Category: Blog

Pluto Press

Pluto Press to shut office for the International Women’s Strike!

Emily Orford is Marketing Manager at Pluto Press, an independent publisher of radical, non-fiction books. Having been active in UK radical politics from the age of 14, she is committed to bringing a range of new, original thought to the discourse of the Left. Her work in digital marketing has been shortlisted for the IPG Awards 2018.

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Only connect: The publisher’s role in helping ideas spread

Nigel Wilcockson, head of Random House Business Books, recognizes three categories of business books:

‘There is the management strategy book, which is what people think of straight away when they think of business books… you’re trying to get across ideas that may be relatively common currency but you’re finding a fresh way of putting them across.

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2017 Man Booker Prize

Lincoln in the Bardo wins 2017 Man Booker Prize

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders has been named winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Lincoln in the Bardo is the first full-length novel from George Saunders, internationally renowned short story writer.

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Translation tips for beginners

Have you ever heard the term “lost in translation”? What this commonly used phrase essentially means is that there aren’t specific words to describe the feeling, emotion, or sensation when you’re trying to translate it into another language. (It’s also a really great Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson indie film.) Although a lot of language is universal, some language is cultural and can be difficult to translate.

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Google Analytics for publishers: What should you focus on?

If you are writing and managing a blog or website, you really need to get friendly with Google Analytics. Yes it can be a little bit of a head bend, BUT practice makes perfect and there are some simple things you can do to get more out of your analytics.

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We really need diverse books

Typically, when I tell someone I work at the Feminist Press one of two things usually happens. People either share all of their (usually negative) thoughts about feminism or they ask what that means. The simple answer is that we are a small nonprofit publisher dedicated to uplifting marginalized voices from around the world. Founded in 1970 to recover lost literature by women, the Feminist Press is the longest continually running feminist press in the United States. A large part of why we have lasted so long is that we have adapted with the movements, become more intersectional, and embraced feminisms.

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#imaginepeace picture book launch with messages from around the world is a new website celebrating the publication of IMAGINE, the first picture book set to John Lennon’s iconic lyrics paired with illustrations by award-winning artist Jean Jullien. The book has been published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, an imprint of The Quarto Group – all royalties from the sale of IMAGINE will be donated to Amnesty International.

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A long-term approach to working with book bloggers [Winning blog idea July]

Each month BookMachine offers a community member, with great ideas, the chance to write on the site. July’s joint winner (with Richard McCartney’s piece), was Dawn McGuigan with her top tips for working with book bloggers in the long term. 

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Diversity Focused Independent Publishing House launched today

3 of Cups Press is a new independent micropublisher, launched to promote and champion marginalised and minority voices otherwise unheard in mainstream publishing.Their first book, On Anxiety, has been released for funding on Kickstarter.

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Experienced designer

InDesign for publishers: Annette Peppis interview

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Annette Peppis, virtual team leader at Annette Peppis & Associates. Annette’s work was recently commended in the ‘Best Website’ category at the Richmond Business Awards.

1) How frequently do you use InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I use InDesign every day (and Photoshop/Illustrator occasionally). I switched over from using Quark XPress in 2004; I was freelancing pretty much full-time at BBC Books, and attended an in-house course on transitioning from Quark to InDesign. Almost immediately, I was hooked.

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

I am a Creative Cloud user, so have access to the latest updates. However, I only update occasionally as the latest versions often have bugs when they are first launched. I improve my skills by googling things that I don’t know how to do and then follow with tutorials. Adobe have quite a good Help section, but I often prefer to follow tutorials on YouTube.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

Always use style sheets. You will save yourself time, save your clients money, and make it easier for others to follow your styling. InDesign provides Paragraph style sheets (for overall formatting of typography), Character style sheets (to apply to individual characters or groups of words) and Object style sheets (so you can set the style of boxes, for example). If a global style change needs to be made, altering the style sheet will alter every instance within your document.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

You can see a selection of my design work in my Bookmachine portfolio: ,

or more examples of my work on my website’s publishing portfolio pages .

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use InDesign?

If you are a beginner, go on a course. It really pays off in the long run. If you are a fairly accomplished user, has some good tutorials or you could google problems as you encounter them and follow online tutorials.

