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Are you planning a "centenary" Great War book?


Moonraker
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Oops, just realised that originally I entered this in the Publications (books and websites) forum, which is reserved for promoting sources of information and is locked after the initial post:

The centenary of the Great War is bound to see a mass of books published and reprinted. Is anyone planning a new one? (I appreciate that some Pals may want to keep their brainchildren close to their bosoms.) I suggest that now is the time to start, bearing in mind how long it can take to get a book into print.

My own modest offering was sent to one Canadian publisher in January, and very quickly rejected, the company pleading the economic downturn and reckoning it merited a print-run of only 500 copies. It did suggest two other publishers, and my sample chapters have been with one since early February. The website warned that it can take three months for a decision to be made, and a few weeks ago I emailed about progress, to receive a reply that my submission was with an editor and to wait until the end of June.

I like to think that in this case "no news is good news", and that the company quickly rejects duff material and perhaps my work has been sent to an authority outside the publishing house for expert appraisal. And if my typescript is accepted, I shall have had a good long rest before looking at it again with a fresh eye. If it's rejected, then I'm not too fussed, though there are hardly any other publishers that might be interested. If all else fails, I'm content to eventually send off copies to specialist libraries. I'm not interested in self-publishing, but may possibly look at publishing on the Internet, if I can get my head around the technology. (I'm aware that this Forum discusses both self-publishing and Internet publishing from time to time.)

Four years up to 2014 is quite a long lead time, but other people's books may have wider appeal than mine and be of potential interest to a greater number of publishers; if the first three each take several months to reject it, that's a year gone. And after acceptance there's the matter of copyright consents, illustrations and indexing. I imagine that most publishers will want their new Great War books in the shops by Spring 2014.

Two days after my abortive attempt to post the above, I heard of a group being set up in the Warminster area to plan an exhibition for August 2014 on the effect on certain parishes of the Great War camps built there. So someone is looking ahead.

Moonraker

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Moonraker

I have written fiction ( not Great War related) and been trying to get an agent to help me find a publisher. If you want to PM any time to exchange ideas, about publishing/finding agents in general, please do so.

I have ideas for a Great War related book but a book is due to be published later this year which may overlap or even be far superior to anything I could do, so I am going to keep quiet at this stage. With regard to the Great War, another question I will have to weigh up if I decide to go ahead is how feasible is it for me to access the source material to make a really worthwhile go of it? With my project, I would not even sure if I would be ready by 2014, but perhaps by 2018.

From what I can gather is that the economic downturn has impacted on publishing fiction but how this well effect sales of History in four years time is not easy to gauge. Hopefully publishers will be prepared to introduce some new work, rather than just go for reprints.

I have found it's helpful to find someone to read your work. I have got a friend who is happy to read mine but to also offer critcism when it is needed and even to be blunt at times.

Good luck with your writing

Michael Bully

Oops, just realised that originally I entered this in the Publications (books and websites) forum, which is reserved for promoting sources of information and is locked after the initial post:

The centenary of the Great War is bound to see a mass of books published and reprinted. Is anyone planning a new one? (I appreciate that some Pals may want to keep their brainchildren close to their bosoms.) I suggest that now is the time to start, bearing in mind how long it can take to get a book into print.

My own modest offering was sent to one Canadian publisher in January, and very quickly rejected, the company pleading the economic downturn and reckoning it merited a print-run of only 500 copies. It did suggest two other publishers, and my sample chapters have been with one since early February. The website warned that it can take three months for a decision to be made, and a few weeks ago I emailed about progress, to receive a reply that my submission was with an editor and to wait until the end of June.

I like to think that in this case "no news is good news", and that the company quickly rejects duff material and perhaps my work has been sent to an authority outside the publishing house for expert appraisal. And if my typescript is accepted, I shall have had a good long rest before looking at it again with a fresh eye. If it's rejected, then I'm not too fussed, though there are hardly any other publishers that might be interested. If all else fails, I'm content to eventually send off copies to specialist libraries. I'm not interested in self-publishing, but may possibly look at publishing on the Internet, if I can get my head around the technology. (I'm aware that this Forum discusses both self-publishing and Internet publishing from time to time.)

