What is your specialism within book publishing?
Typesetting, page layout and producing print-ready PDFs.
Can you describe what you do in 10 words or fewer?
Making books easy to read with good typography and layout.
What led you to go freelance?
Two things: Towards the end of 2015 I was made redundant along with all the other staff of Robert Hale Ltd when they ceased trading. Their imprints were taken over by another publisher, The Crowood Press, and as there were titles in progress arrangements were made for me to acquire the iMac I used and finish off those jobs. While continuing to do the odd job on a freelance basis for The Crowood Press, I took on a maternity cover contract at DK. The contract was extended and I was there for 14 months. They are a really good publisher to work for and I learned a lot but it was not a creative role and the commute meant I was permanently exhausted. So when that contract came to an end, it was a good opportunity for me to stop commuting and build on what I had done for The Crowood Press. Chapter One Book Production has now been in action for two years.
Do you work primarily for publishing companies or independent authors or a mix?
It’s a good mix now. I still do regular work for The Crowood Press, mostly non-fiction now that the fiction list has transferred to another publisher. I also do work for independent authors and more recently I’ve started collaborating with a number of book coaches to handle the design and production stage of getting their clients’ books published.
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
The sheer variety of books that I get to work on. I’ve done the page layout for crime and contemporary fiction; various historical titles; biographies; health, wellness and lifestyle books; a couple of recipe books; and much more.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your freelance journey?
I can’t do it all and you have to show up consistently when you’re using social media as a means of marketing communication. You have to recognise when you need help with running your own business. In the last year I’ve taken part in a Mastermind course for LinkedIn and got some expert guidance on marketing and mindset.
How many books are in your TBR (to be read) pile/list? And do you plan to read them all eventually?
A lot! At the last count there were over 200. It’s a phenomenon known as Tsundoku. I do aim to read them all eventually but I might have to retire before that happens. I think I’ve at least got to the stage where the TBR gets added to at the same rate that I read.
Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?
I love physical books. I love seeing what special finishes have been used on the cover and how the book has been laid out, as well as enjoying reading a good story and actually turning pages. I resisted getting a Kindle for a long time but wouldn’t be without it now. Ebooks mean I don’t have to use half my luggage allowance for books when going on holiday.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in publishing?
Being passionate about books and reading is a prerequisite for any career in publishing. Part of the reason for this blog is to show some of the roles involved in getting a book from the author’s script to printed or digital book. Consider where you want to specialise, both in terms of the particular role and the type of book – fiction, non-fiction, academic, education, children’s – before committing to any studies. Also remember that the publishing world is full of people working on a freelance basis so you don’t necessarily have to find a job within a trade publisher, though it is undoubtedly good experience if you can. It’s a very competitive industry.
What is your favourite children’s book and your favourite adult’s book?
I’m going with the titles that I have reread most.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is my favourite children’s book. I could completely lose myself in Narnia.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is probably still my favourite adult’s book. 2018 marked 80 years since it’s original publication but I still love the gothic tale and volunteered a few years ago to give out copies of it for World Book Night, which happens every 23rd April.
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