Shooting The West Goes To The Printers

Book production is a long process. From an idea conception, through fleshing out the format, gathering materials and then production it takes dedication, patience, ingenuity and attention to detail. I thought it would be an idea to give you a look inside the making.

The Beginning

Way back in 2012, there was a legendary reunion of NSW steam photographers travelling to Newcastle behind 3642. Malcolm Holdsworth, affectionately known as Arnie, organized a carriage full of his old mates, and we had a wonderful day catching up and chatting about the good old days of steam. Over a drink or two at the Grand Hotel opposite the station, we thought it would be good to revisit our vast photographic collections and publish the ultimate memoir of steam on the north.

Various people took credit for this, although in truth it was a collaborative effort that grew from the seed sown that day. Over the coming months it got serious as photos and stories started to emerge as possible contributions. The project was coming to life.

Malcolm and his mates had a history producing high quality steam books. In the early 1990's they produced a number of world steam efforts, recording the last days of steam around the world. Back in 1972, "Focus On Steam" was our first effort, a best seller produced to help fund the Zig Zag Railway. It sold out before we had to pay the printers. This expertise was crucial in the quality of the final publication of our new series of books.

Our First Publications

"Northern Exposures" landed in August 2014. I had originally been involved as a contributor, with a story and some photos in the book. As the project moved forward, I became more involved as a marketing consultant and eventually overhauled the strategy for getting this publication to those dedicated NSW steam buffs who we knew would love the book if only they knew about it.

Sales went well, and in 6 months all copies had been sold, so encouraged by this, we decided to tackle the South. There were less people taking quality colour snaps in the 1950's and 1960's so we all tapped into our networks of friends to discover a mine of material, much of it that had never been published in a book before. Everyone was happy to contribute after seeing our first book, wanting to be part of a high quality publication.
lenses south northern exposures shooting the west nsw steam trains"Lenses South" sold out in 2 months, which exceeded our expectations. Tapping into many of the older photographers, and collections of those who had passed on, we stepped up the effort, covering a very wide range of operations including 57 and 58 class, Captains Flat, an  other lines that have long drifted into legendary status.

The book was bigger and better, and some 9 months after publication, it is already difficult to obtain a copy.

With this in mind, and preparations that were already underway, "Shooting the West" became the logical next step to add the Western Division to the mix.

The Production Process

The initial stages of producing a book like this are as follows;

  1. Collection of photographs and stories. We searched far and wide for the best material available Stories to add character and stunning photographs to attract attention.
  2. Operations Information. We are fortunate enough to have Colin Gilbertson, who worked with Railway Operations back in the 1960's, and others whose attention to detail and amazing memories coupled with historical records led us to the most complete information on train operations and engine allocations during that time.
  3. Material Selection. The editorial committee spent countless hour pouring over contributions to select material and images that cover then entire region and give a good account of what it was like in steam days. From the Central West Express to W44 and the Mudgee line, we cover the field. We spent hours agonising over the cover shot. We are sure you will love the result.
  4. Preparation. Our skilled production team, who produced both earlier books now went to work scanning slides and bringing out vibrant images using modern restoration techniques. Stories were edited and chapters selected and everything put together.
  5. Proof Reading. A long process, several experts read over the entire book, looking for any errors in captions, stories, etc, to make sure we had historical and English accuracy.
  6. Printing. The stage where we are at now. The book has been sent to the printer for initial proofing. They in turn will forward a sample copy so we can check colour, image quality, and the general look of the finished product. At that time, everything will be re-examined for errors and omissions, before the final go ahead.
  7. Distribution. At this stage we are taking pre-orders. Those who order in advance will be first on the list to receive their copies. The books will be printed once approved, and are expected to arrive in Australia sometime in July 2017. We have provided free shipping for sales purchased through this website until July 31st, a saving of $15.
  8. Wrap Up. Once sales have been completed, we are gathering at the Tarana Pub for a lunch to celebrate. We are inviting our contributors to this meeting, beside the Western Line. Although no steam trains now run out this way, it will be a great way to celebrate the launch of yet another must have NSW steam book.

We trust you appreciate this insight into what it takes to produce a publication such as "Shooting The West". You can pre-order from this site, or it will be in bookshops by August 2017.