A few months ago, debut author R S Pateman told us all about his book deal moment when his novel, The Second Life of Amy Archer, went up for auction securing him a two book deal for a six figure sum. Today his publishers, Orion, have offered three copies for our Novelicious readers - please leave a comment below to be in with a chance of winning one of them - and Rob has kindly given us an exclusive account of his visit to the printers to see his debut novel being printed and bound. Over to you Rob...
As a debut author, every part of the publication process has been an eye
opener – in a good way. From writing my book, The Second Life of Amy Archer,
to getting an agent, from meeting with the editorial team at Orion to seeing
the first roughs for the cover, it’s all been fascinating. I’m sure other
debutantes have found the same.
Having been through the rest of it, I was sure I’d be following in well-worn footsteps down to the printers to see the final stage of production – the printing of the book.
My request to go and see ‘my baby’ coming off the presses at Clays took both my editor and my agent by surprise. That surprised me. Apparently none of their other authors had ever asked to visit the printers. That astonished me. I just assumed it was a rite of passage for debut authors, but it turns out it was just me being a geek. Who knew?
Almost a year to the day that Orion bought my book, I was on a train to Diss in Suffolk to see it being printed. Alongside were my agent, Oli Munson, my editor, Jemima Forrester and Orion’s production supremo, Ruth Sharvell.
Clays are one of the biggest book
printers in the UK, producing 180 million books a year, among them J K
Rowling, Hilary Mantel and Ian Rankin. So I was in good hands.
The entrance to the building itself was unassuming – and deceptively small. The site behind the facade was vast and surprisingly clean. As a child I went to see my dad at work in Fleet Street – he was an electrician at the News of the World - and I remember the huge, noisy presses covered in ink and oil. This was a world away.
Account Manager Richard took us through the various
stages and I did my best to keep up. It wasn’t that he didn’t do a great job
explaining – just that I’m not very technical. Revolving doors are still a
source of wonder to me. But the whole process blew my mind; it was
multi-faceted, complicated, slick and effortless. The books practically
jumped into their covers. If only I could write them as quickly as they were
Even though I can’t pretend I understood all the ins and outs of every stage of the printing process, there was no mistaking the lump in my throat when I finally held the finished article in my hands. The idea I’d had twenty years ago had morphed into a completed book with a cover and ISBN number.
It was an unforgettable moment in a journey of unforgettable moments. If you’re an author or a reader and you get the chance to see a book being printed, you really must go. It’s not just about seeing the machines at work. It’s about a unique kind of closure. But it’s about beginnings too.