Editor’s Note: As Richard states below, his tome on timber technology is, indeed, nearing the finish line.
For some people it appears it’s easy to release a book. Publishers occasionally give the impression of falling over themselves to offer improbably favourable deals to those such as C-list celebrities for their as-yet-non-existent but soon-to-be-ghost-written vacuous blathering.
I don’t fit that category, but by 2014 my behemoth was near completion – nearly 180,000 words and more than 400 figures.
How to publish it?
Self-publish? Nope. I lacked the skills. It had to be a real publisher.
I didn’t expect finding a publisher would be especially challenging. My optimism, perhaps, came from earlier publishing experience. My woodworking articles had appeared in magazines since the 1990s. A first submission sold quickly at first attempt and success continued. All but one or two articles sold easily, sometimes twice – once in the U.K. and again in the U.S.
How hard could it be to sell a book? I was about to find out. There were possibly 10 unsuccessful attempts to find a publisher, a frustratingly slow process. It’s perhaps unwritten, but I’m convinced there is an ‘unofficial’ code of conduct between an aspiring author and a publisher. You send sample text to one and they sit on it for months, then they reject it. You move to the next publisher and do it all again. Try sending your manuscript to multiple publishers simultaneously – remember the ‘code of conduct’ – and word seems to get around the small world of craft publishers swiftly, and you’re blackballed by them all.
Eventually, a publisher bought the publishing rights, paid the advance and then … dissembled and prevaricated. A year later they changed their mind and relinquished the publishing rights. I was back on the dispiriting merry-go-round of publisher hunting and rejections somewhat softened by comments such as, “Great manuscript, but, er, not for us.”
Finally, a stroke of luck, or perhaps destiny – I don’t know. A couple or so years ago I asked Lost Art Press to review my manuscript. They expressed interest, but at that time were overwhelmed with ongoing projects. They felt it would be unfair to me to hold my manuscript for probably years until they could turn their attention to it, so they said I should try other publishers. Come spring of 2017, I’d unsuccessfully tried more publishers, and then contacted Lost Art Press again, explained the situation and, well, what was the worst that could happen? Another rejection maybe? I was taken aback: Their response was rapid and positive. And here we are, barely six months later, seemingly very near print ready.
— Richard Jones