Friday, 26 February 2010

Letters From My Mill

The sequel to the preceding post about Rachel Sarai's Vineyard now follows.
My first reaction to the book's withdrawal was shock and consternation as I was committed to the forthcoming promotion event and Mrs Rey now forbade me to promote her book there. Things were rather too advanced to cancel the event as I had also arranged to attend a book fair at Ceridwen the following day.
Fortunately over recent years I had been working on a translation of Alphonse Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin, the story of his relocation from Paris to an old mill in Provence in the 19th century and a whole series of stories of local Provencal colour. This was finished and proof read and I had been formatting it under the kind tutelage of another friend. WE's reached the stage of the book block being ready but the cover an image in my head. I hurriedly painted a picture for it and started trying to master photoshop but time was running out so my friend offered to format the cover and yesterday I actually submitted an order and will hopefully soon have copies for sale.

The launch will be at Ceridwen Centre in Carmarthenshire at 7pm on March 12th. Entry is free and all are welcome, There will be food and drink and an open mic session on a French / travel theme. Here is a link to my website for details [the details in events on Ceridwen's site still mention Rachel Sarai's Vineyard but that will shortly be fixed.

The Perils of Publishing

Merilang Press is my publishing house [a very small one] in North Wales. I started self publishing originally because I felt that, at 70 odd years, if I waited for someone to publish my poems as a collection, I'd probably have expired before any book appeared.
At first I produced chapbooks that could be just printed and stapled, but then I got adventurous.
Many years ago I had a border collie puppy who used to send postcards home to his mum on my friend's farm. It was just a sort of in joke, but my friends kept saying, 'You should write a book.' And I kept saying. 'I haven't got time. Teaching languages earns me some money. Writing funny stories about dogs probably wouldn't.' However. once the seeds are sown, they start growing and eventually the book was under weigh. In fact so much so that it kept growing until there was no way it could be stapled.
Even more years ago I had once taken a bookbinding course so I racked my brains and sifted out what I could remember of bookbinding. The first copies were a bit wobbly but I improved and the bools sold. Eventually I started to feel a bit harrassed by the need always to make more, so I turned all the illustrations to greyscale and set about becoming officially a publisher so that the printers would deal with me.
But it's not as easy as that; books have to be submitted as PDF files and I had always flinched even at the mention of these. Fortunately a very kind friend formatted it for me and eventually And Thereby Hangs a Tail [second edition] appeared. I still manufacture more copies of the first [coloured] edition but under less pressure.
The next step was that David Gardiner, who had formatted the book for me needed a publisher for his second book of short stories as his publisher had vanished. So he formatted it and I published it and this was followed by an anthology of prose and poetry from Gold Dust magazine for which David is the editor. All went well and I began to learn all the intricacies of submitting and then ordering books.
Part three of the story is that David mentioned a woman, Deborah Rey, who also wanted to publish a novel and was looking for a publisher. The book, Rachel Sarai's Vineyard, had been published as an autobiography and withdrawn because of, she said, trouble from hoax hunters and holocaust deniers but now it was to be a novel. I agree and so di she and David formatted the book which was then published as a quality hardback.
The road to publication was bit rocky as Deborah was very determined about what I could and could not say about the book but wanted lots of publicity as urgently as possible. We launched it as her request along with David's book in London with very little publicity beforehand.
So this year I decided to do a promotion event for the book in Wales. As this drew near I ordered more copies to have some to sell at the event and as soon as I did that the author withdrew the book, leaving me with 50 copies and an arranged publicity promotion. How this has been solved will be my next post.