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Book Extract: She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz

As children, we are often told stories about good prevailing over evil, and about that elusive “happily ever after”. As little girls, we may be taught that if we’re obedient, we will be rewarded for our goodness. When we grow up, some of us realize that always conforming and always being kind can threaten our boundaries, shatter our sense of self-worth, and at times, expose us to trauma.

I wouldn’t be writing this book if I myself hadn’t fallen victim to detrimental cultural conditioning, psychological trauma and physical attacks that I had to overcome. It took many years and many uncomfortable life lessons to cultivate a strong sense of self-belief, as well as to acquire the valuable physical skills needed to protect myself, but these experiences were necessary in helping me understand what women need to do to keep themselves safe.

After years of working in the security sector, I’ve learned that in addition to relying on my martial arts skillset, it is also crucial to stay alert and keep a watchful eye over people and surroundings.

When I was working in security, threats could come from anyone and anywhere, often when I least expected them. All it took was one moment of inattention to be caught off-guard. However, over time, I found common patterns and warning signs that allowed me to spot and assess threats early on, leading to more efficient responses.

By watching my work colleagues handling conflicts, and also by getting involved in various physical interventions myself, I came to realize that some of the most critical aspects of self-defence are having confidence in your own abilities, and having conviction in your actions. I noticed that these qualities were primary drivers for performance, and for finding solutions when faced with highly triggering situations. Today, I know that I could teach you how to impeccably execute the most effective self-defence moves, but without the ability to assert yourself and without self-belief in your capabilities, they won’t be enough. 

I observed similar psychological aspects of performance during my sports career, both as a coach and as an active competitor in various martial arts. With over 23 years of training experience, I have seen that high performance is fuelled by incredibly strong self-belief, unwavering conviction, and a razor-sharp mindset. I’ve studied alongside world-class athletes, have competed at the highest level, and time and time again I’ve demonstrated, both to myself and those that I coached, that everything begins in the mind. I’ve seen exceptionally talented athletes freeze before tournaments, mentally giving up before even setting foot into the competition arena. I’ve learnt that a champion is made not just through appropriate physical preparation, but also through a strong mental drive toward their actions and achievements.

With this in mind, we should explore both the physical and psychological aspects of self-defence. If you want to win your battles, it’s time to acknowledge and build upon the confidence that will enable you to assert your rights, stand up for yourself, and stay physically prepared.

 

She Fights Back by Joanna Ziobronowicz is publishing July 9th 2024 and is available to pre-order now.

Watkins Insider – Recent Deals in Foreign Rights with Melody Travers

The world of foreign rights publishing is an open and exciting one. Having secured some intriguing deals recently, I asked Rights Team Manager Melody Travers to tell me more about her team and their latest success. 

One recent highlight was the sale of Italian rights to The Japanese Art of Living Seasonally’ authored by Natalie Leon. Melody has noticed a general trend of interest in Japanese culture across Europe in the last few years. Particularly in central Europe like France, Germany, Italy, Spain. Melody says the team was able to secure a significant advance for the book in Italy, which was a nice surprise. Given the fact that Italy is a smaller country, there would be higher production and translation costs in relation to the usually lower print runs compared to countries with a higher population and readership. Additionally, the dense nature of the writing will require a large amount of translation. Recently, the costs associated with translating books has risen due to the rise in the overall cost of living. In the case of ‘The Japanese Art of Living Seasonally’, it is a larger volume title which would therefore be more expensive to translate as translators are usually paid word for word. This can be off putting to publishers outside the UK. This makes the Watkins’ rights team’s achievements even more impressive as it attests to the quality of the material and credentials of the author. 

Books with a lower word count such as art and photography books can be a popular choice for foreign publishers, as long as the content is universally applicable. For example, Watkins produces many books focused on the UK market like ‘England on Fire’ by Ben Edge and his latest book ‘Folklore Rising’, which is currently available to pre-order. These titles address cultural practices unique to the UK which correlates to foreign readers interested in the topic expressing a preference for reading it in English instead of translated. However, at present, folklore and witchcraft books are in demand across Europe and the wider world. These trends open doors to new markets. 

Cookery books have a wide range of appeal. Who does not love learning new recipes and eating delicious food? Melody says, “cookbooks can be interesting as culinary trends vary from country to country; and recognised British chefs might not be as well known abroad.” On rare occasions, particular ingredients have to be changed to account for what is regionally available. In these cases, the author is consulted to see what the best substitute would be or whether it is worth patrons paying a higher price for imported ingredients essential to the dish. These are the unique and engaging challenges working in foreign rights publishing presents. 

