My fifth book is co-authored, but unlike the other four is self-published, and is just out. I thought I would record what the latter part of the process of self-publishing has been like, as it was certainly interesting, and not perhaps what I was expecting. Covid-19 and Brexit both hindered things quite a bit.
It all started in November 2019, so has taken just over a year from idea to fruition. The book is a hardback celebrating the great fell and mountain photographer, Pete Hartley. The first ten months were all about (co-author) Denise Park sorting through some 60,000 photographic images and working with me to make a suitable selection of 400 or so to go in the book. This took countless hours of work, and many discussions about inclusions/exclusions. Having pulled together the necessary contextualising text and done a dummy layout in Word, we had the material ready to hand over to a graphic designer to produce the camera-ready artwork. On 29 October I posted the text file, and all the folders of original hi-res images into a Dropbox, and in effect handed-off the project for a while to a professional.
Before that we had already investigated and selected a printer. This was important to get right as the images needed quality paper and printing to show them off to best advantage. Fortunately, we were recommended to contact (and get a quote from) Latitude Press, in the Lake District. Having seen samples and had a warm welcome we agreed the quote with them. It gave me an extra good feeling that they were based in the Lakes, and had printed two excellent recent books about the area. Having said that the actual print works recommended by them was in the EU, but were likely to be able to turn the work around within an agreed 4-5 week window. [For those interested in the finer details of the book, I am happy to discuss if you want to contact me for further info on our particular print specifications. Below are details of the print company.]
Back with the layout phase, we were fortunate that our chosen graphic designer was also a fell runner and very sympathetic to, and in tune with, what we were looking for in the look and feel of the book. Again it is pleasing that Britas Design are based in the Lakes, just outside Keswick. The deal was that if we could get the camera-ready PDF files to the printer by 6 Nov we could have a 17 Dec delivery for the final copies of the books. A tough ask.
At this point (31 Oct) we decided on a process for accepting pre-orders of the book. Denise also researched post and packing options. We found a supplier of cardboard wraps and inner bubble wraps, which with postage were going to add £5 to the cost of delivering books to folk. We agreed a payment to a photographer for reproducing two of their photos of Pete, and quietly waited for progress/info on the layout.
We decided that we would advertise the book on 7th Nov which would have been Pete’s birthday, offering pre-orders. We had decided to deal with the payments for, and the despatching of, pre-orders ourselves – which added quite a burden, which mostly fell on Denise. We started sounding out publications for a mention, including Fellrunner and Trail Running magazines, and flooded every social media channel we could access with info on the book, and how to order. Meanwhile, we had missed the print deadline, but had received the first few pages from the designer.
By 16 Nov only a third of pages were done, so we agreed a new deadline of 29 Nov, which Latitude fortunately were happy to go with. This still allowed a new delivery date of 21 Dec, which was getting tight, but amazing to hear. We supplied them some pages to do a test print, to ensure we were happy with the result.
Even on 23 Nov we were STILL making small corrections to the text as we proof-read the pages as they came through to us. On 26 Nov we agreed the final proof copy, and the next day it was received in the Czech Republic at the print works. We were contacted by Latitude on 1 Dec that somewhere in the process of making the final PDFs an error had occurred in the cover layout and in the internal cut marks positioning. As they were unable to ‘rip’ the files to the press, they couldn’t proceed with our printing. We were already passed our deadline so this needed to be rectified as a matter of urgency or we would completely miss our newly allocated printing slot. Anxious emails and phone calls between Denise, the designer and Latitude Press ensued over the next 24 hours until Denise received an email at 13-31 on 2 Dec saying they had finally managed to ‘rip’ the files and now needed final approval to go to print that afternoon. This hiccup even more confirmed our wisdom of hiring a professional for the layout rather than trying to do it ourselves (which we did consider at one point). Now the fun started.
On 5 Dec we were informed that it would be two pallet loads, which would be delivered to Denise’s business address, in a small road in Clitheroe. A week later the news reported port delays, but we avoided the worst of these. Then the books were held in customs on 17 Dec. The packaging was all labelled and ‘postaged’ in readiness. TIP: buy your Royal Mail postage online,as it is slightly cheaper and lessens issues at PO itself.
We were then informed that the books would be delivered on a 40-tonne ‘international’ articulated wagon which didn’t have a tail lift, so the wagon sides would be raised and a forklift truck would lift the palettes off the wagon. This wasn’t the original plan! The international freight company then contacted Denise to say they had Googled her business address and were concerned that the wagon would not make it down the small road of Denise’s business address. A quick decision was made to have them delivered to her home address instead – but as Denise drove home to meet the wagon, unannounced roadworks had been set up outside her house with the road being closed to traffic. Another rapid decision had to be made – and it was decided to divert yet again to a delivery company based in Manchester where the books could be unloaded and reloaded onto a smaller English wagon.
Eventually, on 21 Dec, two palettes weighing one and a quarter tonnes of books were unloaded onto the road outside Denise’s business address, and Denise and her secretary embarked on carrying 94 boxes of books inside the clinic before the inclement weather could also add it’s toll. We had a distribution company booked (Despatch Bay) to deliver them in bulk into the Post Office system, and they did a marvellous job in that people started receiving them on 22 Dec. The designer, printers, delivery company had all worked wonders to get a good number of the books in people’s hands prior to Christmas. Thanks to you all.
