Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Publishing houses

Hello my dearest blog readers! How the dickens are you? Isn't 'blog readers' is a dull term? Personally, I quite like 'bloggles', or 'bloggins,' or perhaps (if you were all kindly prepared to don leg-warmers), 'bloggets'...?

Anyway, I hope you're all well and dandy. Things have been barmy, naturally; but a little more so than usual. To give you some indication, I'd say, crazier than a soup sandwich, but not quite as mad as a bag of cats.

I've been working on several illustration jobs at once and have been attempting to fairly price up another couple. I've met up with the Surrey Illustrators (a very fine bunch of people) and I've been down to London to blether at the feet of Harry Potters' people in Bloomsbury.

Incidentally, I know I've spoken about the different 'feels' of each publishing house, but have I mentioned the eccentricity of publishing buildings?

If you lined all the publishing offices up next to eachother you'd have the kind of skyline of which Tim Burton could only dream. What's really great is they're all so unexpected. I always find myself picturing an interview beforehand to try and steady my nerves, but I NEVER get the situation right. I'm half thinking, I might have to envisage a bouncy castle or an icecream van in my mental walk-through next time... just to cover my bases. Publishing houses are all fantastic. They range from shiny, high rises with gated security stations and receptionists, stern and highly armed (with biro's and name badges, naturally), to eccentric tumbledown houses, to Templar's magically warren-y offices (which I'm sure they're short-leasing from a large family of badgers). At the end of Publishing Road, I'm sure there'd be an old, and very esteemed art director that lived in a shoe.

One publisher has wall to wall windowed lifts, so if you're romantic you feel like you're flying, and if you're like me, you feel like you've farted with enough gusto to launch. I'd also note that when visiting said publisher, due to a strategically placed Starbucks below, when travelling higher than second floor, short skirts are to be avoided at all costs. And picking ones' nose is an out and out no-no.

The Bloomsbury offices have THE smallest lift you've ever seen. I'm not joking, it's about a metre and half wide, by a metre deep.... and there's three of us in there.... and we're all the same height. Now, the height thing can be seen one of two ways. With tall people, I tend to be at armpit (or worse still) crotch height. For anyone that's never had the pleasure; introducing yourself when you're eye-to-crotch is something from which it's kind of hard to recover. With people the same size as me, and particularly in a interview type environment, the eye-to-eye thing is always slightly unnerving; you over-analyse your movements until you develop an erratic twitch. On top of that, it's before the interview, so I'm attempting to make small talk AND impress at the same time. On top of THAT, our faces (all three of them) are mere inches apart... I feel like I'm in the Bohemian Rhapsody video. Quick, I think... and twitch, and twitch and think; drop some enlightened phrase on publishing current affairs. Talk apps, talk distribution channels, talk anything but... 'I LIKE HARRY POTTER!' Dear God, when you belt out this inanity, you can only hope you didn't top it off by spitting in anyone's eye or stomping on anyone's foot. And unfortunately, we've still got another three floors to ride...all staring (in extreme close-up) and in palpable silence at my reddening, twitching face.

Thank goodness publishers are a nice breed of human. Whether I'm trying to exit out of the 'entrance' door at Orion, bashing head-long, like a trapped wilderbeast, into the glass doors at Hodder, or babbling incoherantly in Bloomsbury's lift, all of them have been decent enough not to mention it. All I can say is, if they can be this nonchalant at my behaviour though, it does make me think; what on EARTH do the rest of you illustrators get up to????

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Pre-order George and Ghost with its' swanky new cover here (or at any other good book store)! It's now sold to South Korea too- hooray!

As I have nothing I'm able to show for the mo, I'm sticking up some cool links.

Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity -


Emily Gravett drawing Cave Baby -


Alice for the Ipad


Axel Sheffler


Chris Riddell



Lynne Chapman said...

You may be the craziest person I know: madder than a chicken hat.

Veronica said...

Oh thank you. You've made me feel so much better, almost sane!

cassia said...

a chicken hat...? Excellent! I may have to get me one of those.

Happy to help, Veronica!

:0) xxx

Jon Davis said...

Excellently described :)
All of this feels very familiar.
My mind often wanders when the publisher person is talking, and I have a little voice in my head going, "Ooh, look at their eyebrows, no, stop it. Pay attention. don't look at the mole on their cheek, either, just pay attention to what they're saying. Look their mouth's moving, listen to the words.
Oh they've stopped, it's your turn, say something for god's sake.
No, not 'this is a picture of a bear', of course it's a picture of a bear. Be more interesting!"

And nice interesting links too.
I always find it stimulating to see other people working :)

matt dawson said...

Haven't been fortunate enough (or is it unfortunate...;) to have many publisher meetings but... between you and me, and all the other 'bloggisters' I did get a wee bit disorientated trying to get out of Penguin books offices on the strand. Only the security guard saw though, phew! Thanks for the window onto things, now I'll be that bit more nervous before a prospective meeting... good to be forewarned though! Hope something comes of the Bloomsbury set metting!

cassia said...

Jon, haha! Brilliant! That's exactly what happens to me too- I think the adrenaline always makes me butterfly-minded.

Ooh, Matt, penguin have the most terrifyingly posh offices- if you've faced those, you can face anything. Besides, your work rocks so you needn't worry.


Thomas Taylor said...

What's Harry Potter?

The best publishing meetings I've been to were in wine bars. Going to their offices is quite nice though, especially if you can pinch a few books when no one's looking.

cassia said...

wine bars? I'm getting the wrong end of the deal!

Harry Potter- you know! The one with the awesome first front cover!

Petra said...

It's wonderful reading about all the Publishing Houses that I've only dealt with via email. It'd scare the hell out of me to actually visit. And, Cassia... you are very entertaining!

cassia said...

Thanks for taking time out to comment, Petra. No need to be too nervous of publishers though- they're generally very nice! :0)