I am excited to reveal the front cover of my new book which will be published by the end of September.
Firstly, I have to make you aware of the credit for the image, written immediately below it, in case by any chance you wish to save it elsewhere (out of politeness you can tell me in the comments section). This must always be included with it.
My Italian cover designer Elisa worked with me on the original photo, hence the share of the credit she gets.
It was an interesting process which started in May and is not quite complete as I still need to finalise the spine width for the print version.
However, for marketing purposes now is the right time to start promoting the book’s front cover.
I will explain a bit more how the front cover came about.
As you can see, the image includes a photo of Tower Bridge which Elisa and I both liked as it was one of the key structures in the book. She helped me turn it into something more usable for a book cover and then we filled in the text, advised by my editor and others who had previously given me feedback on titles and use of cover images etc. I’ve blogged about images for my book.
The final title came from working versions and was adapted to suit search engines and the fit with the graphic. The sub-header is also my tagline for the book, #buildingpassions. My name isn’t prominent as it’s my first book, but hopefully that will change in the future.
Once the text is proofed and indexing complete then I will bring everything together into an electronic version that you will be able to download (at a price I’m afraid!). Not quite there yet though.
One of the most interesting findings from self-publishing my forthcoming book (short title ‘Building Passions’) on the 19th-century Brunels and Barrys is that sourcing images is complicated!
I could probably write a separate book about this but below are some bullets.
- My editor quite rightly advised me to start sourcing images early in the process. It has probably taken me about 4 months and there is still one outstanding one to be licensed.
- People and organisations have different policies for licensing images ranging from free, no hassle to costly and complex! This seems to bear little relevance to the provenance of the image …
- The internet has taken the lead in encouraging the shared use of free images through Creative Commons and similar schemes.
- Certain images of well-known privately-owned buildings e.g. the Burj Khalifa and the Shard are copyrighted, but in the case of the Eiffel Tower while you can use a daytime image freely, you can’t use a nighttime one as the electric lighting is trademarked …
- Non-fiction works are therefore more costly to publish so if you want to spend less, write fiction and include your own illustrations.
I am sympathetic to living producers of genuine artistic objects who need to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts, in order to allow the creative design process to flourish.
However, I am less sympathetic to others outside this category, particularly archives and agencies that charge self-publishers large sums for the reuse of their images, many of which may have outlived their ‘real’ copyright needs.
I think we need to strike a balance here, as with many areas of life. If not, one day perhaps everything we see will be labelled ‘not for reuse’, including ourselves. See this intriguing piece about copyrighting the tattoos of famous sports personalities …
I’m travelling to a family reunion in London to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday.
Families are important.
I write about two of them in my forthcoming book on the 19th-century Brunels and Barrys. The full title is “Brunel, Barry and ‘modern’ Victorian architecture”. The short title is ‘Building Passions’.
In the book, the two famous families of engineers and architects connect through John Wolfe Barry and his close friend and business partner Henry Marc Brunel. Their fathers were the great Victorians Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Barry, who were both Fellows of the Royal Society like their outstanding contemporary Charles Darwin. They also co-designed the 1851 Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace with Prince Albert, Joseph Paxton and others.
Families have roots and branches.
They come from somewhere and in most cases continue on, even if there are name changes along the way. Personalities appear, disappear and reappear through new generations.
This is all part of evolution and completely natural, in whatever way it may have first started.
The best families strive to work cooperatively with others for the wider good. This despite the temptation to care for their immediate lineage only.
In this way the world progresses and, we hope, avoids the pitfalls of personal greed and avarice that have become so visible today.
I had a small victory yesterday in the process of self-publishing my forthcoming book.
After many weeks of email correspondence and occasional calls in the direction of the Gulf States I finally got a result.
Let’s start at the beginning.
The new book is about the Brunel and Barry families of Victorian architects and engineers. It starts with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the most famous of all the subjects, voted second greatest Briton of all time after Churchill.
IKB’s first major project was working with his father to build a passenger tunnel under the River Thames in London. This was literally a ground-breaking exercise!
