Before getting a contract, an Osprey first-timer obviously has to give fair evidence of knowing about his or her chosen subject, and of being able to write. But there is another hurdle to be cleared and this is both highly challenging and, very probably, unique to Osprey.
The visual information, the colour artwork that is at the heart of all Osprey Series titles depends absolutely on the written and visual reference material that the author is required to provide for the artists to work from. In Campaign there are three elements, the battlescenes, the “bird\'s-eye views” (BEVs) and the maps. This art brief can often be a bulkier package than the hard copy of the 30,000-word text when it is finally delivered to Osprey. In the words of Osprey's Notes for Authors the references must enable the artist to “produce a convincing colour rendering without either prior knowledge of the subject, or any further research”, and, ominously, “This area is one that authors often have difficulty with... Peter Dennis\'s fascinating posts give an idea of how much the artist brings to this vital collaboration.
As an absolute condition (not of publication, but of being proposed for publication!), a new author has to produce sample briefing notes that are acceptable to the Series Editors. I already have a rough but quite clear idea what I want to do with the three battlescenes and BEVs at my disposal, so it is now a question of which specimen to tackle first. I am pretty sure I am going to find the BEVs most difficult to do, so that is where I intend to start. Precise positioning of the opposing fleets is not necessary at this stage but the battlefield was not simply a stretch of water. Salamis was a landlocked seabattle and channels, straits, beaches, bays and promontories, and also weather, dictated tactics and the final outcome significantly. The perspective I have in mind at present is something like this. The BEVs therefore need to include quite a lot of land, some of it wild, some of it cultivated and some built-on, all just about visible from the height my bird will be flying at. My research will have to take me back to an image of the island of Salamis and the coastline of Attica in 480 BC. So, I am now off to the Bodleian just up the road from Osprey, and may be gone some time....
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