A sense of community

It’s just over a week since I launched my Kickstarter campaign to publish my memoir about the time I spent on the urgent transplant list, waiting for a new heart. What a week it’s been. As many of you probably know, we hit our funding target of £1000 in less than an hour and a half; one hour 24 minutes to be exact but hey, who’s counting?

To celebrate the launch Paul and I invited our friends to share photos of themselves raising a glass at 7pm. The response was fantastic. I’m still reeling from the excitement. And I wasn’t the only one. Even if I hadn’t been refreshing the Kickstarter page with obsessive regularity, I would’ve known the exact moment I hit my target: from my mum!

Raising a glass for the launch

Paul answered the phone: 

Mum: ‘You hit your target!’

Paul [trying not to laugh]: ‘Really, we weren’t checking. Don’t tell me, it was you who pledged all the money using false names…’

Mum: ‘No! Although I would’ve done if I could’ve worked out how to do it!’

It felt fitting to launch the publication of my book in this way; for it to be a shared experience. During the wait for my transplant and the subsequent long recovery, I was supported by a community of positive, uplifting people. From my family and friends to hospital staff, workmates, even those strangers who would stop to ask me if I was okay or offer to carry my shopping. 

Even the journey of the book, from first draft to final, has been a team effort. Several friends contributed their perspective to my situation in the form of letters talking about how they felt when they received the news about my transplant. To help me start to write the book, I was mentored by Karen Campbell a Scottish author whose work I admire, who also read the final draft and provided me with a quote for the cover.

An early draft won a work in progress grant from Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s creative writing centre, where I was able to spend a week working with other writers to develop my manuscript, and a further week, several months later, to edit it. It also meant I was invited to read a section of my writing at the Ullapool Book Festival.

On completion, several friends read my manuscript and contributed their thoughts: from Lisa, who suggested I change the ending (or rather where the book ended – she was right and I did), to Stephen and Ali who made the first edits and helped the book to shine.

One of the good things to come out of the short time I was signed to a publisher was that it was professionally edited by Iain Maloney, another Scottish author who I also really enjoy reading. Iain immediately understood what I wanted to do with the book and every one of his suggestions improved it. He is responsible for the other quote on the cover.

When Paul and I decided to publish the book we sought the advice of those who knew more about the world of publishing than either of us. By my own admission I am not the most organised of people and it is an endless source of frustration for me that I have the kind of brain that struggles to follow instructions and is devoid of logic. Ade’s help walking us through the stages to publication, and warning us of the potential pitfalls, has been invaluable. 

What would you consider a success as far as your book’s concerned?

Thanks to Laura, the image of her embroidery on the mock up cover made a striking banner for the Kickstarter and an engaging visual when sharing the link on social media. We follow each other on Twitter due to our shared heart stories and Paul chanced upon her image when she posted her work in progress. We had just been discussing the kind of image I was thinking about for the cover of the book.

‘Is this it?’ he said, turning his phone to show me.

It was; is.

On top of all of this, there are 77 people (so far) who have decided to take a chance on my writing and support my book. Some are friends and a small number have read earlier drafts, but most of them haven’t. It’s a leap of faith from each of them for which I am grateful.

‘What would you consider a success as far as your book’s concerned?’ Paul asked me during a walk along the beach a couple of days ago.

‘It already is’, I said.

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