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Thread: Syerston: Praesta in Officiis - Tim O'Brien

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    Senior Member TOB's Avatar
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    Default Syerston: Praesta in Officiis - Tim O'Brien



    I am currently preparing and researching material for a book about Syerston as a sequel to my RAF Newton book ('Last Post at Newton') and wondered if any AiX members can help me with the following that is proving difficult to source?

    1) An archive plan of the station from 1940 to 1970 that details the buildings, their uses/numbers etc.

    2) A complete list of Station Commanders. I have sourced an in-complete one from the web, but am filling in gaps (dates/names) from former personnel stationed there.

    Plus any archive photos and stories about Syerston from AiX members will be very welcome.

    Tim O'Brien GAvA
    Aviation artist & author
    www.timobrienart.co.uk
    Last edited by TOB; 30-10-2009 at 17:14.

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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    To follow up my original post about the book, I thought it was time to post an update.

    First of all, I want to thank everyone who has helped me out with the Syerston book project. Initially I was cautious as to whether the book could compete with "Last Post at Newton" in terms of images and page extent, but I have thankfully been proved wrong!

    To date the mock-up now stands at 256 pages with plenty of contemporary colour photographs (aerial and ground shots), archive images, numerous aviation paintings and drawings.

    Next target is to make sense of all my scribblings from various interviews and finish the artwork before looking to a publication date sometime in 2010.

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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Apologies for the very late reply Pete, as I have sadly neglected to update this thread in favour of the main Syerston one (& Newton too), where you can read about my recent visits to Syerston and flights in the resident Chipmunk etc.....

    Basically, the text is about 70% complete. I feel that I have just about got all my research material together after a recent visit to the National Archives at Kew and interviewing many former Syerston personnel etc: its now just a case of finding some quiet time to finish off the text and start some paintings to fill some gaps. Have sourced plenty of archive photographic material, plans, memorabilia too, so hopefully there is something for everyone's tastes in there.

    Having been at Syerston quiet a lot over the last few weeks photographing various happenings there, the problem I now have is knowing when to stop. When I started, I doubted whether I was going to be able to source enough material, but I seem to have too much now (which can't be a bad thing I suppose) and its a case of deciding what to leave out!

    The book will be the same size/spec as 'Last Post at Newton' e.g. W170mm x H240mm, 288 page extent, Hardback, colour throughout. The working title is 'SYERSTON: Praesta in Officiis' (subject to change). Price: 25.

    Re. a release date, I have a feeling that it is likely to be summer 2011.

    The only barrier I face is that I am financing the whole project myself; so I just need to work a bit harder at my other work to pay for this 'spare-time' project!

    Oh and BTW; I have managed to complete the Station Commander list from various sources.
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    Last edited by TOB; 13-09-2010 at 23:25.

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Tim how many words would that be . I have a professional interest in publishing and I like to know about the ratio of book size / words / diagrams / pictures / book cost etc. 25 sounds to be about right for what you are getting though.

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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Ahh.....you've got me there!

    I need to collate the word count properly and come back to you on that one nearer the publishing date as the total is changing daily at present, but from a quick glance on the other material in the Syerston book, it is looking like: approx 265 photos (a mix of 120 archive images & 145 contemporary shots), approx 5 plans/diagrams, 8 pen drawings and 17 to 20 paintings.

    Flicking through my copy of the third/revised edition of "Last Post at Newton", that book had approx 40,000 words, 250 to 300 photos, approx 19 pen drawings, 3 plans, 7 paintings. I have attached some very quick photos (hence the lack of focus!) to give you an idea of the finished Newton book. The Syerston book will have a similar look: similar, but different!

    I suppose the remit I gave myself was: what do I look for in a book, what would make me buy a copy? And while ensuring that all the text is as accurate as possible, I am a visual person at the end of the day, so I like to see lots of images to make the book visually pleasing and keep my target audience (a mix of veterans, enthusiasts and the general public who wouldn't normally buy books of this nature) constantly interested. But at the same time, I don't want the book to be just another 'photo-album' book as I like it to have depth.

    Going back to the Syerston book; as I am self publishing, I am currently working on a rough design mock-up of how I see the finished book. This will then be handed over, along with the digital files to Russell Strong, a freelance book layout designer (I used on 'Last Post') who used to work for Midland Publishing for years and still works on the occasional book for Ian Allan. Russell has all the right computer kit to then make a 'print-ready' pdf file. The CD will then be ready for whichever printer I use. Last time it was MPG-Biddles who printed it digitally on demand after Russell uploaded the book to their ftp facility. Printing on demand, certainly saved on cost and storage. Whether I use Biddles for the Syerston book or whether I go for a larger litho produced run with someone else has yet to be decided.

    As for the price: it is a very difficult balancing act, taking into account the ever increasing cost of printing, what the audience will pay for the book and what trade-rate the retailers pay, while at the same time trying to make a small profit to cover my own production costs! I did approach some publishers as I thought it might be an easier and less risky option, but as they either seemed disinterested or didn't offer much, I decided to go it alone. It is hard work (expensive too) but at least I can keep control of the design, content etc.

    Hope that helps?

    How have you approached your books; do you use a publisher or self publish?
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    Last edited by TOB; 13-09-2010 at 23:22.

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Thanks , that is very interesting. I can see your books are a more modern approach and style (coffee table book if I may say) and very colourful. Mine will be a bit more formal and 20th Century-like (almost report style) plus black and white (cannot afford colour). Unlike you as well, I will be printing very limited one-off print runs (not on demand) of 500 units. Yes self publishing in conjunction with AiX / ARG Archive.

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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Thanks; hope it has been of help.

    If you need any tel numbers of printers/designers, exact costs invloved etc, please let me know via the private messages and we can exchange info, in case it helps any future AiX/ARG project.

    Coffee table book, colourful etc: don't have a problem with that description at all, as I suppose I was kind of aiming at that sort of book, where readers keep going back to it, and find something new inside each time. To date I have sold 500 copies, having printed in batches of 100. I could have sold more to date through my local Waterstones and Newark Air Museum, who keenly pester me (in a nice way) for the next batch, which I hope to print soon, as and when funds allow.

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    Default Re: RAF Syerston book

    Just a quick update on the progress of the Syerston book:

    The book is virtually complete and it was my intention to have it published by now, but due to a last minute production delay the publication has been pushed back until early 2012.

    However, on the plus side - as the MoD are just putting the finishing touches to the new build on the airfield, this delay has allowed me the opportunity to include a photograph of the new buildings and the demolition of the last wartime hangar to bring the book up to date.

    Thanks for your patience everyone as I keep getting enquiries as to when it is available to buy, but please be re-assured, it is on its way - just not this side of Christmas unfortunately!

    For more details take a look at www.tobbitpublishing.co.uk
    Last edited by TOB; 18-11-2011 at 09:55.

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