A year ago today…

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…it was cloudy. I have the photos to prove it.


The plan for the day: up early (the emptiness of the road will give you a clue exactly how early), a walk round my local patch to see how the nuthatch chicks and other new arrivals were doing, breakfast, school run, work on some Berlioz, catch up with emails, rehearsal in the evening.

Oh yes. Launch a crowdfunding campaign.

I had no idea how it would do. I had visions of failure, humiliation, people shrugging their shoulders, maybe a pitying chuckle. A book about birdwatching? By a conductor?

Yeah, thanks, but…

I thought it might limp to 50% thanks to the support of those most loyal, and I would have to think of some other way of disseminating the words that tumble so precipitously out of my head and onto the screen. Maybe self-publish again.

It’s not an efficient way to buy a book, we have to admit that. You pay upfront, trusting that the book will appear. If it’s fiction, then it will already have been written, and production time is shorter. But this was non-fiction. It was no more than an idea, a 200-word synopsis, a rough and ready chapter breakdown and a short extract. And I was less than halfway through the year of birdwatching that formed the main subject of the book. Who in their right minds would support that?

So far, 274 people, it turns out.

We reached the target exactly three months later and the book is now with the editors. It will be published…well, I can’t yet say exactly when, because we don’t exactly know, but…it will be published, which is the main thing.

Unbound are a pioneering publisher with the imagination to see potential in all sorts of projects that might have difficulty gaining traction in the ‘traditional’ marketplace. Their strapline, ‘Liberating Ideas’ says it all. From commission to delivery, it’s been clear that I’ve had the freedom to produce the book that I want to write, but I’ve also been guided by their expertise and wisdom towards our ultimate goal: a beautiful and lovingly-produced book that we hope will delight readers. As a ‘new’ writer, I’ve found this guidance absolutely invaluable.

Unbound are the proud publishers of the bestselling Letters of Note and the Man Booker longlisted The Wake, as well as brilliant books from Julie Burchill, Jonathan Meades, Terry Jones, Jonathan Coe, Andy Hamilton, Kate Mosse, Katy Brand, Robert Llewellyn and many more. They were shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards, as was their most recent success, The Good Immigrant. I feel privileged to be a part of their burgeoning reputation.

So I send a huge thank you to them, and to everyone who’s supported this project so far.
If you’re here on this blog, you probably already know about it, but here it is anyway.

Yes, it’s funded, but an enticing stretch goal of 120% beckons. At that point I will have to compile a collection of the best bird photographs I took in 2016 (I am an amateur photographer, but luckily my camera is very clever) for the delectation of the book’s supporters. If you’d like to join their number, and get your name in the special first edition, exclusively for subscribers, I’ll be giving a bonus birdy treat to anyone who pledges before midnight tonight, 25th May. Do feel free to spread the word.

Oh, and here are those nuthatches (you can just see the chick’s bill in the aperture to the bird box. I wonder how they are now?


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