Tag Archives: publishing

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.

Sunday 20th January – Don’t Shoot the Chick, Stab it and eat it as well

Hooray! I have finally finished my essay.  I am so impressed of me!  It’s not great, but it does the trick and the most important thing is that I no longer have to spend any time thinking about dung, which means neither do you.  It’s wonderful when a plan comes together.  Jason has read it and said that given the fact that he hates art and that he hasn’t seen the picture, it makes a surprising amount of sense, although whether he’s saying that just to get me to stop moaning on about dung all the time is debatable.  Nevertheless, the fact that I have produced some kind of finished artefact surely deserves some kind of celebration dear reader.  Jason bought me a lemon cheesecake from Sainsbury’s as my special end of dung treat.  I have just had a large slice with my umpteenth cup of coffee of the day and I am fairly buzzing along with joy.  Most of it is chemically induced due to the extraordinary amounts of caffeine and sugar, but what the hell.  Beggars can’t be choosers and there are worse ways to go.

Today has been a very Sunday like Sunday, so I predict that this will be one of my shortest entries ever.  I usually set myself a goal of 2000 words per day as this is good training for when I finally get my pencil sharpened and limber up to write a novel.  Today though I might just treat us all and let me go with a fine and a warning not to do it again.

I woke up with a crashing headache this morning, which spent most of the day trying to turn itself into a migraine, which was most upsetting.  I don’t get them very often, but when I do it’s a bit spectacular.  By half past two this afternoon my vertical hold was going and my vision was on the fritz.  These are the ones I particularly hate.  I’ve only been getting them in the last few years and they’re just awful.  First I start to feel really spaced out, then I get all sorts of weird visual distortions with little wing shaped lights floating in front of my eyes and things rolling upwards when they should remain still.  It’s very disconcerting.  Then I get holes in my line of vision, so suddenly there will be a rip in what should be a normal picture.  After that I start to feel sick.  Then I get head pain, and then I usually vomit. 

It’s all deeply disturbing.  Oliver Sacks, the great brain bloke suffers from migraine.  He wrote a book about it where he suggested that mystics and visionaries who thought they were having religious visions brought about by an excess of loving Jesus were probably just having hideous migraine.  I certainly don’t think I’m being visited by Mary.  Mostly it feels like I’ve had a very dodgy ‘e’ and I’m about to pay the price.  Luckily for me, I managed to nip it in the bud quite successfully today with massive amounts of pain killers and an hour long soak in the bath with all the lights turned off and some lavender oil sprinkled around.  It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a punt, and today it paid off.  It has left me feeling rather spaced out and a bit disconnected.  This is the mood in which I managed to finish writing my essay.  I haven’t sent it off yet, as I think that it really is quite important that I knuckle down and read it again tomorrow in case it just turns out to be a string of random words held together with bits of cheesecake.  Now that would be depressing.

I have read a lot of stuff by Oliver Sacks, and always thought he was a lovely man.  Then I met a friend of Jamie’s who was in publishing.  He had worked with Sacks over one of his books and I got terribly excited until he told me that Mr. Sacks was a really horrible man.  I felt all deflated like a weary party balloon.  It’s horrible when that happens.  Now, whenever I read something by him I always think about the fact that he might be horrible and it kind of puts a damper on things.  To be fair to Oliver, he might have just been having a bloody awful day and wasn’t in the mood to chat about book publishing.  I like to think that this is what happened, because otherwise it would be too sad.  It would be like finding out that the Pope likes torturing kittens for a hobby or something.  Although, that might make him a bit more interesting to me than if he were just a standard Pope.  Not that there is really such a thing as a standard Pope, what with the fact that at least one of them used to be a girl, and another one liked to dip heretics in wax and string them up in his garden and set fire to them, so he could wander round his garden at night illuminated by burning sinners.  Nice.

So, what else happened today?  I was a good housewife and scrubbed the kitchen, caught up with the laundry and cooked two hot meals, both of which were eaten without undue force and moaning.  I feel that needs to be commented on, as it is a rare occurence and the children might one day read all this and feel that I have been unfair in labelling them hideous varmints when at times they were actually quite pleasant.  This means the balance is now slightly redressed, although the jury is probably still in favour of the varmint theory for now.  More work needs doing.

We spent much of the morning watching a wonderful Doris Day film with Rock Hudson called Send Me No Flowers.  Rock and Doris are happily married.  Rock is a wild hypochondriac who gets convinced that his heartburn is actually heart failure and that he only has two weeks to live.  He decides not to upset Doris, and enlists his best friend to help him sort out his affairs and find her a new husband for when he finally shuffles off into the ether.  Doris thinks he’s having an affair because he’s behaving in such a mentalist way, and all hell breaks loose.  It is incredibly kitsch, very dated and utterly ridiculous, and just the thing to be watching on a wet Sunday morning in January.  The kids loved it and were very impressed by Doris’ hair.  I was a bit sad because Doris only wore hair ribbons and not her usual spectacular hats.  I was also a bit sad because I thought it was the one where she comes out all over in great big spots, but I’d got it mixed up with ‘That Touch of Mink,’ which I might now have to buy from Amazon as a special treat to me, just for being me.

Oscar still has nappy rash, and had a tantrum for forty five minutes this morning when poor Jason tried to change his nappy.  Thankfully he was so exhausted after that extravagant expression of rage that he had to go for a lie down and gave us all a nice break.  It’s swings and roundabouts you see.  He has resigned himself to the fact that he is only allowed bananas at the moment, although he has his eye on the pineapple that I’ve tried to hide at the back of the fruitbowl.  Turns out that hiding a pineapple is not as easy as it might sound.  it’s the spines…

Tallulah hasn’t cut off any more hair today, although she did come running into the kitchen to tell Jason that she had bought him a birthday present today.  It was rather sweet to begin with, and then it kind of unravelled a bit:

Tallulah:  ‘Daddy! Daddy! I’ve got you a birthday present, but you can’t have it until Wednesday.’

Jason: ‘That’s nice of you Tallulah.  Thank you very much.’

Tallulah:  ‘Well actually you can’t really have it on Wednesday.’

Jason: ‘Oh?  Why’s that Tallulah?’

Tallulah: ‘Because it’s a baby chick.’

Jason: ‘Don’t baby chicks come out on Wednesdays then?’

Tallulah: ‘Yes, they normally do, but I’ve killed this one.’

Jason: ‘Oh!’

Tallulah: With great glee: ‘Yes! I stabbed it with a knife.’

Jason: ‘Oh dear.  That’s not very good is it?’

Tallulah: ‘No it isn’t!  And do you know, all blood came out.  So then I had to shoot it!’

Jason: ‘Oh! That seems a bit excessive.  Surely you didn’t have to do that as well?’

Tallulah: ‘Yes! Yes I did!  And then I had to cut it up again.  Just to make sure it was really dead.’

Jason: ‘Well.  Chicks are only small, so I expect after that you must really have known it was dead.’

Tallulah: ‘Yes.  But to be sure I then had to eat it you see.  I ate it all up.  And now it’s in my tummy.  And that’s why you can’t have it on Wednesday.’

Jason: ‘Right then.’

Tallulah: ‘Yes.  I’m sorry about that daddy.  But it was delicious.  It tasted a bit like pig.’

So there you have it.  My fund for therapy now seems startlingly small and inadequate and we are once again left speechless at the complete strangeness of children and their ways.  I don’t think she’d ever make it onto the final of ‘Kids do the cutest things.’ somehow.  It’s more likely that Louis Theroux will end up doing a documentary on her one day called: ‘Tallulah – World of the Strange.’