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(POSSIBLY)WRITING A BOOK - ADVICE SOUGHT!

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by Nicholas Lightbown » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:55 pm

Hello all

I have been considering writing a reference work concerning the history and location of automobile manufacture in London - and its immediate environs - for some time now, but wondered what thoughts forumites have on this matter?

I'm not entirely sure of my motivations - other than a sincere passion for both London and cars! - but it certainly wouldn't be financial reward; perhaps an otherwise absent ego motivates (?).

I certainly don't possess any writing experience (other than professional reports and the very occasional press release), although would have no appetite to proceed if I wasn't to be published (I have no desire to 'self publish').

Would anyone care to comment on my half-formed idea?

NL
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by JamesE » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:58 pm

Go for it!
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by AH1951 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:45 pm

Do you have any specialist knowledge on this subject already, or are you going to have to Google everything and regurgitate it?
There are two established, highly regarded authors, that I know of, on this Forum: Keith Anderson and Richard Calver.
Why not direct your questions to them, personally?
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by Nicholas Lightbown » Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:58 pm

Thank you for early comments!

My - initial - thought was to dust off my old 'Georgano' as a starting point, amplifying on the more obscure marques via local history archives, before using our mutual friend 'Gary Google'!
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by AH1951 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:17 pm

Well you're too late to interview Georgano - he died on October 22nd!
(I had to Google him.)

http://thesahb.com/nick-georgano-1932-2017/

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by Keith » Sun Dec 03, 2017 9:16 pm

Nicholas Lightbown wrote:I certainly don't possess any writing experience, although would have no appetite to proceed if I wasn't to be published (I have no desire to 'self publish').


Self-publishing (coined as a term) these days generally means "electronic" publishing, the book to be read on a Kindle or similar E-reader. But a book about automotive history needs to be image-rich and thus really needs to be a proper, printed publication, indeed the book's success will be based on how good it looks as much as the authority of its text.

Thus I can understand you having "no desire to self-publish" as it is a very, very expensive proposition, with an outlay that will take many years to recoup. (Someone else on this forum may agree with me here.)

Obviously there will be a large financial outlay (if you actually added it all up) in the research, purchasing of images (or the use of the images), brochures and associated historical documents, travelling expenses, phone calls, etc, etc, and this does add up over the years it can take with proper research.

If you don't want to self-publish, you have to find a publisher. Good luck with that (and that's not meant to be sarcastic, just an observation on how difficult this will be for you).

Thus you have to "pitch" your project to this prospective publisher. This is where you do your homework and find publishers that are successful at publishing and marketing in this niche market. May not need to be an automotive publisher in this case, there may be publishers that specialise in London local/industrial history for example.

There is no need to present a "finished book" to the publisher; with this sort of book, the professionalism of your pitch, blurb, summary, examples of previously published work, examples of interesting and evocative imagery that will appear, will be what sways a potential publisher.

If you offer a successful proposal, you will be offered a contract, and then the hard work begins.

Your research needs to be "hands-on", if you rely on Google you will be called out on this very quickly, particularly when the publisher reads your submitted manuscript. So just use Google for the very basics of background information, dates, etc. In these days of the information super-highway, it's just as easy for people to check if your research is straight from Google, as it is for you to get your info from Google. (As has been demonstrated in this here forum more than once!)

So good luck with your project. If it's an itch that needs to be scratched, then go for it! If it's a subject that very close you your heart and you find this subject fascinating, then maybe others will find it fascinating also. But at the end of the day, if you're not prepared for the expense of self-publishing, then you have to convince a publisher that there is a viable market for your book. They are in business to make money remember.
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by Nicholas Lightbown » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:31 pm

Thank you, Keith, for your insightful comments and for sharing your knowledge. Appreciated!
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by MikeWilliams » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:38 pm

If it is something that interests you and its not being done for profit, then why not do it anyway? But you will need to undertake original research at all sorts of places around London and elsewhere, archives, libraries, record offices, individuals, organisations ... Google will be one of many ways to identify sources, it is not the source itself because it is light on detail, biased and full of errors. Research will be a lot of hard work over several years. But if you are interested in the subject then that will be a pleasure, not a chore. You will probably want to share small parts of the work in the form of magazine articles and letters, partly to tease out further information and partly to get publicity and become known to publishers.

THEN, when you have the bones of a publication including an outline plan with some sense of the scale, depth and scope of the work, THEN you might want to approach a publisher.

This is based on my experience as an amateur researcher and author of a few hundred magazine articles and one book (which took about 20 years), mainly on non-motoring subjects.

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by MikeWilliams » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:42 pm

Just noticed Keith's mention of a contract.

In my humble opinion, a contract binds you to that publisher, in return for an undertaking that they will publish in some form, and sometimes a subsidy on assumed future profits. Unless you need the funds to undertake research I cannot see why an author would do that.

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by Keith » Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:30 am

MikeWilliams wrote: Unless you need the funds to undertake research I cannot see why an author would do that.



Getting a contract means that you can continue to invest your time and money with the assurance that your work will be published.

A previously unpublished author is very unlikely to get an advance on royalties.

Finishing a book and then peddling it among publishers can be soul destroying; I'd much rather have a contract early on.

But what's your advice Mike, based upon your own experience?
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by MikeWilliams » Fri Dec 08, 2017 9:39 am

Maybe I was lucky Keith, but my publisher of choice was dead keen. On that basis I say research and write most of it first. Otherwise, s soon as others get to hear about it you will be under pressure to deliver, and that means stress or rushing and neither is good for the finished book.

But that was maybe 8 years ago and not a motoring book, so the market may have changed.

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by Keith » Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:30 am

Good discussion!
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by Yet another Keith » Fri Dec 08, 2017 11:49 am

This brings back memories. As a boy I was taught history by "Mr Georgano" in the late 1950s at a prep school in Staffordshire. I remember him as a quiet, kind master with a large collection of model cars.
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by MikeWilliams » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:25 pm

NL. I hope you are not put off by these comments. You say you would not be motivated if it was not published, but depending on the size of the finished work would you be happy with a series of magazine articles, or on-line publishing? Either put still put your work in the public domain so it would not be wasted.

I think this would be a fascinating subject for research. I guess Google is a start but I am certain you would soon be carried away and start looking through early issues of Autocar, Light Car, Engineering and a whole host of others which would doubtless unearth lots of things not known by 99.9% of your potential readers. Local libraries may be useful and council registration records can also be most revealing.

Go for it - please.

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by Dion » Fri Dec 08, 2017 6:58 pm

Renault had a factory in London in 1952:

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67 Interceptor 117/2610
68 Interceptor 115/2943
63 TR4, 67 Jag 420, 67 Chamois
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