Today I had a great meeting with a new publisher. (I also had a nice steak and a pint in a proper London pub, nearly ended up in the canal because of a cyclist but you have to read to the end to see where that fits in.) Those of you in the know, and you know who you are, will have been following the process of taking In SatNav We Trust – a search for meaning through the historic counties of England – from the first draft, some time ago, through to publication.
The original plan was to spend six weeks on the road and, at the end of that six weeks, have a finished manuscript, ready to hand over to an editor.
It started off with very rough notes taken on A6 notepads while driving around England, skidding into laybys to describe that interesting view or write about that black squirrel that just ran across the road in front of The Truck. Of course, A6 notepads allow about three words per page so you can imagine the state of the manuscript by the time I got to the end of the six-week journey. It was hardly ready to hand over to anyone, even myself.
Editing, nay translating, those notes into English took some months (The notes looked like a cross between children’s writing and some sort of pictographic language, only not as pretty). That was in between trying to earn enough money to buy the new garden fence that had blown down in that winter’s storms. From then on, the English notes had to be written into formal text and converted into paragraphs with some structure. This, then, was the first time you might be able to call it a manuscript. Then another sweep through to edit the sense of the text, another to decide if I wanted all the philosophical ideas, another to take them out again or put them back in somewhere else, another to pick out the weevils… I’m sure you get the picture.
The point is that the manuscript is now up to version 12. I never throw anything away, after all electrons are easy to store.
Then came the structural edit, the review of the structural edit, putting back the weevils because, sometimes, you just want a chewy bit in a manuscript – and that’s not to mention making the video that took 18 months from the day we decided to make it. By this time I was saving up for a new shed so still working hard in between all the working hard on the constant editing and reviewing.
So those of you in the know, and you know who you are having been here for the long haul, will understand what an achievement it is to have a meeting with a publisher and be talking about proper distribution, potential readership (that’s you folks) and even a launch party (and that could be you too folks). That’s not to mention the coffee downstairs (for which I had to give my email address just to get a receipt that still hasn’t arrived), the lovely walk along the canal (where the bikes don’t seem to slow down despite being asked to), and the nice steak in the pub before getting back on the tube.
The publisher is going to do a costing exercise, which is a good and apparently essential thing, and from then we start the process. (My accountant will be pleased. Apparently, she reads all my blog posts although she never comments on them but she does tell me if I can afford a new fence… or shed. I think that makes her a lurker. Are you a lurker? Don’t be shy.) In the mean time I still don’t know why so many craft ales are so full of hops. Stop it please!