Celebrate. The first Jim Clark books have arrived.
You can’t help feeling a bit pleased with yourself when you finally see the fruits of your labours and face the truth, the test of the real world, which is whether people will like it enough to go and buy one. It’s odd too how often, when you tell somebody you have written a book they say; “How long did it take you?” They never say, “How much does it cost and can I buy one?” Or even, “How many do you expect to sell?”
A book’s not like a feature in a magazine or newspaper, forgotten and scrunched up in tomorrow’s rubbish bins. A book goes on peoples’ bookshelves, one hopes, and lasts for ever. Readers think a thousand word motoring column can be dashed off in a quiet hour or two. A book is different, not ephemeral, so readers expect more accuracy, more subjectivity.
They have no idea what it is like to open the first printing of a book you’ve written and – it has happened to me – discover a terrible error. It was a picture caption. Some smart reviewer was bound to see it, discrediting the entire 80,000 words. It would have gone unnoticed in a newspaper. It would have been dismissed, overlooked. A book is different. People don’t like mistakes in books. I awaited cantenkerous correspondence.
It never came. Nobody noticed. I put it right in the first reprint and told only a handful of friends who were kindly reassuring. I am not saying what it was; I even hinted to people who read the book and they never blinked an eye. All I am saying that I do try to be accurate and am careful with captions, usually done last with the designer impatient to get the thing finished, the print consultant anxious to keep promises to the printer and the distributor eager to sell to the book trade. I have even tried doing books with as few captions as possible to guard against mistakes.
I hope there are no errors in Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion, now on sale. It celebrates the life and achievements of Jim Clark (1936-1968), World Champion 1963 and 1965 and a royalty on every £22.50 copy is being donated to the Jim Clark Trust. Patrons Sir Jackie Stewart, David Coulthard, Dario Franchitti and Allan McNish contributed Forewords.
The book throws light on the tense mood of Formula 1 in the 1960s when Clark narrowly missed four consecutive world titles. Misfortune in the closing laps of final races of the season twice denied him a unique quartet yet some of his other records remain secure. Jim Clark’s eight “grand slams” (pole position, leading every lap, fastest lap and winning a Grand Prix – his closest rivals Alberto Ascari and Michael Schumacher managed only five) is unlikely to be matched.
JIM CLARK: TRIBUTE TO A CHAMPION is available at this link.