Four years, three continents, a man on a bicycle – and a girl. Now this true story of love & adventure needs preparing for publication.
UPDATE: All of the main costs of the project will be covered, and more besides: we've far surpassed our original goal! Every extra penny raised will be used to bring forward additional aspects of the project, including:
- The book launch party (to which you're invited),
- A run of publicity to get the story out,
- Laying the foundations of a nationwide storytelling tour in 2013.
We're still taking pledges — can you help us reach £10,000 by midnight?
* * *
Sometimes the hardest part of a journey is knowing when it’s over.
When twenty-three-year-old Tom Allen and his friends set off from their English village to cycle around the world, they were expecting physical hardship, extreme conditions and a serious case of culture shock. But the hours spent poring over maps and arranging sponsorship could never have prepared them for the experience of life on the road: the petty squabbles, the extreme hospitality, the unexpected joys and dangers.
And then Tom meets Tenny, a feisty Iranian-Armenian girl with dreams of her own, and hits a crossroad. Should he give up his grand plan for the girl he loves, or cycle off and risk missing out on the greatest adventure of them all?
* * *
I would really like to see a blurb like that on the back cover of my first book Janapar.
It's almost done. Almost. After three-and-a-half years of wandering the world on a bicycle and nearly two years of drafting, the manuscript is almost ready to enter production.
It's an old-fashioned adventure story and a human tale of romance in one; non-fictional yet with the narrative drive of a thriller. And, as the narrator discovers during the course of the book, it doesn't get much more dramatic than real life.
My campaign is about raising the funds to fund this production, beginning with the raw draft of the manuscript and ending with the first print run of the published book in January 2013, ready to be picked up, enjoyed, and passed on.
Why go to so much effort to self-publish a travel memoir?
Simply because the message contained within is a universal one. It's a journey driven by the questions that unite us all. Love and commitment, or freedom and adventure? Safety and comfort, or the thrill of the unknown? The greatest gift of all, or the dream that you sacrificed it for?
It's also because Janapar is more than just a book. It's also a documentary film of the same name, created by BBC producer-director James Newton from my raw footage. But the book is my personal telling of the story. I'm a writer at heart, and this is how I communicate best.
I could take the easy route, use a self-publishing service, and have a one-click book land on my doormat for a tenner. But — to be honest — I'd like more people than my Mum to read it.
(No offence to her. She is my most important reader.)
So, like I did on the journey itself, I'm going down the harder and more rewarding route. This is the process of taking a raw manuscript through various stages of editing, design and manufacture.
It's the process that every traditionally-published book goes through. The difference is that I'll be publishing it myself.
- First things first — I must finish writing the manuscript!
- Next, I'll need to enlist the services of a literary consultant who won't be afraid to say what does and doesn't work.
- Following this feedback, I'll embark upon a final rewrite.
- This'll go to a copy-editor, who will take the hundred thousand words and make them say what they mean.
- Meanwhile, a graphic designer will create the covers by which the book will inevitably be judged.
- An interior designer will take the edited manuscript and put space and shape around the words so they can sing.
- A proofreader will be consulted to catch the last few errors in the final proofs.
- Let's not forget a printing house, who will turn the designs into the final, physical book.
- The same process needs to be carried out for the electronic version of the book.
- And then there are the little jobs — registering an ISBN, a legal read-through, having copyright notices drafted, and making legal deposits at the British Library.
These collaborations are critical. They will create a book that not only does what I set out to do as an author, but provides the best experience possible for the reader. The target amount for this campaign will just about cover all stages of this process, and the rewards as well.
It won't be a tale of heroics and machismo. There are plenty of those out there; good stories, written by greater heroes than me. This is a human tale on two wheels, challenging, unpredictable and meandering. And I've poured my heart and soul into the telling.
It's a book you'll read if you've ever dreamed of jacking it all in and hitting the road. It's the book I've always wanted to write. (There's more on the journey itself here.)
I've mentioned that the manuscript is almost written. So I should probably prove it. Here, free to read, is the current version of the book's opening, in a variety of common formats.
- Janapar - Chapter One (.RTF, for Word, Openoffice, etc)
- Janapar - Chapter One (.PDF, for reading online)
- Janapar - Chapter One (.MOBI, for Kindle and compatible devices)
- Janapar - Chapter One (.EPUB, for other e-readers)
(Please bear in mind that this is a raw and unedited draft, and that this campaign is about getting it into a publishable form.)
A Little More On The Rewards
I have tried to offer a broad range of rewards in gratitude of your backing. A modest investment will get you a copy of the finished book at a price similar to what it would be worth in a commercial environment. The difference between this and simply buying a copy later is that your support at this stage will actually help bring the book into existence. And you will have my eternal gratitude.
Intermediate tiers of reward involve limited-edition hardback copies of the book for the highest-quality reading experience, plus additional mementos of your involvement, including a personal thank-you within the book itself.
The very highest tiers, which I'm hoping will appeal to those looking for a unique experience, will involve me getting on my bike again for another road trip. (It'll be something like this, though hopefully not as cold.) But rather than to far-flung lands, I'll be cycling and camping over to your place to deliver one-off limited editions of the final product — even if you live at the wrong end of the country.
These are exclusive opportunities to bring the story directly to your community — at the very least your special copy of the book, a screening of the documentary in a venue of your choice, and hopefully a sit-down and a cup of tea, before I ask you politely if I can pitch my tent in your back garden.
Many of the rewards include a copy of the documentary film version of Janapar, which has been produced alongside the writing of this book and will go with it hand-in-hand.
Whatever your pledge, I'll thank you dearly for your support.
Hold on — what does Janapar mean?
Ah, yes. 'Janapar' is the Armenian word for 'journey', 'way', or 'road'.
The reason I've chosen it will become clear as the tale unfolds.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The greatest challenge will be the co-ordination of the team who will be working on this project, all of whom are freelancers, working remotely.
We've set quite a tight schedule for the production process in order to keep our costs down. Delays at any stage will inevitably have a knock-on effect. We have allowed for an extra month in case this happens.
Next will be dealing with the volume of rewards that will need to be prepared and dispatched! Luckily there are plenty of kids in the village who'll help with the packing for a bit of extra pocket-money...
Not in the standard paperback, no, and this is a deliberate artistic decision. You know when you've read a great work of fiction, and then a film adaptation comes out and it doesn't quite look or feel as you imagined it should? I don't want that to happen here. As a writer, it's my job to provoke the unfolding of a story in my readers' imaginations, and I think forcing photographs — concrete records — into the middle of it would spoil that magic. (There will be accompanying stills available in other formats.)
Yes, a text-only eBook (for computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers) is on the cards for release alongside the physical edition. If we raise enough funds over and above our target, one of the first things we'll look at will be an 'enhanced' eBook for tablets and smartphones, which will go beyond just text.
Possibly. I don't want measurements and routes to obfuscate the human experience, which is what the journey is all about, so it'll have to be done carefully. This is the reason we eventually left maps out of the film. I think there's space for an 'online extras' page on the website for things like this.
The film was its director's vision of my journey; the book will be my own telling of the experiences it was based on. There will be some crossover, but this has always existed as a standalone book, which was begun before the film project came into existence. (I imagine it'll be best to see the film first!)