Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Breathing new life into old manuscripts

December is the most productive time in our year.  We take ourselves off to our retreat on the glorious island of Mallorca and work our socks off for a few weeks!  Only when we are away from the telephone and the mundanity of everyday jobs can our minds be free to create.  What we produce will be finalised following our return and published in appropriate formats.

This year, we have at least four projects to work on.  One of these may be submitted to publishers or agents for consideration which is something we have not bothered doing for years.  However, the idea is extremely sound and is worth a go...or so we think at the moment.

Of the other three, two involve the resurrection of long-dormant manuscripts.  "The Dog Book" will be the main focus.  It has nearly been published under different titles and guises for about ten years.  Each time, the Itinerant Poet has decided it just wasn't quite right.  We even came close on a publishing deal on one occasion but apparently "episodic fiction wasn't in".

The second project is actually one of my own little indulgences.  I am going to epublish the Itinerant Poet's first children's novel.

In the Shadow of J.K. Rowling

We self-published "Leo's Magic Shoes" way back in 1999, long before the advent of digital printing and seamless use of "save as PDF" in Microsoft Word.  Back then, the files were converted for Pagemaker 5 before the local printer scanned in the images for us, produced the cover design and created the plates for the litho run.  The minimum run was 1,000 copies too!  It was not cheap.

Publishers were not interested in the manuscript.  The industry was in a Harry Potter feeding frenzy and a cute little story with mere magic shoes was not enough to sate its hunger especially as it was submitted by someone without a suitable sponsor to encourage anyone to lift it out of their slush pile.  We sold out of the 1,000 copies that same year and printed more.  We have long since sold out of those.

We re-released the book with some revisions, new illustrations and a new title to try to appeal to American publishers but alas to no avail.  We still managed to sell all of those 1,500 copies too.  The book has always been popular with children even though the adults selecting what they should be offered did not think it would be.

Digitally re-mastered

What has inspired me to bring it back?  The Itinerant Poet recently visited one of the first schools at which he worked in the late 90s, in the local village where we lived at the time.  The school bought five copies of the book.  In 2013, they were all still in regular use albeit looking a little dog-eared.  The children at the school today have no idea that the characters within were based upon my two eldest children who used to attend the school (they are now 23 and 21) and yet the appeal of the book endures.  Three of the books were "retired" as the spines had disintegrated but the other two live on...for the moment.  Their eventual demise is what moved me to consider creating a digital version for the digital age (hmm...that sounds a bit corny).  I don't want to see the book die out.

I may produce colour images for the inside pages.  This will involve doctoring the originals that were created in black ink by the artist Kirsty Munro.  I also have to hope that the original scanned TIFF files have not become corrupted or I will have to dig the hand-drawn copies out of the depths of the loft.

I may offer the finished article as a complete freebie on Kindle...

Chocolate Temptations

The original book contained a second, shorter story entitled "Another Quarter Pound of Chocolate Drops, please!"  The temptation to produce this as an additional publication may just prove too much for me!