• The Publishing Post

The Lowdown on this Year's SYP Scotland Conference

Rosie Burgoyne in conversation with Alice Bilger, Conference Lead at SYP Scotland.


How have you found the process of organising SYP Scotland’s first ever digital conference?


It’s been both fun and challenging. We were all new to the digital conference format, though we had some great examples from SYP South West, SYP London and the Edinburgh Book Fest. When we first started discussing the conference last summer, we talked about a possible hybrid model for the 2021 conference. In the end, I’m so glad that we went for a fully digital format and we are excited to be able to reach a wider audience of publishing professionals and hopefuls. Through our virtual conference running from 26-27 March, we will be able to make connections across the UK and even worldwide.


What sort of events for publishing hopefuls will be on offer at the conference?


We know that it has been a rough year for hopefuls seeking to take their first step into the industry.


In response to this, we have planned a range of panels that we hope can offer some support and encouragement going forward. In ‘Alt. Routes’ we discuss diverse and unconventional routes into the industry, with a panel of professionals who found their way to publishing after careers in other industries. In ‘More than (Trade) Words’, industry insiders from sectors other than trade publishing – from education, academic, business-to-business (B2B), distribution comics and literary agents – give short presentations about the joys of working in their respective fields. This is meant to give publishing hopefuls an idea of the diverse options available to them.


Of course, it would not be a conference without an opportunity to make new connections. We offer two separate networking events at the end of both conference days. Friday’s networking session takes the form of our popular #SYPChat, where hopefuls and professionals will be able to get together on Twitter to discuss all things publishing, guided by discussion prompts provided by @SYPScotland. This is an event open for all, ideal for those who are camera shy or have certain accessibility needs. On Saturday, we close the conference with a virtual speed-networking cocktail party on the platform Run The World, where you will get the opportunity to meet and mingle with hopefuls and professionals alike.


We heard that you have been working hard to make this year’s conference as inclusive and accessible as possible, what are some of the steps that you have taken to achieve this?


We still have much to learn, but accessibility has been a key focus for us in organising this event. There are so many ways in which the industry can do better in terms of inclusion and accessibility, so we really wanted to make sure that those discussions would be taking place at our conference. For example, in our pre-recorded sessions ‘Dear Publishing’, members of the book community are able to pose questions to publishing professionals, answered in the sister panel ‘With Best Regards’. In our panel ‘Sharing the Password’, we discuss gatekeeping, inequality and initiatives towards making publishing more inclusive. Additionally, it was important to us that our speakers come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, providing a range of perspectives.


All our panels and speeches will be captioned using the service Otter AI, summarised in blog posts and available for attendees to watch for some time after the conference. Finally, we have a number of free tickets available for anyone from lower socioeconomic backgrounds or those who have been severely affected by the pandemic. We would love for you to get in touch with us if you’d like to apply for one or if you have any further questions about accessibility (sypscotlandconf@gmail.com).


Where can tickets be purchased from and what packages are available?


Tickets for both SYP members and non-members can be purchased from our Eventbrite page. We offer a package including a ticket and an SYP membership for those interested in becoming a member. All ticket-buyers (and those who qualify for free tickets) are entered into a lucky draw, where three winners will get an opportunity to attend and choose from A-list publishing training courses with a value of up to £250.00 each.


What are the benefits of joining SYP for somebody in the early stages of their publishing career or somebody looking to work in publishing?


Truly, there are so many benefits to becoming an SYP member: monthly events, mentorship schemes, a subscription to our InPrint magazine, trade discounts and discounted tickets to our conferences, of course. However, since joining the SYP I really have found the community to be the most rewarding. Not only do you get to expand your professional network, which can be extremely beneficial as you pursue your first role in the industry, but you also become part of a community of hopefuls and early-stage professionals, who will be there to support you along the way.

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