Category Archives: Design

Celebrating four years as a publishing freelancer

May 9 2013 was the day I made my last commute into London to the company I’d worked for for thirteen years. I’d gone part-time a year earlier, but this was it – I was on my own.

So four years later… did I make the right choice?

I love being involved in book creation: editing them, proofreading them, typesetting them, making ebooks out of them. I thrive when I’m working on a diverse range of books, using a diverse skill set, which is something you’d never get to do in-house. This past [freelance] year alone I’ve edited, copy-edited, proofread, typeset or ebooked: science fiction, romantic fiction, police procedurals, Second World War submarine fiction, thrillers, quirky Edwardian detective fiction, romantic comedy, fantasy fiction, historical fiction, a lovely book about gardening and bees, a fantastic allegorical animal story for adults, a collection of academic essays, a guide to Arab culture, a mind, body, spirit title, a children’s science book (back to my roots there), a human resources guide, YA fiction about a young rock band…

During my time as a freelancer I’ve worked with large publishers, tiny publishers, new publishers, agents, established authors… I’ve helped self-publishers get their books into print and I’ve been involved in some books that you’ll never see in the shops or on Amazon Kindle, but mean so much to the people they are made for…

Talking of which, last summer I was contacted by a woman whose mother was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. Her mum had written a book and was desperate to see it ‘published’ [in print] – it was her life’s dream. The daughter knew no publisher would take it, but her mum so wanted to hold the book in her hands and her daughter so wanted to make that dream come true for her. So after much discussion about things like how far we should go with the editing and how much everything would cost, that was what we did. I tidied up the text as much as possible, given that the author wasn’t able to make any editorial decisions by this point and rarely remembered what she had written. I typeset it and had it proofread. The daughter painted a cover image, wrote blurb and a biography, and then we made it into a hardback book using Blurb.com and had a handful of copies printed for the family. Sadly, the mother died early this year, but her daughter told me she had read the book to her mum in her last days in hospital. I think about that a lot and it makes me so happy and proud that I was able to make that small wish come true for that family.

Then this year I was nominated as an Unsung Hero of Publishing, which is a recent initiative by whitefox to celebrate those of us who don’t normally get much recognition but do a lot behind the scenes of publishing. Rather aptly for me, whitefox are celebrating their 5th birthday tonight with a BookMachine event and I’m looking forward to going along.

So, did I do the right thing in going freelance? I think so, yes, and I’m looking forward to many freelance years to come. I wonder what I’ll get to work on next…?

 

 

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Star Trekking – Radio Times magazine August 1996

Radio Times magazine cover Star Trek 30 anniversary

OK – you may have noticed I’m a Star Trek fan. Star Trek and I are celebrating the same milestone birthday this year. My daughter is also celebrating (well in her case I’m not sure she considers it celebrating) a milestone birthday.

A couple of days ago I came across this issue of the Radio Times on Ebay. It’s from the week of my daughter’s birthday. I duly bought it from a fantastic seller who not only posted it quickly and carefully, but also used seventeen stamps from the 1970s to pay for the postage!

This has been a real joy to look though – and I hope my girl gets a kick out of seeing what would have been on the telly the day she was ten.

 

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Wonderland Tales 1973

Wonderland Tales Book

Wonderland Tales and Story-and-Picture Book. Published by Ideabooks 1973. Featuring artwork by Spanish illustrators Jesus, Alessandro and Adriano Blasco. According the blurb the brothers lived and worked together. You can see the slight differences in style through the panels, and I love the definite 70s aesthetic Alice has to her.

DSCF2283WL2Wonderland Tales Book

The book also features Gulliver’s Travels and The Golden Box as well as a couple of short stories, Shouting Stones and The Brave Young Shepherd

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Willo The Wisp Annual 1985

Willo the Wisp Annual 1985

Willo the Wisp Annual 1985, IPC Magazines © DN and PM Spargo 1982. Originally priced at £2.95. It’s completely clean but there is a single-sheet insert missing.

Willo the Wisp is a fantastic cartoon series, voiced by Kenneth Williams, that first aired in 1981. It features the denizens of Doyley Woods – including Willo the Wisp (the narrator), Mavis Cruet, the blue-haired fairy, Arthur the caterpillar and the wicked witch, Evil Edna. Go look for it on YouTube if you’ve never seen it – it’s a treat!

Willo the Wisp Annual 1985

The incomparable Evil Edna

Willo the Wisp Annual 1985

Astrognats game

Willo the Wisp Annual 1985

Cut out models – there is a background scene later in the book

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Hare and Hedgehog 1970

Hare and Hedgehog book

This is a Picture Grasshopper book. Retold by Euan Cooper Willis and illustrated by Horst Lemke. First published in paperback by Abelard-Schuman Ltd in 1973. It was originally 50p (which is what I paid for it in the Salvation Army charity shop the other week).

Hare and Hedgehog book

The story goes: the hare is very proud that he can run so fast and challenges the hedgehog to a race. Hedgehog wins by roping in his family – who all look like him – and hiding them at various points along the course, so the original hedgehog is only there at the beginning and the end.

I think the moral is meant to be ‘don’t show off’ or ‘pride comes before a fall’ or something. I always found these sorts of stories a bit suspect – I know the hare is a show-off, but the hedgehog wins by cheating, so I’m not sure who gets the moral advantage here!

Anyway – the illustration is FAB. I love the costume touches – the hedgehogs’ neckerchiefs and the hats on the birds – and hare’s check trousers are brilliant.

Hare and Hedgehog book

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Compliments slips?

Just occasionally I have to send a book or a set of printed proofs back to an editor. Until now I’d scrabbled around to find a postcard or note card to scribble on rather than a scrap of paper. So when Moo sent me an email to say that they were having a sale I thought I’d make some compliments slips. But then I noticed their flyers. You can print on both sides and have different images on one side too. So I used the square Alice in Wonderland word clouds I’d made for my Alice fixed-format ebook for the backs and my contact details on the fronts with space left blank to write on. They arrived yesterday and are great. They are on very heavy paper – practically card – with a matt finish that takes a biro no problem. Perfect!

Compliments slips

Compliments slips

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Alice Card Game 1950s

Alice Wonderland Card Game

Another Pepys card game. Apparently just called Alice because another company already had an Alice in Wonderland game.

This is the Disney version – again the whole story is told on the pack of cards.

Alice Wonderland Card Game

Alice Wonderland Card Game

Alice Wonderland Card Game

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass illustrated by Dagmar Berková 1992

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

Produced by Aventinum, Prague, for Treasure Press and published in 1992. I’d not seen this before. The rather lovely illustrations are by Dagmar Berková.

These are the three sisters in the treacle well – I don’t remember seeing them illustrated before.

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

Alice Wonderland Dagmar Berková

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Robin Annual 1973

Robin Annual

Robin Annual 1973 – A Fleetway Annual, published by IPC Magazines Ltd.I believe Robin was a children’s comic in the UK.

Robin Annual

Robin Annual

Robin Annual

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The Original Alice in Wonderland 1988

Alice in Wonderland Kincaid

This edition is illustrated by Eric Kincaid and published by Brimax Books as a WHSmith exclusive. It’s heavily illustrated – a mix of text and illustration and full-page and spreads.

Picked up in a charity shop sale for 30p. I also got Peter Pan – also illustrated by Eric Kincaid (I’ll post that later).

Alice has brown hair in this edition and looks more like Alice Liddell than the blonde Disney Alice.

Alice in Wonderland Kincaid

Alice in Wonderland Kincaid

Alice in Wonderland Kincaid

Alice in Wonderland Kincaid

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