Archives For Books

By Zoë Sadokierski
Lecturer, School of Design at University of Technology, Sydney

How publishing works: a book designer's perspective - Image by Zoe Sadokierski

Publishing is the process of getting the author’s story out of her or his head and into the hands of a reader. Zoe Sadokierski

Authors don’t write books, they write manuscripts. Publishing is the process of getting an author’s manuscript into the hands of a reader, by materialising it – giving it form, as a book. This may be printed (a codex) or digital (an ebook).

I produced the illustrations in this post for a Sydney Writers Festival talk in 2012. All publishing houses have different protocols and cultures; this overview is based on my experience as an in-house book designer at Allen&Unwin (2003-2006), and as a freelance designer for a range of Australian publishers over the past decade.

How publishing works a book designers perspective - Image 2 - Zoe Sadokierski

The author enters a publishing house with a manuscript. Zoe Sadokierski

The author’s manuscript is either solicited (the publisher asks them to write it) or unsolicited (the author writes it, then shops for a publisher). Being rejected is awful and publishing contracts are complicated, so many authors employ an agent to negotiate a deal with a publisher.

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“Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me.” 
– Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

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Reading all 4,197 pages of the first five books in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire series would take the average reader 424 days. With this test from blinkboxbooks.com, readers can now calculate how long it would long take them to complete this reading challenge, and how much time they would need to set aside to finish other bestsellers including the entire Harry Potter series, Donna Tartt’s Putlizer-Prize winning The Goldfinch and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.

Take the Test

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Daria Morgendorffer's Reading List

“Okay, look, I’m not going to rewrite this paper for you, but I will give you a couple of tips that will help you rewrite it. First, the book title Sons and Lovers does not have an apostrophe in it . . . anywhere. Second, unless your ex-boyfriend is an authority on D.H. Lawrence, don’t base your thesis on something he said while making out.” – Daria Morgendorffer

Much-loved animated sitcom Daria screened on MTV in the United States for five seasons, beginning in March 1997. A spin-off from Mike Judge’s hugely successful Beavis and Butt-head, the series centred on Daria Morgendorffer, a smart, disaffected teenager with a caustic wit.

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Truman Capote Reads From Breakfast At Tiffanys

Very few authors, especially the unpublished, can resist an invitation to read aloud. I made us both a drink and, settling in a chair opposite, began to read to her, my voice a little shaky with a combination of stage fright and enthusiasm: it was a new story, I’d finished it the day before, and that inevitable sense of shortcoming had not had time to develop.
– Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s: A Short Novel and Three Stories

This reading from Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote was recorded in New York City at the 92nd Street Y on 7 April 1963. Before the reading, the Y’s Poetry Center Director John Malcolm Brinnin introduced the author saying:

In the very curious sociology of these times, the name of Truman Capote has become a household word . . . He no longer has to write a book to make news, but simply to be Truman Capote. No one is surprised anymore to learn that this young American writer has been quietly dining with Princess Margaret, or that he has been spirited off on the yachts of Greeks richer than Mycenaes, or that he has recently flown to Amsterdam to have a tooth filled.

But let us be wary of the disguises of genius. Anyone who knows Truman Capote knows that the columnists capture the details but miss the point. Beyond the public image of Truman Capote there stands a very private man, who owns one of the toughest, most resourceful and surgically adept minds in modern letters. And if we now must note that the boy wonder has become the prodigal son, that is all the more reason why I am happy to invite you to join me in welcoming him.

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In the afterword of Stephen King’s highly regarded memoir/writing guide book On Writing, the bestselling writer shared a list of 96 books that he’d read while writing the book that he’d enjoyed and had influenced him. When a 10th anniversary of On Writing was released, an updated reading list of 82 books was included.

More recently, King has taken to Twitter to share with his fans and followers some of his favourite recent reads. Since joining the social media site in December 2013, he’s recommended the following 22 books.

1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Stephen King Reading List - Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

   

 2. The Marauders by Tom Cooper

Stephen King Reading List - The Marauders by Tom Cooper

 

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Rainbow Rowell Reflections on Writing Fangirl

Nebraskan author Rainbow Rowell was recently described by Flavorwire as ‘the next YA sensation adults need to know about’ . Her second novel, Eleanor and Park, was the Goodreads Best Young Adult Book of the Year, with Dreamworks buying the film rights earlier this year.
Rowell’s third novel Fangirl was written in 2011 as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), the project that challenges writers to complete a 50,000 word novel in a single month. In 2013 she wrote the following inspirational letter other authors undertaking the month-long writing challenge.  

Dear Writer,

I was very skeptical about NaNoWriMo at first.

It seemed like something that amateur writers would do. Or young writers. People who needed to be tricked into finishing their books. I’d already written two books by October 2011, and sold them to publishers, and I couldn’t imagine writing either of them—or anything good—in a month.

That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.

But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…

Maybe some writers enjoy the first draft—the part of the writing process when anything is possible, and you’re out there forging your own path. I hate that part. All I can think about when I’m starting a book are all the words I haven’t written yet. I actually feel them, hanging around my neck, tugging at me. First drafts always make me feel anxious and a little desperate—like, “Oh God, I just need to get all of this out and on paper, so that I have something to work with.”

I like having something to work with.

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