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Visual Verse launches August Edition with Edan Lepuki and Katherine Fawssett

Posted by Curved House Editor | ART AND ARTISTS, NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments

Truth is stranger than fiction. Back in the dark days before Visual Verse began, our editor was (and still is) an avid reader of The Millions, a great books website based in the USA. She was particularly struck by an article called ‘Shutting the Drawer, What happens when a book doesn’t sell?’ published on August 23, 2011. It was honest, it was funny, it was painful – it was absolutely what doesn’t get said among the brouhaha that surrounds debut authors. It was by a Millions staff writer called Edan Lepuki, who has an MFA from Iowa writers’ workshop.

Fast forward three years. Visual Verse is 9 months old and Edan Lepuki’s first published novel is about to be launched in the UK. On 7 August, in just one week’s time CALIFORNIA will be on our bookshop shelves. We are thrilled to publish Edan in the UK a week before her novel comes out, and have her headlining Visual Verse for the month.

The strange gets even stranger, though: after a turn of dream events CALIFIORNIA debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at NUMBER 3. Yes, that’s NUMBER 3. Ironically (ha! see backstory) it was an Amazon Best Book of the Month for July. You can check out that backstory here.

Alongside Edan in our never-been-published-not-even-on-twitter is a young Mexican writer Paolo Torres who usually works in Spanish but has translated a piece for us. This is his FIRST TIME people, and we are pleased to introduce him.

He’s in the best company – Steven J. Fowler a poet, artist, martial artist & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He has published six collections of poetry and been commissioned by the Tate, Reel Festivals and the Liverpool Biennial. He has been translated into 13 languages and performed at venues across the world, from Mexico city to Erbil, Iraq. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine and is the curator of the Enemies project, so an all round good guy.

And Jennifer Wong is a Hong Kong-born writer now living in London. She did an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. She is fascinated by the seen and unseen that lie within images and words and her latest collection is Goldfish (Chameleon Press).

As always we hope you enjoy the reading and enjoy the writing – as much as we enjoy publishing and promoting your work.

The image is the starting point, the text is up to you.

Kristen Harrison and Preti Taneja
Visual Verse: Anthology of Art and Words



Introducing… November Editions

Posted by Curved House Editor | BEHIND THE SCENES, BOOK DESIGN | No Comments

The latest project we’ve worked on (and that we’re delighted to introduce you to) is November Editions. Based in Amsterdam and Berlin, November Editions is a new publisher, specialising in first-time English-language translations of German Expressionist and other Modernist writing from the early 20th century. Their books will appear exclusively in electronic format.

November Editions uncovers plenty of hidden and forgotten gems, starting with their first round of books, which introduce English-language audiences to work from Karl Kraus, Walter Rheiner and Carl Einstein.


The first books are a great entry point into German Expressionism: a pivotal art movement in German history, coinciding with a time when modernity was beginning to arrive in Western consciousness, and Germany as a country was left reeling from a lot of social chaos, be it the outbreak of war, the abdication of the Kaiser, numerous attempts at revolution and the rise and collapse of the Weimar Republic. This sense of turmoil and rapid change prompted artists to experiment with new forms of expression suited to convey their intense personal response to, on the one hand, political issues (war, pacifism, socialism, communism), and social commentary on the other (centred around problems such as estrangement, poverty, addiction and the influence of metropolitan life upon the individual).

Beginning with the founding of the painters’ collectives Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter, Expressionism was not limited to one medium and constantly blurred lines between personal and political, and various modes of expression. Alongside painting, poetry, prose and drama, film became an integral part in later years, with Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Metropolis being prime examples. Expressionism also coincided with similar movements across Europe – Fauvism, Cubism and Surrealism in France, Dada in Switzerland, and Futurism in Italy. Like these, Expressionism was a hugely influential movement, and in the years that followed as the Nazi’s rose to power, it is telling how many works from Expressionist writers were committed to the flames at Bebelplatz in 1933.

