One Stop Short of Barking (formerly Mind the Gap) - Making of the Book by Mecca Ibrahim

One Stop Short of Barking (formerly Mind the Gap) - Making of the Book by Mecca Ibrahim

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Do you have "One Stop Short of Barking by Mecca Ibrahim"?

Do you have "One Stop Short of Barking by Mecca Ibrahim"?

Today I found a post "Adventures in Book Buying" by a very nice lady called Anna who was trying to get hold of my book "a silly book in the Underground that I keep wanting to buy and then think, oh come on, it's too silly,"

She visits a number of book shops and due to classification difficulties (is it humour, is it travel, is it london, is it transport) initially can't find it and then does. Yay!

Loving this part though - "The Results:

a. One Stop Short of Barking (I bought this book mostly because its author has the triumphantly Londonish name of Mecca Ibrahim)"

Thanks Anna, you've made my day! I never knew I had a "triumphantly Londonish name" before now!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

In Foyles Xmas Catalogue

Most gratifying to see the book in the humour section of Foyles Xmas Gift catalogue alongside books by Ricky Gervais and seen on the same page as Little Britain, Crap Towns II and The Onion.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Review in Angel Magazine

Just seen a copy of Angel Magazine and a good interview with me waxing lyrical about the tube and the book. Really reminded of the conditions I did the interview in "Angel is speaking over the phone to Mecca, who is in her Old Street office on a hot and stuffy day - perfect conditions to be talking about the Tube!"

Monday, September 13, 2004

More Reviews and a competition

Googling "One Stop Short of Barking" today, I discovered a very nice little piece in which is the customer magazine for South West Trains, which hopefully means it will be in the print magazine too.

"a dedication to the foibles of the Tube, a potted history and a guide to surviving even the toughest travelling conditions without breaking a sweat. It will teach you to recognise ™pre-departure shuffling" in fellow passengers in order to claim the next available seat, and discover how to achieve ™maxium door alignment" so that you can board the train swiftly and stylishly. A warts-and-all guide, it will also bring smiles to the faces of those so often stuck behind someone who won't move down the carriage, can't find their ticket at the barrier or who jams their rucksack in the doors just as they're closing".

Loving the way they have put trade mark signs on "Pre Departure Shuffling" and "Maximum Door Alignment".

You can also win a copy of it too - Fab.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

People seeing my book in shops

Sorry I've been a bit lapse with posts lately, not that I've been doing book signings or turning into the next Lynne Truss yet. But I have done a few interviews for London magazines, a very short one on Capital Gold FM last month and will keep you posted on more radio ones hopefully next month.

It is simply the most bizarre feeling in the world to see your book in a bookshop, however more bizarrely for me has been my friends' reaction on seeing it (or not seeing it - as the case may be).

One friend saw some as part of a transport display in her local Waterstone's which she said was "surreal". Another was idling around Wisley Gardens and saw it there. Another friend has been going into Waterstone's demanding that it be put onto the ground floor as it's not in a very "young mum with buggy friendly position".

This weeekend Blogger Diamond Geezer saw a huge stack in Foyles.

I've only personally seen my book once in Waterstone's in Notting Hill and then I had to do a bit of a J R Hartley - "Do you have One Stop Short of Barking?" I asked coyly - hoping to God they wouldn't say "Errr what?" or "Who wants to know?"

Friday, April 09, 2004

OHMIGOD - My book's in Amazon

I was just idling through amazon, like you do, and I must admit for the last couple of months or so I had been putting in my book's title in the search, just to see if it was in. Believe it or not I hadn't been doing this every day and only did today as I was looking for my publisher Jo Hemming's book The Dating Game to send the link to someone.

So, drum roll, you can now pre-order One Stop Short of Barking: Uncovering the London Underground through amazon. Already at a bargain price of £6.39 and it's not even published yet (ooer me royalties).

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Annie's all excited

There's a slim chance that my co-researcher Annie Mole may be on TV, as Mosaic Films have been in touch with her to talk about her website and blog. Mosaic produced an award winning TV series for ITV last year on the tube and have been commissioned to make another series. I managed to dig out an archived page for the old series and it looked quite fun. I'll keep my fingers crossed for her, perhaps she'll have more luck than my TV appearance on Ask Ken.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Woo- hoo - first full colour proofs

They look fantastic. (I know I'm biased) but I'm so pleased New Holland decided to go full colour with the book. The pictures look so much more alive in colour and it makes the archived black and white ones look even more quaint and quirky.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Dear Diary - What I did over Xmas

Corrected and added captions to second proofs

Dear Diary - What I did today

Saw the third proofs of the book and saw that it now has an ISBN number and a bar code and a front cover and a spine and blurb on the back and my name on it and everything. V. v. good.

