Sunday, December 5, 2021

When the light goes out (update)

As some of ye may know, I've been writing a book about fatalities at Irish lighthouses, a cheery little tome, which is a collection of deaths suffered by keepers, their families, tradesmen and contracted ferry operators from 1786 to 1972.
Not every death, mind. Some are lost in the mists of time and some are not really noteworthy but there are roughly 70 tales of people who paid the ultimate price for keeping our seas safe for mariners. It didn't help that the Irish Lights archive has been unavailable for the last couple of years (great time to write a lighthouse book!) but I was able to work around it.
It is roughly 80,000 words long and, despite the grim subject matter, or maybe because of it, I've tried to keep it light-hearted where appropriate, while trying at all times to be respectful to the memory of the deceased. I have sent a few individual chapters out to descendants of those involved and have got the green light from all of them, which makes me hopeful that I've got something right.
Arranged chronologically, I'm hoping the book serves as a history of sorts of lightkeeping in this country. I also used it to erm, shine a light on some of our lesser-known lights - Beeves, Little Samphire, Lough Mahon etc - that don't, I feel, get the exposure they deserve.
I finished the book around the end of August and sent it out to twenty or so publishers, confidently expecting there would be a rush of editors desperate to sign me up. So far, I've had four responses - they like the unique concept of the book, they like the writing and the photographs "... but, unfortunately, ..."
Most of the publishers say to give it three to six months to expect a reply. So I'll give it till the end of January, If nobody is interested by then, I'll publish the damn thing myself, when a lot of things will need to be decided - do I ditch the colour and sell €5 cheaper. Do I need a subtitle on that cover above? How do I go about distributing? Will our exorbitant postal rates make the cost prohibitive? Et cetera.
But we'll deal with that when the time comes ...