The last four weeks-or-so have been extremely busy…
Firstly, back in July, I launched a new Polish football blog – Piłka.UK. My former blog, EkstraklasaReview, had for a couple of years been left unattended, and left for the virtual elements. Ahead of the new Ekstraklasa season, and keen to get back into writing for my own enjoyment, I felt it was time for a fresh start.
So far, there are a handful of short articles on the blog, covering topics such as the Ekstraklasa’s new streaming service, Ruch Chorzów’s tragic decline, and the new threads which Polish sides are showing this season.
In addition, there is also a short excerpt from…
From Partition to Solidarity: the first 100 years of Polish football
…my first book, released on August 10th!
You may have seen, splashed all over my Twitter (and anywhere else I can plug it), that I have written a book – From Partition to Solidarity: the first 100 years of Polish football.
This is something I have been working on, very slowly, and juggled in between both a day job and family time, for the last few years.
The reason I started to write this book was, basically, because there was nothing else out there like it…
It was never my intention to write a book. I originally wanted only to research the history of Polish football, and found myself compiling a bookcase full of works – mostly Polish, with a couple of German and English – through which I had to trawl to piece together little nuggets of information. I wondered why no-one had compiled this information in one, relatively easy-to-digest book. Then, I decided, I might as well do it myself.
Have you ever been on Wikipedia, clicked a couple of links in articles, and found yourself reading about something completely removed from what you were originally looking at? That was my experience in researching for From Partition…. Over the course of writing, I’ve probably gathered enough stories, oddities, tidbits and other bits of information to write another two books. I have a small cabinet sitting next to me, which has drawers buckling under the weight of scraps of scribbled-on paper, about anything from “How Pogoń Lwów were formed” (Chapter One) to “the closure of Mexican steel mills in the 1980s” (it, perhaps surprisingly, gets a brief mention in Chapter Twenty Two).
Ultimately, though, it was a balancing act; put as much detail, information and, importantly, context into the book as possible, yet still make it accessible and interesting for the casual reader. I hope to think that I balanced it well. Maybe some of the stuff that missed out will be fine for the next book*.
Then, there’s the politics. Just looking at the cover (its name, the play on the famous ‘Solidarność’ logo, and that the design is based on a famous photo of Lech Wałęsa), there is obviously a socio-political aspect to the book. It became apparent pretty early on in the writing process, that the social and political history of Poland was going to be an extremely important part of the book. Again, it wasn’t something that was intended, but it did mean there was a whole other subject I needed to engross myself into (I cannot recommend highly enough Adam Zamoyski’s Poland: A History), to get the book where I wanted it to be.
Once more, it was a balancing act. The book is not a politics book; there needed only to be enough information to convey context (which, sometimes, is a significant amount), but not bore the reader with something that, ultimately, they hadn’t wanted to read about. Still, I found that much of the political and social research I undertook was as interesting as the football stuff!
From Partition… has been self-published, through Amazon’s “Kindle Direct Publishing”; that is the reason why, for now, it is only available through Amazon’s platforms. I have a couple of reasons for going down this route:
Firstly, I had complete control. I had, from the start, an idea of how I wanted the book to look, and self-publishing was the easiest way for me to achieve this.
Secondly, the cost. Self-publishing is usually extremely expensive, but publishing through Amazon KDP allowed me to get my book out there without an expense that I couldn’t afford.
Finally, impatience. I sent off several letters to traditional publishers before going with KDP, and was often met with similar responses. Brexit (boo!), and the increase in printing/distribution costs related to it, was a similar theme, while, often, the response came that the book was “too niche”. Understandable; publishers, ultimately, are businesses. It doesn’t matter how good or interesting the book is, it only matters how many copies can be sold. I didn’t write the book to earn millions. I wrote it for the same reason that I started my new blog: because I enjoyed writing about a subject. Being able to get the book out into the world, with minimal expense, seemed to fit well with the reason I started blogging all those years ago.
*don’t mention the words “next book” to my wife!