Friday, 26 April 2013

Three months with Templar...from Maja Hermansson

Hello! I suppose an introduction is in order . . . my name is Maja and for the past three months, I have been hanging out at Templar Towers with the lovely Templar marketing team under the GROW program. GROW is the name of Bonnier's exchange program and it is a great opportunity to get insight into the entire book chain and exchange experience within the industry across markets, companies and professions. Normally, I work as a webeditor and marketer at Swedish online bookseller Adlibris (

So, I am a very lucky girl to have had the privilege to work with the exciting colourful Templar crew and their amazing, award-winning books! My main role has been to act as an assistant and complete any marketing and publicity tasks that land on my desk. I could not ask for a better position. I've gained knowledge of almost all aspects of marketing children’s books and I’ve been doing everything from writing and designing press releases and print ads to setting up Facebook Pages. I‘ve also gotten a much greater insight into the British book world as I have been to author events, book stores and schools. I have been really impressed by my colleagues creativity in finding new ways to reach out to readers. It has been a real pleasure to meet all these people who feel really passionate about their books and authors.

I’ve also had the chance to dig into the different aspects of digital marketing from the publisher’s side and to share my own experiences from working at Scandinavias largest online bookstore.

I’ll be taking back with me that excitement for books and a lot of great memories from my time at Templar Publishing!

Thanks to Templar, It’s been great fun and I wish you all the best!

Thank you very much Maja, we wish you all the best for the future and please stay in touch!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Lucy Serocold: Two weeks in Editorial

Hi, I’m Lucy, a Classics graduate from London. I’m hoping to get a job in publishing, so over the past two weeks the folk in Editorial have kindly allowed me to join them for proof-reading, researching and generally being helpful. I’m very much hoping they’ll let me come back again in the future (hint hint), which is why today I’ve been bribing them with pistachio & lime cupcakes…
(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!

With Penguin being a picture book, there wasn’t too much to do to make it suitable for subway-riding, movie-watching Americans, but the following week I was presented with the daunting task of ‘Anglicising’ a whole YA novel! Thankfully a freelance proof-reader had already done the hard work of marking up the manuscript, but while putting her corrections into InDesign I discovered a fair few things which had been missed. This just proves that the more different pairs of eyes checking a book, the better. I’m pretty confident I got the majority of the changes such as ‘defense’, ‘-ize’ verbs and expressions like ‘in back’ (which to me just sounds ugly), and as a bonus, I got to read a cracking story as well.

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!)

Monday, 15 April 2013

George's work experience at Templar

The Editorial department were lucky enough to have the charming George Lester with us in the last couple of weeks. We asked him for his thoughts on doing work experience at Templar...

As a wannabe writer-type person I can think of no better place to spend time than at a publishing house. The information you gather here simply by sitting and reading through submissions is astronomical! Believe me, even I didn’t realise just how much I would get out of this.

I’m currently on day eight of nine (random number of days... Easter interrupted, very rude!) and have been asked to reflect on my time here, likes and dislikes, highs and lows, etcetera and so forth. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

...sorry about that. It might have been wise for me to read other blog posts made by previous interns, for points on structure and whatnot, but I have opted to wing it. What could possibly go wrong? (He says!)

So, I’m a twenty-one-year-old Drama and Creative Writing student, Waterstones Children’s bookseller, writer of two YA books (they aren’t published yet, please!) and reader of all things teen and middle grade. This work placement was an absolute godsend! What better way to learn about the publishing industry than actually being in it? Answer? There is no better way. I’ve read many posts online outlining the ins and outs of publishing, the dos and don’ts, but there is nothing quite like sitting at your desk (oh yes, you get your own desk – I think that was what I was most excited for!) and learning from the people that actually do it.

My main job in my time here was to sit at my desk (my very own desk) and read through the slush pile. As a budding writer there is no better place to be. Why be told about the pitfalls of publishing when you can see them unfolding before your very eyes? It is here that you learn just how to submit work. In the slush pile you can see people doing it marvellously well and horrifically badly. You can view trends in writing and use your own knowledge of books; you can make decisions on what you are reading.

But it wasn’t all slush pile, oh no, there was some other fun things to do too. I got to do bits of writing here and there, as well as some image research for some upcoming books (all very top secret, hush hush and all that). The only thing that I don’t like about doing an internship at Templar is the simple fact that I have to leave. I don’t want to go. While I despise early mornings with a burning passion, and early morning commuters do my nut in, I am more than happy to endure those pains to come here. Everyone here is so nice and willing to answer all of my questions about publishing and getting published and whatnot. Believe me, there were a lot of questions.

 I was even privileged enough to read some early releases of their fiction titles that are in production: The Jade Boy by Cate Cain and Ways To See A Ghost by Emily Diamand. Both of these are marvellous and you’d be lucky to have them on your bookshelf. Just saying.

So I say to you, dear reader, that if you do an internship here you are very much a part of the team. No matter how short your time here, you are made to feel welcome and like you are being helpful. It’s marvellous!

And if you’re fortunate enough to get a shot at an internship here, don’t mess it up. Work hard and you will reap the rewards. Go to meetings, talk to people in production or fiction or picture books or whatever area you are interested in. Ask questions and you will get answers. The knowledge that I have gained here is like nothing I have read anywhere on the internet or in books about publishing or even the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.

