Excited about seeing my e-book soon #buildingpassions

The book cover image above should always be credited as follows: Arpingstone (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tower.bridge.7.basculecloseup.london.arp.jpg), size and alignment by Elisa Vernazza, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/legalcode

I should be receiving an e-book version of ‘Building Passions’ very soon!

This is exciting for me, a first-time author and self-publisher, as it is one of the key end products that I’m after, following months of writing, editing, image chasing, indexing and project managing of editors and designers.

I’ve also started serious conversations with the company that will print the hard copy for me. Both sides are now clearer on expectations and working to a fixed timeline, linked to the book launch in November (I’m just finalising the venue and timing of that).

Once I am absolutely happy with the e-book I will upload it to retailer websites so everyone can access it by the end of September. Keep an eye out for links on the ‘Building Passions’ website.

I’ve also started planning the next book and am awaiting some interesting material all the way from the Hudson Bay Company Archives held in Winnipeg, Canada – they could only airmail it to me as scanning in PDFs was a step too far. It’s not arrived yet after 10 days but I guess I can only be patient and hope the system hasn’t swallowed up the package between there and the UK.

How to find a book launch venue #buildingpassions

So, I’ve been trying to nail down a venue for the official launch of my book ‘Building Passions’ in November.

I have a date/time and I want it to take place in the Westminster part of London. I also have a budget, an idea of numbers and the type of offering.

Fortunately, I have run many events in the past so am pretty familiar with the ins and outs of the process. My most stressful experience was organising a large conference on maths education, pretty much on my own, at a venue the Government officials funding it wouldn’t show me until the start of the event! They claimed this was best security practice for the Secretary of State for Education who was keynote speaking … oh and my wife was having an operation on the same day! It all went well thankfully.

I looked at two possible venues on Wednesday with my assistant, who is my daughter starting her English language and linguistics degree from this month. One was very nice and in a famous national art gallery, but over my budget. The alternative was more affordable but not in so respectable a location, though still pleasant. There are other options on the table.

I already have one sponsor for the event and am looking for others who would like to co-fund it with me. If you are interested please contact me at enquiries@buildingpassions.co.uk .

The e-book should be published soon via the usual channels and then I need to focus on finalising the print version in time for November.

A ‘Building Passions’ website now exists #buildingpassions

So, I’ve finally managed to launch a website about my forthcoming book ‘Building Passions’.

It provides a bit of background for those who know nothing about the book. Once it is published electronically and then in hard copy, I will add links to the retailers who will hopefully sell it for me. I’m expecting an e-book will be out soon, but definitely by the end of September.

One thing I am missing is images. As I’ve blogged before this is a tricky area in self-publishing due to image rights. I will try to add in free images and links to ones you would need to pay to use (which I have done for the book!), but of course you will be able to see them all in the book, with appropriate text linked to the story of the Brunels, the Barrys and ‘modern’ Victorian architecture.

I will continue to use this website for blogs about the book and related news, including progress on an English Heritage Blue Plaque for Sir John Wolfe Barry. With luck everything will coincide …

I will also continue to use the #buildingpassions tag to promote the built environment to wider audiences through its history and the individuals involved.

Now is the winter of our discount tents #buildingpassions

The pleasure of writing your own blog is that you can do what you like with it, even add in the stupid play on words that is in this one’s title.

If you haven’t recognised the phrase, it’s an adaption of the opening line of Shakespeare’s Richard III spoken by the Duke of Gloucester, who would eventually become king. But it’s the way he does it that has attracted attention in history and portrayed him as an evil schemer.

The parody or pun was used by the Sun Newspaper in 2012 to describe a funny story about a tent, but I suspect it originated much earlier, possibly by the Goons or similar.

What has any of this to do with Sir John Wolfe Barry or my forthcoming book about him, his family and the Brunels, ‘Building Passions’?

Not much really.

I’m just excited by the fact that this Autumn will be a busy period for both the book and the country I live in, the United Kingdom, with Brexit probably happening, worst case with no deal agreed with the European Union by 31 October.

