I started 2019 with a pledge to publish a new book. Well I’m a lot of the way there, but there’s been a hiccup and I wanted to give a brief update.
As I said in January my working title was Stories from the Aft Oar and my chapters were based on stories I had heard while fishing, principally from the skipper of the boat who was always on the aft oar. But every time I mentioned the title I ended up having to explain myself. Several offered other suggestions but it was Carrick on Suir poet, Michael Coady, who really set it out for me recently and offered an opinion that I thought made a lot of sense. Since my blog name is now so recognisable and does exactly what it says on the tin, why not use it as the title. I had to agree.
Changing the title meant a slight rewrite of the chapters and I needed to tweak the introduction; and at this point I think it reads very well. I have twenty three chapters and the lay out is as follows
Although the time and effort that is going into the writing is the biggest challenge, another stumbling block has been the location of original photos. I have secured several from the National Library of Ireland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Scotland. Brendan Grogan, Andy Kelly and Brian Cleare have also come to my aid. I had hoped to secure some others but the costs were prohibitive.
One real boost was a call from John O’Connor who was able to supply me with an original Annie Brophy image of the Spit/Spider Light at Passage East, and subsequently Charley McCarthy sent me on a copy of the blueprint of the structure which nearly blew me away. Its probably too large to include in the book but I must try to get it displayed, perhaps for heritage week.
The cover has caused some problems too. I had originally opted for a smashing photo by local photographer Tomás Sullivan who did so much great work to support my first book. The feedback was not positive however, as it was thought it would be too similar to the first book and cause confusion. I had considered a wonderful black & white image of the Portlairge by Brendan, but as the publisher recommended colour I may go with an image of the Alfred D Snow supplied by Brian Cleare.
All these issues were surmountable with time and energy and good will. But the one issue I could not beat was funds.
I had hoped to get some funding towards self publishing the book; about €4,000 for the costs of photos, proofing, printing and launch. I thought I’d made a fairly good submission to the Creative Waterford fund and looked forward to a welcome boost to the project this week. Alas it was not to be. I already knew that our maritime heritage was fairly low on the agenda nationally, let alone locally, but I had hoped that given the cultural value of it to a port city I might have made the grade. I was surprised at how heavy the rejection hit me, but with a good nights sleep i’m past it, and on to plan B or perhaps C.
Plan B is to try secure an established publisher such as Penguin or O’Brien Press etc. I had tried this earlier on and got one rejection from Mercier. But the real reason I held off sending any more was not fear of rejection but rather a requirement from the others that the book be completed. It will be by this weekend, after Deena has helped me with another proof read (make that about four!)
Plan C, if required, is to basically strip everything back in terms of scale and try self finance. I was doing the numbers today and although I had planned for 800 copies I could reduce this to 500 perhaps, although this saves relatively little. I could reduce the number of photos…a real disappointment, and forgo the professional proof reading. Another hit could a proper placename map. The version on Before the Tide Went Out was a self effort and fairly crude. I had also some ideas for the launch, that in hindsight were just frills that can be done without.
But for now unfortunately, it’s back to watching this space. I’ll get there eventually, and it will feel all the more sweet when I do.