Sorry, I did revert to being an excited kid though when New Holland biked the third set of proofs over to me. I think it is now really beginning to sink in that this book will actually be in the shops this year and I don't have to say, "It's coming out next year" anymore.

The proofs look great. We had a few problems with some of the pictures as they were shots from films and would have been ridiculously expensive. But Camilla, my editor, has ably come up with some great alternatives and without giving anything away, I had a good laugh at the pictures of TV presenter, Paul Ross and top British actor, James Bolam - who both appear in my book. They're both connected with the London Underground in some way which sounds bizarre but true.

Just like the book itself really.

Monday, December 22, 2003

New Holland Xmas Party

On Friday I had my first party as "an author", a surreal fact in itself. But I really enjoyed it, for the following reasons:

a) because people kept asking me what my next book was going to be,
b) because I got to meet some other authors who had great advice on writing, getting agents, pitching etc etc and
c) because all of the people I spoke to said the book sounded like a winner!

One of the authors in b deserves a special mention - Suzy Greaves. She is a successful life coach but also used to be a journalist and is remarkably enthusiastic and positive but without coming across all earnest, preachy and self helpy like other people I've met in the "you can heal your life" business. Most amazing was that she was really interested in me and we'll definitely be keeping in touch as we hope to help each other on a number of levels. (In a very spooky way there's lots of things we have in common from a professional viewpoint and she also knows my friend's mum!)

Like me, Suzy's first book will be published by New Holland next summer, but it was fascinating to learn that an article she wrote for the Evening Standard on life coaching in December 2002 is still bringing her business today. Read it and you'll see why, very inspiring.

My publishing manager, Jo Hemmings, was great fun as usual and was on stage with the company's MD handing out some funny staff awards. Best staff catchphrase, best coffee maker etc.

I was honoured to be invited.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Ken Livingstone - He say no

After he agreed to write a foreword and then we gave him a few lines to "say" or write some of his own I've just received the following:

-----Original Message-----
From: Mayor []
Sent: 18 December 2003 16:03
To: Mecca Ibrahim
Subject: MGLA021203-1322: RE: Ask Ken debate follow up - quote request

Dear Ms Ibrahim

Thank you for your email of 1 December, inviting me to provide a quote for your book as we discussed at the Ask Ken debate in November.

Thank you for sending some suggestions for me to use, however due to the current constraints on my diary I am unable to fulfil your request at this time.

Please accept my apologies and best wishes for the success of your work.

Yours sincerely

Ken Livingstone
Mayor of London

Hmmmmm - old misery

Annie's London Underground Diary Highly Commended in Guardian Awards

Just because she's been twisting my arm and giving me Chinese Burns, I wanted to say congratulations and well done to my able co-researcher Annie Mole, whose London Underground Diary was highly commended in The Guardian's Best British Blog Awards, specialist category. She keeps moaning that the winner was a dead guy - Samuel Pepys - admittedly a far more famous diarist than she is.

And having looked at it, it does seem a bit weird to give it to someone who basically has done a lot of typing by entering bits from Pepys Diary online. It would have seemed more interesting if the links the writer - Phil Gyford - references went back to modern day links on the net, but they just go back to other posts in "his" diary. But hey, when have awards ever been uncontraversial?

Friday, December 05, 2003

Lunch with publisher

Had another great lunch with my publishing manager, Jo Hemmings. It was a lot of fun and although we hardly spoke about my book at all (lots of other more private stuff), it meant that I got an invite to New Holland's Xmas Party in a couple of weeks time which I'm really looking forward to.

Jo's just had her own book published - The Dating Game - which is a top book. Very funny but full of practical advice too as she has a psychology background.

I still had that weird sensation when I was sitting in their reception waiting for Jo and seeing the posters for Men and Sheds (their surprise bestseller last year) and what looks like is going to be their new Xmas bestseller Extreme Ironing, thinking maybe this time next year there'll be a poster for my book on the wall.