The last ‘Winter of Discontent’ was in 1978-79 just before Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of the UK. It was a period of extreme industrial unrest matched with extreme cold. The ‘Iron Lady’ began her all out fight with Arthur Scargill and the British Trades Unions, which only one person was going to win …

What will happen this winter is anyone’s guess. All historians like myself can do is point out potential lessons from the past and hope that current players take heed. In terms of the built environment, this will continue to develop new architectural styles and find new ways of supplying and then applying the necessary materials and skills.

Words ARE enough

From an early age I’ve always loved writing.

This was evidenced through stories I wrote for English homework which were full of fantastical ideas.

I also enjoyed marathon reading sessions. I remember getting through the Lord of the Rings on a beach in Corsica, while I was staying with a French family as part of an exchange trip. My back went as brown as a berry.

I tried some more serious writing later in life, but never dared to publish anything. Only when I first started blogging in 2012 did I start to open up and set free my urge to produce my own words.

Now I feel almost liberated.

I am on the verge of self-publishing my first book called ‘Building Passions’. I have started planning my next book, which will tell the world the fictionalised story of my grandfather Lex von Behr.

I want to encourage you to write as well.

People say actions speak louder than words, but writing and publishing a book is action with words. Please participate!

The final steps towards publishing ‘Building Passions’ #buildingpassions

I kind of feel I’m almost there!

A pre-pub proof is now ready of my forthcoming book, short title ‘Building Passions’.

All I need to do now is typeset it, arrange the c. 70 illustrations properly, and finish off the index and all page references. Then I will know the exact spine width based on the number and thickness of the pages and so can complete the last stage of the book cover.

I’m still on schedule for an e-version published by end September and a hard copy by end November.

My only slight frustration is finding the right book launch venue in London which won’t break the bank but also fits with the book and invitees. I now understand why events planning requires help from venue finders! I’ve often had the good luck of working for organisations that have their own events spaces and teams, but no longer sadly …

In terms of printing the book I’ve decided to seek advice from a local publisher and printer. I just know that I don’t want to fell hundreds of trees in the process! Also, that a printed book needs to have a good feel about it when handled. I may be a bit weird, but I also like the smell of new (and old) books …

I should remind you of why it’s worth buying the book once available.

If you are above age 18 and have even the slightest interest in the history of the built environment e.g. why buildings, bridges and other structures have been put up in a certain way, then ‘Building Passions’ is a must for you. It does focus on Victorian/Edwardian Britain and its ‘Empire’, so hopefully you weren’t put off too much at school (I loved it!).

I’m afraid it doesn’t mention many women at all, and certainly not as architects, engineers or contractors. I’m afraid that was the way of the world at that time, and while clearly things have changed since then for the better, there is still a lot to do to increase diversity in the built environment workforce in the UK and abroad.

How to self-publish a book in six easy steps #buildingpassions

This is a brief post on self-publishing a book based on my experience to date since I started in February of this year. My first book, ‘Building Passions’ (short title), is due out by end September.

Firstly, you need to commit yourself and your loved ones to the fact that your life will be taken over by something else. The benefit to them might be your happiness and perhaps even some financial reward or recognition.

Secondly, you need to decide if you will write full or part time. This will depend partly on the way your finances play out, but as much if not more on the best way for you to write. In my case I needed a complete break from my day job and a sabbatical wasn’t available, so I had to resign.

Thirdly, you need someone to nudge you along when things get difficult. I was lucky to have an experienced friend who supported my initial plan and gave me tips along the way. But I also accessed a global network of editors and others through a great website called Reedsy.

Fourthly, you need to revise your plans and text as you go along and be realistic about deadlines. What matters is the final product of your efforts – there is no point in writing a book if hardly anyone reads it, or worse still they tell other how boring it is!

Fifthly, you need to understand the complexities of publishing, especially in non-fiction, but not be put off by some of the ‘curious’ professional practices that have existed for ages. If they don’t make sense, question them!

Sixthly, and finally, you need to invest in marketing your book in a way you feel is most appropriate. Social media is a great vehicle for this. If like many you worry about your impression as a public speaker, then only make short speeches or presentations with at least one joke to break the ice. Rely on key friends and networks to push out the good news for you.

Do it now!