Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I'm going to a posh party tonight (The Wallace Collection to celebrate Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize for Literature) and I think I will not know many people, but at least Gary Pulsifer of Arcadia will be there and has promised to rescue me. It's one that the establishment of publishing will be at in force, and they have little idea of how the independents survive and spend their time.

So, in my handbag are a pair of very high plum suede shoes which I share with my sixteen year old daughter (we have the same size feet exactly) - except she can walk in them and I can't really. On GMTV this morning I caught a glimpse of a competition they are doing for Mother and Daughter modelling contracts. There was Jerry Hall with Georgia Jagger - hmm I think, Georgia should be doing her mocks today. I think it was a pre recorded clip though. Somehow I don't think my daughter and I will be competition - for a start I am nowhere near five foot eight.

All day, I've battled to find a 300 dpi image for the cover of Feather Man - eventually located - imported into InDesign and print quality cover PDF exported. Kit is in Argentina, Rebecca is recording two songs on XFM radio with her band, and Alice is in next week, so I'm alone here. Good news is that a bank transfer of what Publishers Weekly would call a 'nice' five figure sum arrived and is now safely in our UK bank account. So we're OK for a while, BUT the Spring books are key - The Concubine of Shanghai by Hong Ying is due from the printers on Monday and we have 5000 advance orders. That, for an independent, is bloody brilliant.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

New covers and eclectic philosophy

Eagle eyed website visitors will have noticed that The Concubine of Shanghai has changed her spots. It has gone from this:

to this:

The work of our previously mentioned new designer. That is Hong Ying herself on the cover. Yet another one of our authors with the ability to leave me red faced and toungue tied.

Much better to stay hidden reading eclectic philosophy. Upon which subject there was a review of Blue Sky Thoughts in the Guardian last weekend.
And I'm on holiday for a week, yay! January was a month in which we had the full complement of people for just a single day.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Catalogues, as far as the eyes can see...

We have a new catalogue! It came in on Friday, and went out the next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. And is, indeed, still going out. To make the arrival even more nerve racking we got a last minute phone call from the printer on the day they were supposed to be printing saying he thought we'd got our measurements wrong. Now 'twas I who did those measurements originally so if 3000 copies of our most important sales tool were about to turn up unusable, it was going to be squarely my fault. My hands actually shook before cutting into the first box.

They were fine.* Good even. Striking, different, one hopes. The front cover depicts the image from Banquet of Lies with definitions of translation (reflection, combination,transformation) written colourfully in our new designer Alice's (I wonder if she'd like to blog? I'll ask next week) sprightly hand. Inside you will find interviews with not our front list authors BUT our frontlist translators. The spearhead of our efforts to publicize the importance of translated fiction.

The week was of course spent sending them to everyone we know, the Big List came out, the one that in theory everyone we meet gets added to immediately that it seems to us they might be interested. And then it was the monotony of take, open,shove, 2 militres saliva, 10 grams pressure, address, 10 more grams pressure, stamp (the royal kind), stamp (the ink kind), flick of the wrist. This last because rather than piling envelopes up neatly it seems far more fun to see how high a pile of envelopes can be built from two and a half metres away. I find this fun because I am a boy. I think Rebecca, who is not, found it thoroughly annoying.

And so now they're out. All except foreign ones and all the people who were left off the Big List. Should anyone find themselves in this unfortunate situation please let us know and we'll flick a copy thuswards.

Some news:

The splendiferous Vulpes Libris have done a review of This May Help You Understand the World , which is still doing very well.

The Spectator gave a brief mention to The Bookaholics Guide... in an article on books on the internet.

And on Monday, hopefully, we welcome back Catheryn. Whose birthday it was yesterday, should anyone like to send us cake. We can offer impeccably measured translation themed catalogues in return.


*It is, of course, unlikely that if there had been a problem, I would have mentioned it on the blog. I'd be cowering in shame somewhere, probably curled up under something, making a plan to fix things somehow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cheerful and at home!

It's been raining all day and the garden has had a moving show of squirrels, pigeons, jays and thrushes, in addition to very noisy foxes last night, which makes a pleasant change from the view of the Wormwood Scrubs playing fields from the Hammersmith Hospital which has been my view for the past week.

