More riches…

Remarkable Birds has been my highest-earning book to date – at least as far as payments from publishers are concerned (I never keep track of the sales I make of books at talks etc, at least not by title). Having been published in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Russian that’s probably about it although there are plenty of Portuguese-speaking (and reading) and Arabic-reading (and speaking), and Hindi- , German- and Bengali-speaking bird enthusiasts out there. Actually, there are over a billion speakers of those languages but they may not all be bird enthusiasts.

The latest payment from Thames & Hudson has recently arrived via my agent.

And for 2019 I received over £300 even after my agent took her very-much-deserved percentage.

I am quite proud of Remarkable Birds – when I pick it up and read a few pages, as I do now and again to refresh my memory, I don’t squirm at what I wrote back then.

It was a book where the publisher approached me to write it – which came out of the blue (and presumably after trying lots of better writers). I had two editors during the process and each was a delight with which to work.

Colin signed me up and he and I agreed the eight chapters and roughly the species that would feature in each (with my eye on interesting (and indeed remarkable) species and his eye on ones relevant to the countries where sales would be expected to be highest). I then rattled off a few texts, which were either long ones (I think about 1200 words) or short ones (I think about 600 words) and then Colin toldme what he liked and didn’t like about them – he was generally very kind. And then we agreed a timetable and I started writing.

writing several hundred words about any bird species is as much a decision about what to leave out as to what to leave in, but having a list of species to work through and a text length for each one made it an interestng but fairly straighforward task.

There is one of the chapters about which Colin was very keen and I was less keen but I’d be surprised if anyone could guess what it is with any confidence from reading the published book.

And the pictures, which are what the book is really about, came later and were chosen by a picture editor. By now Sarah had taken over from Colin and she was very good at keeping me happy and informed about the whole process. There were a few iamges that I vetoed – they weren’t the right species or just looked too ghastly to someone who knows about birds even if they looked attrctive on the page – but there are still small number of published images I’m not keen on (but I’m sure that they are the favourites of others. Most of the artwork is out of copyright and I would have iked a few, not to many, more modern artists featured. But I was writing the book not selecting the artwork.

Thames & Hudson produce beautiful books and I’m quite proud to have my words in one of them. And any book with an Audubon on the cover and several more inside is bound to be a winner.

And it is, of course, nice to keep getting paid for the work!


2 Replies to “More riches…”

  1. My guess Mark, is it’s the chapter on the Linnet.

    (Helpfully – and no doubt clearly – I haven’t read the book, although I have read and enjoyed lots of your other books and on the basis of your review above I will have to add it to my lockdown reading list…)

    1. Francis – no Linnets, but Goldfinch in (Revered and Adored – religious imagery) and Bullfinch (in The Love Life of Birds where you get to learn why Bullfinches have small testes). Other random species: Secretary Bird, Chatham Island Robin, Great Auk, Rook and Greater Honeyguide…

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