Saturday 29 January 2022

Covid 19: An extraordinary time

How we came to publish this one

We are most certainly living through an extraordinary time. It’s important that we writers document this some way or other. So, we invited writers we knew and their trusted friends to contribute writing to this volume. Any type of script was welcome; articles, essays, musings, poems scripts, short stories or flash fiction. There was no limit except of time. Texts could be as long or as short as they needed to be. People  could submit as many pieces as they liked. Everything had to be submitted by a certain date and everything would be accepted. We would make more than one volume if need be. It just all happened to fit into one reasonably sized volume.     

The title

We asked contributors to suggest titles and then all the suggested titles were presented to all of the contributors in a survey that also asked about whether we should produce a hardback or paperback, what the cover should be like and whether we should donate revenue to a charity and if so which one? “You’re always saying that this is an extraordinary time,” suggested one contributor “so one title might be Covid 19: an extraordinary time’.” That was the one that stuck.     

Some notes about the process

All of the contributions were gathered in and ordered chronologically into the book. It was then given the lightest of copy-edits by one of our experienced editors. It is supposed to be snapshot in time.         

The cover

Both yellow and red were suggested for the cover. Red for danger, yellow for poison. There was a lot of call for the popular image of the virus to be on there. So that is what we did. We have a red cover with a yellow image of the virus on it. We reversed this for sister publication Aftermath.  

Some notes about style

We have a mixture of short poems, short stories, glimpses of life, diary entries, swatches of script. All represent a response to the virus.   

Who we think the reader is

Maybe the readers are the children and grandchildren of the writer and indeed anyone else who has lived through this strange time. That was partly the rationale in going for a hardback. We wanted something that would endure. Hopefully it will be of interest for future generations.     

What else

Contributes can opt to have their profit share of net sales revenue donated to Médecins sans Frontières. We will organise that, otherwise they can take the normal profit share and either keep it for themselves or donate to another charity of their  choice.  

Review copies

It’s always great if you can buy the book, or download it if you have a plan, and give us a review. Just click here to be taken to our online bookshop. If you would like to review and you are strapped for cash, just get in touch for a free review copy.        

Monday 17 January 2022

Putting Together a Book

 Scrapbooking, Scrap, Scrapek

So, your text has gone through three or so edits, the last one being almost like a proof-read and we move on to the next stage.


This is the design of the inside of the book. We have to get that right before we can finalise the cover; the number of pages in the book determines the size of the spine.


So we take the raw Word document and convert it into what you will see in the book.  Hopefully this Word document is double-spaced with indented paragraphs and no extra line between paragraphs. We turn it into single-spaced document, the pages of which are the same size they would be the eventual paperback book.     


We apply a set of styles. There is one for the chapter heading. Another is used for the subheading – the same one is used for the by-line in a collection of short stories by multiple authors. A third is used for the opening paragraph of each section – the paragraph isn’t indented here. Then there is the normal one for the rest. In addition, we have a style for emails and another for letters. Note also that we use slightly different sets of styles for our various imprints.


Some problems arise if the writer has formatted their text “manually” i.e. typed in spaces or used the tab key rather than the paragraph tool. This creates odd code and we can never be sure whether the code is what the writer wanted or if they want their text to look the way it appeared when they sent it.


It’s worth remembering as well that we block text for both e-books and print books.  This is convention. The text used to run to the edge of the page to stop ink pooling  at the side of pages. We don’t really need to worry about that anymore. Ragged right is useful for all sorts of reader – young readers, publishers and academics. So it would certainly be useful to the ordinary reader. However, we stick to convention.


In order to block text, the programme spreads the word out along the line. Unfortunately this emphasises any extra gap the author has left in. So, a good strategy is to remove all of those extra gaps before the book gets to this stage. We have software that does this but it saves quite a bit of time if the author already presents a pristine text. Incidentally there should not be a double gap between sentences. That was to do with the way typewriters worked; that practice actually feel out of favour in the late 1950s but many writers persist.   


It’s good for the writer to see their text in this form. It looks substantially different form the double spaced A4 sheet. This change in appearance can encourage a closer reading.


We present this first stage of design to the author who rereads it and can rectify any misunderstanding about the layout plus find some odd typos no one has spotted yet.   This sometimes leads to several conversations between the author, editor and designer.  We then take all of the changes on board and hand it to another proof reader. This is usually not the first editor although if the text has a distinctive style we may hand the work back to the first editor. And more conversations follow.


The cleaner a text is, the less time we have to spend on it, which means in turn that  the book will recover its set-up costs more quickly  - and we’ll have the time and money to publish more books.