(A few recent examples and some kind words of thanks)
COVER, TITLE, BLURB & PAGE DESIGN
We don’t believe in the old saw that you can’t judge a book by its cover. We think it’s crucial to the saleability of the book that any prospective buyer should be able to make an instant decision on whether what’s inside will appeal just by a quick glance at the cover and the title (and then turning the book over to read the blurb). Here are a few examples of some of our recent books and a brief synopsis of what’s between the covers – judge for yourself if you think we’ve met our own standards:
Synopsis: Water Colours is the follow-up to artist Maurice (Mole) Pledger’s best-selling fishing autobiography, While My Float’s Still Cocked. It is jam-packed with more of his madcap memories of escapades with his fishing friends over the years, and is liberally illustrated throughout with both exquisite watercolours and black and white drawings.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: Once more Pete shows his fine ability to blend an illustration with photographs to create a uniquely artistic cover – ideal for a book written and illustrated by a unique artist. This is the second book that Maurice, Paul and Pete have collaborated on, during which time their relationship developed from author/editor/designer to friends. Friends with a unanimity of purpose to produce a book that is not only technically as good as it can be, but as perfect as it can be creatively.
The blurb is designed to complement this fine cover. Here are a few snippets:
Many of Maurice’s best fish are caught not on bait but on canvas …
Water Colours continues the story of Maurice Pledger’s love of the countryside and painting, of fishing and fish caught in the company of close friends …
[It is] chock-full of witty, whimsical memories and madcap escapades in pursuit of specimen perch, pike, carp and chub …
Testimonial: ‘And as before, without the collective magic of my friends Paul Curtis and Pete MacKenzie – my words would have remained on sheets of paper and my paintings on the board. True artists both.'
(Maurice Pledger, artist and author)
Fly Fishing Outside the Box
Synopsis: Fly Fishing Outside the Box challenges several fly fishing orthodoxies and confronts died-in-the-wool ‘purists’ who, the author believes, have been led astray by traditional writers on the subject. The author then suggests remedies to old, incorrect thinking and suggests new methods based on logic and impeccable research. Fly Fishing Outside the Box has been praised by many of the current gurus of fly fishing and hailed as the most important fishing book in years.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: The title was the author’s idea. After a deep read of the manuscript though, we felt it needed some additional help to truly represent the scope of the book, and gave it a sub-title (Emerging Heresies) and a visual interpretation of the author’s thinking (the ‘nine dot’ graphic on the cover). Interestingly it was Pete (the designer) who came up with the sub-title and Paul (the editor) who thought that a visual representation of the nine dot problem might be good on the cover. This illustrates the synergies that editors and designers working close together can achieve.
We began the blurb with: Fly Fishing Outside the Box takes a hammer and chisel to many set-in-stone fly fishing and fly-tying perceptions and practices … And then simply let famous fly-fishing experts such as Charles Jardine, Paul Schullery, Timothy Benn, Andrew Herd and Tony Haytor have their (unbiased) say.
Testimonial: 'When I signed [with the publishing company] what I didn’t know is that I would be given the unstinting services of two such brilliant and insightful people as Paul Curtis, the managing editor of this book, and Pete Mackenzie its designer. It would be fair to say that both leapt to appreciate both the general drift of the book and its many nuances.
(Peter Hayes, author)
Synopsis: Poles Apart by Michael Nadell, is the result of the author's lifelong love affair with the London roach pole – a massive, usually cane, fishing pole wielded by mainly working class fishermen and which, though once extremely popular, has disappeared almost entirely. Michael has the world's largest collection of London roach poles and an encyclopaedic knowledge on the history of the subject.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: Poles Apart, although extraordinary in its detail, is no dry assembly of facts but, rather, is written with the enthusiasm, and more than a touch of humour, of someone completely at home with his subject. Author Michael Nadell grew up in the East End of London and fished the London roach pole in local waters as a youngster and the subject is close to his heart. So it was important to edit Poles Apart with careful consideration to this as well as respecting the language he used. The cover had to represent the history of the subject and its working class heritage while the page design needed to show a massive array of fact and illustration without simply being a catalogue of information.
Testimonial: Thanks Paul and Pete for the wonderful editing and design job you've done on my book, Poles Apart. I'd certainly recommend your excellent service to authors anywhere.
