By volunteering to produce a yearbook for her graduating class, Laura Jones got her first taste of designing a book, leading to her setting up her own publishing company, 404 Ink.
MA English Literature
|Year of Graduation||2012|
Why did you choose the University of Edinburgh?
I chose Edinburgh University’s English Literature programme as it was unmistakably one of the best programmes in the country and I knew it would expand my awareness of literature, local and international, beyond my meagre knowledge at that time.
Starting the course in September 2008 was certainly challenging and took a lot of quiet hours in the library to keep up but I soon landed myself in a rhythm and found some fellow students on the same wavelength as myself who were gunning for a good (productive!) balance of studying and celebrating essay successes…
While in my third year I worked as a Student Caller, helping to raise funds for the University from previous students over the course of a few weeks. It was a much needed boost of funds that both kept me going and gave a little something back to Edinburgh while hearing some insanely heart-warming stories from alumni who remember their times at Edinburgh fondly.
When it came to the end of the degree I, with a team of friends on the programme, arranged a yearbook for the class graduating in 2012. We took it upon ourselves to organise and gather all questions and answers, photos, design, printing and distribution and this was my first real taste of designing a book, which would later become my bread and butter! Today I typeset and design books for my publishing company and clients, I never would have guessed that the yearbook we poured so much effort into would shape my future career quite so strongly. I’m glad we took on that project voluntarily and hopefully produced a memento the class of 2012 can enjoy looking back on in years to come.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
After completing my English Literature MA at Edinburgh I began a master’s degree in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling. There I learned the business end of book and literature production, loving putting my MA to practical use.
Since then I have worked as an Editorial and Marketing Assistant at a Man Booker shortlisted publisher, started my own freelance services and started my own publishing company, 404 Ink.
Establishing 404 Ink in Edinburgh was key to our beginnings, as the richly supportive publishing community within the city helped us build our foundations before we gained international acclaim for our first crowdfunded book, Nasty Women, which gained praise from Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith, Samantha Shannon, and a number of other authors who I admired and some I even studied while doing the English Literature MA! That was an incredible professional achievement that Edinburgh University played an early part in.
404 Ink approaches its second year of trading in 2018 and was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. I hope it’ll be around for many years to come and that it will remain a Scottish, Edinburgh-based book publishing company at its heart.
Establishing 404 Ink in Edinburgh was key to our beginnings, as the richly supportive publishing community within the city helped us build our foundations before we gained international acclaim for our first crowdfunded book, Nasty Women [...]
Don’t worry too much about where your degree will take you immediately after you graduate. Some lucky ones will fall right into jobs, others will take a while to find their rhythm and the area for them, especially arts students.
I’ve gone into a very difficult industry to enter largely by forging my own way and would encourage students to be creative and ambitious in their aims and not let setbacks stop them.
Enjoy the time you have as a student to find your loves and hates and let them shape your next steps, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. The smallest victory now can shape a huge one down the professional path so keep working hard today and reap the rewards for years to come.
404 Ink (external link)