See the full review on the Reviews page (or by clicking the image).
Not a review as such, but some great feedback (slightly condensed) from a clubmate who has just finished reading the book:
“Finished your book just now and really enjoyed it. I will admit to putting it down for a month or so as some of the first chapters on the early history of the sport were probably more for people with [a greater] knowledge of the sport. I loved the interviews, especially Boff and Rob Jebb who seemed more open about their love of the sport than some of the real greats. My favourite bits were the introductions to each interview where a starstruck Steve tries to conceal his excitement amid some mundanities of what he was up to that weekend. This is where your voice comes through best, more so than the personal stories where I felt you sometimes underplayed your own experiences (perhaps understandably given the achievements of the other characters). It’s obvious that you enjoyed writing it. You should be proud of a book which is both an authoritative history on the subject and an enjoyable read.”
It is actually difficult to get genuine comments from close friends so I appreciate the honesty shown here, and the trouble taken to given me that feedback.
Reviews of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ are starting to appear, and will be collected in the Reviews page of the blog. If you see any reviews feel free to let me know in case I miss them.
The first I came across was from Tim Kelly of Horwich CC on his blog. It concluded: “Nice one – a good job well done.”
The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald carried a review entitled ‘A book for all fans of the fells‘ on 19 Oct which suggested that it “is sure to please anyone with an interest in the noble sport of fellrunning.”
This week the Cumberland News printed a review that was poetically subtitled: ‘A flavour of the fell runners who carve out mountain paths of sheer grit’. Full review on the Reviews page (or by clicking the image).
EXTRA: Today I have also started a Resources page. I have added the map of the BGR route from the book here and a list course details for some of earliest established races with details of the length, ascent, and calculated ascent/mile (the version in book also has course records included).
This weekend I have been to Fred Holdsworth (Ambleside), Sam Read (Grasmere) and Bookends (Keswick) to sign copies of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’. They will be available to purchase at these three shops until they sell out, so get in there quick if you want one. Many thanks to Sarah, Elaine and Lucy for setting up signings and agreeing to feature the book in their shops.
In general sales are going well. Sandstone Press say that 420 copies (of the 1000 printed) have been ‘sold’ to various book suppliers from the distributor so far. I am hoping that when the reviews start appearing (several are awaited) sales will pickup even more.
Professor Alan Durant introduced the book and the author (images of self and from book):
The second file is my speech added to some slides (thanks Mike Cambray) taken on the day:
Some photos of the informal part of the launch (thanks MikeH, Angus, and other friends):
During the evening a continuous loop of slides was displayed mingling images from the book with scenes from my ‘hill’ activities over the years. See the slides here.
It was a very successful launch of the book.
Thanks to Sandstone Press and Middlesex University for their contributions to the evening. Some 50 people attended, with over 30 snapping up individually signed copies of the book. After we had cracked some wine, the proceedings continued with Prof Alan Durant laying out some of the background to the book, and to the author. Then I took the stage to tell a little more about the gestation of the book. It was also a great opportunity to thank some of those who had helped on along the way.
There was an issue with the videoing of the two speeches, and only the audio track was rescueable. That will be in next posting, along with a set of photos taken of the event. Meanwhile here is a taster [quality alert] that a friend recorded of part of my speech on their phone – which is now on YouTube.