But back in the present day as there is plenty of Expressionism to explore on the November Editions website. Our brief was to come up with a brand identity, logo and website for November Editions, and design the covers for their ebooks. Working with a new, niche publisher is always a fantastic experience as it means working with people like NE founder Gijs van Koningsveld, who are completely committed to the books they publish.


For us, it’s also been extra special to work on a project so closely intertwined with the history of our new(ish) base in Berlin, and to see that come to life through the modern world of ebooks.

Big thanks goes to Emma King who helped bring November Editions and their books to life under Kristen’s direction. And of course to Gijs van Koningsveld, for letting us explore the world of German Expressionism and November Editions.


Curved House Inspiration: Swooning over Series Cover Design

Posted by Curved House Editor | BOOK DESIGN | No Comments

It’s all abuzz at The Curved House at the moment, with some serious (and for the moment, top secret) series cover designing going down. It’s given us pause for thought over series cover design inspirations, and looking at how the book cover works when it is part of a series.

When thinking about series cover design, you have to think about both the sum parts, and the total. Whether it’s making the classics collectable, tying together disparate books that happen to be united by a common genre, or exploring the oeuvre of an author or time period or subject matter – the sign of a cracking series design is to allow each book to have it’s own personality, but to uncover and develop that beautiful bit of thread that ties everything together. Sometimes, that even has to anticipate the future, with many series conceived as a non-finite run of books, with series planned ahead for books that have yet to be written or titles yet to be acquired.

It’s also not just about the cover. Spines are also a huge thinking point – and with a series, you have to find something that can be distinct and mark out a series, that can meet the number of different challenges with each book – the size of the book, where it is being printed, what it is being printed on – and also look good.

We’re feeling pretty inspired by what the book world already has to offer on these moot points, and so we figured what better time than now to share some of our all-time favourites.

Neversink Library, Melville House


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Melville House’s Neversink Library is a joy and a perfect way to approach bringing together backlist and reissued titles, and create a strong brand for a smaller publisher. The silhouettes are inspired, the type is beautiful and the colour palette is super, allowing plenty of options to mark out each book, whilst keeping them all in line.

Penguin’s Great Food Series, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith


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Both Penguin and Coralie Bickford Smith have produced multiple beautiful book series (especially when they team up together), and the way Coralie Bickford-Smith works with patterns (and indeed, textile patterms) is such a natural fit for series cover designs. There are so many we could have chosen – the most obvious being the Penguin Clothbound Classics, the glitziest being the beautiful F.Scott Fitzgerald hardbacks. But our fave is the Penguin Great Food series, which brings together short works of food writing, pared with some stunning textile style patterns that manage to nail the era of each individual writer – no mean feat when you consider the writing selected extends from 1700 to the present day.

Kafka Editions from Peter Mendelsund

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image from

I have such a cover design crush on Peter Mendelsund for very many reasons. But one of my all time favourite designs of his are the selection of Kafka titles he designed for Schocken. The introductory post he wrote shows so much about how to approach series design and how to think about books as a whole and a part, and also contains lots of lovely anecdotes about how the books came about. Kafka covers can often be on the darker side, but I love the use of colour as a uniting factor, particularly in the eyes (which are so bizarre and so paranoid and yet so funny…. bit like Kafka).

Radical Thinkers from Verso

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Image from

I love the simplicity of the Radical Thinkers series, which takes texts from a range of radical darlings and gives them some lovely, angular, sparse covers that still manage to have plenty of movement and elegance to them. Taking a leaf out of Penguin’s Great Ideas series, each set of Radical Thinkers is based around a limited series colour palette, with geometric patterns and shapes tailored to each title. Again, each book is allowed a life of it’s own, but when stacked together, they make critical theory look pretty damn sexy.

Clarice Lispector – Paul Sahre for New Directions

Photo from

Image from

Literally taking the sum part and total theory to it’s logical endpoint, the covers for Clarice Lispector’s four novels could have been so gimmicky. But the tones, the type and the fact that they utilise a pretty awesome author photo for the background make these so beautiful.

