Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Joy of Writing the Non-Fiction Book

I've had one of those magical moments this morning when the postman delivered a large brown parcel and inside were my ten author copies of my latest book.

It is often said (by us men who wouldn't know otherwise) that writing a book is like giving birth. Well if that is this case, then The Bluffer's Guide to Banking is way overdue, but in case you hadn't noticed, there's been a minor event in the world called a credit crunch, which has affected it's content (several times over).

It always surprises me how work and projects turn out when you're a full time writer and the Bluffer's Guide to Banking is a point in case.

The Bluffer's Guides are a series of books produced by Oval Books. From a writer's perspective they are slightly different to other books, because when they commission a book, they pay the writer a one-off fee and they buy the copyright as well. This is all clearly explained on their website They also list topics that they are currently looking for authors to write and one day I saw that they were looking for one on banking. Now having spent 8 years working for a large high street branch I thought I'd have a go.

I approached the company who asked me to write a sample piece of text and sent it in. Ironically, on the day my submission arrived someone else who'd discussed the same subject with them over a year ago, also submitted their sample. The publisher was obviously in a difficult situation, but understandably said that the job ought to go to the writer who'd originally approached them. Now many of you may see this as bad luck, but being an optimistic kind of guy, I didn't. I latched onto an offer that the publisher made. She said that she'd be happy to look at any other ideas I had. So naturally, I thought of some and made my approach.

I was chuffed to discover that she liked my idea for the Bluffer's Guide to Hiking, and I was then commissioned to write that (it will be published in Spring 2009).

Then, out of the blue, the publisher contacted me and asked if I would be prepared to work on the text of the Bluffer's Guide to Banking. Having looked at both of our initial submissions, the publisher felt that if I and the other writer collaborated on the text, we could produce a far better book. So suddenly, I was working on the Bluffer's Guide to Banking again.

The 'final' manuscript was submitted to the publisher towards the end of 2007 and was scheduled for publication in early 2008.

Then the Credit Crunch hit. Suddenly foreign banks were collapsing, there was a run on Northern Rock and the boring world of banking was suddenly in the limelight. And of course it didn't end there! More of the bigger banks needed Government support too! The text had to be completely revised. In the original version the biggest banking scandal was the collapse of Barings Bank caused by rogue trader Nick Leeson at a cost of £1.3billion. With the American Government bailing the American banks out to the tune of some $250 billion and the British Government bailing the British banks out with over £50 billion, the Barings £1.3 billion, was mere pocket money!

And every time we made an amendment to the text, something else would happen. The merger between Lloyds and HBOS was on, then it was off, then it was on again. In the original text there was no need to talk about the 'sub-prime market' yet in the new text we had to include it.

Of course, the fact that the banking industry has gone through so much turmoil (and still is), makes it ripe for publishing now. Hopefully the public will appreciate the humorous touch that has been added to this subject to make it an easy but enjoyable read. (If you've read my dog books, then you'll understand my weird sense of humour.)

So the moral of this story is: don't get despondent about rejections. Often they can lead to other projects. And just because your idea is rejected by somebody today, it doesn't mean that it won't work for them in the future.

Here comes the sales pitch:

The Bluffer's Guide to Banking is published by Oval Books.
ISBN: 978-1-903096-52-9
Priced £4.99

and will be available in all good bookshops and retailers soon.

Good luck.