The book launch takes place at Middlesex University tonight. Have been on tenterhooks as the books hadn’t arrived. So this morning there was great excitement in the office when the courier delivered copies. Here is the author proudly holding a copy freed from its packaging. After all this build-up it is nice to actually see a finished copy. I must say Sandstone Press have done a marvellous job in producing the book. Now to face the audience at the launch, and then await the first feedback and also any reviews as they appear. [NB: Kindle version is now available]
So, if you read the previous blog posting about why I wrote the book, you will realise it was just a tease at the end, as it obviously got accepted by some publisher or other. However, it has to be said that I was fully expecting a rejection over that first application, and then a long round of further rejections. But to my huge surprise the commissioning editor at Sandstone Press said “we are interested and my concern would be with the narrowness of the subject. I would hope to see it extended into more general fell running, its history, characters and events.” Even then it was not an acceptance. Swallowing any pride I might have had, I thought about it and decided to re-write the synopsis to encompass this change and re-submitted it to them. The response this time was “Thank you for such a thoughtful and positive response to my comments. Sandstone Press would indeed be interested in this book. Do it well and I am very confident that we will accept it.” So, positive but still no deal. With hope in my heart, and still no idea if I could deliver, I set out on researching the revised manuscript on 13 June 2011. In December 2012 the first draft of the manuscript went to the publisher, and was reviewed anonymously by their ‘reader’. Three days before Christmas I received an acceptance email (with a list of changes in style, emphasis, etc from the review) and a draft contract. The rest as they say is history. It has taken another 9 months to finish the text, make the changes, source the photos, get copyright approvals, edit, proof-read and agree all the peripheral stuff (cover design, index, etc). It is coming out in hardback and Kindle editions.
Over two years of researching and writing then, all in my spare time. The work flow turned out to much more random than I expected. Having revised the synopsis I now had a new set of chapters to work to. Initially I started working on the chapters that I had good leads to ideas and material for. On a family holiday in summer of 2011 I spent some very fruitful time in the public library in Kendal searching for secondary sources. I had now compiled an ever increasing list of books, articles, leads, etc to follow-up. A request to the FRA to be granted access to the archive of Fellrunner magazines fell on stony ground. A series of email exchanges included the statement that “the prospect of yet another book about fell running is not welcomed and the FRA Committee will not wish to co-operate in providing assistance. ‘Feet In The Clouds’ did no favours to the sport.” This remarkable rebuff did not stop me. Fortunately friends, and friends of friends, managed to supplement the copies of the magazine that I had in my possession, and research and writing continued apace. Networking with others in and around the sport produced many leads and connections. I was deliberately looking for a different pitch to both Studmarks on the summits, and Feet in the Clouds (both of which I acknowledge as trail blazers) so left them on my shelf and resisted referring to them, unless to check facts. My first saved draft manuscript file is dated December 2011 and it ran to 28,000 words (roughly a quarter of the end result). By now I was expanding my research and writing some of the more difficult chapters. As well as exploring more of Kendal’s excellent library resources, I was checking obscure book sources at the British Library and also press articles at the Newspaper Library (conveniently just down the road from where I work).
I soon decided that I wanted some personal perspectives as counterpoints to the historical stuff. Serendipitous openings gave me the opportunity to secure interviews with some significant players in the sport. My idea was to try to get to talk with a spread of runners that matched the themes of the book, and this all started falling in to place. By now I realised I was searching for my own ‘style’ of writing. So, it was time to show someone else and get some feedback. A first critical friend gave me some excellent feedback on structure and emphasis, and pointed out some of my most blatant writing quirks (which obviously weren’t SO blatant to me). A tidy, a re-shuffle and on I went. Later my second critical friend viewed the working manuscript and advised that their might well be more of ‘me’ to bring to the piece. Overcoming a reluctance to expose my modest fell running achievements to scrutiny I took this point on board. I think the end result is better for it, being a three-stranded story – the history of the sport, inter-weaved with reflections from some of the major players, and interspersed with some experiences of mine. As part of the process of content review and checking all the interviewees were sent the sections about themselves and corrected these where necessary. Sarah Rowell corrected me on a number of matters as part of her review, prior to agreeing to endorse the book. Various other correspondents also commented in places where they had expertise. It is with great sadness that I particularly acknowledge help in that way from John Blair-Fish – who passed away this last week. I had never met him, but he was very patient in pointing me in the right direction over certain matters in the early days of the FRA, particularly the Scottish aspects. So, thanks to all those who have helped me reach the point where the book is to be published in less than a week, and is available to order. Any errors that remain are mine, and mine alone ……. Now for that awful anticipation of the first reviews.
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from
T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding