I’ve created a new smaller website for information about Sir John Wolfe Barry, Tower Bridge and other structures.
The main route to it is via the ‘Building Passions‘ website which promotes my book of the same short title, derived from this website. I will eventually move across the domain name (sirjohnwolfebarry.com) for this WordPress website -not sure what will happen to these pages, but, assuming they stay alive, I will always have a link to them from the new website.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am expanding my writing to cover fiction so will develop an imprint to market this to the world. I have completed content and artwork for a historical fiction piece based on the life of my grandfather (‘The Other Red Baron’) and am drafting text for a trilogy of pure fiction novellas connected by a theme of dictatorship versus democracy. Separately, as part of a group of writers who live in or near Canterbury, we are trying to co-draft a murder mystery – not as easy as we might have expected!
I’m always on the look out for opportunities to engage with audiences whether through my writing or other means. I attended a really interesting online workshop on running, well, online workshops! I’d like to engage with groups of about 20 people and then use virtual break outs to hone in on key areas of interest. I will do this for my own topics in the history of the built environment, writing/self-publishing, history more generally, and in STEAM career support for schools.
My first book was non-fiction and specialist (‘Building Passions‘). It was self-published in 2019 and then I moved on to fiction.
My second book is almost finished. The text just needs a final proofing and the cover is designed for the e-book. The printed version may be print-on-demand. It is historical fiction based on the true life story of my grandfather.
My third project is a trilogy of novellas within the same theme about dictatorship versus democracy. All pure fiction but related to politics and philosophy.
My fourth book is a collaboration with three other writers. It’s a murder mystery where we have created our own individual characters and are writing from their different points of view.
I may need to restart the cycle with some non-fiction. This depends how things develop with my historical research. If I get PhD funding then it will relate to that topic within architectural history. If not then I will go wider to consider other areas.
I enjoy writing and experimentation with different genres makes it even more worthwhile – they all have their challenges and surprises.
Once lockdown started in the UK I stopped making print copies of my book ‘Building Passions’ available to purchase. This was because I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t spread COVID-19 via the book and the postal system.
To compensate I have halved the e-book price in April. Since my goal has always been to sell mainly in e-format then this made sense. However no sales have taken place via Kobo.com .
Therefore I will resume with postal sales from the end of April and review how I distribute the book electronically. I dont want an exclusive contract with Kindle. I’m starting to dislike anything linked with Amazon, who seem keen on maximising profits at the expense of their workers and independent publishing.
I would have promoted the book more through physical talks but obviously the pandemic came along. I’m less safe at remote talks but I will try to develop these skills.
I thought now would be a good time to start reorganising my web content related to Sir John Wolfe Barry, Henry Brunel and their families.
I’ve started building a new website to replace this one which will disappear in June. It will have less content in it and do more pointing to other material on the internet, including my ‘Building Passions’ website. Sadly this will also mean doing less on WordPress, which really helped me get started many years ago with my own blogging and web content.
At the same time I am using this as an opportunity to position my other writing, which is focused on fiction, as well my pending PhD research assuming I get the funding for it.
It would be nice to brand everything under one title, but it may be tricky and there is no point stretching things artificially to fit. My USP is me, Nick von Behr and you can find out more about me on my LinkedIn profile.
Who am I for those who don’t already know me and don’t want to look at LinkedIn?
I’m a portfolio career professional with a bent for research, analysis and writing. I’m very interested in history, particularly related to technology, the built environment and politics. I’m also interested in education, having worked and volunteered within STEM, and more recently STEAM, career engagement and skills.
I blogged a while back about writing. It is what I do.
My current writing is in fiction, in fact a trilogy of novellas is in the works.
The theme is dictatorship versus democracy, which raises interesting issues about people, society and freedom. We are experiencing a stress on our current democratic systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have set the trilogy in a fictional nation somewhere in Europe. The context is about a family that has been in sole power for many generations. Something is beginning to stir and its name is democracy. But it’s the family itself which is doing the stirring!
I’m hoping to self-publish the whole trilogy by the end of the year in three stages, each separated by at least a month. That gives me an overall target of about 60,000 words split into three. I’ve already written the first book and have started the second one. Once you get into a rhythm then it makes drafting a lot easier, and I always review what I write immediately afterwards.
Which brings me to the title of the post.
In a truly democratic society we have the right to write what we like, even thought those in power may not like it. Many states are parodies of democracies for this very reason and may just take everyone through the motions as a public relations exercise. Let’s not even talk about voting!
I’ve not blogged yet about the current pandemic facing the world. It didn’t seem appropriate for my typical themes.
However, now that people are wondering what to do with themselves as they self-isolate (the word of 2020?), it does seem appropriate to encourage them to read more books.
Not only will they derive more pleasure and knowledge, they may learn a few tricks. Equally, they will help authors and smaller publishers such as myself. I would strongly recommend reading ‘BUILT‘ by my structural engineer friend Roma Agrawal, which inspired me to write my own book.
In the case of ‘Building Passions‘, all you need to do is look at the website and then decide if you want to read more. You can only buy the e-book via Kobo.com as a print copy is too risky currently to mail.
I’m also looking into remote casting talks about the book and its related topics, which cover the 19th-century Brunel and Barry families and ‘modern’ Victorian architecture. I know a fair bit now about the highly decorative ‘Art Nouveau’ architecture of the later 19th and early 20th Centuries, as I’m planning a PhD in that area once things have calmed down.
Above all, be wise and stay safe for your sake and everyone else’s.
I published my first book ‘Building Passions‘ electronically in September 2019 and then in print in November 2019. It covers the story of the Brunel and Barry families of Victorian engineers and architects.
At the time I wasn’t fully aware of European book pricing regulations. It turned out that they vary by country (so much for an EU!) and in some cases you are not allowed to offer price reductions for up to 18 months.
The UK is more flexible and this is an area where Brexit will have little impact. So I have been able to run UK sales on the book at appropriate times linked to promotional events.
That said, I am still keen to know how to come to the right book price if you are a self-publisher. ‘Building Passions’ e-version is priced at £4.50 in the UK based on a minimal return per download and the print version then adds on £9 to cover printing related costs (could be lower if you print bigger batches). Some e-books are available free of charge, simply to promote the print or audio version. Big publishers can afford to cross subsidise, and some of them have few qualms about cutting down forests to print vast numbers of less costly books, or pay celebrities large (fixed?) fees to record their narratives.
The market needs to be only lightly regulated. This can happen with some form of agreement between the small and the large operators. Will this emerge? Perhaps after life has readjusted post-virus …