(Michael Nadell, author)
Synopsis: Cecily Sash – Artist and Teacher is a revision of an earlier book about this renowned South African artist who lives on the Welsh Borders. Heavily illustrated with work from her entire career, the brief was to add an extra section with examples of her output from the last 10 years and update the text in conjunction with the editor, Charles MacCarthy.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: As there were no existing digital files from the original book a printed copy was dissected and scanned before editorial changes were made. Images were processed to overcome any pitfalls presented by the original halftones and new work added from transparencies and digital files. We also photographed a number of the recent works for inclusion in the book. Work was also undertaken on a companion DVD featuring a filmed interview with Cecily Sash that was prepared and released together with the book.
FURTHER SELECTED BOOK PROJECTS
Synopsis: Tied in the Hand: Odyssey of a Salmon Fly Tyer by Sven-Olov Hård is (to paraphrase the blurb) '… the account of Sven-Olov Hård’s life-long journey in search of the perfect salmon fly … and a testament to his quest to tie them using the same methods the Victorian masters perfected – in the hand, without the aid of a fly-tying vice.' Sven-Olov is a remarkable man who is without doubt the world’s foremost authority on tying salmon flies ‘in the hand’.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: Tied in the Hand, which was translated from Swedish, was originally titled ‘An Odyssey Among Classic Salmon Flies’. After several in-depth readings of the book and a development edit, Paul changed the title to Tied in the Hand which, with a new subtitle, much better captures the essence of the book. The pages of the book were beautifully designed by Birgitta Hjelm, while Pete came up with the classic cover design, blending three different images and capturing both the essence and mood of the book perfectly.
Synopsis: The Forgotten Flies of Roger Woolley is a product of meticulous research by author John Watson on the contents of recently discovered fly wallets that belonged to the highly regarded professional fly-tyer, Roger Woolley. It brings to light Woolley’s almost-forgotten importance in the evolution of fly-tying, analysing and illustrating the large repertoire of Woolley’s innovative fly patterns.
Note on cover, title, blurb and page design: This is possibly the best illustration of what we mean by the cover mirroring what to expect inside the book. It is another of Pete’s more challenging designs, especially from the technical point of view. This cover is a meld of three visual elements as in Water Colours. There is the illustration of the river in the background and then two separate photographs (taken by Pete) of the grass bank in the foreground and the fly wallet on top of it. After careful deep-etching and manipulation to get perspectives right, the result is quite startling. One can imagine the fly wallet falling out of Roger Woolley’s pocket while he clambered up the bank after a day’s fishing. The blurb expands on the theme that The Forgotten Flies of Roger Woolley is a classic work of fly fishing literary detection.
Woolley was one of the most important and influential fly-dressers of his era, yet today he is hardly remembered … The Forgotten Flies of Roger Woolley reintroduces to the angler a whole series of important and effective trout and grayling patterns.
Testimonial: ‘Thanks to Paul Curtis and Pete Mackenzie for their invaluable input and skills in putting the book together.’
(John Watson, author)
Synopsis: A Home on the Rolling Main is a fascinating memoir by Lt Tony Ditcham and details his Naval career in destroyers during WW2. Based on his journals and recollections it features dramatic incidents such as the sinking of the Scharnhorst and D Day.
With encouragement from Pete, the author made available many of his private photographs from the period and, along with Tony's own illustrations, these images were integrated into the narrative. The book was initially published privately but has since been taken up and reprinted in paperback form by Seaforth Press.
Synopsis: Shore Fishing: A Guide to Cardigan Bay by John Mason is the definitive guide to fishing the region. The author has gone to great detail on places to fish (he fished every one of the fishing spots himself) and has included a detailed fish I.D. list (with photographs of the fish, most of which were caught by the author).
Note on cover, titles, blurb and page design: The fine colour illustration on the cover of Shore Fishing is by wildlife artist David Miller and really whets the appetite of anyone planning a sea fishing trip to the area. The design idea was to create almost a template for further books in a series on places to fish in the U.K. Watch this space for the next!
Synopsis: While My Float’s Still Cocked, the fishing autobiography of children’s author and illustrator Maurice (Mole) Pledger, was one of Pete and Paul’s first projects together. It has gone to a second printing and has led to a follow-up book, Water Colours.
Note on cover, titles, blurb and page design: While My Float’s Still Cocked could be a case study of how well a project can come together when there is a close collaboration between author, editor and designer. The book was carefully edited, crafted and honed over many months, to create a synergy between Mole’s fine pictures (many specially created for the book) and his (very) whacky take on life. The cover needed to be as intriguing as the somewhat daring (for a fishing book) title. The combining of one of Mole’s illustrations with a photograph of lily pads makes for a truly eye-catching graphic.
