Sunday, June 28, 2009

First edition, first printing

The first run of the first edition of The Einstein Girl was printed in the middle of last week. I received two copies yesterday, and I could have sworn that they were still warm off the presses (or maybe that was because the mail had been wheeled around on a trolley all morning in the blazing sun..). I always thought the design was strong, but somehow the on-screen jpg images never did it justice. In the flesh the book is beautiful and expensive-looking. I really do think Harvill Secker have done a terrific job.
At the same time, work has already begun on the cover of the B format ('mass market') edition, which comes out next year. Vintage have used the same central image as the Harvill edition, but their overall design and colour scheme is radically different. Where the Harvill cover is seductive and beautiful, the Vintage cover is bold and arresting. The different approaches are skilfully tailored to two different markets, as well, of course, as two different formats. I like them both - in my personal experience, a first.
The other bit of news is the sale of Korean language rights to the distinguished Sallim Publishing Company. Sallim, like a number of its competitors, is based in the famous Paju Book City - a futuristic development north of Soeul, entirely devoted to companies and other entities in the publishing industry (see photograph, above): in other words, a kind of post-modern Bloomsbury without the soot or the parking problems.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A break from the action

Things have been pretty hectic around here this month. The pressure is getting to us all. Well, some more than others...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another filament in the web

My new web site is now up and running. ( It contains all the usual information, and some pretty pictures. I'll add more of those later. It was all hand coded by my kind friend Brigitte, who has a PhD in this sort of thing. She claims she is a systems designer not a web or graphic designer, but I think she has an excellent eye. I wanted something uncluttered and easy to use, and that's exactly what she's come up with. 
Of course, if people are going to be able to actually find the site, we need to work at the all-important Search Engine Optimization, which seems to be a strange alchemy of links, meta tags, indexing and chicken blood. (All right, I lied about the chicken blood. A few feathers are usually sufficient, provided it's a full moon.) Anyway, web sites are pretty de rigeur these days. So it's about time I launched one.
By the way, the picture above is entitled Robot Spider Web and it was created by the rather talented Sven Geier at Caltech in Pasadena, which just happens to be where the Einstein Papers Project is located. You can check out more of his "fractal and algorythmic art" by going to his web site ( and pressing the appropriate panel. 

Monday, June 8, 2009


The cover for the first edition of The Einstein Girl has now been sent to the printers, which means no more tinkering about with the blurb or with anything else. At the last minute we received a very useful and eminently quotable endorsement from Rebecca Stott (actually that’s Professor Rebecca Stott), author of the bestselling Ghostwalk, as well as a string of remarkable non-fiction books on the history of science, most recently Darwin and the Barnacle. A shortened version of her generous comment will appear on the front cover of The Einstein Girl

Sometimes cramming extra type onto the artwork of a cover can spoil the balance of the design. I suppose cover deigners must have to get used to their beautiful creations being obscured by last minute additions - and occasionally stickers to boot (the indignity!). But in this case the extra words are not only complimentary, they also help tell potential buyers what kind of book this is - and we have managed to squeeze them in between the title and my name. So we are extremely glad to have them. 

By the way, at the end of July, the Harvill design team of Matt Broughton and Lily Richards will be contributing a piece about their work to Jane Smith’s highly authoritative blog How Publishing Really Works (see my Blog List, right).

In the meantime I am having to divide my working hours between preparation for the new book – which I think is going quite well – and a couple of promotional projects for The Einstein Girl. One of these is a brand new author web site ( – how original!) and something else which is, for the moment, under wraps in case it doesn’t come off. I would be overwhelmed by the technical challenges, I fear, if I wasn’t blessed with some very knowledgeable and talented friends who are generously giving of their time. Still, I could use twice as many working hours as I actually have right now, hence the rather sporadic posting - and lamentable lack of wit.

By the way, you can learn more about Rebecca and her work by visiting her admirable web site:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beach reading

Indonesia Calls You is the slogan of the Indonesia Tourist Office, and in my case this has turned out to be true: the call coming in the form of an offer from the Jakarta firm of Serambi Ilmu Semesta for the Bahasa Indonesian rights to The Einstein Girl. Which I have been happy to accept. Not that I shall be winging my way out there any time soon, much as I would like to. I shall have to content myself for the time being with the thought that the Bahasa Indonesian edition of my book will probably make it onto an achingly beautiful beach like the one above, even if the author doesn't. 
Apparently initial print runs for English novels in Indonesia are generally in the four figure area. So at, say, five thousand, that's one copy for every 47,500 inhabitants: the population of Havant in Hampshire or the Prime Minister's home town of Kirkcaldy in Fife. Still, I expect the Indonesians pass their books around a lot - lightly impregnated with fine white sand.