Illustration of a dead bird with the words "Dead Bird Books" underneath, all on a backdrop of lawn
The logo of Dead Bird Books, which is officially a great name (Design work: Alice Webb-Liddall)

The fine art of naming your indie publishing house

The following is a real Facebook Messenger conversation between Samuel Walsh and Dominic Hoey, founders and publishers of Dead Bird Books. 

Books editor Catherine Woulfe writes: This convo is extracted with permission from the eclectic, fascinating new book Dwelling in the Margins: Art Publishing in Aotearoa, edited by Katie Kerr and published by GLORIA Books. Unsurprisingly, given the topic, the book is beautifully put together: a crayon-yellow vinyl cover, cool photos, the occasional essay anchoring a miscellany of highly snackable bits and pieces of text. 

Don’t overthink it

(Origins)

May 27, 2018

hey sam, how you? we should come up with
a name for our publishing empire

yeah dom i know. i have a list

let’s start an email with name ideas

have you had any ideas?

not really. wrote some vague shit down on
that doc but nothing i love

ok, i’ll add mine tonight. but i know
you’ll hate all of them

i actually quite like some of those names

really? i’m shocked

Bright yellow book called Art Publishing in Aotearoa

(Image: Supplied)

hikikomori is my fave. i do like the idea of a
3 letter acronym, makes it seem tough like
a graf crew or a left-wing terrorist group

ok let’s sit on it and see what else permeates
but also set ourselves a deadline. would be
cool to get a logo made and start promoting
the publishing company kinda soon so we
have a head start before we start
promoting the book

ok rad! what about kill your boss (kyb)? it’s a vietnam
war song so will need to ask lubin if he minds. what
about kill your landlord since that’s my title, kyl?

no one needs to know what the acronym
stands for. i don’t think we should overthink it,

simple is cool i reckon. here’s what we have so
far: kill your boss (kyb), lucky dog publishing
(ldp), spectacle, commune, leisure, brigade,
hikikomori, the law of diminishing returns,
fuck, marry, kill (fmk), all my friends are down,
blood and sugar (bas), bed sores, pep rally,
glass houses, honey moon, swim team, one
trick pony, bad spells, house party, pine cones

yeah maybe kyl, kill your landlord

is that too intense?

all the names are super intense or super whimsical

i love whimsical, you love intense lol

i quite like spectacle press. i like pine cones too

really? i thought you’d hate that one

pine cones press, pcp

i reckon pcp or spectacle press.
a pine cone would make a cool logo

pcp is a drug people take before they murder people

should we sleep on it and decide tomorrow?
i like pcp and think the logo could be cool

what about lucky dog publishing? ldp

i prefer pine cones but not opposed

i work-shopped pine cones and people said ‘sounds
like a shitty wellington peanut butter company’,
‘why don’t you just call it owl and fox’

lol

dead cops, ghost horses, small pig press, angry ants
association, lemons and garlic, dyslexic dog disco,
fuck fuck fuck, life sentence, books suck, i hate
reading press, how do you spell stupid press, animal
dance press, sam will kill you books, dog disco books

some funny ones there

it’s so hard to come up with something that isn’t
painfully earnest or stupid. quite like dog disco

i don’t mind it. don’t overthink it though.
dead cops (too intense), ghost horses (too
hip), small pig press (don’t mind it), angry
ants association (i get you’re just making
jokes now), dog disco books (pretty good)

small pig press? then we can have a pig as a logo.
what about dsf, daydreams start fires?

sounds like an emo band from the mid 2000s.
i’m making a bossy decision and saying the
name game is over and we have to choose
between pine cone press, spectacle books
or dog disco books. dog disco is winning for
me right now but i’ll make a final decision
overnight and you have to do the same

An open book, sketches of geese on one page, text on the other

Inside the book Art Publishing in Aotearoa (Image: Supplied)

chekhov’s cake press (ccp)

i like cake press

do you get chekhov’s cake?

nah, i’m dumb

google chekhov’s gun

what does the cake part mean?

dead bird books/dead bird press

i like that a lot. you’re not allowed to
come up with any more.

i think dead bird press is the best so far

i think dead bird books is cooler.

(Three days later)

i need a publishing name and website
for isbn?

i think you just need the name…
let’s go with dead bird books

 

Dwelling in the Margins: Art Publishing in Aotearoa, edited by Katie Kerr (GLORIA Books, $45) is available from Unity Books Auckland and Wellington.




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