Melody expressed her joy at seeing international designs of Watkins books. A recent French edition of Easkey Britton’s ‘Ebb & Flow features a new blue wash across the internal illustrations, tying in with the aqua cover. “Foreign publishers pretty much always design a new cover to match their regional market,” says Melody. If you are curious to see more covers in different languages, check out our Instagram page @watkinswisdom. 

Melody told me her favourite part about her job is building relationships across the world. Whether it’s seeing familiar faces and making deals at Frankfurt Book Fair, having meetings with people from all over at the London Book Fair or attending online meetings that cover several time zones. The personal element of publishing can never be overstated. From the passionate teams who make books to the curious minds that enjoy reading them.

I would like to thank Melody Travers for taking the time to speak with me about her role and successes. For more blogs, visit https://watkinspublishing.com/blog/ and subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates on new books, upcoming events and special deals.  

Behind The Cover – Make Good Trouble with Karen Smith

Last night (March 7th) was the The Academy of British Cover Design awards where Repeater designer Hollie Smith was nominated for the non-fiction category for the cover of Collapse Feminism. In honour of the awards, I spoke to Karen Smith, Head of Book Design at Watkins Media about the decisions behind the cover of Make Good Trouble, written by Briana Pegado.

The process of designing a book cover has several stages. First, the editorial team put together a brief for the designers so they have a better understanding of how they want the book to come across. The design team are also shown examples of competitor titles so they can visualise how the book might look on the shelf of a bookshop next to titles in the same genre.

Make Good Trouble had a somewhat challenging brief.

It was the desire of the team that the cover of Make Good Trouble ought to encapsulate that energy of disruption written about in the book. It had to be dynamic, energetic and have a sense of movement to it. Make Good Trouble was not a book written to be pretty but to be powerful. This was taken into consideration.

The theme of  ‘good trouble’ can be conceptualised in many ways. For example, through the imagery of disturbances like cracks, broken screens, mirrors, rubble and fire. These speak to one half of the brief – trouble – but finding imagery to encapsulate positive disruption fit more closely to the contents of the book. Briana was presented with various designs at each stage of the process and talked through their merits with editor Ella Chappell. I asked Briana to speak to her experience of the process, as she was highly involved throughout:

“The creation of a cover design is a process of exploration, tweaking and prototyping. I love collaborating with a designer to help them bring a vision to life. With the cover for MGT, my editor Ella Chappell initially sent me a few options for the cover. We discussed the merits of each of those options. The designer had clearly done a brilliant job of interpreting the idea of disruption in a visual way, from glitches and smoke emerging across the page, to fissures and cracks running through the typography. We discussed the merits of having a darker background versus a lighter one to allow the design effects to pop. Ultimately, I asked Ella what she thought the book’s target audience might respond to. She explained to me that the cover also goes through a development process internally, taking into consideration the feedback from sales, marketing, publicity and rights departments, who are able to share their expertise on the book’s target audience. In the end, the cover that was both mine and Ella’s favourite was also the favourite among the in-house team. We landed on the image of smoke gathering behind the title of the book. The colours are evocative, but soft, mirroring the message of the book – making good trouble.”

After much brainstorming, Karen and the team agreed upon the image of the conflicting clouds of smoke which you see on the cover today. This final version was presented to Briana and Ella for consideration and received author approval. It has movement, energy and a feeling of change – a sense of pushing against the grain without being aggressive or violent. These colourful puffs overwhelm the page without hanging heavy. They imply an immersion into Briana’s world of taking charge and changing for the better. The design is an appeal to action in a transgressive, non-violent yet urgent manner.

The colour scheme was intentionally chosen to reflect a sense of femininity, inspired by Briana’s writing on Goddess Energies. Many books about rebellion and trouble-making have a dark and heavy colour scheme that demands attention from the viewer. However, Briana Pegado’s message is not one of aggression but one of peaceful action and positive change. She connects to her readers on a deeply personal level, appealing to their sense of purpose, values and community.

There was an alternative colour option considered for what would become the final cover, consisting of teal and yellow. The final cover incorporates the Pantone Colour of the Year: Peach Fuzz. The muted pink, peach and blue tones allude to a gentle, uplifting tone whilst still conveying the contrast between pink and blue, representing the activist and the change.