We were thrilled to receive our books today. Thank-you for getting them here so speedily. Wow – what a tribute to Pete – really impressive. Makes you smile and admire, and yet feel sad and nostalgic at the same time. Well done.
A real trip down memory lane, it is excellent, exceeded my expectations. Please accept my thanks on a great book and pass on my thanks to everyone involved in its production.
A lot of hard work, but we are really pleased with the result – and so it seems are purchasers. Even after all the issues noted here, we both decided that we would consider self-publishing again.
If you want to know more about ‘Fell and Mountain Running: through the eye of a lens’, Athletics Weekly has published a full review which will give you a feel for the content. It is reproduced in full below.
Pete wanted to publish this book before he passed away, but his cancer was far more advanced than he ever wanted to accept. It has been my wish to do it for him at some stage, but had I not had a chance meeting with Steve in November 2019, followed by the announcement of lockdown in March, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened for quite some time. Denise Park
The meeting was because I was looking for a couple of photos for my fourth book (‘All or Nothing at All: the life of Billy Bland’). I travelled up to Clitheroe and looked through part of Pete’s huge archive of photos, finding a couple that fit the bill, which Denise was happy for me to include. Just talking casually afterwards Denise mentioned Pete’s book idea. Somehow we came away from our first ever meeting having agreed to collaborate on the book.
Steve agreed to select the images for the book, but before Steve received his ‘digital selection’, I searched though approximately 60,000 images which were on a variety of hard drives, cd’s, memory sticks, slides, negatives, computers and boxes of printed images! Whilst Pete had them all catalogued in his head – I’m sure you will appreciate the enormity of the task.
We soon agreed on some chapter headings and Denise started sending files over by Dropbox in the New Year. To cut a long story short, Covid-19 changed everyone’s situation and we both had a bit of time to work on it. I pitched the idea to a couple of publishers, but neither were interested, thinking it ‘not a seller’. So, we decided to self-publish, and tried a couple of printers for quotes. The second were excellent, and very helpful. They are based in The Lakes, and have the print job set to run in the EU, giving a slightly better lead time.
As I was making decisions about which photos to include I was also writing some contexualising text, and tweaking the captions (mostly from Pete’s file data). I was also working up a rough layout plan to see how many pages it would be for print quote purposes. Having finalised the content and draft layout with Denise, and having had someone proof-read the draft, it is now being laid out professionally by a graphic designer who is also in The Lakes.
We have set up a system for taking pre-orders, as there is a strong possibility of it not being delivered from the printers prior to Christmas. This will allow people to still be able to gift the book.
Once pre-ordered, digital gift vouchers will be made available so you can still give that ideal Christmas present.
The book is hardback, full colour and 200 pages. It is available to pre-order for £25 by emailing your details to: email@example.com
It was great to be on BBC Radio Cumbria last week. Being interviewed by Helen Millican on her show gave me the chance to talk about my Billy Bland book. Her deft prompting allowed me to waffle on about the gestation of the book, the research, and the writing of it.
Just before I was on, Helen played a short clip of a conversation with Billy Bland she had that week up in Borrowdale, in which he was as entertaining as usual. He explained how he didn’t want to do the book, but never quite got round to saying ‘no’ to the idea, being convinced by wife Ann to go with it.
You can listen to that Billy Bland interview here: https://youtu.be/h000OUx9yw4
I was on after Helen had played ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen. I didn’t realise at the time how appropriate a track it was – as ‘All or nothing at all’ (the title of the book) is a classic Springsteen track. Furthermore all the chapter titles in the book are Springsteen song titles too. In the interview I hope I was able to put Billy’s running in context with the rest of his life, all lived in the Borrowdale valley.
You can listen to the interview with me here: https://youtu.be/W_bsTru8POk
Owter is a new book service which helps authors get a better return on their book sales. I will be recommending good running and outdoor books via my page on the site.
The second is Jonny Muir’s ‘The Mountains are Calling’, in which he considers the origins of running in the hills, the beauty of it, and also the recent commercialisation of the sport (which definitely grates with him and some with whom he speaks). It fully justifies its longlisting for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. When I reviewed it I described it thus:
The first point to make about Jonny Muir’s book is the clarity and quality of his writing. The book’s subject is ‘running in the high places of Scotland’ which gives him a huge scope, range and landscape to cover. It is significant that he lives in this environment, and runs in it, for pleasure and competition. But it is the people that he meets and their stories that give such a great counterpoint to his own experiences that fascinated me most. Muir Running through the narrative, but not dominating it, is the Charlie Ramsay Round, which he seems fated to attempt – and finally does. His chapter titles are well chosen and three will suffice to give both a feel for the subject (Mountain Madness) and yet Muir’s feeling for hill running (Beautiful Madness; and Epiphany).
Why not give it a read? It can be purchased directly (currently with £2 discount) at: https://owter.co/collections/all?page=2&aff=7
All three of my running books are also available from the same link (two also reduced).
