All posts by Hamzah Hussain

Short And Sweet! – My Internship With Saraband

I’m a bit late with this one because there has been a lot going on, but I can finally sit and write about this great experience.

I realise I’ve been very fortunate in my internships and have done and learned a lot of exciting new things.

A couple of weeks ago, I made my way down to Manchester for a few days of work experience with Saraband.

Although not quite a full week, I was surprised at how much we managed to fit in.

 

Proof Reading

As a bit of a warm-up before getting to Manchester, Sara Hunt had given me a manuscript to proof. This was a good way of getting a feel for the type of books Saraband (and its crime imprint Contraband) publishes.

Proofing was something I’d done a little bit of before, but not professionally. So I had to take extra care that my attention to detail and my knowledge of grammar was on point.

A lot of the skills from uni came in handy; attention to detail, being thorough in my work and analysing the text. I was glad to get the practice and found it really enjoyable.

I’m realising that I enjoy working closely with the text and can see myself as an editor in the future.

InDesign

Another thing I’ve come to love doing is working on InDesign.

I got a chance to practice those skills again here in a few different ways.

Similar to updating the catalogue at Peepal Tree, I was responsible for updating Saraband’s Highlights sheets, making sure all the relevant information was there.

Working on InDesign is great  because there are so many things you can do  really easily and really quickly.

For example,  Saraband has a new book coming out called The Boxing Diaries which needs a cover design. Using InDesign, I was able to be quite creative and use my own boxing experience to come up with a mood board for the cover.

I put together a few images and example book covers for the boxing book and another book. I loved doing this because it was a chance to get creative and excited about the new books.

Marketing

This was something new and a lot of fun!

The title I had proof read needed a marketing plan, so we brainstormed and thought of different ways to make the title, a historical-fiction creative, appeal to people. Based on the themes of the book, I had to come up with ways to promote it.

This was a very collaborative task where I had to think outside of the box and use my knowledge of social media.

Together we came up with the start of a social media plan, some ideas for events and even an idea for a promotional video.

All in all, it was a busy few days packed with lots of interesting tasks.

If only it had last longer!

 

 

Peepal Tree Press – Another Internship Ends

Unfortunately, my time here in Leeds and with Peepal Tree has come to an end.

How do I feel?

I’m sad that it’s all over now and wish I had longer. But I’m also looking forward to going home and seeing family and friends again.

My internship has been so enjoyable for several reasons:

Working with great people

I have to say, that working at Peepal has allowed me to meet some great and inspiring people who love the same things as I do: books and everything to do with them.

From Jeremy and Hannah, who have been so welcoming, to the visiting writers and other interns, everyone has brought something unique and memorable to the experience.

 

Learning the business

Of course, one of main things is being able to get real in-house experience doing all the things I have and learning as much as I have.

If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I’ve covered a lot of things. I think my favourite things to do were editing and typesetting.

 

A wider reading scope

The major perk of working in a publishing house is obviously the free books.

So, being constantly introduced to new writers, picking up names that were repeatedly mentioned and discovering new texts I may not have come across otherwise was very exciting.  There was always something/ someone know of interest everyday.

 

Creative stimulation

I don’t know if it’s just being at Peepal Tree or if every publishing office is like this, but being in the office was very stimulating for my own creative writing.

I’ve come up with dozens of ideas that I can take home with me and make something of.

I found myself returning home from work most nights, despite being tired, filled with enthusiasm to write, whether it was my own creative work or ideas to include in my dissertation.

This is linked to the point above, but also because of Peepal Tree’s open door attitude in which writers drop in and out all the time.

 

Overall, I’ve learned that moving to a new setting, even for a short while, can be so beneficial both personally and creatively, for all the reasons I mentioned and more.

Thank you to Peepal Tree for having me and making me feel welcome.

Hamzah

P.S. Now to write this dissertation…yay (!)

 

Well Over Halfway

My time here in Leeds has flown in!

With just under two weeks left, I’ve been getting into some proper meaty publishing work; editing and typesetting that is.

Over the last week or so, I’ve been working through the manuscript for a book of interviews.

Delighted at the chance to ‘feel like a proper publisher’, I was ecstatic when the huge pile of paper landed on my desk.

The main thing with this MS was to condense it down. With it being full of interviews, the writer had added in some unnecessary repetition and remained a little too faithful to the spoken word.

It took me a few days to work through the title, averaging on around fifty pages per day.

Using a ‘cheat sheet’ that we were given last semester, with all the proofing symbols and how to use them, I marked up the MS. The changes will later be added to the electronic copy.

While this was fun and got me to put on my editor’s cap, my favourite task so far has been typesetting.

By using an existing non-fiction book as a style guide, I have made the pages, set the formatting parameters and designed the look of the book on InDesign.

I have to say, it is very satisfying to be able to ‘make the book’ myself.

 

This job takes a lot of care, attention to detail and time. So patience is key!

But I’m having a great time learning how to do this, how to solve the problems that arise – thank god for online tutorial – and make something I can be proud of.

Apart from this, there have been couple of new releases from us. Check them out here!

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

 

 

 

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

A-Z of Dundee

Just when you think you know everything about Bonnie Dundee, it reveals something new. They don’t call it ‘The City of Discovery’ for nothing.


