Bernards' Blog - An occasional look at what to do when you get too old to go out and take pictures!

From Photographer to Author

A scan of the cover of my new book
I retired from full-time work some nine years ago. Finding myself with time on my hands I started to look more closely at my extensive negative and slide collection which mostly comprised pictures of buses in the Midlands in the 1950s and 60s and railway subjects from the 1970s onwards.

I set out to sort and catalogue my collection and by early 2011 I was ready to convert the many thousands of slides and negatives into digital images. To get the quality I wanted I had to resort to a professional scanning organisation and this proved expensive. Nevertheless I carried on and had about 1000 negatives and slides digitised in this way.

In an attempt to defray the cost I started selling prints of these images on eBay and for the next couple of years this produced a steady flow of income although it was quite labour intensive to deal with the packaging, posting, re-ordering etc. What did become apparent was the latent interest in the former Midland Red Bus Co that I had worked for when I left school in 1960. I decided to try and tap into this and write an account of my experiences based on my diary notes and photographic records taken at the time. After about two and a half years of occasional effort I had got the story down and found I had written about 75,000 words which when added to the captions for the 100 or so illustrations grew to nearly 80,000.

What to do next? I contacted friends in the heritage industry and asked if they would be prepared to read my efforts and give me honest feedback. They all agreed and some passed the book on to other potentially interested readers. The results came back and were very positive. One of the reviewers, himself a notable author on Midland Red subjects with many successful titles to his credit, was very enthusiastic, said he enjoyed it from start to finish and even volunteered to correct my use of the English language and punctuation!

Emboldened by the responses I was getting I decided to approach some publishers. One in particular liked the story, offered me a contract and an advance of royalties. I signed up a year ago and we agreed that the title would be Midland Red Adventure. since then nothing much has happened other than they have tried to get me to rewrite the book as a general history of the Company with lots of technical details of the buses. I'm not going to do this because it has already been done very expertly by others so there would be no point. (This particular publisher has no experience of publishing books about the Midland Red).

After I had sent my 'flyer' about Midland Red Adventure to my selected prospective publishers I was approached by Amberley with a proposition to produce a full colour photo album of Midland Red buses to be called Midland Red in Colour. I needed to produce about 180 images and about 12,000 words of text. I happily took on this task and the book is to be published on 15th June this year, indeed it can be pre-ordered now from this website.

Amberley have asked me to do two more books in the same format the first will be about East Yorkshire Motor Services and the second will be on the South Devon Railway.

As to Midland Red Adventure well who knows?

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