I have never really been noted for either my patience or having an even tempered nature. But the launch of my current project could test the patience of Job.
This is a project that has spanned a little over four years. It is a book on the subject of beauty called Beauty in Every Form. This book asks some pretty searching questions: Just what is beauty? Is beauty merely skin deep? Can an inner beauty shine out? Is it only for the young and athletic? Are we all judged? And if so just who gets to judge us?
The contributors are an interesting group from around the world and come from a range of viewpoints and a rich variety of life experiences, taking part are photographers, artists, poets, academics, publishers, students, health workers, writers, models and dancers. There are people from alternative life styles, people who have disfigurements and disabilities. I have every confidence in the words and pictures, the contributors are a wonderful group and it has been a privilege compiling this book.
The thing that has hacked me off more than a little is the process we have had to undergo getting it into print. I won’t name the company as it really doesn’t show them up in a very good light, but industry professionals will no doubt guess who they are. They are not just printers but are global distributors and supposedly the world leaders in what they do. If so, maybe there is a gap in the market?
The book, as I said, took four years to put together and edit, the biggest project of this kind I have ever undertaken. The first hitch was the paper size. The company producing the book had changed its standard paper dimensions, only by a few millimetres, but it was enough to make necessary a complete redesign of every page. Irritating, but as I am the designer I re-cut it all to fit the new paper. Hitch two, the cover also didn’t fit, but I sort of expected that; the block (inner pages assembled) had changed so the outer cover would need to be altered too. There was one curious feature in the template they supplied; the spine was sizably larger than I had expected. I mentioned it to the publisher, but we decided to roll with it as this was uncharted territory for both of us. Hitch three, the cover template was incorrect, it was for a hardback and this is to be a paperback book, so the cover needed to be changed. This is my 86th cover so, well, it is not a big fix to change the cover. All ok, all loaded, all approved, I took the strategy of announcing the book launch to the press, now adding a time constraint to the project. But all was well, the book was fine wasn’t it? And there was a proof copy sent out in the post. Hitch four, the paper quality was so buttock clenchingly piss poor we could not release it! This was on their standard quality paper. Now if it had been budget paper, or draft quality, I could have understood it. Totally unacceptable, so we upgraded the paper to premium quality. Hitch five, with the premium paper the spine of the book increased, necessitating another redesign of the cover to accommodate the extra spine depth. At this point I checked every picture in the book, just to make sure, it took time but I had the book back to the publisher in less than 12 hours. A good job I thought. The book needed to be re-uploaded and we expected another week’s delay. Which we got. Surely nothing else could go wrong? Hitch six, the printing company bounced the next printed book because of a bent cover, another weeks delay. Hitch seven, we discover the print company sent the proof to my publisher’s previous address, despite being told the correct address and despite the fact they sent the skanky copy to the correct address! Another weeks delay.
I would not say that my book when it is born will not be a welcome child, but it has been a far from easy birth. My turn for the gas and air.