Archive for June, 2011

To the printers

Things have moved quickly in the second half of this week.  The last two press agency pictures have arrived, and the colour pictures have been finalised – despite some technical problems, which meant amending the list and the layout to wind up with sixteen pages of them. 

Jo produced pdfs of the text.  Two, in fact, because one file was too big to email to me.  It looks fine, apart from some missing photos.  I realised I hadn’t given them to her.  Duh!  One other picture needed taking out, as we didn’t pay for copyright in the end, but we put another in its place.  A few captions needed changing.  Then the same picture appeared on two pages, but that’s been remedied.  What have I missed, though? 

In a way, I shouldn’t worry; it’s gone to the printers now – ten days behind schedule – and any more changes may be time consuming and expensive.

Aimee is cranking up the publicity machine and the author apparently has to do his bit.   She wants a photo of me in authorly pose.  I’ve told her that being slumped over the PC is appropriate, but she doesn’t seem to want that.

I had a scare yesterday when a strange message appeared on the computer saying the hard drive may have been damaged!  I restarted it and all the desktop icons had disappeared, and there were a few other problems as well.  Suffice to say it meant another night up till 1am sorting out most of it, but of all the times for it to happen, just before finishing everything!  A day afterwards would’ve been much better.  It all adds up to a stupendous number of hours on the computer this week.  

Next week the printer will have no questions about the pdfs I’ve sent him and he will produce an immaculate proof copy for me to check.  Well, that’s the hope, but can it really be as straightforward as that?

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Got the picture?

Last week’s inactivity was forgotten as I stayed up till 2am on Friday night sending two dozen emails to typesetter Jo about the colour section. 

I received batches of colour pictures, mainly from last weekend’s race meeting, from the racecourse on Thursday and Friday.   I didn’t get all the emails until Friday evening, so I could only finalise my preferences then.  I hoped the racecourse would be happy with my choice.  I arranged them into a suitable running order, partly dependent on whether they were landscape or portrait, and not wanting readers to crick their necks looking at images at right angles to one another in the same double-page spread.   This and sending a succession of jpgs to Jo meant that very late night on Friday.  

Since then she’s told me the resolution of some pictures isn’t good enough unless they are shrunk.  We now have to decide whether to go with small pictures, omit them, or re-scan them, time permitting.  The racecourse and I will need to reach a consensus on this asap.  The printers want to start work this week and I am keen to see a proof copy before they finally roll the presses, or whatever the modern jargon is.

Happily, Jo tells me the text layout is finished, apart from two photos still not received from the press agency, who I must chase.   We’re entering the final furlong now.

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Find the Lady

It’s ironic that in spite of the proximity of launch date there has been little visible progress this week. 

We’re still waiting for one press agency’s pictures.   I’ve belatedly realised that jpgs we have of colour photos that the racecourse had may not be good enough quality to go in the book; I await Jo’s view with interest.  If not, the pictures that should have been taken at yesterday’s meeting become all the more important.  I await news of them with interest too!  Having said that, while good colour pictures are eyecatching, my own preferences are for the old black and white ones.  We’ve got one picture from about 1870.

We’re likely to miss our target for getting everything to the printers.  Fortunately we had a bit of slack built into the timetable.  I also have to establish whether the printers are factoring in time for a proof copy for me to check before they hit the Print button and hundreds of copies roll off the presses.  The pace will pick up immeasurably at one or two points in the next month.

Yesterday Bath hosted a semi-final of a Find a Lady Race Commentator competition.  (That’s not the official title of it.)   I wish I had been there.  Two (male) commentators I spoke to midweek were worried in case the ladies didn’t come across well.  That wasn’t because they were sexist.  They independently pointed out to me that Bath is a difficult course to read.  Between a mile and six furlongs out horses are galloping away from you; between half a mile and a furlong from the end they are coming straight at you.  Commentators can obviously use TV coverage as well, but it means Bath is harder than other courses for a novice to interpret.  Moreover, they both stressed the amount of practice you need to have before commentating live in public sounds fluent. 

If it had happened a few weeks before it would certainly have warranted a mention in the book.  But I cannot keep changing the text; a line has to be drawn, otherwise it will never be finished.  I will save that story for the sequel in thirty years’ time.

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Things have slowed a bit this week.  Getting some new action pictures at Bath’s Friday evening meeting was scuppered by the photographer’s non-appearance.  We’re still waiting for one of the press agencies to release some black and white pictures.  The other agency that sent two wrong pictures speedily rectified the situation, so credit to them (Mirrorpix).  I’m asking Jo the typesetter to go full steam ahead with the layout of the text and b&w pictures, leaving the colour ones for the week after next.  This will delay the complete article getting to the printers, but we have a little bit of slack in the overall timetable.

Friday’s race meeting took place on a beautiful evening with great visibility for miles around.  Good weather (and excellent marketing, I’m sure) brought out a big crowd dressed in all sorts of styles.  Dinner jackets and posh frocks were in evidence, as well as more informal attire.  The outfit that sticks in my mind belonged to the chap whose top half consisted of the jacket of a morning suit with a waistcoat and a well-pressed white shirt, but below the belt he wore pink knee-length shorts.  Yes, it would have been a great night for taking pictures. 

Our last chance for photographs for the book is next Saturday afternoon’s meeting.   Pray for some good weather.

I have sent details of the book on a form to Nielsen’s, a company that lists all new books so that wholesalers and retailers can see what is being published.  Each new book is coded so that they can tell it’s about horse racing history.  I bought a stock of ISBN numbers some years ago and now I’m using one for this book, and that will be a unique code number identifying the book.  The form asks for the number of pages and photographs, to which I had to say “not yet known”. 

More than one person has suggested I need a website, and if I can prevail upon one or two more IT-literate friends to help then it may become a reality.

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