All Quiet on the West-End Front

By William Rycroft

Go behind the scenes of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The best thing about backing a book on Unbound

If you’ve already backed a book on Unbound you will know what I’m about to say. If backing mine was your first then you will get to know it. If you’ve never pledged here then you need to read this whole thing because I’m basically trying to convince you. Heads up.

One of the greatest things about backing a book on Unbound is seeing your name in the back of the finished book.

I don’t say this because I’m vainglorious. And it’s not really pride. Or at least not the sinful kind of pride. When I backed The Good Immigrant, the essay collection edited by Nikesh Shukla that has blazed an important trail for BAME writers, I did so for many reasons. Because, yes, Nikesh is a friend, because I believe in the importance of those voices being heard and because it gave me a chance to put my money where my mouth was. When the book arrived, I won’t lie, I flicked through to the supporter pages and found my name. And it felt good. Then I started to see the other names on that page and I felt a weird kinship. Some amazing people I already knew or admired, someone who’d managed to put their personal email address as their name, and someone called Joanne Rowling, whoever she is.

It wasn’t just a short-lived good feeling though. Every time that book has had another success; every sales figure smashed, every award-nomination, every reader who has gone onto social media to share how it changed their life; every time anything like that happened I felt so good that I had played the tiniest part in making that book a real thing. I’m currently waiting to receive a copy of Johnny Ruin, the debut novel by Dan Dalton, and I know I’ll be getting all kinds of feels about that one too. Very different feels probably. I’m mainly expecting to feel cool as fuck because how else is a book about a man taking a road trip through his own mind with Jon Bon Jovi going to make you feel?

And this is the thing. The books are so different. I took part in the Unbound Pledge Party a couple of weeks ago, eight authors pitching their book in just five minutes to a crowd of readers. I was scheduled to go last so I got to sit and listen to this wide range of writers giving their all and there were some great books there. Some really worthy and important books. And then I started to worry that my book, about life behind the scenes of a West End show was going to sound like fatuous nonsense. But then I thought about what was actually in the book (this is my area of expertise of course, I wrote it) and I remembered that there is stuff in there about friendship and family, about parenthood and pain, about repetition and repetition - there are thoughts from great books I have read, lessons I have learnt from amazing people and even the rules to a ball game with a diagram.

So I hope that every one of you who has backed this book will get a great feeling from seeing your name on those pages at the back. I hope that you will be entertained, enlightened and even surprised when you come to read it. And if you’re reading this as a newbie then take a look at my book and consider adding your name to the roster. Then you can play the game of ‘who will my name sit next to?’ Will it be that actor off Catastrophe or the one from Line of Duty? Will it be the MD of Vintage Books, the CEO of Penguin Random House or one of many amazing novelists? Or will it be someone you’ve never heard of, but with whom you will always share something important - my gratitude, my love, and my book in your hands.

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