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Dare to Dream Book Launch

During the past 3 years since climbing Everest, I have been gradually hauling myself along the long road which leads to writing agents, printing houses and the publishing industry. It has been a long 3 years in this respect which has neatly been split into 3 phases, each one harder, more tedious and incalculably more frustrating than the last. I spent the first year, writing my master manuscript. This was tough to begin with, as finding a logical starting point in a project lasting many years was difficult. It was certainly not as easy as starting the book at Everest base camp, there were so many other stories which lead even to that poignant moment. Once I was into the book, I got a flow going, and for the best part of a year, typed away one word at a time. When I read the book for the first time to check for glaring errors, I noticed how my writing evolved over time, and this I find fits in with the story which is also an evolution of a project, extended over time. Ending the book was difficult however. I spent around 11 months writing 99% of the book. I then spent a full month writing the last chapter, and a full week writing the last page, which I eventually re-wrote a year later.

This however was the easy part. The next part would be the difficult process of getting the book published. This was never my intention, as I had only really intended the book to be read by close friends and family, however after a couple of people read the book, it was clear that I should at least try to get it published.

This was a difficult process, perhaps more so than trying to gather support and financial sponsorship for climbing Everest itself. I wrote to every book agent and publishing house I could think of. I had lists of hundreds, but received countless rejections. It was also a very time consuming process, as each agent and publisher wanted the book sent over in a different format. Some wanted the first page of the manuscript, some the first chapter, some the best chapter, others the whole book, a few wanted every 3rd word, and occasionally I would be asked for the title or the first and last word of the book. I drew the line at physically printing the manuscript, firstly I didn’t have the volume of paper required, but secondly, I didn’t feel that there was any need to chop down entire rainforests just to send a book which was perfectly sitting on a pdf just waiting to be emailed out, instantaneously at the click of a button. I ended up with a folder with hundreds of versions of my book, each one with a slightly different clipping of the manuscript.

After a couple of months it was clear that no one was interested. Excuses were being passed around that this market was saturated, then a few days later Bear Grylls’ next novel would come out, conclusively disproving the market saturation. I persevered however until I came to a realisation. Just like with sponsorship for expeditions, the first question you need to ask is, do I really need support, or can I do it myself. Sure, a publishing deal would be lush and would have really made the previous year’s effort worthwhile. But in actual fact, I could really just do it myself. After a further number of months of research, I eventually plucked up the courage and started the surprisingly quick process of setting the book up for kindle. I made a number of revisions, made some corrections, and then just tried to make the manuscript as kindle friendly as possible. Not personally owning a kindle and having never actually seen my book (Dare to Dream) on a kindle, I have no idea how profitable this exercise was, however after a single month of the book being listed on Amazon and with a modest number of twitter messages announcing to my small number of followers that the next edition of bible had been released, Dare to Dream subsequently sold 5,000 copies. It was clear to see that the market was indeed saturated, although I’m not really sure what with, perhaps customers, but clearly not books.

After this initial surge in purchases for the book, I let it be for around a year, not promoting it in any way, but leaving it on Amazon for people to read and review as they pleased. In the summer of 2014 however, I felt the itch return to the book, this time I wanted it fully printed in all its wordy glory. I knew this would be a tricky task since I hadn’t been able to secure any publishing deals the first time around, however I had also done my research and knew that whilst it wasn’t easy to get a publishing house to print your work, there were now plenty of POD (print on demand) publishers to choose from which meant not only did I not have to worry about finding someone to support me, it meant I could also use my time preparing my book for print instead of sending out mass emails.

For my first book, I teamed up with Lulu who would help me turn my Kindle book into a print edition. My first step was to choose the paper, the size, and then upload my manuscript. This was all done in one evening, and I ordered a copy the same day. This printing business was much easier than I had anticipated, and not finding a publisher seemed to be a blessing.

I got a copy of the book a couple of days later and excitedly opened the cardboard. The book was terrible. There was an endless list of things wrong with the book. From its size (far too big as a US Trade sized edition), to the paper (which was glaringly white), to the text (which was a poor Sans Serif font, too big and difficult to read on a white page). In all, this was a terrible fail which deeply frustrated the perfectionist in me. I had a copy of Bear Grylls’ Facing Up, and a copy Psychovertical by Andy Kirkpatrick, and they were both in a true book format. Just the right size, with ‘proper’ print cream paper, easy to read words, and in all, professionally finished. This is all I wanted, a book which would sit next to any other paperback in the UK and not feel out of place.

So I went back to the drawing board, and this time trawled through Lulu to find the paper and size combination, but alas, there was no joy. I then trawled once more and this time came across Blurb, a publisher specialising in photo books, but who also made print books. They had the 5×8 printing size, and also the cream paper which I had spent a week looking for. Now I had to make a second attempt of the book. I uploaded the manuscript and got all the way to paper selection and trim when I found that to make use of the full paper and trimming suite, the file would have to be in PDF/X-3:2002 which was a small hurdle of file conformity to get over. Once this obstacle was passed, another proof copy was sent and yet again, the book fell short. The reason for this was a multitude of factors which all grouped together to make a book which looked very ‘DIY’. This wasn’t ideal, and so the solution was to immerse myself in the full Adobe Creative Suite. This meant a crash course in InDesign and a full re-format of the book including a full text, alignment, hyphenation and styling alteration. This took a number of times to perfect, and with each proof copy I received, I got closer. Eventually I was picking up small details such as individual paragraphs resulting in extra pages, and slight font adjustments to make the book as readable as possible. A slight derailment occurred when I submitted my final manuscript, however the front cover no longer fitted, in part due to the size of the book spine, and thus another week was spent on Photoshop painstakingly stitching together the cover image.

But then at some point towards the end of January 2015, I submitted the manuscript for one last time, and to my absolute surprise, the resulting book came back perfect. This was certainly unexpected, and so unexpected in fact, that I collected the final proof copies on my way to Aviemore for a long weekend of climbing where they sat for four days in a damp car, gradually becoming more and more wavy due to the heavy moisture content and freezing cold temperatures they were subjected to. But still, I had completed the goal, and had finally created a book I was truly happy with, almost a miracle really.

Once back from climbing, I put the proof copies by the fire and ordered some more, one which would be my master copy, and the rest for me to start distributing to family and friends.

It has been a long 3 year journey which has been entwined with plans for my next adventures, but ultimately, this has been a rewarding journey which I hope will adequately serve the purpose of brining hope to all those in the little county of Lincolnshire, that whilst there is no place quite like home, there is another world out there beyond the boundary walls of the shire.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Dare to Dream as a paperback, please visit the following link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dare-Dream-Matthew-Dieumegard-Thornton/dp/1320359566

To purchase a copy in Kindle/e-book format, please visit the following Amazon link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dare-Dream-Matthew-Dieumegard-Thornton-ebook/dp/B00CGX3T7K/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

If however you would like a signed copy, please use the contact page to ask for more details.