Extreme Ironing, is getting shedloads of publicity (excuse mentioning "shed" in two paragraphs), was in the Sunday Times recommended books last week and is on a Waterstone's special offer and on their posters for Xmas gifts.

Friday, November 21, 2003

New cover and I've seen the whole book

Well the first of the layouts anyway, which look fantastic, I'm really very pleased with the design and it seriously looked so good I hardly recognised what I had written and amazingly found myself laughing at it. So I suppose that's a good sign (although I'm always suspicious of people who laugh heartily at their own jokes).

If you didn't come in from the front page, here's the cover:

One Stop Short of Barking cover

Friday, October 31, 2003

First round of copy editing finished

Text got back from the copy editor now with a lot of questions for me and a few very small re-writes. I was amazed at how thorough the copy editing was, not just from the point of view of grammer and typo's and potentially libellous stuff, but in terms of the facts. I suppose I thought that if a book is often tongue in cheek and quirky it didn't matter too much about the facts.

Luckily me and my co-researcher, Annie had actually done a lot of research for the book, so most of the factual questions involved a few inconsistencies on dates and asking me to back up some of the things I'd written from a historical perspective. So it was good to get back and say - "Yep, I got that from Underground to Everywhere page X", or "Ah but X was actually in this position when he made the following quote - see London Under London page Y"

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Meeting Ken Livingstone

Although I didn't get to ask my question to Ken live on the TV programme, I did get to meet him at the after show hospitality and when chatting to him, asked if he'd be prepared to write a foreword. Amazingly after grilling me with quite a few questions, he said yes. However my publishers don't neccessarily think it would be a good idea, right now, which is fair enough.

If anyone wants to see a rather enthusiastic and "excited puppy" report of the recording of the AskKen programme and our meeting with Ken, head over to my co-researcher (as she now insists on being called) Annie's blog.

Friday, October 24, 2003

TV continued

Carlton TV have finally OK'd my question for Ken Livingstone and I'm going to be talking to New Holland about the possibility of a foreward or backward or whatever for the book from the Mayor himself. The show itself will be broadcast on the 30th of October at 7.30pm (oo-er prime time viewing) on ITV1 in the Carlton/London area - getting slightly scared already.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I'm gonna be on television, I'm gonna be on television (possibly)

Carlton TV got in touch with me today to see if I wanted to be in the audience of debating show "Ask Ken" and ask Mayor Ken Livingstone a transport related question but to try to make it funny.

Mmm, thinking about it for one second, I jumped at the chance, thinking I'd be able to plug the book in some way but apparently ITC rules says that I can't give it a blatant plug. Anyway I might try to corner Mayor Ken after the show before he's whisked away in his limo to see if he might be prepared to write a foreward or blurb for the book. Watch this space.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

New interactive section to site

Well, hardly interactive in the true sense of the word, but a good collection of animated gifs which illustrate lots of stuff that will be in the book.

Many thanks to Motomichi Nakamuru of Juvenile Media for giving me permission to use them.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Hurrah. That's it, all the text is now with my copy editor (my editor is on holiday) and he's going to look at everything over the next couple of weeks and hopefully edit away and just have a few questions rather than re-writes.

So that means I can invoice New Holland for the second part of my advance, final part due next year when the proofs are approved.

Amazingly the last thing I wrote for the book was the introduction!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

OK my deadline of 1st October for producing the first draft has passed and I did get all of my chapters to the publishers in time.

Now my editor has had a look at it and wants a few small re-writes and new parts, which I will finish by this time next week, and then - hoorah - that's it. Well for the text anyway, may have to still do some more photographs and cartoon and illustration research, plus give publishers full references for any London Transport Museum pictures we'll be using.

Also my co-researcher Annie Mole did a radio interview for a national German radio station yesterday, due to be broadcast in November. Shameless new media whore and self publicist that she is, she says she's managed to get a plug for the book in the introduction which is cool.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Check out the Unofficial 2004 Calendar

Contains some pictures that will be in the book

Friday, September 19, 2003

Very exciting day, we now have a definitive title for the book which is .......

One Stop Short of Barking

which is certainly memorable and will get people talking.

It's the idea that sometimes on the tube you always feel as though you are one stop from Barking, and not the station but from going barking mad.

