One day this summer Sir Alan Peacock, 90-year-old honorary professor of Edinburgh Business School, walked into my office and announced that he wanted to self-publish his latest work Defying Decrepitude as an e-book. He had talked to a few of his peers about ‘Kindling’, as he called it, and was keen to give it a bash.
Self-publishing e-books is a bit of a hot topic in publishing at the moment: the CEO of Penguin said in July that ‘self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry’ (and he’s trying very hard to think of ways to make money from it).
I had done the e-book essentials course at the Publishing Training Centre and worked with a software developer to produce e-books before, but I hadn’t created an e-book from scratch. I researched Kindle direct publishing and e-book production software (I’ve gone for Calibre), and tried out conversion from Word to HTML (Word2CleanHTML.com was recommended to me by my tech-savvy pal John). I’m teaching myself the rest by talking to people and doing internet research.
It has been a great learning process, and the new skills I’ve learned along the way will definitely be handy. But, more importantly, Alan has written a good book. Reading Defying Decrepitude is like spending a few hours in the author’s company: clear, courageous and to the point, he writes about ageing and bereavement with humour, great dignity and not a whiff of self-pity. (As an economist, he talks about the opportunity costs of remaining alive or, as he calls it, ‘bringing the old banger to the mechanic’ for repair and replacement.)
Sir Alan Peacock worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, was chief economic advisor to the Department of Trade and Industry, set up the David Hume Institute and has been chairman of the Scottish Arts Council. He can now add ‘Kindling pioneer’ to his considerable list of achievements.
Defying Decrepitude will be available to download soon.