance regarding current events, among other things. As soon as Jane had scrutinized my first attempt and given me her stamp of approval, the submissions began pouring in from overworked editors in genres ranging from Sci-fi to Historical Romance. In my ten working days I read and wrote reports on ten manuscripts, and helped out in other editing tasks such as compiling quotes for social media campaigns, updating release schedules and writing potential blurbs for new novels. A high moment was when an editor stopped at my desk to tell me that a blurb I had written was being used for a big upcoming release. During company meetings I was exposed to the real mechanics of publishing – the choices between illustrators and designs, and deciding which countries should be sold publishing rights. Watching publishing veterans discuss sales strategies and marketing agendas was both impressive and unsettling; the meetings revealed the mercenary attitude that’s required in a multi-million pound business with competition on every side. Commercial publishing is often less about the quality of the writing or the beauty of the literary idea, and more about reader appeal and saleability. My love of profound, transformative writing would have to take a backseat in such an environment – this experience hastened my conclusion that if I ever returned to this industry, it would be in a Literary (the more intellectually stimulating books that often sell fewer copies but change more lives) rather than Commercial publishing role.

Overall, as a first experience of the world of work, interning at Pan Macmillan was very rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the reading and processing of books, and working with avid book-lovers. It gave me realistic insight into the good, bad and ugly of the publishing world, a taste of London life and a deeper understanding of my own passions and abilities. Not to mention a lot of free coffee.

Welcome to our U.S. student teacher

Dana StewartMISS. DANA STEWART  hails from Fargo, North Dakota University  U.S.A. and is part of the Elementary Teaching Program. She will be teaching in Grade 1 until the end of Term 1  and residing in the Boarding Facility.

Welcome to Waterberg Academy Miss Stewart – we are honoured that you selected our school to persue your teaching studies.

Senior Preparatory Biathlon

 SENIOR PREPARATORY BIATHLON

 17 November 2017

The Senior Preparatory Biathlon of Waterberg Academy at Vaalwater served to combine the swimming and the athletics training that has been taking place this term.

Senior Preparatory Biathlon.doc

The learners competed in teams where one team member ran 1km and the second one swam 500m.  Mr Johan Lochner, Head of Department, congratulated the winners.

The winning senior team (Grade 6 – 7) was made up of Ruben Doubell (swimming leg) and Joyce Lebese (running leg) in a combined time of: 16:14.

Senior Preparatory Biathlon.doc

The winning junior team (Grade 4 – 5) was made up of Bradley Eager (swimming leg) and Ethan Gualdi (running leg).  They completed the Biathlon in a combined time of 18:01.

Senior Preparatory Biathlon.doc

In the individual category Quentin Brugnolo completed both legs in a winning time of 17:43

Certificate of Excellence in Physical Sciences to Waterberg Academy

Waterberg Academy Rewarded for Excellence

17th November 2017

VAALWATER – On Wednesday 8 November Mr. Mashishi, Chief Subject Advisor of the University of Pretoria, came to Waterberg Academy in Vaalwater to present a Certificate of Excellence in Physical Sciences to Waterberg Academy. Mrs. Leonard seen above is the Physical Sciences Teacher.  Mrs. Leonard was present to receive this accolade, signed by the Vice-Chancellor of Pretoria University, Professor Cheryl de la Rey.

The letter accompanying the award said the following:

“Based on the results of the Grade 12 final examinations of 2016, your school ranks among the 30 top-performing schools in South Africa in Physical Science.”

The University of Pretoria would like to congratulate you on this achievement, which bears testimony on the dedicated work done by both your staff and learners.

With this Certificate of Excellence, we would like to recognise Waterberg Academy as an institution of excellence.”

Rachel Calcott from WA scored 91% for Physical Sciences.

“It is wonderful that our school has been recognized with this entirely unsolicited award from one of the country’s premier educational institutions,” says Mr. Mark Godfrey, Headmaster of Waterberg Academy.

 

Top Matric Achievers Rachel and TK

Top Matric Achievers Rachel and TKWords from Rachel and TK

Mark Godfrey, Headmaster of Waterberg Academy, was proud to announce the Academy’s IEB matric results for 2016. Not only is the school once again celebrating a 100% matric pass rate but 87,5% of the class also achieved a BD pass which entitles them to go on to study at University. The matric teachers are “dining out” on these outstanding results and the total of 15 distinctions achieved between the eight Matriculants in their Class of 2016.

The results achieved by two individuals which account for 12 of those distinctions are particularly impressive….

Starting at the school in GR R in 2004, Rachel Calcott spent her entire school career at Waterberg Academy. She was consistently first in class and was awarded a Waterberg Academy Education Trust full scholarship during her high school years. Rachel carried away the DUX award at the 2016 Prizegiving ceremony. It was therefore no surprise to the school when the IEB National Senior Certificate results were released and she emerged with scores ‘out of the top drawer’. Rachel received distinctions in all of her 7 matric subjects with 85% her lowest mark and 97% her highest. In addition, Rachel scored 90% for her eighth subject, Advance Programme English, placed in the top 5% of candidates over five subjects, and was in the top 1% in three subjects – Geography, Life Science and Life Orientation.

Rachel is the epitome of the all-rounder, excelling in both the classroom and on the sports fields where she represented the Academy in every team sport they play. She is also a talented piano and bass guitar player.

Rachel took on an extra subject, Advance Programme English, which is the equivalent of the British A-level English, or approximately 1st year university level in South Africa. Preparing the 18 extra novels and plays and the many additional poems were a cinch for this avid reader, who simply devoured all the works necessary. “What a loss to literature that this daughter of physicist and local astronomer, Dr Phillip Calcott and English teacher at the Academy, Juliet Calcott, should choose the Sciences over English for her tertiary education,” said Godfrey.

Tayla Kaè Nicholson began her schooling at the Academy in GR 3 and was also a recipient of a Waterberg Academy Education Trust full scholarship. She has always expressed the desire to write and has developed a special ability in this area. Looking at her single-minded approach to the serious business of her studies, this is a young lady on a mission and we will one day see her books on sale. “When this happens, I shall be at the head of the queue to purchase her work,” said Godfrey “as I have read her short story submissions in our annual Novella Writing Competitions and this lady has talent.”

Tayla Kaè garnered four distinctions and got 70’s in her other three subjects. Her 96% for Life Orientation put her in the top 1% of candidates in that subject.

The Academy is justly proud of these achievements as their learners write the National Senior Certificate on the very high standard set by the Independent Examination Board. The IEB not only sets high standards but also provides a peer monitoring and moderation system which assists each matric teacher to get their charges ‘up to speed’ and able to cope with the rigorous assessment process throughout their GR 12 year.

Godfrey was quick to point out that successful results are usually the outcome of good teaching over a number of years. “Waterberg Academy had a particularly strong teaching faculty this year and there will be no staff changes for 2017,” said Godfrey. “This level of staff stability is sure to impact all the classes of 2017 very positively.”