So, on the mend now, and blasting instructions by phone to the hapless Rebecca, Kit and Alice, but we have books to get to press very shortly and every tiny details matters.

So, what did I read over eight long days in my ward prison? Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn, Stephen Clarke's A Year in the Merde, On Chesil Beach (do I need to tell you who it is by?) and a good chunk of Affluenza by Oliver James. The quiz at the start of Affluenza is interesting - and you will have to go find a copy to be enlightened, but I ticked YES to the first five boxes and then NO to all the rest. I think I can honestly say I have never had envy of anyone else's material possessions which I did not have the ability to obtain if I really wanted to. Lucinda Bruce's Aga photos in our new book, Victoria and Lucinda's Flavour of the Month is the closest I've got to it. So I do not think I am affected by the affluenza virus, but I love reading about it.

A Year in the Merde did make me laugh even though Stephen Clarke deserved to get some come uppance for his attitude to les femmes, and if this is how the French see us and how we see the French, then goodness knows how we have managed to co exist in this part of the world for so long. Do I see a battle of tea bags being lopped from Hastings at the French coast, only to have a volley of Cantal cheeses come back at us? Who knows.

I kept the Waterstone's 3/2 stickers on my books through my stay, so the huge amount of people passing my bed could see a) what good value books are and b) how unbored I was compared to the blank, head nodding people in most of the other beds. What a strange world! Books are the only way to fully engage your brain, relax your mind and body and survive, I think, and no screen, kindle or gadget comes close. We need a really, really good publicity campaign to encourage reading - all positive and full of bright colours and interesting thoughts and quotes. Come on Arts Council, government, whoever, it's all there for the taking! Publishers would co operate, and everyone would benefit.


Friday, January 11, 2008

If publishing didn't involve the production of books then one could get a lot done...

We're down one boss.

She's being very brave about a longer than expected stay in hospital, but it sounds horrible. Hopefully she'll be back next week or the one after.

Which means that there's a lot more to do around here, as, factoring in the importance of respective jobs, she makes up about 80% of the workforce.

But we're coping, it's just that I haven't got to a single New Year Email (You know the kind: all the ideas you've had whilst away, people you've realised you haven't contacted for a while, etc.) yet. Let alone a proper New Year Blog. Why do people insist that the books they buy include poncy things like punctuation, spelling and formatting? Ifbookswerejustbigblocksoftextmylifewouldbesomucheasier.* The editorial equivalent of Duplo.

Some more reviews; Two more for The Bookaholics' Guide:

Monsters and Critics



and one for Enlightenment

at the wonderful

Vulpes Libris

As always, we appreciate all coverage.

*I am being facetious. Please do not startsubmittingbigblocksoftextasIvaluemysanity.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Still busy...

By the time we've got through everything that needs to be done it'll be a new year all over again...

But here's some stuff:

Stewart at Booklit wrote a review of The Devil in the Flesh a little while back now. Apologies to Stewart for taking so long to flag it up, the whole process of getting him the books was far more difficult than it might have been. I reused an Amazon package that we had lying around the office only to receive it back a couple of weeks later after the post office had delivered it to Amazon rather than Stewart, Amazon kindly sending it back to us with a question mark. I now no longer reuse Amazon packages, which is a pity because they are potentially very useful. Oh, and when Stewart eventually did receive the package he pointed out that I had sent him different books to the ones that he'd asked for. Not at my best there.

There is an interesting post by the bibliophilic blogger about Witold Gombrowicz who needs an author page, although he uses a pretty old version of the cover of Pornografia , our one's much better:

and back to texts and alignments and covers and deadlines and catalogues and printers and authors and deadlines and indesign and sales and deadlines...


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year!

The only problem with holidays is all the work waiting for you when you get back...

But we've waited far too long to mention that the wonderful bookanine website Vulpes Libris has an interview with our MD Catheryn here.

Hopefully they'll be doing some reviews of our stuff later on this year as well.

I'd write more but it's late and I'm whining. Tomorrow hopefully.