Those of you who know me will also know that The 52 List book has been a long time coming. A very long time. Two years in fact… well, and then some too. OMG, it’s been a marathon. When I first had the idea to get my thoughts on paper I could never have anticipated just how hard it was going to be and, in all honesty, the writing was the easy bit – it’s what came after that was so hard.
Here’s the story…..
The 52 List is kind of time sensitive. OK, you can get started any time of year, but because I wanted to target the dreaded Christmas market, I had to get the book printed and “out there” by autumn. Hence, two years ago, I missed my deadline. By miles. Not even close!
Then last year was a whirlwind of other things and I just never quite got round to taking it any further. And then, in May this year, someone pointed me in the direction of Patsy Byron at Stellar Books. What a marvellous lady she is. And before I knew what the heck I was doing, I found myself committing (a VERY appropriate term!) to getting the manuscript finished and ready for publication in three months.
So I settled down to finish the writing and I did. And it felt great! And then all the madness started…….
Not only is Patsy a publisher, she’s also a ruthless (but utterly fabulous!) editor and before long the writing became re-writing. Chunks of the original manuscript disappeared. New paragraphs appeared. The new bits were re-written. Most of the re-writes got re-written. For weeks on end, all I saw were words, words and more words, punctuation and spelling, grammar and thesauruses…. I thought it would never end. But there comes a time when enough is enough and I just had to step back and accept that, however much I might want to keep on changing things, I’d reached a point when it’s just wasn’t practical anymore and it was time to put my faith in what I’d written and send it on its way to be put into print.
But then there were the endless decisions on design and layout, on fonts and chapter headings, point sizes and indentations and all number of other publishing-type stuff which quite frankly was beyond me. Thank God for Patsy and the endlessly patient Nikki Griffiths (Tinker & Faff), who held my hand and indulged my whims and advised and cajoled and patiently waited until I got it just right.
And so here we are. The book is done. It’s been a heck of a journey and I’d like to say I enjoyed every minute, but then I’d be lying. Let’s just say it was an experience and leave it at that!
So if you’re thinking of writing a book yourself, my initial advice would be think again! Or at least take a deep breath and recognise that it will consume an enormous chunk of your life and you may never see any financial reward – although the creative reward is amazing, I have to say. My next advice would be get a decent editor, designer and publisher involved. Yes, it’ll cost you money, but better invest some cash and get something that looks like it belongs on the shelf than try to do it all yourself. As one of my friends said on getting hold of one of the proof copies “Oooh, it looks just like a proper book you’d see in Waterstones”. Err, yes, that was the point; after putting so much effort into the content, what would be the point in not making it look wonderful?
Looking at the result of all the sleepless nights, writer’s cramp and heartache, I have to say I’m quietly proud of the achievement. Was it worth it? Probably, but ask me again in a year or several. Is the book perfect after all my hard work? No, far from it, but it’s as good as it could be. Would I change anything – or perhaps everything in it? Definitely; there’s whole chunks I want to change, words I want to leave out, paragraphs I want to add in and then move around. In fact, I think I’d probably like to re-write it all over again!
But then as Patsy so wisely says, I can always save that for the second edition!!