Alec Forshaw's Self-Publishing Journey

Alec Forshaw’s Self-Publishing Journey

Author, Alec Forshaw talks about finding the inspiration for his book, ‘An Address in Bloomsbury’, his previous experience with publishing and why he turned to self-publishing.

I am lucky enough to live in a very old house in central London, very close to Great Ormond Street. Having retired from my day job as a town planner and conservation officer in local government, I set about researching the long and extraordinary history of the house, its occupants and the local area, with a view to a possible book on the subject. My idea was to call it An Address In Bloomsbury

I have previously had various books published, mainly about particular aspects of London, such as Smithfield Market, contemporary architecture, London’s open spaces and the City of London, using a number of different publishers such as Penguin, Heinemann and Batsford, depending on the type of book and its potential readership. Even with this track record of published books I always knew that it might be difficult to find a publisher to take on this latest project. I made a few enquiries and did receive some encouragement from Bloomsbury Publishers, who I approached, but they made it clear that for a small print run of a book with 120,000 words and lots of picture, the retail price would be at least £ 45. Nobody, I thought, would want to pay that, not even my friends! 

I decided to explore self-publishing options, and of the three firms I contacted, the Self-Publishing Partnership was the most responsive and helpful. Options and costs were carefully explained to me over the phone and followed up in writing, together with a clear and sensible timetable of the various stages of production from the initial submission of text and illustrations to the final delivery of the finished books. I was impressed by their attention to detail and quality. 

An Address In Bloomsbury is highly illustrated, with nearly 250 photographs, maps and drawings, in a mixture of colour and black-and-white, so that paper quality and image resolution were particularly important. So too was the design and layout, particularly the integration of illustrations with the text. In all these respects I was extremely pleased with the skill and care taken by the Self-Publishing Partnership in putting together a first-class product. 

I always knew that the book was really only going to be of local interest, and that I was going to sell and distribute myself. Deciding on how many copies to order was therefore a balance between a reasonable unit price and not having too many boxes of unsold books in my house. In the end I had 400 copies printed, which I actually sold within six months. The subsequent reprint enabled me to correct a few silly mistakes and add some extra material, all of which was handled with the utmost ease and efficiency by Douglas Walker and his excellent team.

I confess that I have not visited the Self-Publishing Partnership in their offices in Bath, but then I have not needed to, in a digital age where everything can be done remotely so easily. I would commend them very highly to anyone, experienced author or not, who has a project which need publishing. 

An Address In Bloomsbury, by Alec Forshaw, is available from online from Amazon, priced £ 20.00 plus P&P.

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