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The Curved House Berlin Office Space

Desk available at our central Berlin office!

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   The Curved House Berlin Office Space

The Curved House have a spare desk available in our productive and creative office in Mitte, Berlin where we publish books (mainly for children). Here’s what you need to know:

  • Great location: Oranienburger Str. 26, Mitte (opposite Monbijoupark)
  • €220 per month all inclusive (rent, wifi, b/w A4 printer, water, heating etc.)
  • The office is one room with 4 desks, a kitchenette and a little yellow sofa. There’s a separate bathroom with shower (newly renovated).
  • We have an office dog called Sam who is very sweet. He sleeps all day and barks only when the doorbell rings (not often). Not suitable for those with a dog allergy.
  • Sharing with 3 others, all working for The Curved House (one full time, two part time) and all with writing, book publishing, art and design backgrounds.
  • The Curved House is a publishing and education business with an interest in visual learning and literacy. We also run Curved House Kids (children’s publisher) and Visual Verse (art/literary project).
  • We are all antipodeans, friendly, hardworking and prone to the odd bad joke or silly pun.

Feel free to email Kristen Harrison if you’d like to see the space or do a trial day.

kristen@thecurvedhouse.com
@thecurvedhouse
@visual_verse

september publishing

The Curved House speaks to September Publishing

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September Publishing was founded in 2013 by Hannah MacDonald as an independent start-up in an era of content overload. After twenty years of publishing at Virgin, Andre Deutsch, Random House and HarperCollins, Hannah specialises in a creative approach to shaping books with organisations, brands and personalities. Hannah is also the author of two fabulous books The Sun Road and Julianna Kiss, and a winner of a Betty Trask Award for first novels.

We spoke to Hannah about everything, from what it is like to run an independent publishing house and the challenges and rewards that go with it to what she would like to see more of in her submissions inbox. Read the full interview below.

September PublishingWhy did you decide to set up September Publishing?

I wanted to carry on being a publisher – but I also knew I wanted to work for myself for the foreseeable future!

What were the challenges/fears of starting your own publishing company?

The same fears arose as when starting anything new – fear of failure/ridicule/seeing it through. But—being in my forties—I know myself quite well now so I know when to listen to them and when not!

I was frightened of losing all the money I invested—and this was quite a sensible fear—so I created a couple of ground rules about what kind of books we could realistically publish. Our books need to sell somewhere other than just the UK book trade, and our authors each need a way they are going be heard directly by readers. These have been sensible and I stuck to them.

The first great challenge was constructing from scratch the hub of services that represent a publishing house – distribution, marketing, data dissemination. All the stuff I’d taken for granted at a large company!

The second great—ongoing—challenge is getting the books to be seen and heard.

SP is now into its second year. How has it grown since the beginning and have your goals or views shifted from those you had in the beginning?

We’ve shifted roles and responsibilities. Charlotte Cole who has worked with September since the outset has become a shareholder and we are discussing new imprints with new potential publishers.

You have to balance your focus on your original instincts and mission as well as keeping a real-time realism, as we learn what we do best. So the pitch of what we do – inspiring illustrated books and mind-expanding narratives is clearer.

I wish we’d sorted our accounting/financial/costing systems out a bit more vigorously from the start! It would have saved hours of envelope/calculator scribbling.

September Publishing
September Publishing
MyWar_Loyd

You’ve said that SP is an “author-centric” publishing house. What is the relationship like between SP and its authors and how is that relationship cultivated and nourished?

One of my authors who has been published several times and has also self-published a book said this is the first time she has felt like part of a functional, available team working with her to make her book a success. That’s what we’re aiming for really – in a nutshell.

Printed books compete with so many other forms of entertainment – computers, phones, games, social media. How do you tackle these obstacles and get people interested in your books?

Two ways:

1 Our illustrated books are physically desirable. People still want to hold and own nice things.

2 We try to publish into interest-communities that recognise what they are keen to read about – whether it is Celticism, ceramics, walking or a particular comedian.

Diversity in publishing a significant topic right now. How does SP fit into the discussion?

If September is to survive it must publish to the breadth of its audience. In which case we need a breadth of experts and authors. Quite naturally SP has developed a diversity of gender, nationality and sexuality in its team and authors. But I still long for a wider variety of styles, origins and influences within the submissions we get. And although we are unlikely to move into translated non-fiction we are actively seeking younger, more diverse voices and authors. Although paradoxically I also like reading memoirs by those who have lived long and fully and dug deep into a profession or role. There’s more to be found amongst first time 70 plus writers I think.