Also I came across the phrase for the first time on EastEnders. Hardman Phil Mitchell and his mate "Minty" were talking about a guy going crazy and agressive. "He's a bit Dagenham", Minty said. "Wot?" grunted Phil. Minty, completely deadpan, replied, "One stop short of Barking!" (Dagenham's actually quite a few stops further on from Barking - but when could you rely on EastEnders to be accurate)

I've since discovered that it's actually quite a popular phrase and many people actually say that someone's "East Ham", meaning "One stop short of Barking" or "One sandwich short of a picnic" or basically not "quite the full shilling", or not all there... I think you get my drift.

Another piece of great news is that now the book is going to be full colour, which I'm particularly excited about.

Watch this space for a new cover very soon.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Hoorah - sales and marketing have given the new spreads their approval so the publishers can get on with the new design now. I haven't seen the new design myself yet, but will keep you posted when I do. Also I've been taking lots of new pictures with my great new digital camera - Epsilon 1.3 - it's really lightweight and much less obstrusive than my previous one. Publishers are pleased with the quality and resolution of the pics too.

Annie's London Underground Blog (diary) also got a good plug in WebUser magazine today - the UK's biggest Internet mag, and she plugs the book quite nicely on her blog, so this is all good news. To see a scan of the article click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

More feedback from the publishers today and we're going all "affectionate", the design was felt to be a bit too stark and with "empty pictures" - ie pictures with no people in them. Which meant they felt that visually it was a bit too similar to Simon James' Mind the Gap photography book with pictures taken of stations at the end of tube lines. So both me and the publishers are going to do some more photography and see what turns up.

They're happy with what I've written though but the design is going to go for a major overhaul by the sounds of it.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Oh no! Back to the drawing board with the design for the book as the sales and marketing team weren't quite happy with the layout. I thought it looked good, but I'm only the author and they've got tons of experience in this stuff. For a highly illustrated book, the design is all important, so it's vital they get it right.

Anyway, I finished another chapter last week so am nearly there with completing it now to make my deadline of the beginning of October. Fortunately there's a Bank Holiday this weekend so I'm going to get my head down and spend time with Annie getting the final sections together.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Really good lunch with my publishing manager and editor today. Not at all what I expected really. Although I spose I didn't know what to expect ;-) Had a good laugh and we were chatting about all sorts from the Atkins diet to holidays in Beruit to queuing up at 6am in the morning to get into Next sales to bird watching. I think my publishing manager found it quite refreshing to have a "girly lunch" as most of the authors she deals with are men (My God - still can't believe I'm one of their "authors").

Was very flattered to learn that they don't actually take on many books which they haven't originally commissioned themselves. She gets around 20-30 proposals a week and turns down the vast majority of them, although they publish hundreds of books a year mainly from authors who have already written for them or from ideas they have themselves and then they search around trying to find potential authors to write them. They seem to only publish a handful of proposals sent in like mine.

Their surprise hit of last year was Men and Sheds which they had to re-print very quickly (although the fastest they could turn it round in was 6-8 weeks after it sold out).

New Holland Publishers'  Men and Sheds

They see Mind the Gap in a similar format and showed me several of my spreads today on computer which was totally weird and exciting. They had a poster of Men and Sheds in their reception and I couldn't help but wonder if the next time I was in their offices (or maybe in a year's time), if Mind the Gap would have pride of place there too.

We felt we should push the tube drivers' announcement section as this is the part which has had the greatest interest on and has appealed to a wide range of readers from New Scientist to FHM to BOYZ (weekly gay magazine) to The Guardian to Midweek (freebie commuters magazine) to the Lonely Planet and Frommers' travel guide books.

They asked if I'd approached many publishers with my idea and to be honest I hadn't. I almost had a deal with a small publishers based in Brighton but in the end they didn't have enough money to publish it or the distribution clout required. So I got lucky really with New Holland and went to them on the basis that my friend Annie said she sold a lot of London Walks books that they publish on her site so there might be a synergy.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

As we speak New Holland are working on sales spreads to be approved at their marketing and design and sales meetings then these will form part of the sales tools for the guys on the road to strong arm the booksellers and force them to stock lots and lots of books.

I'm also having lunch with my publishing manager next week, so will actually get to meet her and my editor in the flesh. What a bizarre world this is? Already have a book deal, money in the bank and I haven't even met them yet!

