Guy’s publishing journey 3

Guy, one of our group members, has been keeping us up to date with news of the book he’s been writing. Here’s the latest instalment.

In April 2020, I was asked via an out of the blue phone call to write a book on Espaliered fruit. I said I’d love to, but it was the wrong time of year (I wanted to start in the Autumn, when I would begin the pruning process and have an idea of what was needed). I asked if there any other titles she was after. She paused and then said yes, running off a long list of things that were needed. The one that caught my attention was Protective Growing. The art of growing things under-cover – or so I thought.

After a chat with the commissioning editor, I was given a year to research, collate, write, edit and re-edit my book. After months of blood sweat, tantrums and tears, speaking with wonderful professionals across many continents (who knew NASA was into gardening in such a big way?) I finished the book. That’s what I thought.

I sent it to the publisher, who passed it to the proofreaders to read it through. A few months later, I got an email with queries and comments. I reread what I had written, re-edited my book; finally, I had finished my book. I sent my corrections back.

How had such an idea of a finished book even come into my head? Next came the diagrams and images. They needed to be better, reshot, sourced at higher resolution, perhaps redrawn. My glossary, image captions and bibliography needed doing, rechecking, confirming.

I went out, reshot, reworked, re-imagined what I was trying to get across, all the while awaiting copyright permissions from contributors who had long since forgotten their part. Some wanted copies of what I had written, to prove it was no fools-errand. Others changed their minds, leaving me with a hole to fill.

I sent it all back to my publisher with a smile. Finished? Not quite.

Now came the cover images and cover info. I needed to make a decision on what images would best capture the true heart of the book. A book about hedges and greenhouses… here, I admittedly didn’t like their colour scheme, but it was non-negotiable. Their theme was across the range. Many, many other writers were busy finalising their books for the launch of a new series of gardening books!

So, after all that, I had finished? Not so fast! My final hurdle came exactly one year and nine months in. The index was still to be done, along with the final proofread, the final check of annotations and redrawn images, the final copyright checks. Phew. Another three solid days of reading, rereading, checking, noting, marking, removing.

Finally, I thought, if I send this back, it is finished. I was scared to. What if I missed something? What if I have made the world’s worst error for all to see? Misspelled a contributor’s name yet again? Got an image backwards? Used the wrong form of species?

I hesitated. Reread. Rechecked. Found more spelling errors. Re-marked. Finally, I sent it to my publisher with the confident boast I had gone through it with a fine-tooth comb!

Sit back, relax, I thought. I really, really, really enjoyed this experience. I was a bit sad. I will never have the same feeling again. Please the gods, let another publisher ask me to write them a book. Maybe I should write a book and send it to publishers, or get an agent, or, or?

Six hours later an email drops into my inbox entitled… “Queries from the proofreader. Please check through and advise accordingly.”

I smiled. The game is afoot!