Dark Sky Pages

Supporting bookshops, literary festivals, writers, publishers and reading organisations

About

About Dark Sky Pages

Dark Sky Pages is a home-based small business in Wigtown in the west of Galloway, started by Gillian Hamnett in 2019.

Wigtown is in the heart of the UK’s inaugural Dark Sky Park and is Scotland’s National Book Town. It’s home to a thriving annual book festival and also a growing hub for cultural practice and literary tourism. 

Gillian’s working life has been spent with books in commercial, education and development roles dedicated to reading, writing and literacy. Dark Sky Pages blends this perfect location for writers and bibliophiles with her professional expertise to offer bespoke services and support for the literature sector. 

Dark Sky Pages offers both editorial and commercial services on a freelance basis. These include bookselling, income-generation and operational guidance, proofreading, copyediting and a dedicated writing studio and workshop space. Writers, agents, publishers, bookshops and literary festivals alike are encouraged to find out how Dark Sky Pages can help them craft their product or develop their service. 

Hourly rates apply to specific services and an overall price can be tailored to a range and combination of services accessed.

Dark Sky Pages is also the engine room for Stellar Words – a new annual selling fair for Scottish trade publishers.

About Gillian

Hello. I’m Gillian Hamnett. I’m a book industry professional with 20 years’ experience.

I was born and raised in Dumfries and Galloway and moved away in 1996 to complete degrees in Scottish Literature and History at Edinburgh University. I started out as a Christmas temp at Waterstones in 2000 and have worked with books and reading ever since. 

I’ve spent most of it as a bookseller or bookshop manager, but I’ve also worked for a national reading charity, in publishing, as a literacy advisor and, more recently, for a poetry library. After working with publishers for years, I started editorial training in 2017 and began doing proofreading and copy-editing work to complement the commercial work I do. I love being part of a book’s publication journey and helping it find its way into bookshops and onto people’s bookshelves and reading lists. 

I moved back to Dumfries and Galloway in 2018 to live in Wigtown. Living in beautiful scenery surrounded by bookshops, a notable book festival, creative writing groups and publishing activity is hugely inspiring. 

I now run Dark Sky Pages. I also run a book group called ‘It’s Not About The Book Group’ and am generally to be found plotting bookish adventures.

Books, reading and learning are my principal passions (although red wine and cheese come a close second). I’ve always used libraries and I believe in the transformative power of reading. I love browsing well-stocked bookshops and attending cleverly curated literature events. I’m inspired by writer-development, vibrant publishing and the transformative power of reading.

I hope you are too. Please get in touch if you have a bookish project you think I can help with.

About Wigtown

Wigtown is tucked away in rural south-west Scotland. With the Central Belt and Ayrshire to the north, Cumbria and the Lake District to the south, the Scottish Borders and Northumberland to the east and Ireland and the Isle of Man to the west, it’s aptly referred to as ‘The Five Kingdoms’. There is a kaleidoscope of scenery to choose from: pastoral landscape, salt marsh, rugged coastline, woodland, forest, moorland and mountains. 

Wigtown’s history is extensive, rich and varied. The local area is sprinkled with relics and antiquities that narrate times long gone, and throughout the last millennium, Wigtown has served as a fortress, a market town, a site of religious martyrdom and an industrial and agricultural powerhouse noted for textile, dairy and whisky production.

It has, since 1997, been Scotland’s National Book Town, and today new enterprises help Wigtown to hold its own in a changing world. It remains steeped in the history which contributes to its unique character and charm. It is nestled in the UK’s first Dark Sky Park (link and explanation) and sits adjacent to both a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the largest and most ornithologically diverse wetlands in the UK. There is nowhere in the world quite like it and visitors from far and wide have fallen in love with the town.

About the Book Town

In 1997, Wigtown was designated Scotland’s National Book Town after winning a UK-wide competition designed to stimulate the economic fortunes of small towns whose industries and sources of employment had diminished. Wigtown’s Book Town status has made it the Hay-on-Wye of Scotland and has acted as a catalyst for regeneration with many properties refurbished, including the splendid County Buildings. Its many second-hand bookshops, excellent cafes and other newly opened businesses (including the whisky distillery) have made it a magnet for book lovers.  

The Wigtown Book Festival – started in 1998 – is a 10-day festival held annually from the end of September to the start of October. It has sprouted impressively since its inception and is now a must-see in the UK’s calendar of book events and a festival favourite among writers for its friendly and informal atmosphere. The Book Town and its bookshops have been further popularised by the bestselling book The Diary of a Bookseller. Its author, Shaun Bythell, is the proprietor of The Bookshop, Scotland’s largest and possibly most cavernous and quirky second-hand bookshop. The book’s sequel was published in 2019 (more are planned) and a trip to Wigtown is generally not complete without a visit to the shop to meet its famously misanthropic owner and his notably more sociable black and white bookshop cat, Captain.

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