Tim Atkinson is Unbound!

Today I’m featuring a guest post from my blogging friend, Tim Atkinson. Tim is one of the very first bloggers I ‘met’ in the virtual world of blogging, and his blog, over at Bringing up Charlie, is a much more organised, informative, and generally prize winning one than mine.

As well as blogging and parenting, Tim finds the time to write books, proper books with covers and everything.

Recently he started a new project. His latest book is to be called The Glorious Dead, and he has hooked up with the innovative publisher Unbound to write it.

Unbound work in a completely different, and I think brilliant, way than most publishers and Tim is going to tell you about it in this first of his two guest posts for me.

Here’s Tim, stopping off here as part of his blogging tour, to talk about Unbound:

Writing is a lonely business. Just me and the computer, or a piece of paper. Even the research I’ve done has usually been in quiet places like the Imperial War Museum archives where a smile and a nod to one of the curators is about as far as social interactions get.
I’m not complaining. I like my own company. And I’ve had half-a-lifetime of working in one of the noisiest, most sociable environments (a school) there is. But…
You never catch anyone reading anything you’ve written. (Well, I don’t!) Reviews (on Amazon, Facebook) are nice and occasionally someone will actually send me an email telling me what they think and sometimes it will even be positive. But that’s after the fact and whether they love it or loathe it, it’s too late for me to change it.
What I needed, I thought, was some way of involving readers as I write. There are people (of course) – long-suffering friends and family members – who agree to help by reading drafts, correcting proofs and commenting on plots. But wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow publicly declare what you were thinking of writing and see what people made of it? Where you could pitch direct to the reading public and – furthermore – get their feedback on your work-in-progress?
Well, that’s where Unbound comes in. They’re the world’s first crowdfunding publisher and they’ve enjoyed huge success (winning industry awards and nominations for prestigious book prizes) since they were founded almost six years ago.
I’d actually pledged for several books on Unbound long before approaching them with one myself. When they first launched I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I soon realised that there were (potential) books up for grabs that I was never going to see in Waterstones or on Amazon but which were books I really wanted to read. The next step – to pledge, to support them in advance – was obvious.
And that’s how it works. Authors pitch their ideas direct and if readers like what they see, they pledge. It’s a bit like buying the book before it gets written (in order to make sure it is)!
But it’s also more than that. Because while you (the reader) wait for me (the author) to get down to the writing, I can keep you entertained by giving you a tour of my shed. Yes. My shed. It’s a virtual shed. I suppose it’s a bit like a blog: I blog about the book, what I’m doing, how it’s going and so on and you – the reader – can talk to me, tell me what you’re thinking, advise me, make suggestions.
It’s already happened. If you take a look at my pitch video on Unbound (sorry for the bags under my eyes, the kids had been ill…) you’ll see it makes use of a photo, taken in 1919, on one of the old Flanders battlefields. It’s a photo that pretty much sums up where the book is set, and what the main characters are doing. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that and hopefully I’ll be telling you all about the plot in a later post. But the photo itself was especially intriguing for one reader, who enlarged it and spotted that two of the works team were wearing VC medal ribbons.
Now, one VC among a Graves Registration Unit exhumation party would be rare. Two, frankly, is so unlikely as to be impossible. Clearly the photo was staged but could it be, we speculated, that this was one of the teams responsible for the exhumation of the Unknown Soldier, whose body now lies buried in Westminster Abbey? And that’s the kind of wonderfully rewarding conversation that makes Unbound really rock for me as an author.
Of course, there’s a downside. Or at least, there is for me. If you’re not Terry ‘He’s not The Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’ Jones or Raymond ‘The Snowman’ Briggs or Andy Hamilton or Katy Brand or Shaun ‘Letters of Note’ Usher (fellow Unbound authors, to name-drop a few) then it can be hard – damned hard – to get the crowdfunding ball rolling.
Which is why I’m here this morning, at Katy’s invitation, spreading the word far and wide and asking you if you could do the same. At the moment the book is 17% funded – respectable enough, and moving in the right direction. But in need of a shove.
I really love Unbound and the opportunities it’s already given me as an author. And I love Unbound as a reader for bringing to the world a whole host of excellent books that might not otherwise have been written. They’re not cheap. But they’re all extra-special editions, books as things of beauty, lovingly designed and typeset, printed and bound.
You might get more for your money if you shop online, but you probably can’t get anything better. If you pledge you not only get the book but you get an insight into it as it’s written. And, of course, you get your name in the book as well.
A patron of the arts. For as little as a tenner.

If you are interested in supporting Tim’s novel, you can do it here. I did it. It took no time at all, and it feels brilliant to be supporting a book I want to read and an author I want to champion. It’s properly empowering. Give it a go.

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