When all's said and done; a final report on the project.
As the book posters are being shipped this week this brings the process of writing the book and the fundit campaign to a conclusion. This is a summary and report for my funders of how it went, along with the pros and cons of self publishing using this model.
Overall I think the project was a success – ‘1348: A Medieval Apocalypse’ was published in three formats as planned. These were
1000 Hardcopies (including 100 special limited edition copies)
(all rewards except posters have been sent out – if you haven’t received what you subscribed for please get in touch immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org)
As I have said before I really enjoyed writing the book - it was a great opportunity to research the topic on an in-depth level. It’s a rare opportunity, which I am very grateful to you the funders to have had. In the following report I have detailed some of the problems I encountered along the way. I have tried to be as honest as I can but this is not to in any way infer it was a negative experience but rather looking at what can be learned from it.
Having learned a lot along the way I will be changing some aspects before I engage in my next major project. The basic problem I encountered was one of time and space. After the fundit campaign closed, I had to disappear into a library for well over a year before I could come back with anything close to final draft. This was then limited by the amount of space available in the book (extra pages cost money and I was on a tight budget).
From my perspective there was also far too long between your original support in 2014 and when I produced the final product. That said there was no way I could have written the book any faster.
However my aim at the outset to produce regular updates also fell short of what I had hoped for. While I did produce several updates more often than not I felt that focusing on getting the final product out was the priority. This was a mistake on my part. The updates are all catalogued here http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/the-black-death/
Perhaps I could have adopted a more liberal approach and released material as I produced it but I was keen for the final edit to have fresh research. I am still not sure if this was the correct approach.
**Learning from this and future projects**
After writing 1348 A Medieval Apocalypse my preferred medium is definitely the podcast where research is released in smaller pieces on a regular basis.
Over the past few months I have focused on figuring out a formula to produce podcasts on a weekly basis. Having cracked this my next major project which will be on the Great Famine will be delivered in a very different manner than ‘1348: A Medieval Apocalypse’.
That research will be released in a weekly podcast rather than one book – (written scripts will be available along with bonus material not available in the podcasts.). This will allow regular engagement with the audience given the show will be published weekly.
This format will also give space for a greater level of detail. For example my forthcoming series on the Great Famine will be around 20-25 hours long in total (released over a year) whereas ‘1348 A Medieval Apocalypse’ was 5 hours long. In words that's around 45,000 vs. c.225,000! I will have more news on that at my blog www.irishhistorypodcast.ie
In terms of ‘1348 A Medieval Apocalypse’ – here’s how it has gone so far.
Over all the book has sold well – over half the print run is gone (which is not bad by any standard). Over 50% of these sales have been through launches and talks. Sales through shops and online have been slower than I anticipated but I think my original estimations were a little high. Nevertheless the book should be sold out in a few months.
The audiobook and the eBook/kindle have sold well beyond my initial expectations.
**Problems and pit falls of self-publishing**
Self Publishing has been transformed by the internet as this project has shown. However it is not a panacea to the problems presented by publishing in general as its often proclaimed. While it gives the writer more control and removes the publishing house as a gatekeeper it definitely brings its own difficulties. These include:
When self-publishing you are essentially a project manager. There are companies who will take your script and sort out printing which removes a lot of this stressful work. However in an effort to cut down costs I took this on myself. Synchronising deadlines between my own writing, designers, editors, indexers, printers etc. takes effort and time. It’s not what I wanted to be doing a lot of the time but it still had to be done. Over all in my experience it paid off to do this myself.
**Distribution & Promotion**
Distribution & Promotion is without doubt the biggest problem when self-publishing. When authors use a publishing house they have agreements with distributors who automatically take the book. The same is not the case with self-published material.
There are distribution companies who do take self-published books. Unfortunately the largest one in Ireland has turned down '1348: A Medieval Apocalypse' (they gave no reason). Luckily my access to an audience through my blog and podcast has made up for this.
Aside from the actual sales themselves shipment has been not without problems - five books have been lost in the post so far (which is a pretty high rate although two were to literally the far side of the world).
Any project has its hidden costs and publishing is no different. I had done a fair bit of research before I began the project so I was roughly aware of what they were but they do add up (and eat into profits). Everything from editing, indexing, getting ISBN numbers, web hosting all involves costs. (I have to say though I was very lucky to have very creative and talented mates who helped out at every step.)
Getting reviews in major publications has been difficult for example many newspapers including The Irish Times generally refuse to review self-published books as a rule.
If you are interested in self-publishing or writing and have questions get in touch. If there are large numbers I might organise a google hangout and do a Q & A on line. In the meantime don’t hesitate to get in touch at history@Irishhistorypodcast.ie.
Finally thanks again for your support
Final Reward and an update.
This is just quick update on how the book is going and how to get your final reward.
To date I have organised eight launches of ‘1348: A Medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death in Ireland’ across the island. From Belfast to Cork, the book has been received well and I hoping to do a few more before the year is out.
The book is now available in select shops and is also available through amazon, kennys.ie and my own site www.irishhistorypodcast.ie. With half the current print run already gone, I expect the book will be sold out by Christmas!
Before winding up this campaign I would like to thank you for your support. I am really grateful for the opportunity to write a book in what was a new, exciting and enjoyable process.
I have printed a special book poster for all funders. To get this reward send your mailing details to email@example.com by October 1st.
Thanks again for your support
I am delighted to invite you to the launch of
1348: A Medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death in Ireland.
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: The Cobblestone Pub, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Date: Thursday 19th May.
