February 20, 2013

Interview with Claudette Halkes and Annemarieke Piers from Snor Publishers

I came across Dutch publishing house Snor formerly via Bloesem and had bookmarked their site for ages, but never had a closer look. When they emailed me some time ago I finally browsed their catalogue and found so so many lovely books, it felt really hard to decide, which one I want to show you. Fortunately there are also some English and German books. So let's take a look at those lovely ones first.

Cheerful in 3 1/2 months is a fun little book which provides one tip each day to make you smile and have fun. It is very beautifully illustrated by Sue Doeksen.

The Voucher book for women with illustrations by Sandra Isaksson follows the motto: "A voucher says more than a thousand words if you read between the lines". It's fun and could be very useful ;)

Also I want to share their brand new title in German Selbst angebaut (in Dutch: Zelf Geoogst) by Marian Flint and Studio Boot (illustrations and cover). Inside this book you'll find instructions for the super easy gardening-in-a-box-method (Obstkistenmethode) that allows everyone to grow its own stuff only with the help of a few boxes, potting soil, and seeds. All combined with matching recipes which can be cooked in not more than 30 minutes. Spring is coming!

Snor publishers is a small company, based in Utrecht, Holland. The two founders of Snor are Claudette Halkes and Annemarieke Piers. Since their website is in Dutch (they work on an English version to be published soon), I had the idea to bundle all my questions about their work and publishing house together in a brief interview. Look out for their great links to illustrators and agencies!

What were the main reasons for you to start your own publishing house in 2006? And what are you most proud of since then?

Before we started our own publishing house, we were freelance journalists. We wrote a lot for magazines and also wrote some (successful) books for other publishers. But then we wanted to be part of the whole business, not only the writing. We wanted to think about the subject of a book, illustrations and the design as well as marketing deals. So that's why we started with our first book Sewing and the like. It was a big success immediately, but in the end being a publisher was a whole lot more difficult than we thought.

(Photos: Anne de Leeuw)

How do you develop new book projects? How do you find the best authors and illustrators for them? Or does it goes the opposite way and they find you?

Normally we invent the ideas and develop the concepts of the books. We have an idea and discuss it with each other. About what writer suits best, which illustrator we think suits best for this book and the kind of book we have in mind with the new idea. We have a circle of illustrators and authors we work with. Sometimes we see beautiful work on the internet, or we stumble upon somebody or work that we like or that touches us. For example, we were looking for a hotel in London to visit the London Bookfair and we discovered the hotel the Hempel. Way too expensive for us, but we saw ceramics from an illustrator: Yasmin Sandytia. We sent her an e-mail if she wanted to work with us and she said yes! 
A lot of people send us their work, but we only work with people whose work we find really beautiful, maybe a bit edgy and 'new'. We both have the same taste, the Snor-taste, so even working with different illustrators and designers, our books still have the same look and feel.

You sold the rights of two titles to Germany recently (Relax Mama and Liebe Mama). Which books will be published next in German? Are there any further titles planned in English?

This month our book Selbst angebaut is being published in Germany (Edel:Books), in April there will be the Pregnancy book for men (Coppenrath) and in fall the book Cheerful in 3 1/2 months will be published by Droemer.
In English we have: Voucher book for women and 3 little booklets with each 7 recipes and 7 illustrations, you can send the booklet as it is as a present to someone for a special occasion. All three are illustrated by different illustrators. Very cute.

(Illustrations: Sue Doeksen)

You work in a team of two. How do you split up responsibilities?

Well, we talk about the things we have to do, and divide it then. We talk a lot behind our desks, about Snor, about decisions we have to make, about everything.

  (Illustrations: Sandra Isaksson)

What's your favourite part of the job? What do you like most about working with books?

It's great to invent an idea for a new book or serie, to feel something special, think: Yes, this is a good idea! We usually make books we would like to buy ourselves. We sometimes look for a book, don't find it and then think: alright, we should make that book. And when making the book it's a great process to work together with the designer and the author. To make something new together. To work on the project together and in the end there is a book! It's so nice to feel that a book is really good. When it looks nice, when it has a good content. And of course it is very nice to see that people love a title as well. And it's also a great feeling to sell a lot of books ;-) to know that apparently other people like our books as much as we do.

Do you have any favourite illustrators you want to highlight here and now?

That's difficult, we cannot choose because we like all our graphic designers and illustrators. They all have special assets. We can name a few:
* Job, Joris and Marieke did a great job on the illustrations of the book “That's why” and Pregnancy book for men.
* Caroline Ellerbeck did lovely illustrations for two books, one for a company and the other being Baby Scrapbook.
* Studio Boot: They made Selbst angebaut and the covers of our big hits: the Soup Calendar and the dessert calendar (for now only in Dutch, but there is a German publisher interested!). There will be a book about them in Germany this year (published by another publisher).
Sue Doeksen illustrated the book Cheerful in 3 1/2 months. She is a super talented illustrator. She will give some workshops at Pictoplasma in Berlin this year.
Kamer 465 is a styling agency and the owner is Anya van de Wetering. She is an illustrator as well. We already made some culinary books with them (like the Soup Calendar).
* Maartje Kuiper is one of the first illustrators we worked with and still work.
Studio Pomp run by Moniek Paus: She is a young illustrator, but she did a great job with the book Relax Mama which is published in German and will be published in France this fall as well.
* Studio 100 procent, really good agency. They also make the magazine flow.

Thanks a lot to Claudette and Annemarieke for sharing their experiences in this interview and giving us so many inspirational links. I really enjoyed exploring all of them!

You can order Snor books via their website: www.uitgeverijsnor.nl or amazon.com.