September PublishingWhat role do smaller, independent publishing houses play amongst the big players of the industry?

You can’t have growth without seed beds. Every industry has break-aways and start ups and we are often better at developing new talent.  

Do you find you have more freedom of choice with SP in regards to the types of authors and books that you can focus on and gear towards publishing?

Yes, which is lovely, but sometimes I could do with a really good challenging, creative discussion that forces me to look harder at things!

What balance does SP have between the culture of the written word vs the business of the written word?

Like a lot of publishers (as opposed to editors) I am essentially a greedy, fast reader. I studied English Literature but I wasn’t very interested by critical theory. It’s always been the immersion I’m after – which has always made me a quite un-snobbish reader and writer. I was always a bit shocked by colleagues who felt they could get away with disdain towards commercial publishing.

Publishing is a business. Business is partly about managing the different strands and different consumers of what you produce. Managing is about valuing different people for different reasons. I recognise those who have passion, purity and cultural value for what they produce, and working with them is wonderful. For me publishing is about the people, and reading is about the lives I get to live vicariously

What role does social media play for SP and its authors in terms of marketing and the relationship between readers and authors? Pros/Cons..

Some of our authors use it extensively as a message board and community room  i.e. Mark Thomas. We try to support our authors own activities and extend the reach of their followers/fans. Others of our authors do not use it at all—and these are often more literary authors—get recommended just as much within viral reading communities i.e. Anthony Loyd.

September PublishingThree of your authors have written memoirs and Christopher Nicholson’s Among the Summer Snows is set to come out in 2017. Is this ability to be self-reflective a quality you look for in your writers?

It’s less about self-reflection than September’s focus on building a list of narratives that expand your world. This includes quite a lot of memoir—from gold and diamond miners to war correspondents to poets—but also illustrated books with unusual perspectives on cities and popular subjects.

Not to encourage tunnel vision here, but what does a SP book look like? i.e. how would you define a vision for the books you’re looking for?

See above…!

What would you like to see more of in your Submissions inbox?

Artists, designers, illustrators. And voices that differ from the writing personalities in mainstream media – either in age, race or politics.

And finally, what would be your top tips for authors who are looking for a publisher?

Read lots. Be clear about the purpose of your book. Write succinct letters of enquiry, and submit with a one page overview and a single sample chapter.

Farewell David Rain (1961-2015)

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A tribute to David Rain, from Kristen Harrison at The Curved House

Last week the world said goodbye to a wonderful writer and I said goodbye to a wonderful client.

David Rain, who passed away on December 15, was a writer and creative writing lecturer who also wrote under the pseudonyms Tom Arden and Peter Keith Nash. David grew up in Mount Gambier, a small town in South Australia before moving to Belfast to teach English Literature in the early 1990s. He then moved to Brighton and eventually settled in London where he lived for almost 20 years.

David’s last published volume was a collection of poetry called First Look that felt so very familiar to me. This collection evokes much of the duality of being an Australian abroad. Perhaps it’s the distance, or the uniqueness of the landscape, but no matter how far you go from Australia, Australia never leaves you. It is a place that burrows deep into your soul. For some of us, that depth can be suffocating and those who leave often end up occupying a confusing space between belonging and longing – wondering all the time if it would be a good idea to go back.

in the heat of the sun david rain
volcano street by david rain
The Harlequins Dance from David Rain's Orokon series

David was able to shape this duplicity into words and stories and to use it as a force in his writing. It is there in front of us in First Look, and it is there in his novel Volcano Street, a story in which two sisters try to escape a small-town Australian life they have been thrown in to.

For me, I will always be grateful that David wrote about things so familiar and that I found these words on the other side of the world, where I needed them most. And I will always remember the gentle, genuine and hardworking writer who quietly made his mark.

On behalf of the team here, we send our love and condolences to David’s partner Antony, and to his friends and family.

