My aunt, Pat Jilks, wrote a book some 15 years ago now about when she walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End. She’d just typed it all out in word and had then printed it on A4 and offered if to various members of the family to read. I’d never got round to it as much as anything else reading loads of paper sheets in a binder never feels that much fun, although I guess this is the life of an editor maybe?
It’s very much what I would call a vanity project, but you could ask who am I to judge, it’s not like I’ve ever written a book! When I read it I was pleasantly surprised though and the ending even made me cry! I guess since it’s her very personal feelings and thought across a several week trip, it’s particularly meaningful to me since I know her so well, but however you look at it, I think it’s simply great that she completed it (both the book and the walk).
Anyway, I have the highest love and respect for my aunt, I’ve always thought of her as an amazing person and admired her approach to life and many of the things that she’s done. After watching for her care for my mum in the final days of her terminal cancer (they lived together and basically she acted as her full time carer right up until the end) my respect only grew for her. I wanted to do something for her so having read about all the self-publishing revolution started by Amazon and others, I decided that I would publish her book for her.
I used CreateSpace and Kindle to do this and the process was really interesting and very intuitive even for an amateur like myself. The hardest thing to do was editing the text that my aunt had written, as she’s done it very much in her own style, and I didn’t want to detract from that. Some of it is much like a stream of consciousness and some of the formatting and layout is purposefully done in certain non-standard ways. I didn’t want to ruin what she’d tried to create but it did need formatting and better preparation so I spent most of time trying to get this right. Also it had no marked chapters or sections, but in the end I left it this way as it was her book and how she’d done it. Turns out I can always do a re-publish revision if I like later anyway.
All I can say is it’s pretty damn amazing getting a real copy of her book turn up in the post, with a glossy cover, a real ISBN and generally feeling like a “real” publication. I hope it made her happy as well.
You can check out the results here Before I grow too old: A journey from John O’Groats to Lands End