The agonies of letting go… and thanks!

inside paper comparison

I’ve been agonising over paper choice for the bookstore versions of Pins and Needles. The white sample is from a printer and the other is the Amazon paperbacks copy.

I’ve spent the week with my head in a spin about paper types, paper colours, fonts, font sizes, cover thicknesses and other such technical considerations as Pins and Needles was prepared for the printers. It’s available on Amazon in print-on-demand format where it will also be released in e-book on September 1. That bit was quite painless. If something wrong is noticed I can still make changes. With thousands of copies rolling off a printing press it’s a different story. Whatever decisions I make or errors that go unnoticed are unchangeable once that machine starts spitting copies out.

To get some inspiration I popped along to the launch of lifestyle youtuber Melanie Murphy’s new book Fully Functioning Human (Almost): Living in an Online/Offline World at Eason on O’Connell Street. It proved to be a master class in how a book launch should go. Melanie’s speech was informal, honest and, it appeared, effortless. A chair and table had been set up for signings but, instead, Melanie mingled, chatted and laughed with friends, fans and family, making everyone feel special by somehow finding the time to talk to each person. The book is a real beauty – and, having been living in ‘book publishing preparation mode’ myself, I know what I’m talking about. The production quality is top class and the layout of the book very clever. It’s sectioned off by theme and has quirky illustrations which make it visually engaging. I came home, the proud owner of a signed copy, and began making mental notes of the things that I liked about it. One was the off-white paper that Melanie had used. One printer had sent me a copy of Pins and Needles on the paper that they recommended I should use. It’s the whiter one in the accompanying photograph. The other copy, with the creamish finish, is the print on demand finish from Amazon. To me, that off-white looks more like the real thing. I hope you agree – it’s what I’m going for.

Finally I want to acknowledge all of those who reacted with such support and care to my last post about the accident and my steps to recovery. It was truly heart warming and made it quite impossible to feel sorry for myself. Thank you!

When readers give birth to books…


The seaward side of Ireland’s Eye – a haven for all types of sea birds – pictured from my little Hunter 19 Europa sailboat.

I was out sailing my little boat from Howth around Ireland’s Eye and, as often happens when the towering rock face blocks the wind, the sails fell slack and the boat was left bobbing in a sort of micro-doldrums. I sat  contemplating the myriad seabirds ensconced in every nook and cranny of the cliff as I waited for the breeze to find the canvas again and set me back on my way. Many times during the writing of Pins and Needles, when I’d been stuck at a plot twist or character development problem, I’d come out here for a sail to clear the mind. Before joining the yacht club at Howth I used to sail from Malahide and I’d just had word that the first bookstore I’d approached – Manor Books in Malahide – had agreed to stock the novel. It set me thinking of the new publishing reality that marries traditional printing, e-books and ‘print on demand’ – in my case through Amazon. The traditional print run of Pins and Needles that is underway at the moment is necessary so that people who decide to get hold of a copy of the book can do so on the same day in a bookstore. However, watching the tiny young seabirds finding their feet on cliff ledges or in the sea around me, it struck me that there’s something rather beautiful about the relatively new world of ‘print on demand’.  When I finally signed off on the book it became available to buy through Amazon but didn’t, at that point, exist in physical form anywhere. Each person who then clicked on the ‘purchase button’ to buy a copy was, I realised, actually, breathing life into a physical manifestation of my book. Each purchase meant that the buyer had caused a book to be born, packed and shipped into the world. At various places around Europe now copies of my book have been created in answer to readers’ requests. As they make their way by courier to their new owners they are starting a life that could take them anywhere but they are starting their lives wanted. It’s a pleasant thought for a writer.

Keep an eye on this website if you want to know which bookstores are stocking Pins and Needles. We expect the first copies to hit stores around mid September.