One of the things I love about publishing is... • 24 June 2006 • The SnowBlog
One of the things I love about publishing is...
... that it provides a lovely balance between the satisfaction of long term planning and short term delights. I love planning; dreaming up our wildest ideas and having the time and space to think about how we could make them real. I love knowing 12 months in advance exactly where we're headed. It means that once the basic structure's in place, we can tweak and add and innovate and respond to what the market wants up to the time of publication, with no nasty last minute scrabbling around to do all the basics. And at the other end of the spectrum I love the flexibility that being little (the company, not me) encourages. It tickles me that we can have an idea and do something about it that very day. For example, we have an old nipping press and a guillotine in the office, and if we get a submission in that shows promise, I can quickly typeset it (takes about five mins thanks to InDesign's autoflow function), print it on our duplex printer (on xerox recycled paper which has the unintentional benefit of looking like 53gsm bulky news), trim the spine side, slather with binders' glue and squash (nip?) in the nipping press. Once the glue is dried, I trim the remaining three sides, fold a card cover round it, draw a cover design in biro and hey presto, there's a bound book ready to read within twenty minutes. Flum.
A short term delight to rival no other in publishing (except for hearing our name called out at the Nibbies award which was a bloody marvellous feeling) is when a book arrives back from the printer. Hot on the heels of The Death Artist, Ex Machina arrived in the office yesterday. I was so worried, as with all our books, that somehow the printer would have dulled the colour, wonked the font, smudged the resolution, or that the gleaming RGB image on our big backlit monitors would, in real life, end up a poor, flat, flimsy disappointment. But it never does. It's PERFECT. Thanks, wondrous Joyce at Cox and Wyman. I had to do a celebratory dance on my own in the office, though, because Gilly and Anna are in America on a Secret Mission (more soon. It's not really secret) and brave soldier James is recovering having lost a fight with his appendix - an apt illness for a publisher, thinking about it.
Because I didn't have anyone to talk to last week, I got all the boring things done that I normally put off by bugging the others and freed up enough time to indulge myself in having a flick around the web to see whether people are saying anything about us and our books. There are lots of nice things around, especially about our open rejection letter which I think is honest and illuminating but not blow-your-socks-off amazing, but people do seem to find it more insightful and useful than I gave it credit for. I also found a comment on a blog from someone who said that they had heard about Snowbooks and liked what we were doing but that in their opinion we spend more time talking about Snowbooks than our actual books. Damn, this comment upset me. The commenter probably didn't intend it to be particularly cruel, but I though about all the work we do, all the hours we put in to trying to get the word out about our books, all the copies we send out and the reviewers we talk to and about how friendly we try to be and how much we love our books and how all we ever seem to be doing is blogging, writing, emailing and talking, non-stop, with everyone we meet about our books - and yet this commenter had not seen any indication of all this effort. Back to the drawing board on that one, then. Thank god for the retailers who buy our books and display these little mini billboards (that's what a cover is, after all) in hundreds of locations around the country. Where would we be without them? On that note, Ex Machina has presold 10,000 copies - a Snowbooks record. Whoop! And in the spirit of talking about books not Snowbooks, Ex Machina is the sequel to Adept and an indication of its quality is that my darling husband, who more often than not sits on the sofa picking fault with whatever book he's reading, has sat quietly engrossed in his fresh copy of Ex Machina since 10am today - and hasn't even turned on the football. Job done.