As part of this module, I’m lucky to be doing a placement with Dundee Rep. The Rep is currently developing a new production called A-Z of Dundee which will tour different communities within the city.

My fellow intern, Kai, and I are thrilled to be part of this project because we get a sneak peek into the world of theatre AND get to work with playwrights, directors and actors. We have a development meeting which can’t come soon enough.


The production is described as ‘a brand new anarchic, (and mostly true) history of Dundee’ which explores Dundee’s relationship with the rest of the world. We’re not going with the bog-standard ‘Jute, Jam and Journalism’ but will be uncovering things that people might not know.

For this we’ve been speaking Dundonians themselves – us included. After our initial meeting with Heather Cassidy at the Rep, director Ewan Donald and designer Leila Kalbassi, we went out in search of material that can be used in the production.

So,  we chatted to people in the city centre and set up other interviews with people of interest. We’ve had some insightful and amusing conversations so far, but we’ll be building on this before our meeting.


Setting sail for our own voyage
Frigate Unicorn – one of the world’s oldest warships.

To get into the swing of things, Kai and I visited the Frigate Unicorn. We learned a bit about the city’s history at sea and, I learned that sailors must have been very short – I was hunched over the entire time!

Nonetheless it was a valuable visit and we gather useful information, ideas and a contact for an interview.

Gunning for stories. The Frigate Unicorn’s gun deck was cool!

We still have a couple of weeks until our meeting where we plan on pitching our findings to the rest of the team. I’m sure there are many stories left to uncover, come back later to find out what they are – or better yet come to the show.


‘E’ is for E-book

In other news, the internship with New Haven is also going well.

Lately, I have taken fully formatted and edited manuscript and prepared it for E-book publication. I was given a template to use and an example E-book to follow. My job was to make sure the text was successfully transferred on to the template.

It was fun to do and to see how publishing in different formats works. Teddie seemed happy with my work (save for a few mistakes – oops). Take a look at the final product here.

Next up is promotion for another title in about a week or so.


Things are certainly moving along! I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks has in store at both placements.

You can also catch me on Twitter and my own website.

All the best,

H.M. Hussain 

 

Edits, Drafts & Rock ‘n’ Roll- Interning With New Haven Publishing Ltd.

I never thought I’d be working for a cool, international publisher, but here I am!

The first of my two internships/placements is with New Haven Publishing Ltd. New Haven is an international publisher which focuses primarily on music and entertainment publishing. New Haven has over 100 active titles from 55 authors, including some of the coolest names in the media industry such as, rock icon Suzi Quatro and pop idol turned actor Luke Goss.


This virtual internship began at the start of the year when I spoke with Teddie Dahlin,  N.H.’s owner, managing director and first author. Teddie set up N.H. in 2012 to publish her book about her friendship with Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols – I know, cool, right?!

Although the company is quite young, N.H has become a large international publisher with authors from across the globe and an equally widespread distribution. While Teddie is based in Norway, N.H. is a UK company. She has two other companies, New Haven US and Phoenix Press, which is dedicated to crime writing and also in the UK.

New Haven also has a press dedicated to crime writing.

So, you can imagine my excitement when Teddie agreed to have me on board. It seems both of us are treading on new ground, since she has never had an intern before, let alone a virtual one.


In the first few weeks, I’ve learned the basics of how N.H. acquires its authors; from submission, to signing the contract and sending a raw manuscript to Teddie.

This is where I come in.

My first job for Teddie was simple but crucial. She asked me to read a raw M.S. for clarity and give my opinions on it. In this case, she suspected it needed an editor and she was right.

Another book published by New Haven – ‘Fast Living – Remembering The Real Gary Holton’ by Teddie Dahlin

It was a great way of easing into things, but now it gets more interesting. New Haven also publishes e-books so, my next task is to prepare a completed manuscript for digital publication.

My first thought is, “Oh god, how do I do that?”

But there’s plenty of support at N.H. and I’ve been given a template to follow. Despite the nerves, I’m excited to learn and pick up some handy new skills. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Come back in a week or so to see how I’m doing…


If you can’t wait to read more of my work, head over to my brand new website.
It looks pretty slick if I do say so myself!

H.M. Hussain

Writing your first blog post shouldn’t be this difficult

Hamzah Hussain by Robert France Photography

You’d think as an almost-twenty-five year old living in the digital age, I would be a pro at all the things an almost-twenty-five year old should be, like blogging.

To be honest, I missed that train… and the one where everyone listens to podcasts. I guess it’s never too late to learn and catch up.

I’ll try not to ramble too much, so here is what you need to know for now:

My name is Hamzah and I’m and emerging writer from Dundee (don’t ask what kind of stuff I write, don’t event know yet).

That’s my mug up there   ^  ^   ^

I’ll be using this site to update, anyone who cares to read, on my journey through this WPS course. You can find out what we get up to on this course and how we’re doing with our various internships.

You know, for a Creative Writing student, I really thought I’d be better at this sort of thing. But this is just a quick intro. If you want to get a better idea of how I write, you can check out some of my reviews for DURA here.  

For other writerly things, follow me on twitter @hamzah_h21394.