So yeah.

I suppose this is the closing of a chapter with Templar Publishing – a rather fun-filled chapter, I must say. I’m rubbish at ended blog posts. I should be banned from doing them so I don’t have to end them. …

Or I could just carry on writing …

Ramble on for another few pages …

Or something … … …

Bye, and thanks, Templar people! It’s been great fun and a marvellous opportunity! :)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Guest post from Don Calame

Author of the hilarious Swim the Fly, Beat the Band and Call the Shots books, Don Calame joins us today on the Templar blog to talk about where he gets his inspiration from

“Oh, I’m going to have to use that in a book some day.”

I can’t tell you how often that thought occurs to me as I bumble around in my daily life. It can be distracting sometimes. Intrusive even. All the little details, the strange characters, the snippets of conversation one overhears. I should probably be one of those writers who carries around a notebook to jot these nuggets of gold down.

But I’m not. So I don’t.

Instead I figure that the true gems will stick somewhere in the brain to be mined when I am looking for that telling detail I need for a character in a story.

And then, of course, there are those times where actually forcing yourself to pay attention to the particulars can save you an aneurism.

Case in point:

A man stands at a checkout at the supermarket. That man is me. I’ve dashed in to grab some milk. Trying to get home before breakfast guests arrive. I am already running behind. Going to be cutting it close.

 The cashier is chatting with her present customer. But not just chatting, like, “How’s the weather out there?” or “Baking oatmeal cookies today, are we?” No, this is a full on conversation like the one you might have at a dinner party. Or at the coffee shop. Or with your psychotherapist.

Cashier says, “Oh, no, my cat’s just got sick. The vet bills were enormous. Kidney stones if you can believe it. Who knew cats even got those? Took them three visits to diagnose. It was so stressful.”

Lady with the green knitting needle stuck in her straggly white bun responds, “We had to put our little Millie down last year. It was terribly sad. She was a tuxedo cat. Sweetest thing.” Her groceries are all rung up and bagged. Her tiny tattered red coin purse is in her bird-claw hands. But she’s not opening it. Not even making a move to open it. She’s just going on about her pets, and her children’s pets, and her grandchildren’s pets. How the animals are mostly all related. What they all died of. She’s laying out her entire family’s pet ancestry and the cashier is nodding and listening attentively. As if this were her job. As if she were some sort of grief counselor.

Instead of a cashier at the grocery store.

And all I want to do is buy a bottle of milk before the sun sets. The glass of the container sweating, getting slick in my hand. My blood pressure rising. My teeth gritting. I look back over my shoulder at the bug-eyed, overall-clad guy behind me who’s shaking his head. But neither of us say anything. Because this is the country. Small town friendly. Where this kind of thing is supposed to be quaint.

Instead of infuriating.

I take a deep breath. And go into writer mode. I can use this is a book someday, I tell myself. Or maybe a blog. What are the details? Study these people. Who are they? Why does this old lady not want to go home? Why does this cashier not notice the line of red-faced people backing up at her station? Why does the fact that Neil Diamond’s Heartlight playing over the supermarket speakers make this entire situation seem that much more surreal?

And why are all of us in the line being so damn polite?

But it saves me. This shift. Saves the cashier, too, if I’m being honest. Not that she has any idea she’s been spared a nasty scowl. A sarcastic word or two. Some passive aggressive bill counting and coin slamming.

It’s these kind of situations—the ridiculous ones, the insane ones, the ludicrous ones—that make some of the best writing fodder. Even if you don’t have the wherewithal to recognize it at the time. These are the gems that stick.

While I was writing my latest book, Call the Shots, I scoured my memory for just such occasions. Situations and experience I could tap for inspiration.

Call the Shots is the story of three teenagers who are trying to film a low-budget horror film and so I brainstormed any and all of my personal escapades—and humiliation
s—that I might foist onto these kids.

There was the time I was hired as a videographer for a sixtieth birthday party where the guest of honor was universally despised by everyone in the room.

There was the time in high school where I agreed to go out with a slightly unhinged girl who liked me—but who I had no interest in—simply because I was the only one of my friends who didn’t have a girlfriend.

And then, of course, there was a bird soiling incident.

All of which I mined for their respective revealing details and then fictionalized for the purposes of the story. It’s the easiest way I know how to make a scene come alive. To feel true. Even if it’s just one small thing. Like a knitting needle in the hair. Or an interminable conversation about pets.

It’s all usable grist.

Things you might use in a book some day.

Watch Don's video trailer for Call the Shots

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

COMING SOON - There, There written by Sam McBratney and Illustrated by Ivan Bates

Introducing There, There, Publishing this May (in plenty of time for Fathers Day)
Written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Ivan Bates

Little Hansie Bear loves to pretend, but walking like a duck can be hazardous, especially when he falls into a deep-down ditch and has to be helped out by his dad. With a "There, there" and a hug, Hansie is soon off to play again. So when Dad hurts his foot, Hansie knows just what to do - a "There, there", a big hug, and everything is all right again.

We are thrilled to be able to show you an exclusive preview of some of Ivan's delightfully touching character development sketches ...

We think you'll agree they are utterly adorable.

Visit our Facebook page to see more!

You can follow Ivan on Twitter @IveBates