I’ve solved a lot of problems in the last month, despite being away for half of it.
I have a proper designer now. I gave up waiting for the student who had been assigned to me, because he was in hiding, waiting for me to forget about him, terrified at the size of the task his supervisors thought he could do. I feel sorry for him now, but at the time I could have strangled him. Six weeks wasted waiting for designs … So I looked at my notes from conversations with other publishers, and went to Nadja of Dash & Dare, who do fine work with Two Rivers Press. Nadja thinks like I do: when the job needs doing, you do it, now, and so we are working happily together on the first Handheld Classic, Ernest Bramah’s What Might Have Been. The proofs are done, the cover image will be sourced this week, and I’m almost feeling calm about this one.
I gave up on the US website designer I’d been introduced to because I need someone in the same time zone to calm me down when things go wrong. She also seemed suspiciously unable to deal with me during her working hours: I was not a priority for her. I made this decision two days before going on holiday, and then rang up a very surprised local company, whom Nadja had sent me to, and to my relief they took my website revamp problem on the chin. We’re looking at a brand new website with full shopping facilities by early October now.
I have had one hiccup in production: extracting the text of a previously (self-published) work so it can be dropped into the Handheld layout. Never have I struggled for so long with professional design formatting before, in a file so large it makes my laptop freeze when I move from page to page. The recto pages are locked down, so I’ll have to OCR those pages and cut and paste the versos. And deformat the captions. I’ve already recatalogued all 185 images. But it’s going to be a wonderful reissue of a brilliant book.
In a moment of reflection halfway up a hill in the Bavarian Alps, I realised that the first Handheld books are going to appeal to strikingly different markets. Bramah’s What Might Have Been is a Conservative polemic against socialism in a speculative science fiction future in which anticipates the fax machine and mixed flying above the promenade at Hastings. The Akeing Heart is the true story of the passionate lesbian love triangle between two English Communist poets and their adored but troublesome American herbalist friend. But they are superb stories, and that’s what we’re here to do.