My Rite to Read

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Publishing Intern at Kyle Books-- Cookery, Health and Gardening

Hi, that's who I have been these days... (see above, albeit for 2 weeks)


To my utmost thrill and horror, it was a MAC!!!!! (A mac a day .... and there's a million ways to finish that phrase). The Kyle Books catalogue was the first thing I was asked to make acquaintance with.

I was left drooling all over chocolate and cake and cheese and lexical odysseys into culinary delights of present day London. All kinds of gastronomic exotica leapt out of Kyle Cathie ltd.’s multimedia and print matter. This was going to be difficult, especially if I was not going to be able to buy half those delights (of course all books would come priced to me at a special discount of 35%), good motivation to keep at the grander objective, and perhaps careers do rise like a soufflĂ©, as critics tease about a certain boy who bakes to Britain's glory ever since he ditched his banking past. You can read more about his books and bakes here.

Kyle asked me to check out the cheapest direct flights from London to Maldives and return. I had no idea Thompson Airlines existed, and not only did they exist, but they offered direct flights to Maldives and back for cheap. Flight websites always assume you have fixed dates of travel, and not that you like reading their timetables, unlike bus or train companies.

Sophie the editor asked me to begin my research on world grains for Ghillie James' book Grains and Rice (June 2013). So, I created a spreadsheet with a focus on grains for UK, Iraq, Pakistan, Paraguay, Mexico, China and South Korea.This would aid the author in researching sourcing and writing relevant recipes pertaining to each region, in her book. 

The editorial group was larger than I had imagined, with about four editorial assistants, who managed the ground work and followed up with authors once they declared what books they planned to write. 

Armed with wishful calories, the next task would involve compiling AIs and publicity materials for about hundred books from the period July to December 2012, including those not yet ready, to send to sales agents who looked after buyers in Asia. Although it looked intimidating, it returned me to my favourite programme, Acrobat.  


The Rights and Co-editions coordinator kept me busy with collating advance information sheets, printing covers and spreads (also called--blads!). Here is when I realized the totality of the process and how each department works in tandem with the editorial, in putting together sales copy, cover spreads and content for books for co-publishers in Europe and USA. I also learned the courier logistics while using Seabourne services and sent out packages as a follow up for communications between the Rights director and certain clients and publishers abroad. Rights is so lucrative, and although digital is not a big part of Kyle’s books’ strategy—they face no immediate threat, with the presence of a large gift books’ market that is not yet too comfortable cooking off I-pads or gifting appy materials over the physical books—it was very interesting to learn about the kinds of books that do sell and don’t. And how invincible Curries are, worldwide, and in Germany for instance! But Single themed books make for the best Co-editions, Allison warned. Like Soup Glorious Soup! Foreign digital rights are still in their infancy (with USA leading the chase), and very much a part of their author contracts.

I researched five broadcasters and their birthdays for Kyle, and then ran down to Camden town to purchase 5 kilos of Ethiopian Mocha for the office and its boss--who has a long term relationship with the Camden Coffee House (which I am thankful to have visited).

I am getting Mac-er by the day.


Fiona asked me to go through the entire stack of press clippings for Katie Caldesi's The Italian Cookery Course since its publication (2011) and extract the best mentions for the reprint of the same book. 

I continued to compile book information for proposed co-editions and publishers in Germany and USA. Titles of certain books keep getting changed at the last minute, so you have to keep checking with editorial. So the editorial process is at the very heart of publishing. A lot of press coverage happens for cookbooks, and cookery, with so many celebrities competing their recipes and diets and TV shows; it is a very cut-throat industry, punnery and all!  Camilla Punjabi's 50 Greatest Curries is one of the hottest exports, and Meat Free Mondays, is a huge seller too! Allison mentioned that despite the fact that cookbooks bring in the most revenue UK cookbooks don't translate very well in Asia, just as gardening books don't enjoy that much of a rights market in Scandinavia, where climates are more extreme and the growing season utterly different. 

Is cooking recreation? Or survivalist?  Because the genre feeds a range of budgets and mouths, wallets and stomachs, making it the most commercial or revenue generating aspect of their business model, (mostly because they are celebrity endorsed, and or partnered with restaurant or retailers). The grammar books and other minor walking and geography books, sell well in Asia.

With so much controversy brewing over whether highly illustrated cookbooks will survive, in the future and with people saying apps might do for cookbooks what still visuals never could, I am convinced there are enough people in London hankering for delicious looking feel good recipe books.  

Asking what is the difference between whole wheat and whole grain is like asking what is the difference between a carrot and a vegetable? However, these are answered at length by the chef-writers in the process of their books. There are no defined genres in Cookery, ingredients and recipes overlap, recipes get slashed and rejected in the bodies of email and the packaging for emphasis is key. There are odd ball genres, like Grammar Rules, and The Complete Verse by Yeats, and English phrase books, but these satisfy different book palettes, and make for great gift books overseas.  

Day 4 & Day 5 & Day 6 were spent putting together rights information for export sales and rights directors.


James Duigan is one of Kyle's regular authors who writes about how to flatten up, and get lean and clean on his no fuss diet. I notice a big tendency with co-authorship in cook-books, Katie Caldesi and her husband being one, and James and his wife, being the most recent I remember.

I am falling in love with some of these delicious books. Maybe I will go on a 14 day diet, in the absence of a swimming pool. Berries are the official office breakfast, it appears. You get them for a pound a pound by the station!

Editors and assistants are often rushing off to shoots to capture stills for the books on the shelves and videos for their you tubes and social media virals. 

One such afternoon he called and I answered the phone. I learned, that "sugar is like a nuclear fat bomb exploding all over your body" ;)

I am still torn about conflicting messages with relation to Coffee and the body. Some say it improves memory, others that it gives you cancer. Excess, in either condition, is no answer, I suppose.


Ultimately, I ran into the new intern, very young, just turned 21 and had spent the last year teaching English in Paris until she realised books were more compatible than students! Together we made book jackets for books that will be taken to trade fairs by Sandy and Catherine.

I have soaked in two weeks of crash course in publishing house interning. I will also remember everyone, the beautiful macs, the spacious sunny office overlooking the broad high street, and hopefully get to stay in touch too.

Until then, I am very much going to be a Chic on a shoestring.