This retirement blog is read each and every time by only one person that I know of and that person, unsurprisingly, is Mrs Summerhouse. She reads each blog as a proof reader and because, I believe, she enjoys them. In fact she has often said, this blog would make a great book. Who am I to disagree? I have lived through an era when getting your own book published was indeed something to be proud of. Being published has been one of my life goals for as long as I can remember. As I’ve written in these page before I have had books published but they have all been of a professional nature. Each time I have tried to step outside of my area of expertise I have been totally unsuccessful in getting a book published. Yes, OK, I’ve published a couple of ebooks but we all know they don’t really count unless they’re very successful. Nothing self-esteem raising about putting a book on Kindle which nobody reads. And we all know that self-publishing in its ‘old’ form (called vanity publishing I believe) is delusional and expensive and you end up with 500 unsold copies in your garage and I don’t have the money or the room for that.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to get my blog published as a book. I did send out an initial enquiry via email, as recommended in The Writer’s Handbook, to a publisher who say they publish on-line material as books. So not as if I’m sending my proposal to the wrong kind of publisher. And what do you think they said? Nothing, absolutely nothing, no, return email telling me to try elsewhere. Nothing. Just more of the same self-esteem reducing rejection. I also keep thinking that the vineyard section of the blog would make for an interesting book in its own right. It’s about 35,000 words at the moment, just about enough length-wise. Surely there must be an audience for a book about a pair of lunatics who set up the most northerly (I think) vineyard in England. I haven’t gone any further with this idea though but the dream lives on.
So imagine my increased pulse rate on reading an article in this morning’s (I wrote this blog last Sunday) Observer about a man called Tim Doyle who has successfully published his book called Unreal Estate, through something called crowd-funding, whatever that is. I know I should probably know but beyond the broadest idea that people gave you money to do things, I really had no idea how it worked. At this level of understanding it seems to me that, vis a vis turning my bi-weekly blog into a book, there would be two likely outcomes a) nobody would be foolish enough to give me money and b) I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do with it if they did.
I did, despite these limitations, decide to try and find out a bit more about crowd-funding on the jolly old internet, where else. My Google search was not immediately encouraging. Most of the sites about crowd-funding seemed to be aimed at me giving them money so, presumably, eventually I could get money. Hmm. Eventually I found the kind of site I thought I was looking for – 10 tips on crowd-funding or something like that, so I clicked on. The site was saturated with adverts for one thing or another which was irritating but I did eventually find a bit of actual text. It said crowd-funding is not an easy process, oh. Then it said only 43% succeed, oh again.
Undeterred I pushed on through acres of irrelevancies or so it seemed to me. Eventually I got to the good bits, the tips. Tip 1: have a budget. Not a great beginning because I thought I was supposed to get money, not spend it. Tip 2: Platforms, what am I doing setting up a railway station? Tip 3: clarity and transparency. This is better, I want you to give me money so I can publish my book. Job done on that one. Tip 4: Tell a compelling story – as I’ve just said, you give me money I publish my book. The remainder of the tips which I confess I didn’t read went as follows – pre-launch; segment funders; market and target; stretch targets; keeping engaged and communicating. OK, stop, maybe, just maybe, crowd-funding is not for me. At this level of brief research it just didn’t feel right. All too difficult for a mere 43% guaranteed return.
What would I do with the money that you’re all 43% likely to give me anyway when it comes to getting your book published? It seems, as with vanity publishing, you use the money to produce the actual books and then, as with vanity publishing, you have no means of either distributing, marketing, promoting the bloody things when you get them. Or am I missing something?* It’s a shame really because for a retired person with a passion / area of expertise writing and publishing a book of your own seems like a very satisfying retirement activity but, at this point, it appears that publishing, along with golf, photography, being in a band (not completely given up on this one, watch this space for future developments in this area), travelling round the world, have gone into the ‘that’s not going to happen’ box.
You’re probably wondering why the photo at the beginning of this blog is of an out-of-date Writer’s Handbook, well let me explain. I lent the 2015(the last one I bought) version to a friend of ours, a lady who is hoping to find a publisher for her children’s book. She retired to a very remote village in North Yorkshire and I’ve been trying to get her to write a blog for me about what moving from a big city (Leeds) to a remote village, has been like for her but she tells me she’s too busy with her book, so I thought if I lent her my book and she found a publisher then she would have time to write for my blog, purely selfish you see.
*A quick bit of research on line by googling ‘vanity publishing’ took me to a very impressive, ie. not trying to rip you off, site about self-publising. Maybe things have changed since the old days and self-publishing might be a way forward. We’ll see.
PS I love books, I guess I have several thousand now in various locations. Here’s a photo of a part of one location. I throw this in for free. Good value this blog.