Tag Archives: non fiction

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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June and School Friend Book of Heroines 1970

Book of heroines 1970

I picked this up yesterday for £2. Published by IPC Magazines in 1969. The price is still in at 10’6. June and School Friend were girls’ comics.

Joan of Arc is the main story – told in comic-strip form and taking up 24 pages spread through the book.

There are loads of inspiring stories of female derring do, self sacrifice and adventure. Including Edith Cavell, Queen Zenobia, Anna Leonowens (she of The King and I), Grace Bussell (Australian shipwreck rescuer), Gertrude Bell, Flora MacDonald and many others.

Here’s Violette Szabo – another long comic strip.

Book of heroines 1970

 

Gladys Aylward. This is the story the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman is based on.

Book of heroines 1970

 

This is Grace Darling.

Book of heroines 1970

 

Suffragettes.

Book of heroines 1970

 

And someone I hadn’t heard of – Louise Sutherland – who cycled around the world solo in the 1950s.

Book of heroines 1970

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The Anatomy Of Costume (1977)

Since I was small I have been interested in historical costume. I loved this book – I would pore over it for hours. I lost somewhere along the way, but I was really pleased to pick it up again recently – and it was just as I remembered it!

Anatomy of Costume

It was published in 1977 by Book Club Associates, by permission of Mills & Boon Limited.

It’s illustrated by Victor Ambrus – a prolific illustrator and author of both fiction and non fiction. In recent years he’s been working for Time Team illustrating reconstructions of archaeological sites and historic events.

I can’t find much about Robert Selbie. The cover notes that he was involved in theatre costume design.

The book starts with Egyptians and ends with the 1960s. Each era is discussed over four pages. The first spread is mainly text with small pictures around the outside. The second spread has a full-page image of a man and a woman on the right. All of the images are labelled and there are relevant quotes too.

These are the Romans:
Anatomy of Costume

The Tudors (Very Wolf Hall):
Anatomy of Costume

And what was worn in the 1940s:
Anatomy of Costume

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Gravity is a Mystery 1971

A few weeks ago I came across this in a charity shop.

Gravity is a mystery book

It’s from a huge and diverse series called Lets Read and Find Out published by A&C Black. Titles ranged from Watch Honey Bees with Me to The Sun: Our Nearest Star.

I spent many years editing Scholastic Children’s Books’ Horrible Science series and I love a bit of illustrated non fiction.

Don Madden’s illustrations are an absolute joy – I gather he illustrated many, if not all, of the titles in this series. I particularly love the cat and dog onlookers/assistants. I hadn’t come across him before, but I shall certainly be looking for more.

Gravity is a mystery book

Gravity on different planets

Gravity is a mystery book

Through the Earth

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Books are exciting (Ladybird Keywords Reading Scheme) 1967

Books are Exciting Ladybird

Visiting the library

I found this in David’s Bookshop, Letchworth, for 25p. Result! This is a great book to show in this ‘100 years of Ladybird’ year.

This book is part of the Keywords Reading Scheme series (11c) and is all about books and reading. It covers fiction genres, non fiction (including facts, crafts, things to do, etc) writing your own books, visiting the library, using encyclopaedias, and finally how books are made. I don’t know if it was a mistake, but the book follows two children and their experiences of reading, but at the start they are introduced as Rita and Tim, but several pages in they turn into Peter and Jane (who were the usual Reading-Scheme characters) with no explanation.

Books are Exciting Ladybird

Choosing books

Books are Exciting Ladybird

Making books

Books are Exciting Ladybird

Fiction genres

I’m not sure Ladybird would use this image as a cover now! But to put it into context, it is the illustration from a story in the book about how some South Sea Islanders catch octopuses. Presumably this image was chosen as being (in the publisher’s opinion) the most exciting in the book. At that time (I’m not sure about now) cover images were always taken from the book.)

Books are Exciting Ladybird

Cover

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Book of Space Adventures 1963

Book of Space Adventures

One thing is certain, THE NEXT STEP is going to be just as exciting for the world as previous achievements have been and the day draws nearer when Man sets foot for the first time on Earth’s nearest neighbour.

