I am delighted to welcome my friend and pony book expert Jane Badger to my blog today.
In this guest post Jane, author of the pony book bible Heroines on Horseback: The Pony Book in Children's Fiction, describes how, after decades' collecting old pony books, she has begun re-publishing some as ebooks.
The first one she has chosen to release in her new venture is Dream of Fair Horses by Patricia Leitch. I remember reading this when I was about twelve - the age of the protagonist Gillian Caridia at the beginning of the book.
I remember absolutely loving Gillian's story at the time. But sadly my battered copy was lost over the years, and so I had never re-read it.
Until now. I began the ebook last night and am already hooked. I will be writing a review once I've finished it. But in the meantime, here's Jane to explain how she ended up re-publishing one of the all-time pony classics.
Jane, it's over to you!
How I became a publisher
by Jane Badger
By accident, is the short answer.
Patricia Leitch’s literary heir, Maureen Russell, had been in touch with me to ask about who I thought might be interested in re-publishing Patricia’s books, particularly Dream of Fair Horses, which she loved. I loved it too: it’s one of those books that transcends the fact it’s genre fiction. I asked around, but didn’t get anywhere with the idea of re-publishing.
And then last year, my godfather, Ben, told me about a book he and my father had been very keen on: John Buchan’s John Macnab. I bought myself a copy, and as Ben said he’d love to read it again, bought him one too. The moment I’d sent it off I realised I hadn’t thought it through, as Ben likes a nice large font these days and the hardback I’d sent him was on the small side, font-wise.
I know, I thought. John Buchan is out of copyright now, so I’ll scan my copy for him as a PDF, which he can enlarge quite easily on his PC. While I was sitting there scanning, I wondered how easy it would be to convert the PDF to an eBook format: something that had been pretty tricky the last time I’d looked, several years ago. Not so now. Word will convert a PDF. Not perfectly, by any means, but it will.
It was a lightbulb moment. Why don’t I re-publish Dream of Fair Horses, I thought? I already have the name Jane Badger Books, which I’d kept on the website despite that fact I no longer sold books. I’m a proofreader by trade, so preparing the text will be ok, and I know where to go to get the other expertise I need.
And of course I have a large collection of first edition pony books to use if this whole thing takes off and I expand operations.
Maureen was keen on the idea, and waited very patiently while I spent months sorting out the draft contract with the Society of Authors. The Society also does workshops for authors on e-publishing, with the excellent Ian Skillicorn, and this was incredibly helpful too for ideas on how to get the nuts and bolts of the business established.
And so here we are, some months along the line, with Dream of Fair Horses out now. The Horse from Black Loch is available on pre-order. I like to think that Patricia would approve. When I was proofing the last chapter (and this does sound woo, for which I apologise) I had the strongest sensation that Patricia was there, looking over my shoulder, and saying, yes, this is it: this is what I want you to say. So here it is:
'I put my arm over Perdita’s withers, and in that moment the gold arc of the sun swam over the horizon. I saw the rays of the sun come burning across the grass towards us.
I felt the earth I was standing on tremble and wake, saw every twig on the oak trees breathe again, next year’s leaves curled in the brown husked buds stretch and swell; every blade of grass reached out to the light.
Perdita stood blazoned and golden. I was conscious of every singing atom of her being and I was aware of myself, more aware than I had ever been before.
I was myself, completely myself, and yet I was part of the trees and the grass, part of Perdita. We all flowed in the light of the sun.'
Dream of Fair Horses is available on Kindle through Jane Badger Books.
That's all from me today.