Friday 8 June 2012

The Joy of Producing Books

I recently received a copy of Wild n Free (Paws n Claws, 2012). This is an anthology of stories by children about wild animals. Royalties are donated to the Born Free Foundation. I was one of the readers of the stories submitted and I’m pleased to say that my personal favourite went on to win its section, the judge being Lauren St. John. I had nothing to do with the production of the physical book but the designer I work with at Bridge House, The Red Telephone and Chapeltown Books did the Kindle version. The cover artwork is also by one of the children and there are several drawings within the book. It’s a pleasure to hold and looks grand on the shelf. The stories are fascinating. 

Bridge House’s On This Day is almost ready to go. This has been a challenging book to produce. Authors have disappeared, failed to return proofs or provide bios and slotted all sorts of mysterious things into their text that has really thrown the formatting. But never mind; in a few hours it will be loaded up to the printer. We’ve released the cover to a few interested parties. It entertains. Readers can spend a pleasant time matching the dates with world-stopping events and newspaper headlines. Somehow, because it has been so difficult to produce, it will be all the more satisfying when this book is out.
I’m currently editing Bridge House’s Science Fiction selection – in fact actually waiting for about half of the edits to come back from authors. To date this has seemed far less fraught than On this Day.  I’m going to call it Eslewhen and the cover will be of a desolate landscape – photoshopped to make the colour surreal. Such fun!

The Red Telephone is about to start producing more e-books – watch the web site- submission details coming soon. Our 2011 competition winners will still have paperback books produced. Thereafter, we shall publish e-books initially, and only produce print books once 1,000 copies have sold.  It isn’t quite the same, producing an e-book. You don’t actually get to hold it in your hand. It still needs a cover, though, and a very good one at that. You still get some of the fun of the visuals as you load information up to websites and gradually start to read book reviews, and then find lots of mentions when you Google the book. There’s always merchandise too – using our pals Vista Print and CafĂ© Press, you can get postcards, business cards, leaflets, T-shirts, mugs, mouse-mats and lots of other things made at a very reasonable, though they’re probably more for the authors than the publishers.  
In my study there is a shelf full of books into the production of which I have had some input. Near them are books I have written, produced by other publishers. If I ever have any sense of failure – and I’m afraid that happens a lot to writers and publishers – you have to acquire a thick skin – I only need to look over to those two shelves and I then feel no shame in saying “I made this."