As an experienced publisher and writer, it goes without saying that I’ve worked on many, MANY books, in a variety of guises. My words appear uncredited in texts where I’ve performed serious editorial surgery, on the back of books as part of published reviews, or occasionally in publications where my name is reproduced in an eye-straining list of freelance writers. In some titles I get the honour of a credit on the copyright page, or a reference in the author’s Preface or acknowledgements; searching Google Books for ‘Anna Faherty’ reveals that authors describe me as ‘unrelenting’ and ‘difficult’, but also ‘insightful’, ‘unwaveringly supportive’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘encouraging’ and ‘patient’. The same search reminds me that my own scientific data has been used (and credited) in specialist research publications, and that I once acted as ‘consultant’ for a German construction dictionary – whatever that means. I am also clearly identified as the author of a number of award-winning online training courses. But, until this week, my name had never appeared on the front of a book.
Martinis, Masterclasses and Space Missions: New Frontiers in Contemporary Publishing, an edited collection of writings and reflections about some of the hottest topics being discussed in the global publishing world, changes all that. Published by Kingston University Press, the book includes insights from Kingston University lecturers, students and graduates as well as sharing key learnings from a range of industry-based Masterclass speakers. Aside from having my name on the cover, what really sets it apart is that it was designed, typeset and produced (in two different versions) by students on the Kingston University Publishing MA, as part of a formally-assessed module.
Here are some things this first book-author experience taught me:
- Publishing folk are extremely generous when it comes to providing quotes and content at extremely short notice – as Steve Jobs says, if you ask people for help, they usually say yes.
- A group of book production novices can produce a professional-looking product in a matter of weeks – even if things go wrong.
- Practical, in-at-the-deep-end projects can be ‘challenging’, ‘eye-opening’, ‘stimulating’ and ‘enlightening’ learning experiences (students’ words, not mine).
- Students don’t like the idea of appointing a project manager (a view that changed completely after completing the project).
- Students do like the idea of producing books in a square format (though I have no idea why).
- Typesetting isn’t the same thing as using InDesign – it’s much more difficult, nuanced and skilled than that.
- Like some of the authors’ descriptions of me above, student publishers consider me a ‘tough cookie’ to deal with.
- Even a seasoned publisher gets a kick out of seeing their name on the front cover of a book!
Martinis, Masterclasses and Space Missions: New Frontiers in Contemporary Publishing is edited by Anna Faherty and published by Kingston University Press. You can find out more, and download a free sample, from the Kingston Publishing Blog.