Some news tonight of something that I never really thought would happen. The kind of thing that happens to others, not a French teacher from Yorkshire. But it has.
I am delighted to announce that earlier today I signed on the dotted line…
…and that The 35 Degrees: Tarifa to Nordkapp on a Bike Called Reggie will be published by the travel literature specialists Summersdale. As you can imagine, I am over the moon.
When I cycled from southern England to southern Italy in 2010 I had no intention of writing a book about my journey but I did keep an online blog. It was the same blog that has now, some six years later, morphed into CyclingEurope.org. Sally, a friend who was heavily pregnant with her daughter during the summer of 2010 read every single word that I wrote. When I saw her again after the birth she encouraged me to write about my adventures in a book. I laughed off the suggestion and didn’t follow her advice. The following year I met up with Sally just before the Easter holidays and once again she encouraged me to put pen to paper. I can still hear her words:
“You really should write about it before you forget all the details,” she scolded.
With no great plans for two weeks during those Easter holidays I started to piece together the blog posts that I had created at the time of the cycle to Italy and write a book. I never expected that my interest would last more than a few days. But it did. As I rewrote the journey – I made a point from the start, as I continue to do today, of not using any of the words I wrote at the time – I found the writing process to be a fascinating one. Not only was it giving me the chance of reliving the journey but also of filling in the historical, cultural, political and geographical gaps that had been left unanswered at the time of the cycle.
Several months later I had written a completed manuscript. Choosing a name for the book was much more difficult than I thought but, after various possibilities were discounted, I decided upon ‘Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie’…
…and I set about marketing the book as an eBook via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP.
Those who downloaded the book liked what they read and I made a paperback version available via a company called Completely Novel. Self-publishing in the era of print-on-demand technology is no longer ‘vanity publishing’ as no great expense is required to make a physical copy of the book. A few months later I updated the cover on both the eBook and the paperback but, for some as yet unexplained reason, Amazon suddenly took exception to my use of the term ‘Good Vibrations‘ (despite them selling many other books with the same title). I thought long and hard about a change of name but in the end I just dropped the ‘Good Vibrations’ and the book became simply ‘Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie‘ with an updated cover.
I thought that might be the end of it but in the back of my mind was lurking the thought of completing a second cycle but this time doing so with the intention of writing a book. I did just that and in the late summer of 2013, with much proofreading assistance from friend Zoe, I published the second book, ‘Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie‘.
For both books I had gone through the motions of trying to find a publisher only to discover that I first needed a literary agent who would then find a publisher… I seemed to be doing OK by myself so although it would have been nice, my level of disappointment when I was repeatedly rejected was diminishing. Self-publishing does have its benefits, chief of which is being in charge. Before the second book was made available, I decided to find someone who would be able to give the covers of both books a more professional ‘look’.
I first noticed Andy Mitchell‘s work on a poster that he had designed for an event at which I spoke prior to the arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire in the spring of 2014. This is what he had created:
It was exactly the kind of thing I was looking for for the covers of the books. I contacted him and a couple of months later he had produced the current artwork for books one and two:
Would that be the end of my publishing story? Of course not…
All good things come in threes (no?) and I was keen to finish my trilogy of European cycles and books. I had cycled from England to southern Italy and then from southern Greece to southern Portugal. What could beat that? How about a cycle from the southernmost point of Europe to the northernmost point? Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway. I did just that during the summer of 2015.
The third book in now being written – I’m about halfway through – and, as before, I decided to go through the motions of sending the initial section of ‘The 35 Degrees‘ to a select number of agents and publishers whose contacts I still had from previous rejections. In anticipation of rejection, Andy Mitchell got busy creating the artwork for book three…
… and I busied myself with writing.
And then, last week I received an email from Summersdale. Was I still interested in them considering the book for publication? (Of course!) A few days later I was offered a deal. And today I signed the contract.
So, after five years of being a self-published author, I am about to become a published author. As exciting as it is terrifying, I have much work to do to ensure the manuscript is delivered by the autumn. However, there is bad news. Bad news of sorts. My intention was to self-publish the book on October 1st in time for Christmas. I’m afraid that for excellent reasons of a quality editing procedure, cover design – yes, there will be a new look for book 3 – and marketing, ‘The 35 Degrees‘ will not be available until spring 2017. I do hope that I can create something of real quality and that the wait will be worth every second.
Thank-you to the many people who have helped me through the journey of the last five years. Your decision to read, review and offer supportive advice about books one and two has helped put me in the position where I find myself today. It is very much appreciated.