October 20, 2020

The Journey Of A Book

A Note From Exisle Publishing CEO, Gareth St John Thomas:

You could have thought that after a lifetime in publishing, and my father was a writer and publisher, and his too, I would know what a book would look like and feel like before it came back from the printers. But when the advance of new books arrives it is still a heart-pounding and nervous moment. You do not actually know what it will be like - printing is still an inexact science and printers may decide which machine to run the book on at the last moment.

Historically a printer used to send you an advance copy of the printed book awaiting your approval for them to ship it to you. You checked that the right paper was used and that there are no major errors, like upside down pages, or sections out of order, or ink going out of calibration. If all was well we then normally said, "please send them." Nowadays by the time I have had my advance copy, the bulk of the stock is already en route so this is just a formality.

Gareth St John Thomas (left) and author Max Quinn (right)

Though it can be frightening. Not so long ago an advance copy of an expensive jacketed book seemed perfect inside. Until the publisher checked underneath the jacket and saw that a critical letter had just been missed off the title on the spine. That involved some whitened faces, fraught phone calls and rapid checking of proofs and the whole edition had to be reprinted.

This morning, Max Quinn’s A Life of Extremes – The Life and Times of a Polar Filmmaker arrived to be published in November. This is a significant piece of work obviously; of course, for Max and the editorial, design and production teams. It is a memoir par excellence with truly unique stories and insight into another world. The astonishing cover image of Max covered in ice does manage to pop out of the black jacket surround. Inside the pictures, some of them old, have reproduced very well and the significant but manageable weight and feel of the book have all come together to make this a fine-looking book. We were relieved. Now Max’s rich and unique stories from both Antarctica and the Arctic can be shared with the world.

This memoir is a good example of focusing upon a writer's key strengths without covering everything else. Many memoir writers like Max have much more to say than can be written in one accessible book and selecting parts that are commercially appealing as an integrated whole makes for a good book and leaves future options open.

A Life of Extremes – The Life and Times of a Polar Filmmaker written by Max Quinn. Due for publication November, 2020. ISBN: 9781775594321

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