Ler Melhor Book Cover Series

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Image from

Designed for Portuguese high school and university students, the idea of this series is to encourage teenagers to appreciate some of the countries finest novelists and poets. And what better way to turn them into icons than to stick their face on the cover in super humorous way… proof that the classics are most certainly not boring.

Peter Carey Covers by Jenny Grigg

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Developing a strong identity for an author from the past is one thing – but developing it for a current author, particularly one like Peter Carey who writes all manner of amazing stories about different subjects – is another. Jenny Grigg’s work for Random House Australia shows how well type can bring together a series, and there’s plenty of great insight into the process of designing a series in this post about the books over here.




how to resize images for the web

Preparing Images for the Web

Posted by Curved House Editor | BOOKLAB FOR AUTHORS, Tips and Advice, Web and Social Media | No Comments

This guide is designed to help authors and web editors understand how to resize and save images before uploading them to the web

When it comes to creating an engaging website, images and photos are extremely important. Estimates are that we only read about 20% of the world’s online text which leaves 80% of visual and multimedia that we navigate daily.

To catch the attention of your website visitors (and potential book buyers) use good quality images and prepare them properly for the web. You will need to make sure your image is the right file type (eg. Gif, jpeg, png) and the right size (eg. 100kb, 200kb etc).

Important note: You must have permission to use images. If you have not taken them yourself, make sure the copyright holder (usually the photographer) has given you written permission by email or otherwise.

Free image editing software

Once you have selected your image, you may need to convert it using image-editing software in order to make sure it is the right size and file format for the web. Most computers come with built-in editing software nowadays (if you use a Mac, iPhoto is a simple and easy option).

Iphoto free editing software for mac

iPhoto for Mac interface

Other free image-editing software packages include:

  • Photoscape
  • GIMP for Windows
  • Paint.NET
  • Serif PhotoPlus
  • Pixia

Choosing the right image file type

There are three types of image files that are most commonly used on the web: JPEG, GIF or PNG.

JPEG (pronounced Jay-Peg) or JPG compresses the information in an image file, making it smaller and easier to download. Most of the photographs you see on the web are in JPEG format.

GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format. It has been the most commonly used graphic file type on the Web. It limits the number of colors in an image so the file can download faster. It’s particularly good for text, art, cartoons, and line drawings.

PNG is a newer, open-source alternative to GIF. PNG offers better quality for photographs and is also good for saving images that will have a transparent background.

As a general rule, use JPEG for photos and GIF for text, art, cartoons and logos.

File sizes and dimensions

Image size might refer to two things: the dimensions (height/width) of the image on the screen and the size of the file (usually expressed in kilobytes/kb or megabytes/mb).


This is the width and height of an image and is generally measured in pixels. Web images should be no wider than 500 pixels and no higher than 300 pixels. Your site will look far better if you use a consistent image height and width, so experiment with image sizes and decide what size you like. You can use the DPI equation below to help work out the size you want.

DPI Equation:
(Width of image in inches x DPI) x (Height of image in inches x DPI) = Image size on screen.
Example: (2 inches x 72 dpi) x (1.5 inches x 72 dpi) = 144 x 108 pixels

A few words on image resolution

Images are made up of dots called pixels that combine to create the shapes and colors of an image, not unlike mosaic tiles. Resolution means the number of these dots, or pixels, appearing one next to another in the space of one inch. The lower the resolution, the grainier an image will appear. However, higher resolution means a larger file size (and slower loading time for your page), so you will need to make a balanced decision about the resolution you choose. Images for the web are normally set at 72 DPI (dots per inch), or 72 pixels per inch, as this is all that is needed for clear screen display. This is why the above DPI equation uses 72 as a multiplier. You can change the image resolution size in your image-editing programme (usually in Image > Size or Image > Information).

The size of the file

This means the amount of memory the image takes up on your computer in kilobytes (kb). Your aim is to prepare your image so that it retains as much clarity as possible but ‘weighs’ as few kilobytes as possible. The heavier your images, the longer your webpage will take to load, and no one likes to wait around.

Note: If you only want to use part of the image, you can crop it before resizing it. You can do this with your image editing software.

