Monthly Archives: June 2019

Judging A Book By Its Cover

We all know how the saying goes. It doesn’t bear repeating here.

Whether we like it or not, we do judge books by their covers.

How many times have you been in Waterstones, casually browsing, and picked up something because the front cover looked cool?

(Side note: the Waterstones here is really cool!)

Minimalist Faber cover or graphics heavy and funky, we all judge books by how they look.

If you haven’t heard of the writer, haven’t heard about the book from somewhere or haven’t heard a reading of it, this is the main way of getting you pick it up.

This week at Peepal Tree has been all about front covers.

We are publishing a debut collection by poet Marvin Thompson. Having been in touch with him, I got a brief outline of the type of things he is looking for.

The collection concerns various places; Jamaica where his parents are from, London where he was born and South Wales where he currently lives and works. The collection also features the poet’s father quite heavily.

To begin with, there was only a  loose idea of what Marvin Thompson wanted, along with some old photographs he hoped could be used.

Throughout the week, I have been using his brief and photographs in various ways to come up with cover designs. I’ve found that they all start off terrible, but the more I do, the more I churn them out, the better they get, and the more interesting the designs become.

I’ve been using my InDesign skills to layer and arrange texts and images. It’s been a lot of fun! I’ve enjoyed the challenge and the chance to be creative in a different way.

In other news…

A might have mentioned in a previous post about designing an advert for people tree which was to appear in The Bookseller magazine.

Well, it was printed and released in the current issue (Friday 28 June).

Here it is!

Peepal Tree ad in The Bookseller – Friday 28 June

 

 

 

A Summer In Cumbernauld

Hello again world!

Like Hamzah down in Leeds, I’m also going to be doing another internship over the course of the summer – with Cumbernauld Theatre!

The building doesn’t look much like a theatre from the outside (I promise I’ll get pictures). In fact, Cumbernauld Theatre was originally built in 1960, converted from abandoned farm cottages by members of the new town who, seeing that the town planners had neglected to include any cultural facilities, endeavoured to create their own as volunteers. Things weren’t perfect – the 55 seat studio theatre has a tin roof, so when it rained during performances the audience certainly knew about it. But now, 59 years later, the theatre boasts a 250 seat auditorium (with the original studio playing host to workshops), the centre is run by the professional Cumbernauld Theatre Company, and next year the company will be moving to a state-of-the-art new building, in a more accessible location from the town centre and train station.

That’s where I come in. After much liaising about where to fit in an aspiring playwright as an intern, I have been asked to research the theatre’s archives, dating all the way back to the 60s, and present a spread of their history to appear in the Autumn programme – this Autumn being the last ever season to be held in the original building. So, expect more and much more detailed accounts of Cumbernauld Theatre’s history in the coming weeks!

I’ve also been asked to help out with the theatre’s summer youth programme. The Summer Academy is a series workshops aimed at different age groups of children. 6-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds are given a week-long course in which to devise a performance, to be shown at the end of the week, while the 13+ group have a more intensive two week course. All the classes will be drawing inspiration this year from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and my job will be liaising with the tutors, taking part in the workshops myself and helping the children plot and write a performance. The real trick, apparently, is striking the right balance between steering the kids without taking over what is supposed to be their project – something I’ve found to be a key part of collaborating in theatre no matter the age range.

I’ve been to Cumbernauld Theatre four times in the past few weeks. The first time for my initial interview, to discuss whether the theatre and I were a good fit for one another, and more recently to witness some of the kids who’ll be attending the Summer Academy in action. I sat in two Saturdays ago on the term-time classes for 6-8 and 9-12 year olds.  I haven’t worked much with children, certainly not a big group of them before and never as young as 6, though I have been mistaken for a 12 year old boy on several occasions. I was, to put it mildly, terrified going in. What if a child started crying? What if one kid started bullying another? What if they all started bullying me? At what age do you not need to support their heads anymore?

More than anything else, however, the day proved overwhelmingly nostalgic. I recognised games and songs I used to love in drama classes years ago. And the kids – who I’ve been reassured I’ll never be left alone with, saving not just the cost of a PVG but also me from bursting a blood vessel from stress – are actually all sweet. Although they all seem to have an alarming compulsion to gravitate towards the most dangerous looking objects in the room whenever they think no one is watching. By the end of the day I was in awe of the two tutors who somehow manage them all every Saturday.

