Saturday, 30 June 2007

What This Blog Is About

Does the world really need yet another blog? True, there are a lot out there (and I'm sent links to many by would-be writers) but this one I think is a little bit different.

This blog, simply, is the story of a book from start to finish. From Dave writing it to me editing it, we're going to log our progress, so you can see what it really takes to put a book together. And as the book progresses, other people will contribute too -- designers, publicists, reps going out to sell it and so on -- to give a unique record of a book's life, the whole journey from the writer's imagination to the shop shelf. We hope you enjoy it and that you'll comment along the way.

Why I Signed Up The Bromley Boys

I've been a commissioning editor for many years, first at Little, Brown and now starting up my own list, Portico. I've bought and edited many books, and read many, many, many more submissions. At a rough estimate, I've commissioned about 50, and rejected projects into the thousands.

The Bromley Boys came in unsolicited, which at many publishers means straight in the reject pile/ work experience person's laps. I do try to at least look at unsoliciteds, however, as here to me is what publishing is all about: the joy of discovering something new and different. The Bromley Boys had two things going for it before I started reading it -- firstly, it's not everyday you receive a submission with your name in the title; and secondly, my own football allegience. A lifelong sufferer, sorry, supporter of now non-league York City, I could relate very strongly to what Dave was writing about.

And as I read the material, I slowly fell in love with it. Firstly, it was clear Dave could write. And I mean really write. I was reading it on the train back home and was getting looks as I laughed my way through it. It was warm and smart and poignant and as I read on, I knew I just wanted to buy it and publish it. And I liked too the fact that the subject matter was almost perversely uncommercial -- a non-league football team? In 1969? And yet what Dave was writing about was so universal -- growing up, being a fan and so on -- that somehow it just worked.

The Bromley Boys is what publishing is all about: great writing that deserves to be published. I hope you'll join us on its journey.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Why I'm writing a book on a non-league football team's worst season ever.

I saw an article in a writer's magazine about Tom and his plans for Portico, where he mentioned he wanted to publish football books which were from a "different angle". This seemed the perfect description of my true story about teenage obsession with Bromley, my local non-league team, during their abysmal 1969/70 season. No matter how bad things got (and they got incredibly bad, with one disaster following another), my irrational belief in the team never faltered.

I got the idea for the book while watching the World Cup in 2006 and realising that I just didn't care about whether England won or lost. The gap between players and supporters seemed enormous. Can anyone apart from Cheryl Tweedy really feel passionate about Ashley Cole? I felt nostalgic for a time when it was possible to feel as though you were really a part of your team and the players were approachable.

The other thing about non-league teams like Bromley is that they attract a different kind of crowd. You'll always find the uncool, the misfits and the anorak-clad obsessives. People who simply wouldn't have fitted in at the Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals of this world. I wanted to pay tribute to these people as their stories were often a lot more interesting than what was happening on the pitch.

I'd sent the synopsis to four publishers - one turned it down flat, two wanted to see more and the other said he'd have a read when it was finished as "this kind of thing is notoriously difficult to write". None of these approaches came to anything and then I saw the article.

And no, I'm not having to rely totally on memory - I've got match reports from the library and a fellow Bromley Boy kindly lent me the programmes for the entire 1969/70 season, which he'd collected and filed away in chronological order, together with notes on scorers and major incidents. He also sent me his collection of tickets to get into the grounds.

Luckily for me, that's exactly the kind of fan Bromley has always attracted.