Four years up to 2014 is quite a long lead time, but other people's books may have wider appeal than mine and be of potential interest to a greater number of publishers; if the first three each take several months to reject it, that's a year gone. And after acceptance there's the matter of copyright consents, illustrations and indexing. I imagine that most publishers will want their new Great War books in the shops by Spring 2014.

Two days after my abortive attempt to post the above, I heard of a group being set up in the Warminster area to plan an exhibition for August 2014 on the effect on certain parishes of the Great War camps built there. So someone is looking ahead.

Moonraker

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I want to produce a Shropshire Roll of Honour for 2014. I'm about 75% of the way there.

Neil

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Hello Moonraker

I have written fiction ( not Great War related) and been trying to get an agent to help me find a publisher. If you want to PM any time to exchange ideas, about publishing/finding agents in general, please do so...

From what I can gather is that the economic downturn has impacted on publishing fiction but how this well effect sales of History in four years time is not easy to gauge. Hopefully publishers will be prepared to introduce some new work, rather than just go for reprints.

I have found it's helpful to find someone to read your work...

Michael Bully

Hi Michael

So narrow is the theme of my factual book and so small the number of publishers likely to be interested that an agent wouldn't help, but I believe that when it comes to fiction most publishers prefer submissions coming to them via an agent, as this acts as a form of initial sifting process.

I can't see many of the world's economies improving much over the next four years, and several independent bookshops that would be prepared to stock a title as localised as mine have gone out of business, leaving much of the market to the big names (who expect big discounts).

I've still had no word from the Canadian publisher I mentioned in my opening post. My MS has been with them for almost five months now, which is not unusual in the publishing world, though one does wonder what's happening to it. I'm hanging around waiting for a decision prior to approaching a couple of local publishers about a rewritten edition of my self-published book of 1999 on Wiltshire and the Great War - or at least something to do with this subject; I haven't actually started work on anything yet and would need some positive interest before doing so.

Whenever self-publishing crops up in this Forum I always strongly advise getting someone else to read one's work. At least my Canadian submission has been in hibernation for five months now, and when I do glance at it (to add a few extra lines of new information, for example) my freshened eye does spot the occasional peculiarity that needs attention!

Moonraker

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I wish you the best of British with your efforts... one day I publish my own but to find even 500 people who may buy it would be a task I fear. I see the current market contracting for good quality books and literature at the moment, a trend I hope will reverse.

On a recent and rare trip to London last month I took the opportunity to go to Foyles who are renowed to have a huge and extensive selection of smaller publication run books. Last time cost me over £100 so I went prepared for a good spending spree.

Sadly it seems that the market they see for military books is diminshing as half their military section was empty and had gone from about 50 bookcases down to about 10. Plenty of 'Great Commanders' or 'Famous Battles' coffee table books but nothing of interest to me... very dissapointed. I hope this dumbing down is not a sign of things to come.

On the same floor though you could at least see that the 'Lesbian Interest' section had increased substantially... maybe I need a change of hobby.

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The more I think over this topic, my conclusion is that any of us who hopefully have something to add to the overall knowledge of the Great War, either in the form of research or commentary, and are in a position to have a go at writing a book, should make the most of centenary years and try and get it published. The centenary years are going to happen and we live in a culture which is getting more and more caught up in marking anniversaries. We might as well try to have an input. So will make a decision at the end of this year once I have read a new book coming out which might have featured the same subject and research as I have gathered. If there is something constructive and particularly if I have new material to present, I will have a go.

Wishing all members who are writing books a great deal of success.

