Masters | producing Tattoo

After having written an overview about the first year of my Master here, I wanted to go into more detail about the two books I worked on. The first was an anthology titled Tattoo and the second was a collection of works titled BSP Review: The Department of Noticing and Listening. This will be the first of an additional two part series. Part one will focus on Tattoo: what the project entailed, my experience with helping to create it and the process involved.

An anthology is a collection of fiction and nonfiction categorised into a particular theme or topic. Alongside myself were four other group members and it was our job to bring a new anthology edition to life.  The first thing we had to do was choose a theme. After a long brainstorming session we chose to focus on all things relating to, you guessed it, tattoos. Whether it was a story of getting a tattoo, a heartbreak of first love, or a reflective and painful moment, we wanted to put it in.

The next step was posting a callout for submissions. We wanted our writers and artists to find their own interpretation of what ‘tattoo’ means to them. The aim was to receive content from as many people as possible to then curate the ones that would end up in the final book. Once we received enough we categorised them so we could start the editing process. Each piece had to be read by two to three group members to ensure accuracy, fairness and objectivity. We also had weekly meetings with a designer who worked on the text and cover designs. Layout is equally important as the content itself and as the book started coming together we had to think about images and typesetting. We coordinated this with a typesetter who provided us with draft copies so we could start seeing a final version.

In the meantime we worked on structural edits of each piece. This was accompanied by constant back and forth communication with each author as we wanted the editor and author on the same page. This was followed by a series of copy line edits to really get stuck into the content. Throughout the editing process we worked to a style guide and asked each other for a second opinion or edit to make sure the content was cohesive. Once all of the content was finalised it was time for the first set of pages to be sent through by the typesetter. This is when all the content it typeset onto a document and printed out as an A1 format to pick up forgotten edits or new mistakes. We had to go through a few rounds of pages to get the content exactly how we wanted it.

The final stage (and one of the most exciting steps) was doing a trial print run. This lets us see how the book will look in its final physical form. Minimal corrections about page binding, layout and typesetting were tweaked until it was ready to be printed. Copies went to authors and contributors, with majority of them being put aside for a book launch later in the year.

Producing Tattoo went through many ups and downs: I learned so much about what is involved in creating, writing and producing a book. Being a part of this project was extremely eye-opening and helped make me a better writer and editor. Not only was it insightful to learn about the production process of a book, it was my first time writing a published piece of work. I chose to do a book review on Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz – which you can find here. Several contributors were needed to make it happen. Book publishing is a group effort: it couldn’t be any other way and I’m glad.

Look out for part two where I talk about the journey and process of my second book project titled BSP Review: The Department of Noticing and Listening.



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