Karen chose a strong, clear, bold typeface for the title MAKE GOOD TROUBLE. It is a darker tone of the pastel green background with transparency allowing the texture of the clouds behind to come through. It is a visual manifestation of how we can view the same world through a different lens, apply new thought to the same problems and create change without destruction. Black is nowhere to be seen on the cover of this inspiring book. There is only optimism and positivity exuding from the cover of Make Good Trouble.

Karen Smith and her designers have done a remarkable job of encapsulating the feeling of Briana Pegado’s text: embracing the energies of disruption in order to make good trouble.

The book Make Good Trouble by Briana Pegado is available to pre-order now. It publishes April 9th 2024.

 

International Women’s Day Author Spotlight Q&A

In celebration of International Women’s Day and the important work that organisations like the UN are doing to level the playing field between genders, we asked six female authors a few questions. Promoting the voices of women, inspiring empowerment and taking an active stance in gender equality are values Watkins stands by.

 

Who are the women who have inspired you in your work and in your personal journey?

 

Jackie Lynch, author of The Happy Menopause:

So many women – my Mum was my first female role model as a little girl. She was the Senior Sister in charge of the isolation ward at the local hospital. She inspired the respect of the doctors and the devotion of her nursing team. Seeing her in this very important role, at a time when many women either didn’t work or had small part-time jobs, I never doubted as I was growing up, that women are capable of great things. and could lead and inspire.

As an adult, I find so many women inspiring, there are almost too many to name. From dedicated investigative journalists, such as Carole Cadwalldr, who dares to speak up when so many don’t, to champions of ageing, such as Joan Bakewell; there are a lot of women out there who are doing great work. In the menopause arena, which is my own area of expertise, I value the work of Professor Anne McGregor on hormonal headaches; Kathy Abernethy, menopause specialist nurse; and Dr Jen Gunter, who speaks out fearlessly against the rising of tide of untrained influencers involving themselves in health matters.

Clio Wood, author of Get Your Mojo Back:

Laura Bates and Caroline Criado Perez for (separately) their amazing work bringing to light the sadly very common discrepancies that women face in all walks of life.

Kim Vopni, author of Your Pelvic Floor:

Katy Bowman, Dr Sara Gottfried, Sherrie Palm, Jill Miller, Julie Wiebe, Kaisa Tuominen, Dr Tamara Rial, Dr Kelly Casperson, Dr Stacy Sims, Shirley Weir!

Ellie Austin-Williams, author of Money Talks:

My mum has always had a strong work ethic and worked tirelessly to provide for me which has inspired me to work hard in whatever I do. I’m also inspired by stories of women who go against the grain and carve out a life that works for them – whether that means a traditional career path, being a stay-at-home parent or something totally different.

Almudena Rocca, author of The Intuitive Drawing Journal:

My mum has probably been my biggest inspiration and influence throughout my work and personal life. I’m very fortunate to have a beautiful relationship with my mum and she has been my biggest supporter as well as someone I go to for advice, guidance and feedback. She has taken many steps and hardships to get to where she is today and in doing this has made the path of being an artist a little easier for me. I’m very grateful for her.

Le’Nise Brothers, author of You Can Have a Better Period:

My mother and all the women who’ve spent years being told that painful and heavy periods are normal and who’ve tirelessly tried to find answers on their own.

 

What advice would you like to share with your female readers?

 

Jackie Lynch:

Be kind to yourself. The menopause can be a difficult time, so a little self-care goes a long way. Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a world of difference to the way that you experience this tricky phase of life. Reach out for help and support from health professionals and your loved ones. If they don’t know that you’re struggling, how can they help?

Clio Wood:

So many societal stereotypes are based on the male gaze and patriarchal norms. If you don’t conform, there’s nothing wrong with you; there’s something wrong with society. Also, it can take years to find the confidence to express and live that. I’m still working on it.

Kim Vopni:

Don’t accept suffering, for any reason. Be curious. Seek multiple opinions for care/treatment. Believe in your body’s ability to adapt. Get informed and make the decision that is best for YOU.

Ellie Austin-Williams:

Financial literacy is one key way we can work towards a more inclusive society for women, so invest in your financial education and you’ll reap the rewards.

Almudena Rocca:

I don’t know if this is advice but, I say: “we are all on our on paths – some may be very different from others but you are doing your best and that’s more than enough!”

Le’Nise Brothers:

Painful and heavy periods aren’t normal and aren’t something you should just accept and live with. If you’re not getting the answers you deserve, get a second, third or fourth opinion until you get the support you need.

 

Thank you to these inspiring women for participating in this Q&A! You can find their incredible books on our website. Browse the Blogs section for more Author Q&A sessions.

 

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