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My project is leading up to an major exhibition locally in 2014, but we will be ready (in stages) for smaller annual exhibitions each year before that date comes along. A book wasn't the original plan but it has to be worth looking into as the centenary approaches. I've been involved in editing a local handbook and that wasn't too difficult to do. I guess it comes down to print runs and funding. Especially funding. Heritage Lottery Fund? Maybe. I've already got a title for it... :D

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I tried for lottery funding for several projects and unless you have a formal committee it may be a wasted effort, the best thing is to see if you qualify for awards for all http://www.awardsforall.org.uk/

for the funding you need probably best bet.

rules on a book as far as i remember yes they would pay but book has to be given away, sold at cost or all monies raised contribute to the charitable cause. I think they also pay for memorial plaques etc. key words community project!

On the book printing front if you can turn the document into a5 or a4 rather then an in between size saves money, a5 means four pages from one sheet of a4 double sided. I know you get 25 printed books, perfect bound, laminted cover for less then £150 with isbn so you may not need funding.

You need more info let me know but this may be a good route for you, and expedites the process so you have until June 2014.

Your project may take longer then some marriages last !

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Yeah, thanks for that info. I agree, and I am in the process of setting up a management committee with constitution/policy documents etc and have managed to obtain some funding for a MySQL database and php front end website. The longer term idea of publishing is something we're certainly going to look into. Fortunately a very good friend of mine is a local Voluntary Organisation Support Officer and has made enquiries on behalf of the project with people from HLF. He's had some 'good noises' coming from them and apparently it's something they'd certainly be interested in. They don't know about the (possible) book yet though. We'll see.

Didn't know about that isbn printing deal, will have to consider that as an option. Cheers for that one.

The booklet I was involved in a couple of years ago had a run of 4000 which cost us about £3000, 2000 of which we gave away and we've sold about 700 of the remainder at a £1 a time. We've still got quite a few boxes left but it's a decennial publication so we've a few years left to sell the rest off. I should add that it was intended as a free gift to all residents and we got funding for most of it and raised the rest through local advertising revenue. All monies raised from the sale of the booklet are going to local voluntary projects.

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  • 1 month later...

... My own modest offering was sent to one Canadian publisher in January, and very quickly rejected, the company pleading the economic downturn and reckoning it merited a print-run of only 500 copies. It did suggest two other publishers, and my sample chapters have been with one since early February. The website warned that it can take three months for a decision to be made, and a few weeks ago I emailed about progress, to receive a reply that my submission was with an editor and to wait until the end of June...

Moonraker

Ho hum. Since the end of June, I've emailed the publishers three times to enquire what the state of play is but haven't received any reply. I'm trying to make allowances for possible technical glitches with emails and resisting jumping to conclusions about inefficiency within the company, but I do have the nagging thought that it can't be bothered to take five minutes to reply to me, if only to say "no thanks".(The company doesn't accept phone calls about submissions.)

Trouble is, the book's subject is very niche and I don't have too many options.My experience does reinforce my original point that one needs to allow plenty of time for a book submission linked to 2014 to be considered for publication.

Moonraker

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Just had an email from the company, saying that "as much as I like what I have seen [of the text] to date", it does not believe it likely to be possible to publish without grant support and suggesting I apply for such support from a British military organisation or seek out a British publisher with a view to co-publication with the Canadian publisher. I don't think the first idea is a starter, as my study relates to the Canadian army. By the way, I realise I've been coy about the precise subject; some of you won't be surprised to learn that it's "The Canadian Army on Salisbury Plain 1914-1915". Very niche, and hardly likely sell thousands of copies, I know.

I'll be replying to the publisher saying that I'm prepared to approach British publishers with the idea - there are four or five that might be interested. Let's hope their decisions are reasonably prompt, though I have almost three years to play with (assuming something needs to be firmly agreed by Spring 2013 with the idea of the book appearing in the shops early the following year).

(Incidentally, I was in Foyle's bookshop in London yesterday and spotted half-a-dozen new titles published this year on the Great War, so there's a steady market for such books.)

Moonraker

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  • 4 months later...

A (lack of) progress report. In early September I approached a well-known UK publisher of local history with a very brief synopsis of my book, as requested on its website, which advised to the effect that the company would ask for further details if it was interested. I've heard nothing since, from which I might infer that it isn't interested.(But it wouldn't have taken much more than a minute to have sent me a rejection email.)