Helpful Resources

Beginner’s Guide to Web Image Formats Infographic

Simple guide to editing and cropping images with iPhoto (Mac)

Editing an image using GIMP (Free image editing software)

Photo: Marie J. Burrows

It all starts with Matilda: Nerys Hudson to join The Curved House

Posted by Curved House Editor | NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments

Photo: Marie J. Burrows

I’m thrilled to announce that the fabulous Nerys Hudson, from Dialogue Berlin, will be joining The Curved House in June as Publishing Assistant. Nerys will offer editorial assistance across the entire Curved House project list including digital and print projects.

Those within the English-language publishing community in Berlin know only too well how loved Nerys is. She comes well-trained in bookselling and book marketing after working with Sharmaine Lovegrove at Dialogue for several years and brings a calm efficiency to everything she does. Her experience in bookselling, PR/marketing, events and her design skills (that have even been picked up by the Penguin UK design blog) make her a great fit for The Curved House.

Speaking of fitting with The Curved House, Nerys wrote a quite a remarkable cover letter that showed she had taken a lot of time to understand the philosophy and ambitions of our work here. The letter was so good that I am publishing an extract here, with Nerys’ permission, as I think we will all feel a little inspired by it.

So, while Nerys is excited and nervous about the future, so am I. It is up to me now, to ensure The Curved House lives up to someone with such a strong sense of what books can mean to people, especially when we – the publishers – get them just right.


Dear Kristen,

For me, it all starts with Matilda. Matilda was (and still is) awesome. She was a smart girl – something I rarely encountered in my children’s books up until then. She had a difficult life, but she didn’t give up on who she was, and wasn’t afraid to be herself. And she read. She read books, and made them seem like the best thing in the world. She got it. I grew up knowing I wanted to work with stories, because I knew how much that moment meant to me, how important that feeling was and how necessary it is to share.

A book can be a singular experience, but it is not a singular process.  

It wasn’t until I was 22 and in Berlin that I started to understand how that could happen. I left a job at a communications agency, needing a break and a new step. When I started working at Dialogue Books, many of the customers would (and do) assume that secretly I harbour an ambition to be a writer. I don’t. I respect and adore stories, but I also know that I am not an author, and indeed, a book is not just an author. A book can be a singular experience, but it is not a singular process. There are so many people behind a book often hidden out of view, but together, they help facilitate that magic moment when you find a story that resonates, entertains, challenges or comforts you …

… But why does this matter to you?

You like Matilda. You do amazing work to make sure kids grow up with an appreciation of stories. You are part of the process behind the book, the details that ensure someone gets that moment of pleasure from the reading experience. You are not afraid to explore areas of publishing that intersect with art, culture, design and technology, but also respect that books are special in their own right. You have the energy and breadth of services that make a real difference to the people you work with, in both big ideas and little details. You are an emerging company that is just beginning their story, and there is nothing more I would love to do than join you in that journey and assist in whatever way I can.

Yours Sincerely,
Nerys Hudson

May Edition of Visual Verse

Stella Duffy leads May edition of Visual Verse

Posted by Curved House Editor | NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments

May is a strange month – neither spring nor summer – a time of transitions at the turn of the season. Our image by Berlin based photographer Alice Connew captures that ambivalence perfectly. A shoulder, a quilt. Male or female? Happy or sad? To get up, or stay in bed? At Visual Verse we try to publish images that provoke questions. Who better to lead the site this month than Stella Duffy, a writer who explores every form and every subject, (she’s been nominated for the (once named) Orange Prize and even appeared in The Bill – how many writers can say that?) She’s written crime and literary fiction – perfect for our strange image, which evokes beauty and potential violence in equal measure. This month we also introduce a ‘previously unpublished’ slot, occupied now by Maya Dawson a young writer with a delicate sense of relationships. Vidyan Ravinthiran is a poet and Keasbey Research Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge. His first collection, Grun-tu-molani, is out now from Bloodaxe. And Victoria Gosling, who is represented by Rogers Coleridge and White, writes novels and short stories, and is the founder of The Reader Berlin, an author and publishing consultancy. Not too busy then! We hope you enjoy reading, writing and submitting this month. Thanks so much for all the support, Visual Verse is now six months old and we could not be more thrilled by your responses.