Billy Bland does not do many events, and even less often outside of his native Lake District. So, the ‘Conversation with Billy Bland’ event in Skipton on Friday 11 May 2018 is a fantastic opportunity to meet and hear the views of this outstanding sportsman, and fell legend.
Billy and some of support (including some other fell legends) celebrating his 13 hrs 53 mins Bob Graham Round record outside the Moot Hall in 1982. [For full story see: The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps]
This type of event depends for its success on two things: the personality of the speaker; and the involvement of the audience. Billy has specifically asked for an unscripted evening, so come along and ask him some challenging and searching questions. What is a given is that Billy’s personality will shine through, and that he will both entertain and educate the audience.
Billy did just that at the gig that Due North Events held in Keswick back in February. For a flavour of that event have a look at my report entitled: ‘I wasn’t the best, but I was a tryer’. The questions from the floor, and a few prompts thrown in by me (as MC on the night), were wide-ranging and meant that Billy covered topics such as his background, training, rivals (with some exquisite put-downs, including some of his own family!) and current lifestyle. Billy also spent ages talking to people after the formal part of the gig.
One not to miss, so book your tickets today.
They are likely to sell out (the Keswick gig did). [Advert: I will be MC again, and copies of all three of my books will be available to buy at the event, at discounted rates]
Over the three days before the book’s paperback publication there will be a Running Hard Blog Tour. Visit the blogs via the links below to find out more about the book, it’s author and how someone is planning on emulating Kenny and John’s training.
On Monday 16th October there will be three stops on the tour:
- Jonny Muir’s Heights of Madness blog has a guest post from me on the writing of Running Hard
- Ceris Jones discusses the design of the book cover (plus the other 2 in the fell running trilogy) with the designer, Heather
- Ed Price has written a review of the book on his blog
On Tuesday 17th October three further stops will be at:
- Steve Birkinshaw’s blog, where I have written a guest post on hard training (one of the book’s themes)
- The sabbatycle blog for a discussion between Dan Haw and I on Kenny Stuart and John Wild’s training methods and their applicability to a modern fell runner (Dan)
- Running legend Nicky Spinks’ blog for her review of the book
Finally, on Wednesday 18th October the last three stops on the tour will be:
- The Young Feller blog for a Q&A session between Cal Ferguson and I on running on the fells
- a review of the book by runner and author Moire O’Sullivan on her blog
- An extract from Running Hard on Ben Mounsey’s blog
The paperback version of Running Hard will be published on Thursday 19th October and can be obtained from all good bookshops and online at Amazon.
About the book
Running Hard: the story of a rivalry. Sandstone Press. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9781910985946. Publication Date: 19/10/2017. RRP: £9.99
For one brilliant season in 1983 the sport of fell running was dominated by the two huge talents of John Wild and Kenny Stuart. Wild was an incomer to the sport from road running and track. Stuart was born to the fells, but an outcast because of his move from professional to amateur. Together they destroyed the record book, only determining who was top by a few seconds in the last race of the season. Running Hard is the story of that season, and an inside, intimate look at the two men.
About the author
Steve Chilton is a committed runner and qualified athletics coach with considerable experience of fell running. He is a long-time member of the Fell Runners Association (FRA). He formerly worked at Middlesex University where he was Lead Academic Developer. He has written two other books: It’s a Hill, Get Over It won the Bill Rollinson Prize in 2014; The Round: In Bob Graham’s footsteps was shortlisted for the TGO Awards Outdoor Book of the Year 2015 and the Lakeland Book of the Year Award 2016.
The formal launch of the book is on Fri 27 October in Skipton, where I will be in discussion with Kenny Stuart and Ben Mounsey [more info].
The paperback launch for Running Hard will take place at a talk with Kenny Stuart and Ben Mounsey in Skipton on 27 October. You can book a ticket here, which will include £4 off the book if bought at the event. The event is also raising money for two charities, the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, and Due North’s chosen charity The Brathay Trust.
It should be a brilliant evening as Kenny and Ben are giants in the sport. Kenny ruled fell running for a period in the 1980s, and Ben is one of the finest exponents currently.
Our theme will be: “Has the perception (and reality) of training/running hard changed over the years?”, with plenty of chance to ask questions of all of us.
You can find profiles of Kenny, Ben and myself here, together with more about the topics to be covered.
[Update: book launch set for Moot Hall, Keswick at 3-30pm Sat 18 Feb]
Exactly 4 years ago today I had the manuscript for my first book accepted for publication by the wonderful people at Sandstone Press (after being advised to re-think my original synopsis idea). I was unbelievably chuffed about this at the time, being a first time author. It now gives me huge pleasure to see this image on my Amazon page, indicating that part 3 of what I am now semi-jocularly calling ‘The Fell Running Trilogy’ will be published on 16 February 2017.
All three books are available from good suppliers, with Running Hard: the story of a rivalry possible to pre-order. I am now working on the details of the book’s launch – which is likely to be in two parts, one in Keswick and one in North London. Detai6sl here in due course.
The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps comes out in paperback on 19 January 2017, and is also available in hardback and kindle editions.