Eight years ago I had to give up work because of ill-health. For six of those years I have been researching the 56th Division's attack on Gommecourt on 1st July 1916. It became something of an obsession and, as my research grew in volume, so it seemed appropriate to turn it into a narrative of the events. This grew and grew until, lo and behold!, there was a 200,000+ word document sitting on my computer. What to do with it? Well, being a bit of a prat, what I did was wait until two weeks before Christmas 2005 before sending a sample chapter off to some publishers.
Why a prat? Well, because my late brother was a noted writer on popular and classical music and has four books to his name with another being re-published posthumously later this year. Before he died in 2003 he advised me to give any prospective publisher at least twelve month's notice if I wanted to stand a chance of my material being published. Given that May or June 2006 would be an appropriate time for it to see the light of day I have missed by bro's deadline by a good six months at least! So, definitely a prat then.
On the upside, however, two of the four publishers I sent a sample to have been more than complimentary and one wanted to see more. I await their further views with a sense of dread... Another just called me, a somewhat unusual way of saying 'no', I thought. On the up side however one of his reasons for saying 'no' was that their schedule for 2006 was already fixed. The other was that the book was about 100,000 words too long! Basically, if I were to consider editing the book down by 50%, they might be interested in a 2007 publication.
What to do? Well, wait for the first publisher obviously but, if they change their minds, can I realistically cut my work in half? I guess the answer has to be no. The book is the strange fruit of an obsessive mind and this obsessive cannot conceive of taking huge chunks out of their 'baby'. So, if all else fails it looks like self-publishing and taking a punt that I can sell enough copies to blackmailed relatives, arm-twisted friends and similarly obessed enthusiasts to make risking a grand or more a reasonable proposition.
Anyway, the gentleman who called me suggested another publisher to try, which was nice of him. He also said that I should send a copy to the Imperial War Museum! I'd love to do that but, as I've just discovered some more files at the NA I really must investigate, who knows when this bloody book will actually get finished? I certainly don't have a clue. And what to do when I have finished? What should I get obsessed about then?
All ideas welcome. Now back to the book.....