Friday, 8 October 2010

Guest Blog Post: Richard Galbraith on his work: Concrete Operational - Novel Writing, art, music and independent publishing

Today's guest post comes from Richard Galbraith. Richard first contacted me with regards to reviewing Concrete Operational. I took such a project because it is very unusual (well, certainly I've never come across anything like it yet). It could be the route more books take in the future, especially with authors sometimes giving a list of the music they listen to.

Concrete Operational – A Guest Post

Concrete Operational is my novel, it’s an independent release funded by the Arts Council England…that statement itself raises two quick questions, why indie, and how did you convince the English Arts Council to give you thousands of pounds to publish it? Well, this is where my journey into independent publishing, collaborative media, design, filmmaking, music production, art manufacturing and a host of other things came to being.

Let’s take a step back to 2009, I had my novel manuscript complete, and I’d had it assessed by the most excellent Oxford Editors . My assessor said that whilst it was a good manuscript, it was difficult in places and would have problems finding an agent or a publisher because of it’s content, being that at the time, the second chapter was a 4,000 word speech amongst other things.

I looked back on my manuscript and remembered that the reason I began writing it, wasn’t to get published, but to explore my theories and beliefs on the human condition and Fatalism, and to an extent, it had done that. I also knew however, I would now like people to read it and that the 80,000 words that I had written were a jumbled mess of vast streams of consciousness, and surrealist writing.

I decided to compromise, I would make the novel, the manuscript that ‘had legs’ legible, I’d do everything I could to make it a compelling, insightful and interesting read and tell a real story, but I also wanted to keep the keen look at humanity. I wanted to make sure the reader came away with something and in this regard, I decided on a collaborative media project, because well, I’m not Kurt Vonnegut.

I pulled my resources and crowed sourced five British bands and five British artists who were prepared to create original music and art around five emotionally driven extracts of my novel. The promise was an art book, music album and novel, all to be released at the same time through the Amazon print on demand service, Createspace. We would have a launch night, a seven-day exhibition and the support of marketing and promotion professionals.

And that is what Operation Concrete came to be. Only we achieved so much more along the road; we produced a 72 page art book, a five track album, a six minute short film, original designs and branding around all assets, 200 bespoke, hand-made boxes for ‘box-sets’ of all the products. The launch night had well over 200 attendees and the seven day art exhibition that was free to the public and ran in London saw over 1000 patrons pass through. The exhibition was an immersive experience that allowed the patron to read the extract to the art and listen to the music all at the same time. It was all a great success.

However, all in all, it’s been a very difficult road, pulling it all together was hard, but trying to get people to find out what we did and understand what it was and is all about is proving the most difficult part.

Hopefully this post has sparked some of your interest though, so head over to Operation Concrete for samples of the art, music and words, to view the short film, and ultimately to purchase any of the items or all of them, in one of the box-sets. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that through it, you can discover something about yourself that you might not have know was there before.

If you would like to know more about the project that you can find online, just email me at ricgalbraith [at] gmail [dot] com

Richard Galbraith

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