The timetable of writing and publishing Aranrhod

I began writing Aranrhod in August 2005. I researched and plotted that autumn and finished a first complete draft after 6 months of virtually doing nothing else. Some days – many days – I would write (tap on my laptop) from after breakfast till suppertime, stopping for food and other essential duties. I find it hard to do more than one thing at a time, and by February I simply had to get on with organising my Russian choir’s spring tour.

After the tour, in June 2006, which had been a long 7 weeks affair, I was exhausted and the last thing I felt like was getting back to my novel. In its existing form it was not very good. Especially the last third. It needed a lot more work, but you know how it is when something seems like ‘last year’s project’.

I was a member of Dave Haslett’s website ‘ideas4writers’. When you’re trying to be a writer, you join all kinds of organisations, subscribe to various websites, anything that ‘might come in useful one day’. The annual subs are never a lot – Dave’s certainly weren’t – and such sites and orgs can dispel the bugbear of being a writer, which is loneliness.

I’d never used any of the hundreds of ideas that Dave came up with every month, his famous lists of What Ifs, but I’d always liked the tone of his site. Then in August of that year, 2006, Dave announced that he was ending the website, at least as a subscription service. Instead he was going to start a small, ethical publishing business. There’d been a lot of debate on the site’s forums about the state of the publishing business, which was becoming an arm of the entertainment industry, concentrating on celebrity authors and TV spin-offs.

As soon as I saw how he planned to operate, I jumped in and asked if my book could be the first on his list. And so it was. This was the incentive I needed. I couldn’t let his editor see my book as it was – ugh! I got hold of a list of the no-no words, like ‘seem’ and ‘really’, and went through it to tighten it up. Then I rewrote large chunks, especially in the second half, especially the ending.

After a second autumn, therefore, devoted to writing this book, by mid-November I was ready to hand it to Jenny, Dave’s editor at that time. She was more than thorough, Jenny was creative, her biggest plea being for me to ‘make MORE of this!’ as I had a tendency to underwrite big moments. We had a lot of laughs. We did have Christmas off, if I remember, and she was ill for a while, so we finished the editing by the start of February 2007. Goodness, that’s this year! It seems like twice or three times that long ago, so much has been crammed in since then.

Since Olga had invited me to sell Aranrhod on her choir’s spring tour, I had a serious deadline of April 14th. So Dave and I had to get the edited draft ready for publication in just a couple of months, and I hadn’t even decided on digital PRINT-ON-DEMAND (POD) or litho printing – which would mean committing to a minimum 1,000 print run. Then we had to settle on the book’s dimensions, margins, font, not to speak of the front cover design, back cover colour and blurb, spine design, and what about the illustrations I wanted for each of the three Parts and 30 Chapters? All in two months? You’ve got to be kidding me, and I still don’t know how we did it.

What I do know is we were often emailing one another till 2am, even 3am. And before we could do any of that, Dave insisted on going through the whole text, giving it ‘a final polish’. Okay, I could understand a quick once-over with a duster, but Dave got out the brasso and the toothbrush and ‘polished’ every nook and cranny of that text!

Meanwhile a photographer friend of Dave’s had recommended an artist for the cover, so soon Imogen’s emails were added to the pile, as well as Lili Bagby’s who was doing the chapter heading illustrations.

But we survived and everything was done and it went to the printers as a pdf file.

That’s when they informed us that they’d run out of the paper we wanted! After all that effort. The next day they rang Dave to say they’d searched the warehouse and found enough of a slightly different paper – but it turned out to be a better colour and quality, so panic over.

On April 12th, my wife’s birthday, two days before the tour began, she and I went to the printer’s near Cirencester and collected the 1,000 copies – 1,004 actually. So, 20 months from start to finish. Aug 05 – Apr 07. Little did I know it, but the fun was now about to begin!

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One Response to “The timetable of writing and publishing Aranrhod”

  1. What is it like to publish your book with ideas4writers? « ideas4writers Says:

    […] is it like to publish your book with ideas4writers? I would like to recommend this article by Geoff Anderson, author of The Legend Of Ararhod, who explains how he wrote the story, why he […]

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