When I started writing Girdle of Bones, it seemed like a great idea to try to produce a simple, easy to read brochure on joint replacements. I imagined it as something that might empower prospective patients and their families, helping them to manage the plethora of often-incomprehensible information available on the topic.
So what equips me to offer these insights? Well, whilst I’m certainly not a medical professional – just what has at times felt like a professional patient, I do have over a thirty years of experience on this particular subject. I’ve undergone nine rounds of surgery on my left hip, a combination of total hip replacements and/or revisions of existing hip replacements. These experiences have provided me with answers I wish I’d had much earlier in the piece. Collating them into a self-help publication to assist others in a similar situation appeared logical.
However, the project rapidly took on a life of its own. I found myself detailing my experiences as a story, rather than in a linear or academic fashion, and the brochure turned into a memoir. This speaks to the fact that I am, by nature, a storyteller and firmly believe in the power of story to push the boundaries of understanding. Stories are a particularly effective medium through which to communicate meaningfully with others and this memoir seemed like a good way of getting the information out to the widest possible audience.
However, when I submitted my manuscript to Fremantle Press last year, I was told that memoirs of this sort might not elicit a wide enough readership to make them commercially viable.
Thank you for the opportunity to consider GIRDLE OF BONES. It has now been reviewed for our nonfiction list and regrettably I have to tell you that the decision was against making an offer to publish. The manuscript has a lot to offer, including a detailed personal narrative and real insights into the experience of those whose lives are impacted by a serious long-term condition. Unfortunately we were not convinced we could find sufficient readership for GIRDLE OF BONES to make it a viable proposition for Fremantle Press in the current very difficult publishing environment. I’m sorry not to be able to write with better news and wish you well in placing the work elsewhere.
As a novice author, this didn’t come as a great surprise – I had been warned by many other writers about the much-feared rejection slips. So I filed the letter, edited Girdle some more – polishing and re-polishing the manuscript, thought about it a lot and wondered whether I really wanted or needed to publish. What was the vision I had for my book? Who did I think would be interested in buying it? If published, how many copies did I hope to sell? Was I after commercial success? Personal satisfaction? Professional recognition?
The answers are fairly simple. In short, my vision revolved around a combination of personal satisfaction and a desire to help others. I wanted to draw a line the hypothetical sand and say ‘It’s done’ – to complete the project. I also wanted to provide an engaging and readable work of narrative non-fiction that might assist other people in dealing with big issues in their own lives.
As to who might buy it – well, I guess anyone who’s interested in connecting with the lived experiences of others or who may be searching for a different perspective on life. Or it might just be readers who’re looking for a good read and who may connect with the fact that the story is real. If the book makes me some money along the way, that’s a bonus – but it was never the key objective.
In the end I chose to self-publish and to do it via Kindle Direct – it’s easy and it makes the book affordable to a wide range of people. I’ve also opted for the print-on-demand version via Create Space – for those who may not be eBook oriented. I’ve just received the digital review copy to check, but have ordered a print version as well – just to be sure that what they print is what I expect! Once I’m happy with all that, Girdle of Bones will be available to purchase as a paperback.