One of the most exciting things about writing, is that you never know how far your ideas will fly. Fifteen years ago, on 10th April 2003, I submitted the full manuscript of One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human to a publishing director at Hodder & Stoughton. Two weeks later I had my first book contract.
Last week, I received my latest royalty statement, for sales up to 31st December 2017. Lifetime sales, in all formats (print and digital) now exceed some 266,500 copies. Who’d have thought that, 15 years ago?
The average shelf-life of a book is three years, so it always amazes me when I still see copies for sale in bookshops and garden centres. But I always think back to that moment when I submitted the full MS to the publishing director. Never did I think the book would have sold in the way it has, or evolved into those four foreign editions (North America, Portuguese, Italian and Icelandic).
You never know how far an idea will fly. I say that because, originally, the initial idea for this book began life as a short filler in a magazine. Yes. That’s right. A filler. Fewer than 150 words.
Then it grew. Into a two-page article. It was only 800 words, but there were many photos of Bella, our retriever who inspired the idea.
But even after that, I knew the idea could flourish further, which is when it became a book. (And you could argue that it continued to flourish, as Hodder & Stoughton then went on to commission a second book: One Hundred Muddy Paws For Thought).
Who knows how much further One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human will fly? I don’t.
So the next time you have an idea, consider the freedom you’ve given it. Have you allowed it to stretch its wings and fly as far as it can? Ideas are not one-time-use only devices. Sometimes, if you allow them to grow and develop, they can fly for many years to come.