The Deixis Press Weekly - Issue #4
I’ve got a week of non-press work that has to be done, but all the behind-the-scenes work for the official launch on Thursday keeps rolling along …
Monday, 29 March
Today in paid work I’m proof-reading a comedy/history book that came out in 2019, but somehow I am still proof-reading it ahead of its release. Maybe it is getting republished now in a second edition? I’m still not totally sure how publishing works, honestly (exactly what you want to hear from a publisher).
Certainly I have already learned a lot of things just by doing it from scratch. I mentioned royalties before, and how little everyone gets paid, especially authors (and of course it has a knock-on effect for editors, proof-readers, designers, and so on). It’s a wonder that small presses even exist.
On that, though: There was an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday that said, among many things,
Without the pressures of shareholders and marketing departments, “indies” are able to take risks and follow passions.
As more and more small presses come onto my radar, I can see from their hard work that the English language needs a lot more words for “risk” and “passion”–English is rarely this inadequate as a tool for expression.
Tuesday, 30 March
Have you ever wondered how a proofreader works? Well, too bad, because I’m going to tell you anyway.
I have my own method, which may differ from anyone else, but this isn’t anyone else’s newsletter. First, where possible, I run the text of the MS through a spell checker; I do this because even the best of eyes might not catch absolutely every small spelling error. I do not use an electronic grammar checker because they are utterly rubbish.
Most MSS have been thoroughly spell-checked, so typically there may be only one or two spelling errors, if any. I mark those in the MS. I then proceed to read the MS.
In the olden days I preferred doing this on paper, then in the middle days I preferred doing it on a screen, and now in the modern day I prefer doing it on a Remarkable. You’ve probably seen ads for them: they’re like e-readers that you can scribble on. I cannot imagine any real use for them apart from what I do; they’re too big to carry around like a book, and surely people who prefer to write things in notebooks will just use notebooks rather than a huge, expensive piece of single-purpose tech? One other niche use is that you can use it as a password-protected but also hand-written journal, I suppose.
Once I’ve read the document, I then take my markup from my Remarkable and use it to annotate the MS to send back to the publisher. Each publisher has its own style and its own preferences for how you send markup back to them, but it all seems to happen on screen these days, and Acrobat has little buttons you can use that do most of the work. Proper proofreading marks are almost deprecated now.
Occasionally I procrastinate on that last part, instead writing a newsletter about my proofreading method. But those circumstances are very rare.
Wednesday, 31 March
Today’s main press activity involves finishing off the parts of the website that we can finish; there are bits that will be revamped later, and parts that we can’t put up because they don’t currently exist (hello, book covers!).
Even though I didn’t want anything overdone, we put a lot of thought into the website. Much of the text comes from my business plan. Libby sent me some Josef Albers palettes, which we used for color inspiration. I looked at a lot of other publishers’ sites to determine exactly what type of content is needed and what can be discarded. Simplicity is king.
Doing the website on Squarespace reminds me how difficult life used to be for web designers, before CSS, when you had to manually write the code, and when you had to try to achieve good design with tables. I remember sobbing my way through a day of trying to figure out how to code a clamshell-style menu (you know, where you click and the menu opens with more options underneath it; click again and it closes).
I don’t particularly like the way Squarespace makes the technical stuff completely opaque, but they certainly do help designers make lovely websites. And Libby certainly has done that for me.
Thursday, 1 April
Well! Today is the day. It’s the official launch of Deixis Press and the official day I start “trading” (not that there will be a lot of trading right now). I’m a little behind where I want to be personally, but there will always be too much to do, and this realisation is liberating (another Oliver Burkeman-ism, from his final Guardian column).
My wonderful authors are Siôn Scott-Wilson and Richard Gadz, both of whom are already published authors, and both of whom have written really beautiful books I can’t wait to share with you.
Siôn’s book, Some Rise By Sin, won the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2013, when it had a different title (“Resurrecting Bobby”). Here’s the blurb:
1829 is a tough year to be a body snatcher. Burke and Hare have just been convicted of killing people to sell their bodies, to widespread outrage—but despite the bad press, doctors still need fresh corpses for medical research.
Sammy and Facey are a couple of so-called ‘resurrection men’, making a living among society’s fringe-dwellers by hoisting the newly departed from the churchyards of London whilst masquerading as late-night bakers. Operating on tip-offs and rumours in the capital’s drinking dens and fighting pits, the pair find themselves in receipt of some valuable intelligence: an unusual cadaver has popped up on the market, that of a hermaphrodite.
For any medic worth his salt it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—a medical curiosity and rara avis—and famous anatomist Joshua Brookes commissions the two men to obtain the body, at any cost. But some corpses hold secrets, and before long the enterprise becomes a deadlier and more complex undertaking than either man could ever have imagined.
Some Rise by Sin is a rich, authentic and absorbing historical narrative with a darker edge, a story of surviving on the outskirts of respectability. With echoes of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, it is meticulously researched and suffused with the dark and grimy atmosphere of Regency London, and explores what ambition can mean for poor people in a society that conspires to grind them down at every turn.
Richard’s book, The Workshop of Filthy Creation, is a Victorian treatment of the Frankenstein legend. It’s set in a world where Frankenstein was not a novel but instead a suppressed medical text. Here’s more:
In the autumn of 1879, an intelligent, artificially-created being—outwardly a young woman called Maria—arrives in London under the protection of biologist Professor George Hobson. Hobson gathers a few close friends and reveals her existence, explaining that she is the final result of a research programme undertaken by a dynasty of unethical scientists, the von Frakkens—all now dead.
Unknown to Hobson, one of his friends, Jabez Pell, is linked to an underground scientific organisation, the Promethean Society. Set up in the early 1800s, its aim is to conquer death by whatever means possible. Pell immediately recognises the potential that Maria’s regenerative abilities can offer to the Prometheans – but after his attempt to kidnap her turns deadly, Maria goes on the run.
Maria finds herself at the heart of raging controversy: some want her jailed, some want her dead, and some want to peel the flesh from her bones. Worse, she is now hunted not only by members of the Prometheans but also by the police – and her creator Wilhelm von Frakken, who, as it turns out, is alive (in a sense).
Thrilling and evocative, fantastical and grotesque, The Workshop of Filthy Creation uses a Frankenstein-ian thread to stitch together elements of real scientific history with the darkest parts of Victorian London and speculation on the nature of human life.
I can’t wait to show you the covers, let you pre-order these tremendous books, and ultimately get them into your hands and your brain. I am so thrilled and privileged to be the one to publish these guys. Both books are due out this autumn.
Meanwhile, please tell your friends about Deixis Press! Tell them about this newsletter, tell them about the website, the Facebook page, the Twitter account, the Instagram account, the YouTube account … we’re going to do a lot of work and have a whole lot of fun, but my success (and, more importantly, that of my authors) depends on you, the readers.
Aaaand . . . we’re off!