6) What do you use InDesign for mainly?

Just about everything! In the past two months, I have used it for website banners and sliders, book covers and text pages, brochures, exhibition banners, packaging and logo design (though I switch to Illustrator to refine and finalise logos).

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:


How to network when you’re naturally shy

Networking is crucial in business. But what happens when you’re shy or feel overwhelmed at big events with new people? Stephanie Cox shares some valuable advice for networking when you’re naturally more introverted.

I understand completely if you feel anxious about networking events. Rest assured: everyone feels that way sometimes. The below are a few tips from my own personal tool belt (I’m sure others will have different ideas!) and they’ve helped me throughout my career – from an anxiety-ridden graduate with zero experience and an inferiority complex, to a Society of Young Publishers committee Chair who edits books for a living (and still has an inferiority complex)!

1) Be nosy online and find out who’s going to be at the event

There isn’t a publishing event worth its salt that is not advertised, announced, discussed, and enthused about online before it happens. Welcome to the digital age, my introverted friend! Where the super-confident and very shy alike can come together to discuss the hot topics in the industry, or the latest book causing quite a stir. So, if you find a guest list, great. Print it out, and research the attendees. That will make you feel more prepared. If there isn’t one, you can bet there’s probably a hashtag or Twitter conversation going on somewhere where attendees will be gushing about the event or meet-up. It always put me at ease to know who to expect at a networking event.

2) Start chatting to people online first

Once you’ve seen who’s attending, why not strike up a conversation with some of them online first?

The publishing world is a huuuuge fan of social media, especially Twitter. And we’re all great friends on there. Really. I have met and chatted with some of the biggest names in the business (including Laura Summers, the founder of Bookmachine; the amazing Samantha Missingham, the fabulous Suzanne Collier, and publishing legends Zara Markland, Seonaid McLeod and Karen Sullivan) before eventually getting to meet them in real life at networking events.

Twitter, Facebook and Bookmachine are all tools that you really should be using – not only so that you can recognise names and faces, but so you can start chatting to them online before an event and break the ice. Let them know that you’ll be at the same event, and that you’ll pop over to say hi. That way, you’ll feel a million times more comfortable when you go to introduce yourself, and you will have an existing conversation that you can elaborate on if your mind goes blank.

3) Remember that you’re not the only one who feels nervous or shy

If the person you want to network with seems confident (everyone gets nervous, remember) or clearly networks with a lot of people, then don’t worry. They will do this a lot, and so will be used to having nervous people approaching them to chat. They’ll know what to do; they’re not going to just stand there while there’s an awkward silence. No one bites. Publishing is an incredibly friendly and supportive industry. Everyone was once where you are: nervous at gatherings. Hell, a lot of them probably still are. They want you to feel at ease, so that they can feel at ease too.

A good conversation starter, if the networking event involves a Q&A or a presentation, is to ask them their opinion on what has been said, or if they know the speaker. That should get the ball rolling if you freeze or panic and can’t think of anything to say.

4) A fool-proof tactic (almost like with dating – not that I’m an expert!): ask the other person about themselves and their work

And be genuinely interested. Fake flattery is easy to notice; genuine interest drives enthusiastic conversation.

In a situation where you’re meeting someone for the first time, it feels good to talk about something you know. So the person you’re talking to will be happy to chat about themselves for a couple of minutes. It’s familiar, comfortable territory and it helps you get to know each other. They, in turn, will ask you about yourself and your job, or your aspirations. The conversation will go from there.

5) Seek out the other person in the room who looks as shy and nervous as you do

Perhaps they’re standing in the middle of the room, alone. Perhaps they’re clearly just fiddling on their phone to look busy and less awkward. Perhaps they’re looking around the room, and seem a bit daunted. Approach them! They will be very relieved! Admit that you’re a bit nervous too. There’s nothing more anxiety-relieving than knowing someone else understands how you feel. It can even be a good ice breaker!

6) Have a business/contact card at the ready

Don’t feel all that confident? Get flustered easily? Will you get sweaty or go red in the face if you try, with all the grace of a newborn giraffe, to juggle your bag, your coat, your glass of wine and your phone in order to grab a pen and piece of paper? Yep, you’re exactly like me then.