Roma Agrawal has covered the tunnel story excellently in her brilliant book ‘BUILT’ for which a children’s version is due to be published in 2020.
In my book I make the link between that early 19th-century underground structure and the world’s tallest skyscraper. Do you know where it is? Hint: the Gulf States.
The connection comes through the story of Brunel’s son Henry and the son of Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament (for which the name of this website is a huge clue!). It goes on via Tower Bridge, which the two sons built, to their expanding civil engineering consultancy in the early 20th Century.
Ultimately, the legacy organisation from their partnership was involved in the construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, at the time of writing the highest skyscraper on the globe, but please check with the official database.
You need permission to publish a photo of the Burj Khalifa (worth remembering if you go to Dubai!), hence I have it for my book but not for this website yet.
I was going to blog about the importance of my new book’s cover and particularly the spine, but never finished it.
Today is a major event for me personally and hopefully for others with an interest.
125 years ago today a bridge was opened in London, the capital of Victorian Britain and its empire.
The challenge was to cross a busy River Thames without blocking ships with tall masts. The answer was a bascule bridge which could open and shut to allow river and road traffic through.
The men who answered the challenge were the City of London’s Architect and two civil engineers. Sadly the former died early in the construction phase so responsibility rested on the shoulders of the senior engineer.
His name was John Wolfe Barry and his famous father Sir Charles Barry had already built the new Houses of Parliament in London. His engineering partner for the bridge was Henry Brunel, the younger son of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the second greatest Briton after Churchill according to a poll.
Together the two engineers, with the help of many others, built an amazing bridge which still works today. Tower Bridge (NOT London Bridge!) is a tribute to all their efforts. It is a technical wonder, whose architecture was designed to fit with the neighbouring Tower of London.
My forthcoming book #buildingpassions (the title is longer!) will tell you more about Tower Bridge and the Brunel and Barry families of Victorian engineers and architects. It is due out by end September and follow this website to see how it progresses.
It’s getting to the mid-year point and here’s a quick summary of what has happened in 2019 in connection with Sir John Wolfe Barry.
I started the year with concrete plans to write a book about John Wolfe Barry, and probably his father and brothers as well.
To focus 100% on writing I quit my full-time job in February.
In March I restarted the book with a new structure to it.
In April I expanded the title to include the Brunel family.
In May I submitted my finished text to my editor who has just returned it with tracking.
Separately I commissioned a cover designer to start producing concepts for the book. We should have this finished by end June. One issue has been the title which has changed many times!
I’ve spent months thinking about and sourcing illustrations for the book. This was a bigger challenge than I had anticipated due to copyright law. The system seems weighed heavily against first time self-publishers, with some notable exceptions led by Creative Commons.
I started some marketing using social media and this website with the hashtag #buildingpassions . Once the book cover is complete I can do much more.
I’m still aiming for at least an e-version to be available before end September and I’m thinking more about a hard copy launch in early November at a suitable venue.
Next weekend Tower Bridge will be celebrating its 125 years. Not sure if I will be there in person, but I certainly will be thinking about the Barry-Brunel team that built the structure.
The last time I ran a countdown on this website was for the 100th anniversary of John Wolfe Barry’s death in January 2018.
This one is for the 125th anniversary of the first opening of Tower Bridge to the London public on 30 June, only eighteen days away.
I was hoping to publish my forthcoming book about JWB, his family and close friend Henry Brunel, son of IKB, by now. It will happen by the end of September latest.
The good news is that I have had more time to adjust my text to address a broader readership and write more about the famous Brunel family. While the Barrys rightly got the credit for Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, they couldn’t have achieved this without the legacy and contribution of others.
In addition to the Brunels the book covers Augustus Pugin and a little on his father, from whom he inherited his incredible gothic drawing talents. It also looks at William Arrol’s contribution to the building of Tower Bridge and the more structurally impressive Forth Railway Bridge.
Which shows that there are stories behind stories behind stories. Meeting recently with former work colleagues, providing the ‘back story’ to key issues was one area we felt had been part of our career learning.
The trick is to find the key stories, dig up enough relevant detail and communicate this to your intended audiences.