Exciting times as I take delivery of my new historical novel A Jersey Midsummer Tale. It seems an awful long time now since I wrote the last chapter. All of this self-publishing lark is pretty new to me and I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Probably the most important lesson I’ve learnt to date is this. If your aspirations are to write your little heart out, get your book proof-read once by your daughter, throw some sort of a cover on it and give it to a printer then fine. But don’t expect anyone to take it seriously and don’t expect anyone other than close friends and family to read it. It will look terrible, many errors will be locked in and whatever dedication and perhaps talent you have poured into your book will be totally wasted. 

Very fortunately I was dissuaded from going down this road by local journalist Chris Lake; he’s assisted me primarily with copy editing and proofing on both Midsummer and Barry. And having been in the business for many years he pretty much knows the ropes and has been an excellent source of advice. Being an English teacher as well he’s pretty picky. He’s not afraid to pronounce my punctuation as ‘crap’ 😦 and makes it his business to put it to rights.

I remember well one early bit of advice. ‘Roy, people these days don’t want to read paragraphs that are 2½ pages long!’ So I’ve altered whatever style I may have so that my writing is in bite-sized chunks and there are plenty of natural pauses where people can put the bloomin’ thing aside for a while.

Chris insisted on a proper cover for Barry and recruited Colin Pereira, a graphic designer to do just that. And before finally releasing the text he insisted on getting Rob Shipley of the JEP to give it the once over.

The printers (CPI Anthony Rowe) provided a proof prior to printing. So convinced was I that it was now perfect and anxious just to finish the project I was tempted just to instruct ‘print and be damned.’ But I didn’t and instead sat down to proof the text one more time. And I found about 30 errors of spelling, punctuation or typesetting which, had they been left uncorrected would have made the whole thing look a heap of shit! 

The final result was a professional-looking book which doesn’t look out of place against those of major publishers. Never mind about what you may think of the read, it looks OK. (I know that there still lurks at least one spelling error in there but I’ll live with that).

So now, onto the distribution and marketing of Midsummer. Whereas Barry was a giveaway I’m going to try to market this one, at least locally at first. I’ll be blogging about how it’s going!