Not a problem. Get some business/contact cards at the ready and whip one out when the conversation naturally calls for it. (Don’t shove it in people’s faces unannounced.) If you’re not weighed down with bags and you get the chance, write a little note on it about what you were discussing with the other person, so that it jogs their memory later on (though this is not essential). Voila! You immediately look more professional and have a little bit more style than you normally would.

Stephanie Cox is Assistant Copy Editor at the mental health book publisher Trigger Press. Originally from Hull and now working in Newark, she is also the committee Chair for the Society of Young Publishers North branch.

Interview with Windham-Campbell Prize winner Ashleigh Young

The Windham-Campbell Prizes were recently awarded to lucky novelists, playwrights, and poets. Norah Myers interviews one winner, Ashleigh Young, here.

1) Huge congratulations on winning a Windham-Campbell Prize. What does it mean to you?

Thank you very much, and it’s hard to sum up what this means for me, because truly, it means everything. I always knew I would write, because that’s when I felt most like myself, but I knew I would need to do it on the sidelines. My mother had this phrase she’d often shout to get my brothers and me off to school in the mornings: ‘Time is marching on!’ I always got morose when I heard it, because it meant there would never be enough time for the things I really wanted to do. And now, suddenly, I can pause for a moment. I can write out in the open, while time marches on all around me, and it will be OK. Nothing will be lost. That permission is pretty extraordinary.

2) How will this help your writing?

Mostly, the permission to write will help me to focus, because my concentration will not be splintered by all of the things I should be doing instead. It will remind me: this is the right thing; this is something you can do with your full self.

I think also this prize will help me to be a little more ambitious in the subjects I choose to write about. If I ever decide to write about those huge terrifying robot dogs or about the giant w?t? that live in caves in New Zealand (w?t? have been described as ‘like crickets, but steampunk’), I can take the time to do some research so that I can write about them.

3) Money aside, how is this prize different from others you could win?

It celebrates writers without bringing along all the usual baggage of prizes – the longlisting and shortlisting, the sleepless nights, the teeth-grinding. The prize circumnavigates all of that and leaps straight into the moment of celebration. There’s a scene in The Simpsons where Lisa wakes up to find a pony sleeping in the bed beside her, and she lets out a huge scream but then embraces the pony. It’s a bit like that. It genuinely changes the lives of writers. I think also it must be the only literary prize that recipients regularly confuse for phishing or spam – but, I mean, it’s understandable.

4) What do you look forward to most when writing your next books?

Mostly, the pure fun of it. I look forward to that moment when you know you have found the right thread of the story and you feel sure that you’ve managed to articulate or evoke something that you just couldn’t before now. It’s that feeling of optimism that you’ll reach your reader. I’m working on a poetry collection right now, and another essay collection will follow after that, and I’m really excited about both.

5) What advice would you give your younger self when you were just starting out as an author?

Don’t try to be certain about anything yet. Be uncertain for just a bit longer. Don’t be afraid of having questions about everything, especially about things you’re supposed to already know. The longer you can ask questions, the more interesting the answers might be later.

Also, stop sending your stories to real writers and asking for their advice. They’re busy.

Born and raised in Te Kuiti, New Zealand, Ashleigh Young is the author of the critically acclaimed book of poetry Magnificent Moon (2012), as well as the essay collection Can You Tolerate This? (2016), which is a finalist for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. An editor at Victoria University Press, Young is also a creative writing tutor at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington.

First National Indexing Day announced

The Society of Indexers is celebrating its diamond anniversary in 2017 and has designated 30 March as the first National Indexing Day to raise awareness of this little-known but essential profession.

Following on from National Indexing Day, index scholars and lovers will be gathering at the Bodleian Library for a two-day symposium on the Book Index (22–23 June) organised by Dr Dennis Duncan. As Dennis notes: ‘Records from the papal court at Avignon show that by the early 1300s people were being paid to compose indexes. In other words, the professional indexer has been around for a good century longer than the printed book.’

Follow #indexday on Twitter or for more information on the event itself click here.

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