For the third time in five years I have just completed writing a book. But this time there’s a difference. Here’s why:
When I finished writing Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie back in 2011, I read it through once, made a few changes and, within 24 hours it was available for download on Amazon Kindle. Mindful of feedback regarding typos (which, in the main, were subsequently corrected), when I self-published Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie in 2014, I asked (and paid) a friend to check what I’d written very carefully, not just for typos but also for style. She did an excellent job and provided me with a file of suggested changes which took some time to incorporate into the text before the book was made available on Kindle. Subsequent versions of both books were amended as errors became apparent and as the availability spread to a paperback version, Apple iBooks and Kobo. I don’t think I did a bad job. The books still aren’t perfect but in the battle for readers, they were well received and are currently approaching combined sales of 20,000.
So why does the email above make Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie different? Well the email is not to Amazon or Apple or to the people who print paperback copies of books one and two on demand; it’s to my publishers, Summersdale. Yes, I have entered the world of non-self-published books, otherwise known as ‘publishing’. The attachment to the email is my manuscript for the book but whereas back in 2011 and 2014 I would now be at the stage of uploading what I’ve written to the self-publishing sites, I am about to enter a whole new level of the book business; the editing process.
Imagine creating something, nurturing it over months (perhaps years) and then handing it over for someone else – perhaps even a committee of people – to pick apart, criticise, argue over… It’s a potentially scary thought.
The idea to cycle from Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway was first dreamt up in the months following the publication of Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie in late 2014. It is my baby (in fact it’s now a toddler) and I have just sent it off to be examined in detail by people who presumably know what they are talking about when it comes to writing and publishing books. Much more than me. One day I sat down at my computer and tried to write about a cycle journey that I had completed the previous year and, ever since, I’ve be making it up as I go along. Yes, I know how to string together a sentence, I know my grammar rules, I know that lists should come in threes (an old trick of Thatcher’s), I have mastered the art of rhetorical self-deprecation and the hanging ellipses (you know, the ones like this…).
Or have I? Do I really know what I’m talking about. Or rather, writing about. Could I have been wrong all this time? Am I about to be told that, actually, Andrew, there’s quite a bit you need to learn about telling the story of a long journey. It’s not just a potentially scary though; it is a scary thought.
I have been told by more than one person that it is now that the real work starts. Bearing in mind that the publication date for Spain to Norway on a Bike Called Reggie has been pencilled in for ‘spring 2017‘, that does leave a lot of time for the book to go through the mixer. It also leaves me a lot of time to complete the ‘real work’. Let’s hope that when you finally get a chance to read what I’ve written, it will be worth not just all the effort over the past two years but all the hard work that will take place between today and ‘spring 2017‘. As I look down the long tunnel of editing, wish me luck.