So: How did I come to edit and publish ‘The Galloway Collection?’ These days I am largely housebound and have to find ways to be creative that involve the least expenditure of energy (and money) and allow proximity to a toilet at all times. The revolution in digital publishing enabled me to embark upon something which might be termed ‘publishing in my bedroom.’ If you take the analogy with ‘pop’ music of the 60’s that is. Okay, it’s an office room not a bedroom, but it’s up in the eaves and it’s there that my publishing ‘empire’ was born (and will remain.)
The past couple of years I’ve been involved in the publishing of ebooks but the eureka moment came when I read ‘Fifty Years in the Fiction Factory’ by Julia Jones which is a biography of another ‘forgotten’ late 19th century writer, Herbert Allingham. Allingham, like Crockett, wrote popular fiction, largely in serial form – but he wrote mainly anonymously (writer for hire rather than ‘author’) and so has been long ignored. The book both taught me a lot about the publishing climate of the late 19th century and also inspired me. It was like finding a missing link.
Crockett, unlike Allingham, was a successful ‘author’ in his day (by luck and circumstance rather than anything else) – but just as forgotten now. A huge part of this is because his work is out of print. I had a good idea (always fatal!). What was to stop me republishing Crockett’s work in ebook format? It was one of those decisions which was quite easy to make, but of course much harder to achieve and it has taken nearly two full years of my time and more than all of my energy to finally get to this point of publication.
While I love the ease of ebooks, I am a huge paperback lover and I decided early on that I would also publish The Galloway Collection in paperback format. It was the motivation of seeing the books on my own bookshelves that kept me going through the hard work – of which there was plenty. Digital publishing is relatively cheap but print publishing is anything but. Publishing 32 books is no small endeavour either in time or money and the sums to achieve traditional bookshop distribution and mainstream publishing methods would curl your toes. But with the ‘new’ model of Print on Demand it was possible. Just. No, you can’t go out and buy The Galloway Collection in the bookshops, or supermarkets, but they do exist and you can order online from Amazon at the click of a button and have the book with you in a matter of days.
If anyone tells you that hard work never killed anyone- I’m just about here to tell you it’s not strictly true! But I’ve done it. The final proofs for the last 4 volumes are being checked (for the 5th time) right now and the final books will be shipping from the States (yes, it’s cheaper for me to order books from the States and pay shipping than to print them here – in the miniscule quantities I can afford) by the end of March. It's not all plain sailing of course, I appear to have managed to bring the mighty Amazon to its knees as we are currently in constant back and forth regarding their inability to connect the right 'product links' between the ebooks and paperbacks. While this is mostly just a pain, it does give me something of a glow to realise that my ‘innovative’ approach is so innovative that Amazon didn’t have an algorithm to ensure a smooth ride! But hopefully we'll get this resolved soon and the customer will be none the wiser, able to enjoy a seamless transaction with just the click of a couple of buttons.
But most importantly, by the time we stand at Laurieston memorial on April 16th, I will have paid the best tribute I can think of to S.R.Crockett and his work. He’s in print again. Without a marketing budget the size of a small country, his work may well remain a niche market, but he’s out there.
And then of course there's that dirty word - marketing. I don't like marketing me, so another innovative approach was called for. I'll call it 'sharing' and/or setting up a 'community of interest.' It's not all about the money after all - content my friends is definitely king.
Working within my own micro time/money allowances I’ve set up The Galloway Raiders as an ongoing, online environment where people can find out more about Crockett and his writing, as well as the occasional ‘live’ event. We’re kicking off with a series of events from April 13th -18th which I’m calling the first ‘Raiding Party.’ It will involve me talking about Crockett, me reading some of his work (until and unless I can find someone with an authentic Gallovidian male accent) AND some of those readings will be as part of short walks (with picnics attached) in very locations Crockett wrote about. They won’t be strenuous walks, I’m still not up to that, but I am excited (and not a bit nervous) about getting out and about ‘live’ in Crockett’s Galloway. It’s every bit as much of a challenge for me as the whole publication enterprise. After that, I can co-ordinate The Galloway Raiders from my attic office. And hopefully as more and more people become familiar with Crockett’s work, they will get out into the Galloway hills in search of history, adventure and romance. That’s my tribute to Crockett and his legacy to us all.
If you were looking for the nuts and bolts of how you format and publish 32 volumes into ebook and print on demand paperback, I can answer those questions, but please give me a bit of time to get over actually doing it! It's bloody hard work, is my first response.
And if you can get yourself to Galloway the week before Easter it'd be great to see you.