Scotland Opens ‘A Year of Stories,’ Publishing Scotland Aligns Its Programming

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The Visit Scotland tourism theme ‘Year of Stories” is to be coupled with Publishing Scotland’s ‘Shaping Scottish Stories’ programming in 2022.

Image: Detail from ‘Year of Stories’ graphic, Visit Scotland, Kenny Lam

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Publishing in Scotland Began More Than 500 Years Ago’
In the closing hours of our publishing year, we’ve heard from Edinburgh, where Publishing Scotland is gearing up to tie its programming into a national tourism campaign in 2022.

Our Publishing Perspectives readership normally thinks of Publishing Scotland in relation to its busy translation funding program. (Publishers outside the United Kingdom may want to note that the next application deadline to the Publishing Scotland Translation Fund is January 25. This is the second round of the 2021-2022 translation funding cycle, and more details are here.)

The Scottish tourism effort, Visit Scotland, has since 2009 produced themed years to highlight various aspects of Scotland and its character. Having presented “Scotland’s Year[s] of Coasts and Waters” for what turned out to be two years–when the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic made it sensible to run the same theme for both 2020 and 2021–the upcoming year has been themed “Scotland’s Year of Stories,” and is intended to showcase “stories inspired by, created, or written in Scotland.”

As it warms up the promotional text for the campaign, Visit Scotland writes, “Stories are vital to every part of Scotland. Every community has its own tales to tell, places to highlight as inspiration for well-known books and films, visitor attractions that showcase our literary and storytelling heritage and all kinds of places and spaces where stories, old and new, can be enjoyed.”

And Publishing Scotland, the “trade and network body” for the Scottish bookselling sector, has decided that new branding deserves more new branding, and thus will call its tied-in activities “Shaping Scotland’s Stories.”

Some of the initiative will feature partnering with book festivals, at which Publishing Scotland / Shaping Scotland’s Stories will pair authors and their editors for conversations.

  • At the Paisley Book Festival, set for February 17 to 26, for example, authors Mick Kitson and Anne Pia and their respective editors are set to be featured
  • At Aberdeen’s crime festival Granite Noir, February 24 to 27, Leela Soma and Ewan Gault are scheduled to talk with their editors
  • At the StAnza poetry festival in St. Andrews, March 9 to 13, another set of authors and editors’ talks is anticipated for an announcement soon

James Crawford

Our readers will recall the superb film, Second Nature, presented by Publishing Scotland with James Crawford in 2020. The presentation of a film has become an annual offering now, and the 2021 piece, “Dark Travelers: The Rise of Scottish Crime Writers”—again produced with Crawford—features the “Tartan noir” icon Val McDermid as well as Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, Marisa Haetzman, Booker Award shortlisted author Graeme Macrae Burnet (His Bloody Project), Abir Mukherjee, and Ian Rankin. We’ll embed that new piece below for you. It had its premiere in September.

The 2022 film project is expected to feature “history and talent of Scotland’s publishing sector.”

Nicol Ljubić’s ‘Stillness of the Sea’ was published by Vagabond Voices in Anna Paterson’s translation with a grant from Publishing Scotland

Publishing Scotland is also planning to offer year-round “Year of Stories / Shaping Scotland’s Stories” digital content, “to  further showcase the stellar literary talent connected to Scotland’s shores, with particular focus on the publishers.”

“On top of these dedicated projects,” the program says in its media messaging, “the organization’s annual offerings will be shaped to complement the “Year of Stories” national campaign with thousands of trade catalogues showcasing member-publishers and books that fit with the key Visit Scotland themes—iconic stories and storytellers, new stories, Scottish people and places, local tales and legends, and inspired by nature—being available in bookshops, libraries and visitor centers across the country.”

There’s also to be a newly commissioned poem from Edinburgh Makar (poet) Hannah Lavery, that poem titled “The Gaithering.”

Of course, everyone must hope that the fast-spreading B.1.1.529 “omicron” variant of the coronavirus won’t disrupt all these plans too profoundly. Surely a tourism board—in any country—feels the deprivations of COVID-19 more keenly than those in many other industries, and at least Publishing Scotland can continue to function, as it has done so far in the pandemic, in support of Scotland’s industry and community.

Marion Sinclair

In a prepared statement from Publishing Scotland CEO Marion Sinclair, we read, “Publishing is where stories meet the world.  We welcome very warmly the arrival of ‘Year of Stories 2022’ as a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the work of writers and publishers in Scotland.

“Publishing in Scotland began more than 500 years ago.

“The contribution it has made to getting stories out to the wider world still continues to this day with member-publishers, agents, and booksellers across the entire country. The work of selecting, commissioning, developing, shaping, producing, marketing, and selling, all plays a huge part in helping stories reach their audience.”

Heather McDaid

And Heather McDaid, the organization’s program support officer and point person for the “Year of Stories / Shaping Scotland’s Stories” programming, says, “Visit Scotland’s campaign is a great opportunity for the Scottish book world to celebrate under one umbrella—a chance for us to further spotlight the work that goes into making books, showcasing not only many brilliant authors, but the teams and processes behind the scenes, working hard to bring stories to life.

“Across the year, Publishing Scotland will be celebrating Scottish stories in their many forms, and further showcasing the vibrant talent of Scotland’s publishing and literary sector.”

One thing many in the world industry would like to see is Publishing Scotland require publishers who receive translation funding from the program commit to naming their translators on their book covers. This, of course, is aligned with the #TranslatorsOnTheCover program introduced with the Society of Authors in late September, prompted by author Mark Haddon and translator Jennifer Croft.

In the end, after all, translators of Scottish work have a critical role in “Shaping Scottish Stories” for those of us who like to read those works in other languages.

The Coronavirus in Scotland

Today (December 16), Jack Aitchison reports for The Herald that Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the omicron variant will become dominant in Scotland by Friday (December 17). She has announced that there were 5,951 new cases reported in Scotland on Wednesday (December 15) and that 45.4 percent of them exhibited indications of the omicron s-gene dropout.

Sturgeon has said that she has expressed to Boris Johnson in London that she is “profoundly concerned by the scale and immediacy of the challenge omicron poses.”

While the BBC reports that Sturgeon has made certain elements of guidance from Edinburgh just that, guidance, other elements are being put into place with the force of law. For example, working from home “whenever possible” will soon be “anchored in the law,” she said, adding that compulsory requirements for retail settings are being formulated now to reduce transmission as much as possible.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Publishing Scotland is here, and more on translation, translation funding, and translation rights is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As as an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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