Wowzer! My husband just picked up this fantastic Book of Space Adventures – the latest developments in the world space programmes – published and distributed in the UK by Atlas Publishing 1963. It’s in a hardback annual format and contains a mix of factual articles about world space programmes, aircraft developments, such as supersonic flight, and comic-strip stories about Ace Jordan – the, extremely square-jawed, leader of the Galactic Patrol.

Book of Space Adventures

Here’s some info about the Gemini Project…
Book of Space Adventures

And the Apollo Project…
Book of Space Adventures

Book of Space Adventures

Book of Space Adventures

Project Apollo – before the moon landings.

And here’s something a little more theoretical – a Mars probe.
Book of Space Adventures

The huge appeal of this book is that is is pre-Moon landings. The final spread gives ‘a brief look at the next decade’ and sums up…

Certainly the big news we can all hope for will be Man’s first landing on the Moon and it will be a big feather in the cap of whichever power wins the Moon race! … Who knows what other incredible feats may evolve as Man challenges the Universe and stretches out toward the unknown in the next ten years…

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More Alice in Wonderland themed books

Alice themed books

Alice-themed books

Today I picked up two Alice in Wonderland -themed books.

The first is Toys from Alice in Wonderland by Margaret Hutchings with Doris Cook. It was published in 1979 by Mills & Boon. It contains a selection of toys based on the original illustrations. There are wonderful felt Red and White Queens in their chess-piece guise, a Rocking-Horse-Fly and a collection of ‘thimble toys’ using some of the animals from the pool of tears (Mouse, eaglet, Dodo, etc). Most of them are more models for display, rather than toys for playing with, but you can make an Alice with an extending neck made out of lolly sticks.

The second book is The Other Alice – The Story of Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland by Christina Björk and Inga-Karin Eriksson, translated from Swedish and published in (American) English by R&S Books in 1993. This is a fascinating illustrated book about Charles Dodgson, the Liddell family and the writing of the Alice books. The story is told mainly in narrative form, but with excursions into how to make a handkerchief rabbit (complete with diagrams), a spread on Dodgson’s photographs and what happened to everyone after Alice.

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Victorian Children’s Non Fiction: The Young Naturalist – 1879

This week I bought a DVD of digitised out-of-copyright books about Lepidoptera and other insects. The are mostly 19th and early 20th century titles. Some have beautiful colour plates and some have hand-coloured illustrations.

This one caught my eye. This was published in the UK in 1879 – and is about butterflies and shells.

cover

Cover

title page

title page

The writing is aimed at younger readers and goes into a lot of detail about what the Greek and Latin means in the scientific names – often recounting the odd myth or two if relevant.

the young naturalist page

Greek and Latin myths

Text about the large blue

Text about the large blue

Colour plate

Colour plate

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Books and Illustrators from my childhood number 6: Pere Castor’s Wild Animal Books

I have to confess that I don’t remember these, but they would have been around during my childhood. I’d like to think I would have seen some.

While I was pottering in a secondhand and bric-a-brac emporium in Hitchin today I came across this.

Frou jacket art

Frou jacket

This is a story about Frou the hare, number 4 of Pére Castor’s Wild Animal Books, illustrated by Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky also known as Rojan.

There are more examples of his work here http://www.fulltable.com/VTS/aoi/r/roja/r.htm

The series was translated by Rose Fyleman  and was published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd in the UK and by Flammarion in France. This book has no date, but Amazon are listing it as 1938.

There’s more on Pére Castor here http://www.answers.com/topic/pere-castor

This book is absolutely enchanting; a mix of non-fiction and a story of Frou the young hare from his early life (His father had been eaten up by a fox and his sister had been carried off by an owl!) to meeting Capucine, his girlfriend and their life together.

Page from Frou

We’re introduced to Frou

Frou meets Capucine

Frou and Capucine meet

The story covers about a year in their lives. They have to hide from foxes and crows, the huntsmen and their dogs, a separation and a joyful reunion.

The happy ending

The happy ending

The lithographs by Rojan are just gorgeous – I shall be looking for more in the series.

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