Kristen Harrison
22 December 2015

David Rain's "Christopher" for Visual Verse

David Rain’s “Christopher” for Visual Verse

coralie bickford smith the fox and the star waterstones book of the year

Coralie Bickford-Smith wins the Waterstones Book of the Year

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Last month we featured a glorious illustration from Coralie Bickford-Smith’s The Fox and the Star on Visual Verse and over the course of the month we published over 100 submissions from writers responding directly to this image. That is a record for Visual Verse and it highlights the important of images for the written word, both in terms of prompting writers and in terms of depicting something we cannot say with anything other than visual language.

coralie bickford smith the fox and the star waterstones book of the year

Today, The Fox and the Star has been awarded Waterstones Book of the Year and we are celebrating on behalf of book fetishists everywhere! Congratulations Coralie, whose complete dedication to beautiful design over many years continues to reward us book lovers. And thank you Mr James Daunt, MD of Waterstones and founder of Daunt Books, for championing the aesthetic and ensuring the qualities of traditional book design remain close to the heart of UK booksellers.

 

Sophie Devine joins the curved house eu erasmus entrepeneur

Sophie Devine is in the House

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UK designer Sophie Devine has joined The Curved House for three months as part of the EU Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs scheme. This is the same amazing EU intiative that brought us Irish Kate. Sophie will be working on a range of design and marketing-related projects and developing a brand from scratch. She will hone her skills as a book designer and also learn how to run her own design business.

Sophie’s first task was to explore some of our favourite Berlin bookshops including Motto, Gestalten, Do You Read Me?, Shakespeare and Sons, Dussmann and the literary paradise that is Charlottenberg’s Literaturhaus. We asked her to look at the differences between German and UK editions of the same books, and to analyse how and why these designs vary. She has documented her observations over on her Ich bin ein Berliner tumblr, where she is also keeping a digital diary of her erasmus experience.

Sophie’s next task was to help us with a creative project for Curved House Kids. We asked her to create a font using handwriting from a 4 year old Londoner, Alice (thanks Alice!). We were inspired by the awesome (and gruesome) Kickstarter project Let’s Play Murder that involved creating a custom font from a child’s handwriting. The results are in:

custom typeface from child's handwriting

 

Next week we’ll upload a tutorial to the Curved House Kids website so you can make your own custom fonts.

Until then, welcome to Berlin Sophie Devine, and welcome to The Curved House! Let’s make some visual magic…

Reading Inspiration: Women in Letters

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It’s International Women’s Day this Sunday 8th March – a day that has been observed since in the early 1900’s. Back then, great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world resulted in their societies turned upside down. Radical ideologies – including the exceptionally radical idea that women have a right to be heard – began to take root.

Now, International Women’s Day is held across the world. With a focus this year on “Make it Happen”, the goals of IWD are all about ensuring women get equal representation and recognition. And we always feel like all good writing deserves ongoing champions. So, inspired by the “Make it Happen” line, we’ve come up with a little side project we’ve started work on: Women in Letters.

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Introducing – The Family Project

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New Guardian-Faber book, The Family Project, is part memoir, part scrapbook, part game – a shell filled with ideas, projects and exercises that help you discover your family in all its idiosyncratic, personal glory.

A little while ago, a husband and wife journalist duo sat down to create a book that celebrated the idea of family. Harriet Green – who runs the Guardian’s Family section – and John-Paul Flintoff – who worked at the Sunday Times and Financial Times are the brains behind Guardian-Faber’s newest title.

This isn’t a typical book, and nor was this a typical brief. The Family Project comprises a series of exercises that allow you to create a scrapbook-style journal of your family history. Much like Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal or Quentin Blake’s Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered, this is the kind of interactive book that relies on the creativity of the reader. Each exercise is just the beginning, waiting to be finished, and for those who know our work at Curved House Kids, you’ll understand exactly why we fell in love with the book from the beginning.

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Introducing – Small Green Shoots

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We’re delighted to introduce you to one of our latest websites, for the excellent Small Green Shoots.

Small Green Shoots were founded in 2009 with the aim of giving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds (so-called NEETs) an opportunity to engage with music and the arts, and to use these experiences as a springboard for their future.

As one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, Small Green Shoots has also piloted and developed a comprehensive and successful Creative Apprenticeship Programme, which offers a handful of young apprentices the opportunity to manage their events, as well placements in companies like MTV, Sony ATV and Adidas.

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The Curved House Fun Palaces

Reporting Back from the Fun Palace

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Just in case you didn’t see over at our children’s HQ, Curved House Kids, we’ve been spending the last week collecting all manner of activities and materials together for Berlin’s first ever Fun Palace.

A revival of an idea originally conceived by the legendary playwright Joan Littlewood, Fun Palaces is a UK based initiative that launched this years thanks to Sarah Jane Rawlings and Visual Verse contributor, Stella Duffy. Read More