Loyal as a Book #6

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About Us

(The story of Misfit Press is inextricably linked to the story of Misfit Incorporated, which is inextricably linked to the story of AJ and Melissa Leon. These fascinating stories have been told at length on many other occasions – in newspapers, on TEDx stages, during numerous interviews and chance meetings in wine bars. If you want to explore the weird and wonderful company that is Misfit Incorporated, peruse our site. For the full backstory, check out this video interview.)

Misfit Press itself was established in 2014, with the publication of AJ Leon’s The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The little-known backstory to The Life & Times is that it was originally slated to be published by a major American publisher, who headhunted AJ after noticing the popularity of his blog, The Pursuit of Everything. About a third of the way through the writing of the book, AJ began to get twitchy about the compromises involved in traditional publishing: uncompromising editorial pressure, a lack of say on issues such as design and artwork. Not long later, AJ bailed on the contract, and decided to publish the book himself. The Misfit team created and ran a Kickstarter, aimed at raising $15,000 to cover publishing costs. By the time the fundraising had run its course, pledges totalled more than treble that amount. With the excess funds, AJ and Misfit decided to go one better than just publishing a book, and also founded a publishing house.

Since its founding, Misfit Press has steadily flourished. In 2015, we took under our wing Wolftree, the finest arts journal in the American Midwest; we released our 2015 Anthology, featuring the finest creative work we encountered over the preceding year; and The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit continued to find readers across the globe. In 2016 we published Destination Shakespeare, the debut poetry collection from esteemed Shakespeare academic Paul Edmondson; and we have more Shakespeare-related publications in the works for 2017, including Shakespeare On The Road, a tale of a Shakespearian adventure across the US.

Last  year was a big growth period for the Press, and there is lots more on the way for 2017. As you’ll see from our Forthcoming Publications section, over the next twelve months we will be publishing Saya Sayama: Three Years in Myanmar by incredible photojournalist Spike Johnson, a photonarrative account documenting a unique moment in Myanmar’s history: the violent shift from General Ne Win’s fifty-year dictatorship to the country’s first steps towards democracy. Also imminent is Tangentially Reading, featuring some of the most insightful, shocking, touching, and hilarious moments from the first 200 episodes of Christopher Ryan’s much-loved podcast, Tangentially Speaking.

These are exciting times at Misfit Press. To keep up to date with everything that’s going on, follow us at our blogFacebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Into the future, we will always continue to work in the fashion we do right now: with authors we like, on projects that matter, in a way that leaves writer, reader and everyone in-between satisfied. We will also never renege on our One-for-One pledge; for every publication we ever sell, a child in India will receive money towards prescription eyeglasses, via the Misfit Foundation.

w: Clare

From Concept to PrintThe Publication Process of Destination Shakespeare

This week, we received the hard copy proof of our upcoming publication, Destination Shakespeare, in the post. No matter how many times you’ve looked over a digital proof, there’s nothing quite like holding a hard copy in your hands; seeing the words in ink and feeling the weight and the texture of the paper. It also gives you the fresh vision you need (after your eyes have glazed over from staring at a screen) to spot any minuscule errors in the text. The page number 12 was slightly misaligned, for example – something much easier to spot when you can flick through physical pages.

The publication of a small poetry chapbook has been a learning curve for all of us here at the Press, so we thought we’d share a little insight into the process of taking the book from concept to reality.




With 24 of Paul Edmondson’s beautiful poems to play with, we decided from the outset that a chapbook format – often used for short poetry collections – would give us the creativity of design to display them best. We made the decision to also take elements from the traditional Quarto format of printing, which originated in the 15th century and was widely used throughout Shakespearian times. In fact, eighteen of Shakespeare’s 36 plays from the first folio were originally printed as quartos, with the same being true of his poetry – Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis was first printed as a quarto in 1593. What could be better for a collection of poetry that pays homage to Shakespeare, than taking inspiration from this Shakespearian style of print?

Shakespeare Quartos

There are a few differences worth pointing out. Traditionally, a Quarto is a book or pamphlet made up of one or more full sheets of paper on which 8 pages of text are printed, then folded two times to produce four leaves. Whilst Destination Shakespeare doesn’t share this method of production, or the usual 12″ measurements, at 5 x 6″ it mirrors the Quarto’s traditional squarish proportions, and we made the decision to use a similar hand-sewn binding through the central fold.

The hand-sewn binding of Destination Shakespeare was a feature we were particularly excited about. As anyone who has bought one of our publications will know, we take pride in the handcrafted component to all of our books. We believe reading should be an immersive experience, tactile and sensory (for your hearing, too, if you choose to buy one of our digital editions). That’s why all of our publications are printed on textured paper, have an embossed cover or a feature a hand-sewn binding — or all three, in the case of this publication. Whilst most printers offer saddle-stitching (wire staples through the page fold) few still offer hand-sewn binding. It took a lot of searching, but we finally found a UK printer who could fulfil the handcrafted vision we had for Destination Shakespeare.


Once the practicalities of format and binding were settled upon, we moved on to other aesthetic considerations: font, spacing and cover design. The idea behind the design for the publication was to blend a traditional and modern aesthetic, mirroring our ethos at Misfit Press:

to wed the old ways with the new, and to synthesize the merits and hard-won wisdom of traditional publishing with the innovations of the democratised, tech-driven, independent sphere.

This synthesization of traditional and digital led us to choose the classic Fournier typeface for the poems themselves, and the modern Orator Std for the titles. Fournier is a light and clean serif font, an old classic for poetry collections, with its foundation in letters engraved and cast by Pierre Simon Fournier, a famous mid-eighteenth-century French typefounder. Orator Std is a monospaced, crisp, sans serif font designed for IBM typewriters by John Scheppler. It consists only of capitals and small capitals which are cleaner than lowercase letters, therefore making it useful for speech notes, and giving the font its name. We reckon the contrast between the two fonts leads to a pretty enjoyable reading experience, but you can see what you think below:

Destination Shakespeare Pages


The second major aesthetic consideration was designing the cover for the book. We took to Pinterest to seek inspiration for the design, the progression of which you can view below. The development of the design was very much influenced by the change in the illustration of Shakespeare’s face. The initial illustration was drawn by talented UK illustrator Adam McDade, who smashed it out of the park, but we ended up taking a slightly less realistic approach to the drawing – the second beautiful illustration we used was drawn by Misfit’s own Shobe Cheng. We settled on an off-black for the cover design to contrast with the white space in Shakespeare’s face. For the cover font we chose Palatino, an old-style serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf which was initially released in 1948.

cover_mayDestination Shakes Cover









We hope you enjoyed our breakdown of the design process! Feel free to shoot us any questions you may have, or head over to the shop to pre-order your copy of Destination Shakespeare!

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ClareClare is Assistant Editor at Misfit Press. She enjoys taking pictures with a variety of strange cameras, chasing after cats, drinking pale ale and exploring new places.

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