In the meantime I approached another UK company, which responded promptly enough with some interest and how it would like the matter to proceed. I passed this on to the Canadian publisher, who said the matter would be considered at a board meeting at the end of November. I've heard nothing, and have just emailed asking what (if anything) was decided.

I'm philosophical enough about all this, but it does reinforce my point about the necessity of very long lead times for new books. It's now a year since my first approach to a publisher.

The good news is that a small company responded very quickly indeed to my suggestion of a second edition of a book I self-published in 1999 about Wiltshire and the Great War, with 20,000 more words and twice the number of pics. I spent Christmas working on it, wincing rather too often at what I had written back in the late 1990s. The experience reinforced the advice I've offered several times on this Forum to aspiring writers: leave your more-or-less final text to hibernate for a while and come back to it with a fresh eye, and ask someone else to look at it.

Since the 1990s technology has moved on by leaps and bounds and I found that checking out simple facts (like someone's name) on the Internet often led to a number of sites with extra information (some inevitably having exactly the same wording), and in a gratifying number of cases the first site suggested by Google was this one!

Would-be writers might also like to bear in mind that, whereas in 2014 there will be a great deal of interest in the Great War, by 2018 there will be a reaction and I doubt that new books on the theme will have a commercial market. (And by then who knows what form publishing will take?)

Moonraker

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At the moment it is just a dream but I would love to do the same as ShropshireMad and do a kind of roll of honour for my village. We know everyone who served but I would like to do an annotated history of each of the men i.e. brief family history; occupation before the war plus details of what action they saw. Even if it wasn't published, I would get it bound and put into my local library for anyone to read. If one person read it and got something out of it, that would make me happy.

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Hi Laura,

Publish your local roll of honour online, it's easier than you think.

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At the moment it is just a dream. If one person read it and got something out of it, that would make me happy.

Laura - go for it and make your dream come true. Seriously, you could start today, it doesn't have to be done all at once. I have been at my piece of work for two years now, no intention to publish it, it is just for my pleasure and family use. I love every minute of the research and gives me great satisfaction.

Roger

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If my Canadian text doesn't find a publisher I will still have had a great deal of satisfaction from the research and writing.

Moonraker

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So very true Roger. I've 'been at it' for seven years, and it'll never reach a publishing point as it just keeps growing. Its at 80,000 words now, and I'm extrapolationg all sorts of interesting demographic info for an appendix at the moment. As well as adding period background. As well as researching another 'found' soldier, etc etc. It's like a little baby. I can honestly tell you that no other research has been done on the Great War soldiers of this one-horse-town of mine.It's the definitive account. But apart for a handful of buy- anything -local -history nuts; who else is going to buy it? Local family connections even over three generations are far fewer than I would have thought possible.

Self publishing (I've bought a batch of ISBNs a while back) is a possibility, and a recent printing quote tells me that 500 copies of A5 Book 120pp b+w with 8pp full colour with perfect bind; supplied by me in PDF ready to print will cost me £1762. That's about £3.50 a copy. Local shops want 'a third' of the asking price. Price is up to £4.20 now just on print and selling. Local marketing/advertising adds another 75p, and self publishing overheads another 50p. Proofreader? National distribution? So thats £5.50 before any author entitlements. As I say, who'se gonna pay that for a local history book, whilst you can buy a thousand page brand new top ten fiction book in Tesco for £5.00 or two for £8!

1,000 copies would cost me £2152. The town has a population of 5,000 people.

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Geraint: Forum members may come along with other more cost-effective solutions, but you're correct in implying that there won't be demand for 500 copies, never mind 1,000. I wonder how many of your population of 5,000 have links to the town of more than two or three decades? Not many, I would think, so you haven't got a "captive" audience of customers whose grand-dads are in your book.