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Hoorah - the cheque for the first part of my advance arrived today!!!!

Cheers New Holland. Let's hope we sell loads and loads and loads of copies.

Friday, July 18, 2003

After various conversations and emails, all is well with my editor and publishing manager. They're happy with a sample chapter from me and very happy with most of the photos which are "most amusing". Still need to tie down the style of some cartoons but we're certainly getting there.

Next week we'll be going over the contents for the Sales presentation spreads so the reps can go out and start selling it into shops and distributors.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Spoke to my editor today and saw the proposed front cover, which if you came in from the main site is now on the front page.

She's going to be talking to the publishing manager tomorrow about various things like sample chapters to make mock up pages for the sales guys.

It's all getting very serious now, but also good fun. When I saw the cover today I think I can now finally believe that at some stage I'm going to be able to go into a book shop and see it. Or I'll be sitting on the tube opposite or next to someone reading it. That will be very, very mad.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Lots of picture research at the London Transport Museum today - more to do next week. Found some really good "people" pictures which will work well.

I have a growing pile of London Underground books at home which vary from Tube classics like London Under London and Underground to Everywhere (only one left in stock according to Amazon) and Underground Art, to fiction and more wacky stuff Neverwhere, King Solomon's Carpet and Anthea Turner's Underneath the Underground (that's not a typo, bizarrely Anthea Turner has written a book about London Underground mice).

It's good to see that a lot the research I'd already done from these books has some of the best pictures.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

OK it's official - I AM A TRAINSPOTTER - but for purposes of research only. I am (and I can hardly type this) "A Friend of the London Transport Museum", it's the best way for me to get cheap visits to their vast photo library. For the first time in over 12 years I went to the museum (my first visit was at a drunken works Xmas party where we lurched around old buses and had our pictures taken in the tube carriages). I must say I felt a bit like a pervert as the only unaccompanied adults at the place looked like true train spotters and were all men. All other women were teachers or harrassed mums with hoardes of school children jumping over everything.

Anyway - it's interesting - if you like trains and buses and taxi's. And I left having secured my first appointment in the photo library archives next Tuesday - which was the main object of the exercise - honest guv.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Had a conversation with my editor today which was good. I'd sent her a whole load of illustrations (photos and cartoons) that I'd ideally like to use for the book and she's very happy with them, so at least I know I'm going down the right direction. There's still quite a few to source but I'm at least three quarters of the way there.

She was also discussing the cover design with her designers, and I've been asked to think about possible ideas too. It's quite scary thinking what could possibly sum up the whole book, despite the saying you can and often do judge a book by its cover. I'm sure the designers will come up with some good alternatives.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Very exciting day - finally agreed all the terms and conditions on the book contract.

Also got a positive comment from best selling author Neil Gaiman on and his willingness to be interviewed or have some form of input to the book. Neil wrote the truly bizarre and imaginative book and TV series Neverwhere about a strange underground world which features characters named after tube stations. In London Below, feudal law rules, and all sorts of creatures exist. It is a fantasy world with mythic beasts and people wearing Victorian clothes, and speaking in the appropriate Victorian tongue - rather like the history of the tube itself.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Launch website has arrived. A site's only as good as the amount of people that look at it and that means getting in the search engines, so it's arrived. Search for Mind the Gap in and and you'll find the main site for the book quite near the top. Also there under some wider London Underground search terms and some travel book terms too - "fun travel book" and "london underground book" . Got into Google remarkably quickly too under "london underground book". Sometimes my powers in SEO (search engine optimisation) amaze me.....anyone want any consultancy?

Also had a "shower moment" this morning and thought Jono Coleman and Chris Tarrant for the tone of the book. I often think of Jono Coleman and Chris Tarrant in the shower as they're my breakfast DJ's of choice - on Heart 106.2 and Capital FM respectively. Overweight, old blokes but with the ability to make me laugh out loud in the morning. So I'm going to use them as a barometer - would they use one of the snippets from the book in their shows? I think this is going the right way as Goingunderground's tube driver announcements have been on Capital's breakfast show twice now (the latest was only last Thursday).

Mmmm Jono Coleman and Chris Tarrant in the shower....STOP IT RIGHT NOW.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Contract arrived in the post yesterday, so subject to me crossing i's and dotting t's over a few legal terminologies it's a goer. Very, very excited.