Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo is OUT NOW, but why did it take so long?

Those of you who have been kind enough to pre-order Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo hopefully saw it appear on your devices sometime last week.

It was the first week of August 2017 that Edita and I set off from Inverness on pushbikes for our warm up lap around the North Coast 500. This means that the entire project, from push off to launch has taken less than two years. I still have a little more work to do to release the paperback edition, but that shouldn’t be too long now either.

Here it is, Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo, on a good old-fashioned Kindle e-reader that was produced in the year I was born (almost)
Here it is, Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo, on a good old-fashioned Kindle e-reader that was produced in the year I was born (almost)

Two years may sound like a long time, but that’s a year and a half less than it took me to write Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest. If you’re wondering why it takes so long to publish a book, I thought it might be interesting for you to hear what goes into it.

After deciding to take time off for another adventure and to write about it, the trip took less than two months to plan. We hired bikes, bought cycling gear and researched a route around Scotland. Most of the hard work for the Ecuador leg was done by our outfitter in Quito, Javier Herrera of Andeanface.

The adventure itself was also very quick. Just three weeks in Scotland and a month in Ecuador provided enough material for a full-length book. I supplemented it with a couple of chapters about my previous visits to Ecuador.

By far the hardest part for me is the first draft. In all, it took 7 months to write 140,000 words which I eventually reduced significantly in later drafts. Apart from a month of freelance work and another month spent trekking in Nepal, I worked on the book full time.

You can be forgiven for thinking that most of a writer’s time is spent writing, but actually it’s not. I spend far more time reading and researching, not only mountaineering history for the historical sections, but also travel guides and encyclopaedias to flesh out the contemporary sections. And then of course, there is quite a lot of fact checking about basic stuff, such as how many hours it took Mark Beaumont to cycle the North Coast 500 (38 hours, in case you’re wondering. We took 13 days.)

The first draft is always full of rubbish that even candidates in a political leadership race would be too embarrassed to say in public. So the very next thing I do is always a second draft that mostly involves cutting out the crap.

Here I was in September 2017, about to set off on another adventure (Photo: Edita Horrell)
Here I was in September 2017, about to set off on another adventure (Photo: Edita Horrell)

By the time I handed over the second draft to my editor Alex Roddie of Pinnacle Editorial, the book was down to 110,000 words and had more jokes. Alex then gave the book a structural edit, otherwise known as a critique. This is a short report with suggestions to improve the pace and flow of the story.

Alex’s suggestions are always helpful, so I ended up incorporating nearly all of them into a third draft along with a few more improvements of my own. This third draft was then given to a set of beta readers, who I gave two months to read the book and provide feedback. This is a very important step which can be a bit hit and miss. I’ve been fortunate to be blessed with some fantastic beta readers, who have not only helped me to make both my books more entertaining, but have reassured me that I’m on the right track.

I received my beta feedback in January this year, which gave me around six weeks to complete a fourth draft, which I then handed to Alex for the final line edit. This is where an editor goes through the full text line by line fixing grammatical errors, typos and general dodgy sentences.

While Alex was doing this, I worked on the book cover with my designer Andrew Brown of Design for Writers. I then did a fifth and final draft to incorporate Alex’s edits.

Most of the last month has been spent formatting the e-book for distribution on Amazon and other online bookstores. It’s a fiddly process, during which I also give the book a final proofread.

I was finally able to hit the publish button last week, launching it into your e-reading devices. I will be spending the rest of July and August formatting the paperback. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I publish that one too.

And there we have it. I hope you agree that it’s been worth it. Now it’s over to you for the final part – reading the damn thing.

Please go ahead, and if you enjoy it, that’s enough – you don’t have to do anything more. But if you’re prepared to, then please can I request one final favour – recommend it to your friends, or even better, review it.

I know people are always asking you to review all sorts of stupid things these days, from the toilets at your local restaurant to the wonderful experience of passing through airport security. It can get annoying, I know. I wish I didn’t have to ask, but these reviews are so important for an indie author like me. I don’t get any media support at all, so word of mouth is the only real way to get recognition for my work. Every review can mean a whole load more sales, and this encourages me to keep writing the books that you enjoy.

Happy reading. The book is still half price for a limited period, so if you’ve not done it yet, get in quick and buy it here!

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