Why I missed publication day for my latest book

Dr Alison Baverstock has written two new books this year. Her 5th edition of the best selling publishing textbook How to Market Books will be out in January 2015. Here she talks about Later!, her most recent parenting title co-authored with Gill Hines.

For authors who have found a publisher and delivered their manuscript, particularly if they have done so on time, what comes next can be a surprise. While the date of submission has long loomed large on their calendar, what follows is not sudden freedom but rather a long process of answering queries, providing proof of permissions and having a final text agreed when that was what they thought they had already provided. So the final sign off can be a huge relief, and a tempting time to head off for a well earned break. As a publisher, and now an academic exploring the processes of publishing with new generations of would-be employees my advice is always that authors should stay at home over publication. Their collaboration is increasingly needed at the time of launch, to get the book off to a good start. The days when the author could confidently say ‘my book says it all’ and comment no further are long gone. Whether they like it or not, authors are now required to market their work as well as provide the content (as not yet all have learned to call it).

Which is why it is a little contentious, not to say hypocritical, that a week before publication of Later, a guide to parenting a Young adult (Piatkus 2014) I was making my way across South America, with my husband, following in the footsteps of the travels undertaken by our children during their gap years. As an Army family, we were used to long distances in the car and word games were always a popular way of passing the time. After endless rounds of Famous People (‘why do you always choose a woman Mum?’) I was fond of suggesting a round of ‘Where do you most want to go in the world?’ My own choice was always consistent ‘ to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Earlier this year our youngest child saw it, making that three out of four, and I really felt that as he is off to university shortly, it was our turn to spread our wings a little. So that’s where we went. It was an odd feeling in many ways. Although we have had city breaks and weekends away on our own to mark particular anniversaries, we were picking up the backpacking style of holiday again long after we dropped it in favour of the family break. We had always travelled light – tents and cooking equipment making roving possible – but with shared packing and a preference for attractions that offered a package for six. This time, once more on our own, we had to get re-accustomed to each others’ habits on vacation, and it was a slow process of remembering. My husband likes reading maps, I like accessing information through talking. So whereas his ability to navigate cities simply from the tiny map in the guide book continued to amaze me (including unmapped orientation from the bus station in the back of a fast-moving buses), it was me who found out about walking tours of city centres by talking to someone else in a queue.

Alison and Gill book launch for Later!

Our book was not however unrepresented while we were away. My co-author, educator and trainer Gill Hines, was back in the UK working with our publishers towards an effective launch. Both she and they knew that this is the only time my husband and I could get three weeks off work at the same time in order to go away. But while this placed a burden on her, it also fitted the theme of our book, which is that there is a point at which parents have to start looking ahead and thinking about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and stop relying on their children to provide the amusement and displacement activity that can so easily block wider thought. And it is a challenge. Looking after other people’s needs is habit inducing. It can have become such a strongly ingrained practice that you gladly delegate initiative to them, watching with delight as they navigate the world that in your day was prescribed by the limits of InterRail and youth hostels, and in the process postpone your own plans. ‘Later’ looks at the final stages of growing up, from both the point of view of your young person, perhaps embarking on their first break from home (or perhaps not, much to your frustration) and their parents, often feeling marginalised by the process, dull by comparison and wondering where all that time went.

Alison and what she now knows is 'Cristo Redentor', Rio de Janeiro

As for what I now know is called ‘Cristo Redentor’, it was impressive close up but also strangely impassive. It twinkled like a bright star at nights but by day continued to remind me of someone walking up to the edge of a diving board to execute the perfect swallow dive. And the figure’s sightless eyes and complete composure seemed little related to the gutsy, throbbing city beneath. But we both posed for a photograph with our arms stretched out, as everyone else seems to do, and I was finally able to send my own postcards of the place, including one to our daughter, at home again after four years away at university and about
to start work.

Dr. Alison Baverstock co-founded MA Publishing at Kingston University. Gill Hines is an educator and trainer who offers courses on all aspects of parenting www.gillhines.co.uk Later. A guide to parenting a young adult by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock is now published
and available from Piatkus, price £14.99. To order your copy for the special price  of £12.99, telephone 01832 737525 during office hours and quote offer reference PIA 193. Credit/debit cards only. Free postage and packaging  (UK only).


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