Last Wednesday and Thursday I was up again, to watch another group of children rehearse a show called Remote, written by Stef Smith in 2015 for the National Theatre of London, about young people navigating this age of technology and information. Or, as the Cumbernauld Theatre programme puts it: “Remote is a play about protest, power and protecting yourself.” What was most interesting to me was seeing how hard the children worked, and how much they improved from the first run-through I saw to the dress rehearsal the next day. All of them were guided and motivated, of course, by their director Hannah, who doubles as Cumbernauld Theatre’s Drama Practitioner.

From July 1st I’m going to be visiting the theatre and archives on a regular basis, while surfing the couches of some very gracious friends in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I await the next few weeks with excitement and (just the tiniest bit of) terror.

Until next week,

Kai

P.S. Having taken 130 hours to finish it, I am never touching Persona 5 again. At least not until the new downloadable content comes out. In the meanwhile I’ll have to find another game to report on for the sake of quirkiness.

My First Week At Peepal Tree Press

I’ve been in Leeds for a week and already done so much!

Where do I start?

Reading & Blurb-ing

First of all, there has been lots of reading! But that shouldn’t be a surprise, I’m working in a publishing company after all.

I have to say, one of the best things so far, is reading some great – and some not so great – writing for free!

The reading has mostly been fiction and poetry. Along with reading submissions, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been reading an upcoming poetry collection which I have to write a blurb for.

It was like being in class, taking out a pencil, annotating the manuscript, taking notes and analysing the text. Nothing like a bit of close reading to keep you humble!

The interesting part was  how to write the blurb itself. I thought I knew how to do this, but that wasn’t quite the case. I went into default review mode and started writing  how I write for DURA.

It’s not quite like that. It seems to sit on the fence between a review and a newspaper article, with all the most important info coming first. My blurb had to be around 250-300 words, but I was surprised to learn that it could be extracted by a magazine, for example, and only the first 18-30 words used.

After a few editing suggestions, I went back to the blurb and refined it.
Now I’ll just have to see if my blurb makes it on to the actual book!

Advert for The Bookseller

One of the most enjoyable things I have done so far is to flex my graphic design muscles and make a half-page advert for an upcoming issue of The Bookseller.

Peepal Tree has half a page to advertise the company and promote its latest titles. So, I’ve been spending some time with Hannah, discussing different ideas and designs.

I suggested that we use a poem from one of the our latest releases, A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson, to capture people’s attention. His poem ‘Black Olive’ is certainly one that will do that. The final version of the advert includes the poem, several book covers and general information about Peepal Tree.

Other bits and pieces

I was lucky enough to attend an Art Council Meeting with Jeremy to learn about how publishers can make the most of their digital and social media presence.

And, not strictly publishing-related, but Jeremy was one of the speakers at a conference on Post-Colonial Studies, where I met various students and academics and listened to some fascinating presentation.

Up next…

Currently I’m working on Peepal Tree’s catalogue for 2019. I have to make sure it is updated with the correct information and in the correct order before it goes to print.

In the coming weeks I hope to have a stab at come formatting and editing, but so far so good!

Before you go…

If you’d like to learn more about Peepal Tree Press, check out this interview I did with Jeremy and Hannah.

I’ll be back with more later,

Hamzah

 

 

 

Another Summer, Another Internship!

This is now my third summer in a row as an intern.

My last two were at DC Thomson in Dundee but this latest one takes me much further afield – to Leeds!

Peepal Tree Press Entrance

Over the next six weeks or so, I will be doing a new type of dissertation module which involves me doing a placement with Leeds publisher, Peepal Tree Press – yes it is very fancy, thank you.

Peepal Tree is a UK-based publisher which specialise is Caribbean and Black-British and South Asian in the UK. It publishes writers from both the UK and the Caribbean in Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction.

There are lots of different parts to this dissertation placement which I’ll explain as I go along and as I begin to understand better myself.

As for my first day…

It was great! I have already done a whole range of things I had never done before:

I looked at submitted manuscripts that were in Peepal Tree’s pile and read to see if they could be taken further. That’s right, I make the decisions around here.

I was given an introduction to things like Consonance, a software where publishers manage all their data for their titles.

And a look at Submittable from an organization’s point of view.

It was interesting to get a feel for working in-house at a publishers. Reading manuscripts and navigating around the software has already allowed me to use some of the skills I have picked up during my degree – so that’s a good sign!

There was plenty to do on this first day and, by the sounds of it, plenty of more great things to come.

Drop by later to find out how I get on!

Hamzah