Kristen, Preti and Pete

April Edition of Visual Verse Launches with Marcus Bastel and Adam Foulds

Posted by Alice Connew | NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments
This month we are thrilled to have art by Marcus Bastel to inspire us, and the words of Booker nominated Adam Foulds to get us thinking about just how powerful language can be. Adam’s new book In the Wolf’s Mouth (Jonathan Cape) is set in Sicilly and opens with the kind of power only a writer at the top of his game can muster. Yet Adam brings the same poetry that was so much in evidence in The Quickening Maze and The Broken Word — the ability to look unflinchingly but with compassion at human nature’s worst excesses.
Adam Fould's new writing Visual Verse

Alongside Adam our other lead writers are Carey Marcus, whose strange, rhythmic style suits this vision of a girl soldier in her final hours. Cambridge poet Rod Mengham’s prose poetry is exacting and precise — two qualities that Visual Verse really admires. Rod’s most recent reading was at the Runnymeade Literary Festival and his pamphlets are widely published. Finally, we bring you two voices of experience — Francesca Recchia, who has worked and taught in such places as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine, and whose Little Book of Kabul is a revelation about people in a city we rarely get insight into. And Uche Okonkwo, whose perfectly formed short story comes straight from Nigeria, via winning the £1,000 inaugural Etisalat prize for flash fiction. Links and things are here:

In the Wolf’s Mouth
Little Book of Kabul
Uche Okonkwo
Rod Mengham

We are looking forward to reading all the writing the month will bring, and hope you enjoy the offerings.
Kristen and Preti

Publishing Assistant, P/T 3-4 days per week, Berlin

Posted by Curved House Editor | JOBS, NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments

The Curved House_Logo_BLACK_FBDescribed by the UK Bookseller as “the ultimate hybrid company”, The Curved House is a creative and energetic publishing and production business based in Berlin. We design and produce books, websites and multimedia for publishers and authors (mainly UK-based) and we run highly sought-after web and social media trainings for authors in collaboration with organisations like the Society of Authors and The Literary Consultancy. We also publish our own books under the Curved House Kids imprint and run the not-for-profit online anthology, Visual Verse.

We are seeking an exceptional Publishing Assistant to work 3-4 days per week alongside the Publisher in our Berlin office.

The role:

You will be assisting in three key areas of our work: production/design, marketing and sales. This is a dynamic role and requires someone who is reliable and organised, but also creative and imaginative. An interest in design and a flair for social media are a must. This role would suit someone who is drawn to the creative side of publishing  (design, production, marketing) and who is excited by working for a small company that can offer experience across the entire publishing process.

You will:

  • Offer administrative support to the Publisher in all aspects of our work – particularly project work, marketing and sales
  • Manage your own publishing projects (books, websites and videos) including managing budgets and liaising directly with clients
  • Liaise with key suppliers including editors, designers, typesetters, printers and web developers
  • Assist with the organisation and running of events
  • Run the social media accounts for The Curved House and Curved House Kids
  • Be responsible for editing and updating our websites
  • Fulfill orders from our shop:
  • Create sales and marketing materials such as flyers, postcards and posters
  • Assist with researching and writing proposals and funding applications

The successful candidate will:

  • Have a minimum of 2 years publishing or bookselling experience
  • Have an innate understanding of high quality design (practical design skills would be a distinct advantage)
  • Be passionate about books and literacy
  • Demonstrate excellent computer skills and the ability to learn new programmes quickly
  • Be social media savvy  and undaunted by running multiple SM accounts on multiple platforms
  • Have impeccable written and spoken English language skills (German an advantage)
  • Have excellent attention to detail
  • Be thoughtful, friendly and a great communicator across all mediums
  • Be a self-starter who can work independently and set own goals
  • Be enthusiastic about working for a young publishing start-up
  • Be looking to develop a career in publishing

Note: Applicants must be legally permitted to work in German and/or the EU for a minimum of 12 months.

