I’ve done it. After 11 years and god knows how many hours of work, I’ve finally completed the first draft of my book on the history of the computer. Weighing in at just over 235,000 words, it covers the entire 400-year history of computing technology, from humanity’s earliest efforts to mechanise calculation in the 17th century to the latest devices which merge portable computing and mobile telecommunications technologies to enable new methods of social interaction.
Researching and writing the book has taken up most of my spare time over the past 11 years but, rather than the expected feeling of huge relief, finishing the book has been something of an anticlimax so far. I’m already missing the discipline of dragging myself away from the TV or the Internet every night in order to write a few more paragraphs. I could start another book but there isn’t really any point in doing so unless I can do something useful with this one. Therefore, I now need to make an effort to get the book published.
In my earlier post on the subject (The Self-Publishing Dilemma), I identified three options; (i) securing a publishing deal with a book publisher, (ii) self-publishing the book, or (iii) putting the entire book up on the Web as a free download. I am under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to secure a deal with a mainstream publisher, especially for someone who has no track record as an author. Most mainstream publishers won’t accept unsolicited book proposals in any case. It might be possible to interest one of the academic publishers in my book (e.g. Oxford University Press, MIT Press, etc.), as these publishers do accept unsolicited proposals but they also expect their authors to have the relevant academic credentials and I am not an academic. The size of the book could also discourage all but the most enthusiastic of publishers, as it would appear to be more than double the word count of a typical non-fiction title.
The sensible option is probably to self-publish but, before I venture down this costly and time-consuming path, it might be worthwhile making at least one attempt to secure a publishing deal. Therefore, I’ve compiled a ‘hit list’ of non-fiction publishers who accept unsolicited proposals and whose catalogues include history, popular science and/or business titles. The next stage will be to produce and submit proposals for each of them in the specified format (which seems to be different for each publisher) then cross my fingers and see what happens. I’ll let you know how I get on.