It was a gathering of like minds. Not of the intelligence variety, but rather ones that have the same nagging voice; telling each of us to move off the couch on a Monday night and get our butts down to the weekly fitness class. This is not the sort of high energy tough motivational class someone would think to record on a DVD. It is instead very much a low-key event, where lyrca and six-packs are not essential entry qualifications. It is simply a class that gets you moving and hopefully increases the quality of life in the long-term. Some weeks there can be 15 or more bodies moving around a crammed village hall, but tonight it was just me and five blokes. Not that I am complaining. For any woman, this is extremely favourable odds. But it really is not that sort of club. The only thing you go to pick up there are dumbells. It is though a friendly group. We gyrate around a circuit and as we puff and pant we happily chivvy and goad each other along. Apart from this weekly gathering our paths don’t otherwise naturally cross. The conversation, as a result, is kept light and directed to no one in particular. At a surface level it can cover a variety of subjects, many alien to me. As a result I tend to take the easy option and just smile and listen; happy to enjoy the positive feelings running through the hall. If a topic piques my curiosity I try to remember the name (no mean feat) and look up the details later. My dependency on the internet for retrieving facts is immeasurable. How did we find out about things and gather information before it? We managed of course: we didn’t know any better. But with the benefit of hindsight, wasn’t what we had to work with so limited in comparison to what we have now? This fact was recently acknowledged by the bestowing of a new award, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, on the five men whose names have been attributed to bringing the internet to us. It has been created to recognise engineering innovation and hopefully will encourage others to test and push boundaries.
I feel that I am testing and pushing my own boundaries of engineering and innovation with this book project. It feels good but it does bring with it its very own collection of frustrations. You think you are making progress only to find that you are falling backwards. Having to keep moving forwards means digging deeper into the reserves to keep going. For those who have recently arrived and reading this post, this blog is centred around my experience of getting a book, ‘Alice Wakes Up’, published. Easy enough you might think until it comes to actually executing the idea. My original plan was to firstly find an agent who could do all the leg work. However, recognising that this is by the nature of the beast a very long shot indeed, I have decided to focus my energy, for the time being, on self publishing. Not so quick or easy. The first attempt to self-publish was with a company called Create Space, but the three-week delay to receive the proof copy back here in the UK seemed unreasonable, and for any potential consumer also unsatisfactory. Add to this US tax issues and the Company wanting to charge 8% on any cheque they raised didn’t make the wait any more financially appealing either. Which is why I turned to Lulu; another online self publishing site. It’s great to have the choice but with choice comes alternatives. The biggest difference between the two sites is that Lulu does not print books in all standard sizes, so the process of uploading another electronic version of ‘Alice Wakes Up’ took a long time. The original had to be altered to suit the new template. On the plus side though, once done Lulu did manage to get a proof copy delivered within three days. Impressed… certainly with the delivery timescales. The standard 5×8 inches sized book that Create Space produced feels familiar and balances nicely in the hand, whereas the Lulu copy, being marginally larger and wider, bends off the end of the fingers. But having said this had I not got the two copies to compare one with the other I would have been pleased to have either. Both are very good.
Producing a quality piece of work has always been a prime consideration and from this exercise clearly self publishing does not have to be as compromised an option as you might have thought. In fact, compared to the mass-produced mainstream detective fiction book I read over Easter, which had used ‘yellow’ thin paper and an overly large font that padded out the look of the book but added nothing to the content, ‘Alice Wakes Up’ in its self-published glory is a superior well presented book. ‘Alice Wakes Up’ is a book of honest and genuine quality.
Interestingly, another bonus that has come to my attention over the last few weeks is that while I have had to take some time out to find a second self-publishing supplier, Create Space have now changed their trading arrangements to be much more favourable to UK authors. They will now pay direct into your bank account, with no administrative charge. You need to have a reciprocal US tax arrangement, for which they give clear directions. Also, from a UK consumers point of view they have begun printing these orders in the UK, which I assume will reduce delivery times significantly. So for me at this stage in the game Create Space now looks like the self publisher of choice. But since ‘Alice Wakes Up’ is loaded up on both self publishing sites I see no reason, having done the leg work, not to make it available through both. Not so fast though. I want to modify the cover, so it’s still not ready for printing just yet. But the good news is that the end is in sight, although those boundaries are still there. They wait still to be pushed some more, because the next challenge is to create an ‘E-book’ version. And who knows what might happen in the future? Like the five who won their award above, this book is also destined to inspire and innovate change. ‘Alice Wakes Up’ is a piece of ingenious fiction with strong overtones of reality; combined to encourage others to think outside of their box, be more innovative and test boundaries for the good of themselves and others.