A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

International Literature Summit

LAS Summit on the International Promotion of Literature & Books

DATE: Wednesday 23 November 2016

TIME: 10am to 4pm (Registration from 9.30am).

VENUE: Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR

HASTAG: #LiteratureSummit

Please note: this event was by invitation.

This one-day Summit was the first event of its kind to bring together writers, publishers, literature organisations and the main public agencies in Scotland with a responsibility for the promotion of Scotland’s literature and languages internationally.

The aim was to discuss the main issues together and take a first, practical step towards a joined-up, strategic international presence for Scotland’s literature and languages.

The Summit responded directly to Recommendation 31 of Creative Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Review (2015), in which it is recommended that leading literature institutions and publishers convene a summit for laying the groundwork for a strategic and coordinated international presence.

Officially opened by Dr. Alasdair Allan MSP, Scotland’s Minister for International Development and Europe, the audience of 88 delegates from Scotland’s literature and languages community including British Council, EventScotland and Creative Scotland heard from 26 participants across five sessions in one day, who deemed it a successful and stimulating discussion. Read the headline notes

Delegates were also provided with a pack which included a delegate list, programme, summary of section 7 of Creative Scotland’s Literature and Publishing Review 2016 on International Promotion and Market Development and, crucially, a snapshot of the international work being undertaken in 2016 and the aspirations of the delegates provided by our members.

Pre-event press coverage featured in The Herald Arts page, The Bookseller and The Edinburgh Reporter.

On the day, consensus was reached for a joint service between organisations with a practical, pragmatic and focused universal approach. The detail of this approach was discussed at a follow-up International Development Meeting, held on 25 January 2017 at Saltire Society, via an open call for attendees. Interest was high with 25 taking part in a lively discussion. Read the headline notes. It was agreed that a working group of five people would draw up key actions on strategy, information, promotion and intervention. The International Working Group met on 21 March 2017 including Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland / LAS Lead of International & Partnerships Group; Ian Brown, ASLS; Jenny Brown, ASLA; Jenny Niven, Creative Scotland; and Ali Bowden, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust with the next steps being to establish broader support for the service and develop a multi-agency approach.

This helped lead to the establishment of Scottish Books International in 2019. Dedicated to the international promotion of books, writers, festivals and organisations, SBI will take a strategic and co-ordinated approach to showcasing and championing Scotland’s writers, publishers and festivals overseas. SBI is led by Sasha de Buyl and supported by a steering group of Publishing Scotland, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Creative Scotland and Jenny Brown Associates.

The service is linked to LAS via an international steering group, made up of the three organisations funding the service, who will utilise our communication network going forward.


10.00Welcome by Donald Smith, LAS Vice-Chair
Introduction by Magnus Linklater, Summit Chair
Opening Address by Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Scotland's Minister for International Development & Europe
Keynote writer address by James Robertson
10.20Session 1: Literature Organisations' Perspective. What needs to be done? Chaired by Magnus Linklater
Fiona Brownlee of Brownlee Donald Associates for Association of Scottish Literary Agents (ASLA)
Duncan Jones, Director, Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS)
Eleanor Pender, Communications Executive, Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
Nick Barley, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Book Festival
Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive, Publishing Scotland
Asif Khan, Director, Scottish Poetry Library
11.45Session 2: Public Agencies' & Tourism Panel, responding to Session One. Chaired by Magnus Linklater
Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing, Creative Scotland
Cortina Butler, Director of Literature, British Council
Jeni Oliver, International Executive Creative Industries, SDI
James McVeigh, Head of Marketing & Innovation, Festivals Edinburgh & steering group member, Edinburgh Tourism Action Group
13.30Session 3: Writers' Panel. What additional support do writers need internationally? Chaired by David Robinson
Gavin Francis
Vivian French
Kathleen Jamie
Ronald Frame
14.15Session 4: Publishers' Panel. What more could be done internationally? Chaired by Jenny Brown
Hugh Andrew, MD, Birlinn
Andrea Joyce, Rights Director, Canongate Books
Katy Lockwood-Holmes, Publisher, Floris Books
Adrian Searle, Publisher, Freight Books
Rosemary Ward, Director, Gaelic Books Council
Robert Davidson, Publisher & MD, Sandstone Press
15.15Session 5: Resolutions & Next steps. Chaired by Magnus Linklater
15.55Closing Remarks - LAS Vice-Chair