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  • Writer's pictureRobin

Blog Number One - How it all started.

I’ve got quite a vivid recollection of Dad sitting at his desk (which typical of Dad was antique, leather topped and lovingly self-restored) typing away at a computer which looked just as ancient as the desk. He typed with just two fingers - none missing – he’d just never mastered touch typing. The shelves of books behind him had mainly one theme – history and ships, predominantly the age of fighting sail and the Napoleonic wars. Fiction books by O’Brian and Forrester sat alongside pamphlets from HMS Victory, academic works on fighting sail and a dictionary of British Ships and Seamen.

I can’t recall exactly, but he had taken to writing his own series of novels sometime in his late 60’s or early 70’s with the dream of being published, as of course authors do.. and was looking for an agent and / or publishing company to represent him. The years went by and the folder of rejection letters got fatter. Worse still were the replies that he never received – letters, manuscripts and carefully crafted synopses that never even garnered a response. No “Thanks but no thanks”, “not our thing” or even a “Sod off and don’t bother us again”. Still, he kept plugging away.. until he didn’t.

That something had changed was apparent during one of my fly-by visits, sometime in 2010. I’d call in for a brew and a butty now and then, have a quick chat and head off to another appointment. (I was a Letting Agent, so obviously VERY important!). This particular time, Dad wasn’t his usual chirpy self. He’d had enough of writing and decided to quit! Like many things in Britain, such dramatic news called for a cup of tea. Kettle on, teapot warmed, PG Tips at the ready. (Other brands are available. I myself only use Yorkshire Gold in leaf form but accept that Mum & Dad always made a decent brew, even if it was using teabags which is a whole other topic of conversation).

Anyway, the biscuits came out and I asked the obvious questions – what’s wrong dad, what’s happened?

The short answer was that he’d had enough of rejection, nobody was interested in his work. There was no point in continuing as he didn’t think he would ever see one of his books published. I said I’d take a look and helped myself to some chocolate biscuits.

Sometime later… a bit of digging around on the internet and I came across info about self-publishing. Some of it sounded quite dodgy with upfront payments and paying to print books that you then have to promote yourself. I wonder just how many budding authors have boxes of books in the loft? I was intrigued by the online “print of demand” model – no upfront costs, books listed for sale and individually printed when someone bought one, plus the eBook download option – what could go wrong? Well, I fell down a rabbit hole right there. I smugly informed my Dad that I was going to sort it out… and get him published…. Tada! I did.

They started selling. He wrote another. That started selling. He wrote another – book 3 which should have been book 2 – so I had to re-publish in the correct order. He wrote another…. You can see where this is going. The problem for me was having time to deal with everything – which is the part of self-publishing that you don’t think about. Books really don’t sell themselves. Anyway, that’s going to be another blog post… sometime.

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