I’m delighted to welcome the brilliant, and long time friend of the blog, Tim Atkinson along today to talk about his next book, the Unbound produced, The Glorious Dead. Here’s what Tim has to say about it…
“My book hit something of a milestone recently. It’s now 33% funded on Unbound – one third of the way to publication.
In case you’ve never heard of it, Unbound (the world’s first crowd funding publisher) basically allows authors to pitch their ideas direct to the public. Readers then decide what gets published.
The company was founded in 2010 by authors Dan Kieran, John Mitchinson and Justin Pollard. They realised that traditional publishing had become – for writers and readers alike – a stale and formulaic business-driven venture. ‘Put simply,’ they said, ‘there are lots of potentially great books we’re not getting the opportunity to read.’
My book – The Glorious Dead – is a book about the Great War. But it’s a war book with a difference – because the action only starts when the guns stop firing. There are no battles, no set-pieces, none of the clichéd characters (absurdly young subalterns, hoary old sweats) that might populate similar books, nor any of the Olde England Arcadia that comes through Blunden, Thomas and even Wilfred Owen.
As such, it is unlikely to appeal to the traditional devotee of Great War literature. Instead of guns, the soldiers now have picks and shovels. The narrative is almost inverted – from the creation of the iconic war cemeteries as the men clear the old battlefields and bury the bodies of fallen comrades, to the action of the killing fields as it appears in reminiscences and dreams. But there are secrets hidden on these Flanders fields – including one that is revealed only when a visitor from home comes searching… for the grave of one of the survivors!
I’ve supported Unbound for a long time as a reader and I was delighted to be accepted by them as an author. But I’d be lying if I said that crowd funding wasn’t bloody hard word. It’s a bumpy old ride, having to market a book before publication. But I’ve found the engagement with the reading public has been a real pleasure (largely – there have been a few exceptions). And – and here’s the real bonus – I’ve actually had conversations with people about my book that have changed what I’ve written. I’ve hardly had any conversations with anyone before about any of my books. And now I’m having them almost daily, and before the ink is dry, when I can do something about them. It’s wonderful.
There are drawbacks, as I’ve said. It takes a lot of time. But then, so does any publishing model these days. There also seems to be some confusion about what crowd funding books is about. My MS was assessed – twice – by Unbound before I was allowed to sully their Booker-nominated imprint. But to judge by the reactions of some people (including some ‘friends’!) you’d think what I’m doing is a cross between vanity publishing and pyramid selling.
Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Except with Unbound, that is. Because as a reader (and this is where I started) the real bonus of crowd funding books is the opportunity it gives you to be part of something, to help get a project off the ground and to have the chance to ‘talk’ to the author as s/he writes the book. As well as to make sure, of course, through your support and involvement that the book you really want to read gets written.”