(nb. the cupcakes were devine!)
I started off last week with a proof-reading test, using a list of the BSI marks to get familiar with them. This was pretty straightforward, but the second part of the test was much harder: a ‘style test’ to put the information from the test into a format suitable for 5-8 year olds. I found it surprisingly tricky to get the information across in a way they’d understand, as well as being engaging and fun. It’s quite a wide age range to bridge for reading level as well as level of understanding. All in all, a very useful insight into the writing side of the editor’s job, as Templar pride themselves on using their editors’ writing skills as well as honing others’ work. Katie’s example was much better than my attempt – practice obviously does make perfect!
Luckily, for most of the rest of my time I managed to stick to the editing side: I was given lots of proof-reading and tweaking text for books. Being a pedant, this was perfect as it’s the kind of thing I find weirdly enjoyable. One of my jobs was altering the text to make it suitable for different markets: I ‘Americanised’ (or should that be ‘AmericaniZed’?) Penguin in Peril, a gorgeous new picture book, which has recently come out in the UK. Highly recommended, and not just by me!
My other major task was picture and sound research for various projects that are in the pipeline (the details of which are all under wraps for now: I even had to sign a confidentiality agreement!) Picture research and fact checking was fun, broadening my own knowledge of a huge range of topics. I particularly enjoyed the sound research, as I got to listen to all kinds of crazy wild animal noises while watching the work of the office going on round me – a great juxtaposition of worlds!
Another ongoing job for any intern is assessing the slush pile. It’s good fun as you get to see the range of writing that people consider publishable – some of it’s good, and some so bad it’s funny. Doing the rejections can be a bit sad, but enlivened by seeing how far some of the letters are going (people send stuff from Australia!), as well as making the discovery that ‘Universal Postal Union’ coupons don’t work at the post office any more. (Readers who are submitting work from abroad, take note!) Templar is usually quite strict about only sending letters to people who enclose a SAE, but we made exceptions for the UPU coupon people, since they really had tried to pay for the postage.
With the help of the lovely George (see his post below), I also categorised a large stock of books from the archive. These are all now sitting happily on some shelves outside the main studio, so that people can wander past and pick up a book for inspiration. It was fascinating to see the range that Templar publishes, as well as how some topics for children are timeless and keep coming up again and again. I also started a ‘reference’ section, with encyclopaedias and anthologies on topics ranging from Ancient Egypt and animals to pirates and poetry. We enjoyed displaying some of the books to attract attention, as well as assembling the concertina books to show off their structure.
Overall I’ve really enjoyed the past two weeks, and can’t believe how quickly the time’s gone by! I’ve loved getting to know everyone here and feeling like part of the team, and hope to return for another placement in the future…(I’ll bring more cake!)