If this sounds like you, and the idea of working for a growing publishing company excites you, then please apply in writing to [email protected] with a CV and a covering letter explaining why you are right for this position. Please include details of your current salary and notice period in your covering letter.

The closing date for applications is 5pm GMT, Friday 18th April
Shortlisted candidates will be contacted on Monday 21st April
Interviews will take place on Wednesday 23rd April
The successful applicant will be required to start no later than Monday 26th May

society of authors design and digital jon gray318 david pearson claire mason katie Roden

All the Lovely People: Society of Authors Design and Digital Conference

Posted by Curved House Editor | BOOK DESIGN, NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of chairing the afternoon sessions at the Society of Authors Design and Digital conference. It was such a good line-up and it’s quite possible I enjoyed the whole day more than anyone else. The morning sessions were three book designers with not only supreme skill and creativity, but total integrity: Jon Gray of Gray318, David Pearson of Type as Image who is always a favourite, and Claire Mason, text designer at Penguin. All of them presented a beautiful array of work and insights into the considerations of cover and interior book design. Katie Roden from Fixabook chaired the morning sessions and ended with some practical insights into how to make sure your cover does what it needs to do (sell books).

In the afternoon, Kjell Eldor (Digital Publishing Manager at Blackwells) kicked off with a fairly spot-on overview of publishing’s relationship with digital over the past few years; the ever super dooper Sophie Rochester from The Writing Platform shared some invaluable stats for and about writers; James Huggins from Made In Me (of mebooks app fame) shared his beautiful and clever projects for kids and Phil Harris gave us a unique insight into the world of gaming for writers – one that involves many branches and whole new worlds. I was pretty chuffed to chair such a good panel and one that delivered a range of digital perspectives to an enthusiastic audience.

By the end of the day the authors were brain dead but wonderfully enthusiastic and that is exactly how we wanted it. Job done.

Thank you Anna, Kate, Charlotte, Neha and the rest of the team at the The Society of Authors for running an excellent day.

– Kristen

photo 2

Denise Nestor Adam Marek Visual Verse

March edition of Visual Verse launches with Denise Nestor and Adam Marek

Posted by Curved House Editor | ART AND ARTISTS, NEWS AND EVENTS | No Comments
This month’s ‘visual’ is by the artist Denise Nestor whose exquisite pencil drawings have appeared in The New Review, the New York Times and have been published by Curved House EditionsAnd this month’s lead ‘verse’ is from award-winning writer, Adam Marek, whose work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Prospect and The Sunday Times Magazine, The Stinging Fly and The London Magazine, and in anthologies such as The Best British Short Stories 2011 and 2013His short story collections The Stone Thrower and Instruction Manual for Swallowing are published in the UK by Comma Press, and in North America by ECW Press.We also feature new writing by Kristen Kreider who, as part of the collaborative pair Kreider+O’Leary, exhibited the work Light Vessel Automatic at Performing Architecture at Tate Britain in 2013 and Edge City at the Lisbon Architecture Triennale in Lisbon from Sept-Dec 2013. Her academic monograph Poetics and Place: the Architecture of Sign, Subjects and Site is out now.Writing by Olivia Dawson, whose poetry has been published in Magma and Matt Bryden, whose first collection Boxing the Compass was published by Templar in 2013, demonstrates again how elastic the imagination is, how powerful the art of expression, how infinitely surprising the meeting of art and words can be.

We’re pleased to announce new features on the site – you can now see your own contributions from each month by title or by your name all in one place. We are also doing our best to bend WordPress to our postmodern wills – it takes time, so the more simple you keep your formatting, the easier it still is for us – nevertheless, we are doing our best to publish all kinds of writing – poetry, fiction, life writing, witnesses, all of it in response to some astonishing contemporary art.

So here is March, dear writers, to be filled with your responses. 50-500 words and written within an hour. The image is the starting point, the rest is up to you. Thank you for your support!

Kristen Harrison and Preti Taneja
Visual Verse: Anthology of Art and Words

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