'Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?'
('Paperback writer', the Beatles)
I'm humming this to myself as I look at the pre-production paperbacks of the Greece and Rome travel guides. I see that the suitcase theme on the covers (originally established when an extract was published by the Independent newspaper) has now firmly taken hold. These are my first paperbacks ever, so I'm looking at them with a proudly paternal expression.
However, Greece on 5 Drachmas a Day did not take 'years to write' - in fact it holds another record for the fastest production to date. I started writing it in September 2007 and it took less than a year after that for the first finished copy to arrive. Admittedly it helped that I'd known I'd be writing it since 2005, and so had just to commit the previous 18 months of research to paper, but it still shows impressive skill by T&H on the production side.
A big thank you to those people who have shown enough faith in my abilities to pre-buy the book in very healthy quantities even before it has been released. Even more scarily, some buyers had acquired the foreign rights months before I set finger to keyboard to write the opening words.
Tower of Babel
Hello Romania, Holland and Poland!
It's always fun to see new languages being added to the 'In other words' section of the website, and as you can see, there are books there in over a dozen languages now. Since I have some (basic) German, I work closely with my German publishers, but with some others, such as the French and Korean, I had no idea I was being published in that language until my complementary copy arrived in the post.
The top shelf of my bookcase has now a fine multi-lingual look, and though I can't read the text, its fun to look at the layouts, and see how different nationalities have chosen different approaches.
Then, because I can't help myself, I go to amazon and see how each books is getting on in its new country. I understand that there are over 200 languages in the world which are spoken by more than a million people. So that's just 187 languages to go before matyszakbooks.com manages complete world domination. (Well, 188 actually, because I'd love to see some of the travel guides in Latin!)
Athens in the rain
It's been a tough few weeks in the Tirol - the weather has been so wet and cloudy its hardly been worth going outdoors, and I'm down with a rotten throat infection that has me croaking like a frog.
So can't go out, and can't talk. That's left me with a complete lack of excuses, so I've been at the keyboard for six hours a day. The result is that I'm well ahead of schedule on my latest projects, so after the weekend I'm going to be taking a two-week break. If it starts raining again, I'll see if the tennis players at Wimbledon are having better luck.
The weather is improving, and I've a friend - a fellow historian - coming over for a visit. Unless my voice improves, he's going to win a lot of our usual arguments by default. On the other hand, I can't drink whilst I'm on these pills, so my late-night discussions will be considerably more coherent than usual.
I was looking over some of the proofs of the Athens book due out in September - my first multi-national debut. I'll be published in the US in paperback, in the UK in hardback and in Germany and Austria in German. So gibt's weiter!
Back to work ...
Back home after a busy week running around the south-east of England. I had some useful discussions over a vegetable samoosa or two in Cambridge about the eLearning courses I'll be teaching at the end of the year, then meetings with various publishers in London. Also had a chance to meet up with some fellow writers and prowl the British Museum looking for material to illustrate my latest projects.
I picked up a little Asus eee 900 in Tottenham Court Road whilst in the area, and then spent much of the next few days getting a it full Linux interface instead of the rather PDA-like setup it came with. It's a really cute little machine and I was able to do some work even whilst waiting for my plane at Stanstead. But less than two hours of battery life when I was just writing text? Come on, Asus!
So I'm now looking at the Late Republic and Roman armour for two different proposals I hope to be making in the near future - if anything comes of these, I'll let you know.
PS Just heard from Pen & Sword - Mithridates is due out in November this year. They are sending the cover pic, which I'll post when I get it.
Website is go!
After finding it somewhat unsatisfactory corresponding with people about my books through letters sent via publishers and emails over the internet, I've decided to bite the bullet and get a proper website set up. This is where I'll present my various books, describe why each came to be written, and field comments and questions from the general public about them.
So, welcome to matyszakbooks.com! It's going to be interesting having somewhere I can meet enthusiasts of ancient history and discuss ideas with them. Many years ago, my enthusiasm for the ancient world could only be slaked by visits to the city library and correspondence with a few far-flung individuals. Is it not amazing what the 21st Century internet has done for enthusiasts of a world that has been gone for thousands of years?