Synopsis: Golden Days by Romilly Fedden, is a classic of angling literature and describes an idyllic moment in time in rural France just before the Great War was to destroy an entire way of life. We were introducing it to a new generation of readers.
Note on cover, titles, blurb and page design: The cover says it all – a concept of ours and a neat bit of compositing by Pete using a fine illustration by well-known wildlife artist, Terence Lambert, and a photograph of the Delville Wood battleground courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. But just so no-one missed the significance and lyricism of the writing between the covers, part of the blurb read:
First published in 1919 Golden Days is one of the great classics of angling literature. Yet it is so much more than a book on fishing. Written in the dungeon-dark days of the Great War, Golden Days celebrates idyllic, never-to-be-returned-to times in Brittany before the so-called ‘war to end all wars’. Richly conjuring up the texture of time and place with a marvellous eye and unfailing ear, it is a story of great friendship, a journey of discovery, intimate and immediate.
The Brunels – Engineers Extraordinaire is a celebration in verse written by John Byrne. This small volume of poetry was prepared as a hardback with dustjacket in conjunction with the writer, and augmented with images by noted engraver JC Bourne. We sourced the high resolution files for these images and negotiated the necessary reproduction rights with the copyright holder on behalf of the author.
Synopsis: Flyfishing the Welsh Borderlands by Roger Smith is a detailed history of the flies and fishermen of the Welsh border regions. It started life as a short lecture given to the Grayling Society and ended up, after much consultation and work together, as a book of 342 pages. It's a book now recognised as the definitive reference to the area and its fishing history.
Note on cover, titles, blurb and page design: We kept the design simple having been fortunate enough to find an old Victorian-era illustration of a fisherman preparing for the ‘first cast of the season’ on a Borderland stream. The illustration was fortuitously in Paul’s personal collection and was originally published in the London Illustrated News.
An artist's monograph about successful Hay-on-Wye artist Jean Miller, featuring a biography and gallery of work. Her brightly coloured Matisse-like paintings are featured in a hardback book printed by expert printers, Contitipocolor, in Italy.
Falconry's Falconer is a celebration of the life of one of Britain's greatest falconers, Phillip Glasier. The author of the book, American falconer Richard Fitzgerald, originally conceived it as an e-book. However the publisher asked us if we could work closely with Richard to adapt the original to bring in the project at an economic enough price to warrant a print version. We could and we did.
Richard's enthusiasm for his subject was infectious and we put every effort possible in making sure he had a book he could be proud of. That we succeeded was reflected in an email he sent shortly after the launch of the book:
'The book itself is finer than I had anticipated. For that, I must thank you for your diligence and experience. The pictures used embellished just right. The print is, as you advised, quite readable and easy on the eye.'
(Richard Fitzgerald, author)
Shadows on the Stream Bed is a series of reminiscences by Tom Sutcliffe, South Africa’s internationally-renowned flyfisherman. It was edited and project managed by Paul (who came up with the title) for Platanna Press.
This is what Nick Lyons – founder of Lyons Press and doyen of American outdoor publishing wrote in an email to Tom: ‘There was never a better jacket painting for such a book, and with that title!’
Jo Orchard-Lisle spent a year researching fishing huts in Scotland, England and Wales, taking in many of the famous and not-so-famous structures that provide shelter and a focus for anglers. From Cotton's hut in Derbyshire to a bus in the Hebrides this fascinating book contains a wealth of written and photographic detail.
Pete worked extensively with Jo to make sure the printed result did her work justice taking extra pictures where necessary and sourcing the reproduction rights for maps. The book sold out quickly and is now a collector's item.
The first book in this highly successful beginner's fly fishing series, The South African Fly Fishing Clinc, was written by Paul. The others in the series were written and edited in collaboration with well-known fishing writers, Jonathan Boulton, Tom Sutcliffe, Sudesh Pursad, Anthony Kruger and Bruce Black. The first in the series is soon to go into its third printing whilst the others will shortly need reprinting.
The best testimonials received have been from scores of beginner flyfishers who have written in thanks for the simple, practical, down-to-earth writing and instructions in the books.
Ronni wrote this tongue-in-cheek dictionary of advertising, journalism, PR and publishing terms for her first year copywriting class. It proved immediately popular, not only with with her students as a jargon-buster, but also for for young people entering the various industries.
Talk the Talk is currently out of print but Ronni has been asked by the advertising school to update and expand the contents and it should be available again mid-2014.
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