As you are the publishers of the book I would be honoured to have you there. I will be speaking alongside Dr. Eve Campbell, one of the editors of the book. During the launch there will also be a few tunes from some of Dublin’s finest singers. It's shaping up to be a great night.
Thank you for your support over the last 18 months its been an amazing journey and one only possible with you support.
I will be posting the special editions to funders who chose that option next Friday and Monday.
I have been in touch with you all in the last two weeks about the audiobook. If you have not received the audiobook please get in touch now at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Apocalypse is upon us...
This update includes
➢ Progress to date
➢ Release Dates
➢ The chance to bring the plague to a town near you!
I have finished the final draft of “1348: A Medieval Apocalypse” and it’s currently in the hands of my copy editor. In coming weeks artists and designers will finish the artwork before the book goes to the printers. Hard copies will be available in May (I hope to have copies to the funders before this). The audiobook will be out in the next four to five weeks.
It has only been through your support (and patience) that I have been able to take the time needed cover this topic with the detail needed. I am very grateful.
It may have taken six months longer than I anticipated but I am satisfied you will be happy with the final product.
The journey of writing this book has been fascinating from start to finish. I have long been interested in historical fiction but the reality of life in 14th century Ireland proved far more disturbing at times. This brief account gives a flavour of the warfare in the 1350s and what you can expect from the book.
In 1359 the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles lay siege to Newcastle in East Wicklow. The stubborn Anglo-Norman constable Nicholas de Bathe refused to yield the castle. In an effort to ‘persuade’ de Bathe, the Gaelic attackers produced his two brothers threatening to execute them if he did not relent. Brotherly love only went so far in this harsh world and de Bathe still refused. The next message he received from the attackers was the heads of his brothers.
This is just one of hundreds of accounts that I have woven together in a fascinating history that covers life in Ireland between 1315 and 1360 centered around the Black Death of 1348.
Bringing the plague is coming to a town near you.
Through May, June and July I will be launching the book in a series talks across Ireland and hopefully one or two further afield.
So far I have confirmed these locations.
The tour opens at the Cobh Readers and Writers Festival on May 14th at 2 p.m.
Dublin (2 Dates so far confirmed Venue and Time T.B.C.)
If you are involved in a local group or society in your area, I would love to give a talk on this fascinating topic. If you are interested, get in touch at history@Irishhistorypodcast.ie
Finally the winner of the title competition for naming the book is John O’Reilly. The title I have settled on is 1348: A Medieval Apocalypse with a byline of The Black Death, War and Famine in 14th-Century Ireland.
Update, Competition and Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas. I hope you and yours have a great time whatever way you celebrate the holiday season.
In the last update I mentioned I had hoped to get the book to you by Christmas. I made a huge effort to meet this deadline and I am disappointed that I am now going to miss it.
The previous draft (finished nearly two months ago) was in need of major edits. While these are now complete, editing, proofing, recording etc alone will take several more weeks.
I am sorry about this further delay but I think its best to do it right. In the meantime you might this podcast which looks at foods available for Christmas dinner in the Middle Ages http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/podcast-a-christmas-feast-in-medieval-ireland/
So what’s the new deadline?
Mid January - Start recording the audiobook.
Late January/Early February - Release of the audiobook.
Late January – Copy editing of text for the print copy.
February – Design and type setting of the print copy (this is essentially laying out the book)
March – Go to print
Finally last but not least is the competition. While it may be late in the day the book needs a new title.
Over previous updates, I mentioned that the book covers more than just the Black Death. I felt setting the context was very important. Therefore it covers Ireland’s turbulent history between 1315 and 1360.
My editor however has suggested the original title ‘1348, A Medieval Apocalypse – The Black Death in Ireland’ is too narrow. Its needs to be broader, so I am asking for your help.
I am looking for suggestions for a new title and the winner not only gets accredited in the book but gets a free signed copy of my last book “Witches Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, Life in Medieval Ireland” as well.
The new title needs to include the following:
Some reference to the fact that the book covers the decades before the Black Death when famine and war stalked Irish society. However I would also like it to reference the Black Death as well, given it’s the main theme.
I am also trying to avoid academic language, as lots of folks find this alienating. So if you can encapsulate that in a few words (no mean feat!) email me at history@Iirshhistorypodcast.ie
Happy Christmas and I look forward to getting the text to you in Early in 2016
Thanks for your support
Book Update and mailing list problem
The book is nearly completed, but there is still some work left to do. You can read a full update on how its shaping up and find out when it will be available here http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/nearly-there/
Some of you have contacted me in recent days and have not received the various updates I have released over the last few months. I have uploaded all email updates into blog posts and they are available here http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/the-black-death/.
These include podcasts and articles. Some include extra material which will not be in the final draft of the book. My favourite is this 38 minute podcast 'Rebel Lord' on the Earl of Desmond Maurice FitzThomas http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/black-death-biography-2-maurice-fitzthomas-rebel-lord/
If you have experienced any problems and haven’t received these updates let me know at history@Irishhistorypodcast.ie
The campaign came to a close last week. Due to your generosity, the project not only reached the target but exceeded it, with a final tally of €6525!
The coming months will be an exciting time as the book takes shape. You will be receiving regular podcast updates about my research as well as the rewards (I will be in touch with all of you in the coming weeks about your rewards).
As a mark of gratitude you will also be receiving a bonus free copy of my audiobook on Brian Boru, Ireland’s most famous high-king. In the meantime you can hear my most recent podcast here http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/podcast-grubs-up-food-in-medieval-ireland/
Thanks again for your generosity and support.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.