The final countdown

With only three weeks to go until the launch of Liminal Ink’s second title, I can barely wait. In case you’ve forgotten, Life Is Elsewhere / Burn Your Flags is a novella by Scottish author Iain Maloney, who now lives in Japan, which makes for an interesting zig zag of emails across time zones.

When Paul and I came up with the idea of Liminal Ink we intended it to be a one off to publish my book during lockdown. We loved the community-feel of crowdfunding and enjoyed the alchemy of turning words on a page into books on a bookshelf. What we hadn’t appreciated was that the difficulty would not be in releasing the book but in getting it into the hands of readers: those all important people who turn writers into authors, a subtle but magical transformation.

A little bruised by our dealings with distributors, Paul and I reassessed our thoughts on what Liminal Ink meant to us. We were intrigued by the idea of softening the boundaries between writer and publisher. Of collaboration and exploration. As a musician, Paul was particularly interested in the fact that indie musicians are celebrated, yet indie writers often seem to be regarded as lesser somehow; unable to secure a ‘proper publisher’. Yet it wasn’t always so in music, nor is it always the case with writers. Things evolve. Move on.

At the same time as we were having these conversations, Iain contacted us to ask if we would like to consider his latest novella for publication. No stranger to working with indie publishers, Iain’s writing is eclectic, ranging from haiku to memoir and fiction, his novels roam over a variety of genres. He also shares our enthusiasm for experimentation and was open to approaching publication as a collaboration (and as I mentioned in a previous blog, his novella wowed us).

Over the last six months I’ve taught myself to typeset and Paul’s learned the delights of book design. All decisions have been passed back and forth across continents, and are agreed collectively. Our first Zoom meeting was a wee bit disconcerting, while Paul and I slurped coffee and blinked into the morning, Iain was kicking off his shoes and slipping into his evening gin and tonic. And yet it worked. 

We were intrigued by the idea of softening the boundaries between writer and publisher

For me, the highlight of the process so far has been watching the cover emerge. Paul mocked up several versions. Comments were exchanged, opinions sought. We agreed our favourite, and slowly it morphed into something we all loved. 

There are many sayings to contradict collaborative ways of working – too many cooks and all that – but in this case, the phrase that springs to mind is ‘more than the sum of its parts’. By that I don’t mean the words, they’re all Iain’s and deserving of the commendations he’s had so far; more the experience.

Of course there were challenges, one of the biggest being we all have other commitments, other work, other claims on our time. Some of the stages have taken longer than I or any of us would have liked. As for my attempts to make an e-book, I threw in the towel and enlisted help from another small, indie publisher north of here. 

Overall I’ve loved it. There’s a generosity that comes with this kind of working – a generosity of time, of humour, of experience. Perhaps we got lucky. Perhaps another combination may not have worked so well. Who knows? For now I’m delighted the book is safely at the printers. Soon we’ll have it in our hands. Very soon! And when we do, you’ll be among the first to know.

Life Is Elsewhere / Burn Your Flags by Iain Maloney is released on Thursday 16 September, and I’ll share details of the launch event as soon as they’re finalised.

In the meantime, you can preorder your copy via the Liminal Ink website or through your local bookstore. 

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