International publishing fellowship programs have long been a mainstay in the industry, as countries lure foreign editors, agents and publishers to read--and export--their local literature. Most fellowship programs are tied to international book fairs, and newer ones (such as the trip mounted by the Turin International Book Fair) have been springing up alongside more established ones (such as those hosted by the Jerusalem International Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair).
With these programs in mind, Scotland has established its first publishing fellowship program, timed to this month's Edinburgh International Book Fair. The fellowship will pay for eight members of the global publishing community to come to Scotland for a week to attend the book fair, and then meet with publishers throughout the country. Coordinator of the program, Publishing Scotland's CEO Marion Sinclair, said she's hoping the fellowship can help draw attention to this relatively small industry.
Why launch a publishing fellowship program in Scotland?
The hope is to promote the work of Scottish-based publishers and agents to the world. We also hope to encourage the buying and selling of rights beyond the U.K. market; build closer relationships with the international publishing community; and promote the publishing and writing scene in Scotland in general. In terms of tangible outcomes, we're hoping to foster a greater international outlook in the publishing community. This has always been a strength among large companies in the U.K., but we have very few large companies in Scotland and so small and medium publishers and agents need support to encourage a sense of wider involvement on the global scene.
How did you go about selecting international attendees for the fellowship?
We asked members of Publishing Scotland, and a small steering group, to recommend publishers and key figures in the industry. We then whittled that down to a shortlist of 10 publishers who were then invited to come to Scotland in August for a week. In the end, eight were able to accept. Next year we will accept open applications, beginning in January 2016, for publishers and agents to come and visit again in August during the Book Festival.
What's the biggest challenge facing Scottish publishing?
One is certainly the size and scale of the industry here. [It's a small industry and relies on] growth among existing publishers, more opportunities for new start-ups, and more 'heft' on the international scene.
One genre Scotland is known for is crime fiction. Are there any Scottish crime writers, with books coming out in 2015, who you think are especially poised to reach a wider international audience?
We do appear to excel in crime fiction in Scotland. I think, in this country, Conan Doyle continues to exert an influence. Looking at books out this year, I think Malcolm Mackay, has a highly original voice. He has had some critical success, and won some awards [including the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award]; his latest is called Every Night I Dream of Hell. Unusually, in his books, there is no one crime to be solved, and the criminals often go unpunished; the action happens entirely in the underworld with very little intervention from either the police or the law.
Interview has been edited and condensed.