Nevertheless at a Great War study day in Wiltshire I noticed there were a couple of books about the war dead of two towns that had been produced by a recognized publisher - I can't recall which one. And in 2002 Clare Church published a handsome 248-page A4 size book, New Zealand Graves at Brockenhurst, with two or more pages for each of 93 soldiers. It's very well researched, and I personally found it interesting because I knew Brockenhurst and there were lots of references to Salisbury Plain, but I did wonder how much of a market there was for it.

Moonraker

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At the moment it is just a dream but I would love to do the same as ShropshireMad and do a kind of roll of honour for my village. We know everyone who served but I would like to do an annotated history of each of the men i.e. brief family history; occupation before the war plus details of what action they saw. Even if it wasn't published, I would get it bound and put into my local library for anyone to read. If one person read it and got something out of it, that would make me happy.

Laura,

As others have suggested you can put it online. Possibly only if you are aiming to make a living from your writing is traditional publishing now justified.

Putting it on-ine has a number of advantages:

  • Mistakes can be quickly corrected!
  • Google sees it which means others can find it - and they don't have to wait for it to appear at the library or bookshop
  • You can make it "interactive", inviting people to make comments (which you can control).
  • You can provide different ways to access or search your stuff - it does not have to be linear.
  • You can recast if if you later decide the format is wrong.

The skills required to put something on-line are actually fairly limited. If you use blogging software, you can enter stuff as easily as you put stuff on this forum, and you can add photos, pdf documents (which you can easily create from Word) and create your own heirarchy / table of contents / indexing scheme.

Blogging software is essentially free:

  • This forum has a blog facility
  • There are (at least) two major blogging systems: e.g. wordpress.com and blogger.com; the free versions give you a website like yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com. These are probably the easiest ways to get online.
  • You can pay a bit extra to have a specific domain name for your blog - and yet still have someone like wordpress host and manage it for you.
  • You can download free blogging software (e.g. wordpress.org) to your webserver if you want to host the blog on your own website.

If you want to get your mind around how a blog might look, you might want to look at my family website - you could then select the World War One "tag", but given your research interests you might want to use the built-in search facility to search for "FANY". the Wordpress home page also points you to other examples.

I recently converted my website from traditional "code your own" to blog software driven. I am not regretting the move.

HTH

David

(Apologies to Moonraker for taking this thread off in a different direction - but it is a solution for non-professional writers)

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In three years time I will be a professional historian, making a living off 'boring' academic texts haha.

However, the online publishing does sound tempting for some non-academic work. You have summed it up the process very well and I will definitely look into it. I am not very good with technology but if it is as simple as you have made it sound, I could give it a go.

Best

Laura

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Thanks for the shoulder to lean on Moonraker; I feel much better now; honest Matron!

Just a few points the above is the worse case situation. Local sponsorship may be possible - town council or local branch BL contribution; county council lottery heritage fund, local firm with WW1 connection, individuals etc. Sell the whole concept and copyright to the T Council for a penny, and let them face publishing costs.

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... (Apologies to Moonraker for taking this thread off in a different direction - but it is a solution for non-professional writers)

Absolutely no apologies, needed, David. I started this thread in the hope that it would help people "thinking of writing something" and now and then on the Forum I've offered advice about traditional "hard copies" ways of publishing. But I lag behind when it comes to electronic means and I find your comments very interesting. At this stage I myself would hesitate to make available a complete 60,000-word text in this way; I don't mind people exploiting some of my research results but not the whole thing. But it does seem a better idea way of bequeathing information to prosperity than depositing half-a-dozen print-outs in key libraries and museums.But how can one ensure that it would continue to be available on-line after one's death?

Moonraker

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I am not very good with technology

Me neither. I paid someone to "do" my Stockport war memorials website for me - found it a perfectly acceptable cost for my hobby.

As for the local history type book, I agree with geriant about the problems. I've longed harboured an idea to produce a booklet of "the camera returns" to where I live - taking modern photos alongside an old one of the same view, as a focus for telling the history of the development of the area. Cost and lack of interest (whenever I've mentioned it to other folk) have meant I've never done it.

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