It was clear on the proof copy that the cover needed rejigging; missing the top of the toppermost character(kanji). A new PDF was supplied, and now all is well. PS It’s quite interesting, seeing a design sideways…

I began writing my latest book in 2010, finished the first draft in 2011, and then moved to Scotland the year after. The ‘manuscript’ then stayed in my computer until this year, when I felt ready to move on.

For four years, completing a book about my life in Japan was the last thing I could handle; remembering our home and the life we led within its walls was just too painful, too sad. Every time I opened it up and began to read, I began to cry.

Being a book written in the present in the past (or is that in the past in the present?) it took much of the earlier part of this year trying to sort out the timeline.

Our home in Japan, 2002-2012. The house in the background and, upfront, Kobayashi-san pruning the trees on his annual visit…there’s a close up of him at work on page 205. 

But now here it is in my hand, the first copy of Household Stories/Katei Monogatari (in Japanese) courtesy of Amazon’s CreateSpace, the site that allows independent authors to publish their books print-to-order.

The upside of CreateSpace is that it’s free. But only if a writer is prepared to design and layout a book’s interior and cover; since I am a writer and not a designer, I paid for help. Or rather I allowed an old friend  who happens to be a graphic designer (we worked together in publishing in London in the 1980s) and now lives in Canada, to pay off a debt by utilising his creative skills.

Also since personally I find it hard to edit my own work, I sought assistance there too. A friend made in Japan in or around 1989 – we met a wedding, I seem to recall – she is now moved back to her native New Zealand.

Having published my first book in 2013, I knew the drill. But as I replied to a contact in Tokyo asking whether the process was easy, it’s easy – or easier – when you know how! Basically you need to supply a PDF for the cover art, and another for the interior. A matter of going step-by-step… and it has to be said, the staff at the other end are terrific, answering any enquiry within 24 hours.

The last hurdle that I needed help with was in pricing my work. This is difficult in any activity that requires creativity and craft to be costed in the same way one might cost the manufacture of a biscuit. Sending out mails to all four corners of the earth, asking how much friends tended to pay for books, was no help at all. Some refused to pay anything above £7.99; others were happy to go up to $30 for a book they really coveted. So, the middle-ground…

From my perspective, the main downside of this new print-to-order system is that once Amazon has posted availability online, authors are on their own in terms of mainstream distribution and promotion. And since most writers are more interested in moving on to their next project – I include myself here – this is tough.

Mostly I rely on platforms like this, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. So be a pal, will you? Order online and share links with your own networks.

Thankyou.

 

Back cover text

Love, life, loss … most of us experience it all. Yet this is not a relationship between two lovers; nor even two people. “A love story with a difference” is about an intense relation ship … with a house. A house in Japan. 

Here the author describes in intricate and loving detail the years she spent in the Eastern-Western-style house that she made her home. She leads you on a fascinating and increasingly urgent journey through the interior, and the life lived within its four walls. 

“Because we may not be here much longer, and even if we stay in Japan, life is shifting, the world in transition, and I want to remember. Remember it all.”