Industry & OBH News

Product Feature | I’d Rather Be Blind

Grant Lock’s sight may be gone but his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan is visionary.

Publisher, Michael Collie, pays tribute to his favourite author.

Press your fists against your eye sockets. Those incomplete rings of light are the extent of Grant Lock’s vision.

His macular degeneration is genetic and incurable. This unwelcome journey into night made Grant a writer. After battling corruption, injustice and disadvantage in the deserts, mountains and cities of Pakistan and Afghanistan he confronts challenges both intimate and global with courage and compassion.

I have worked in publishing all my life and I have had some mighty fine teachers. But the finest of them all is Grant Lock.

To his experience in some of the world’s most troubled places, Grant brings a bushman’s wit and wisdom. Before he became blind, Grant dug wells, built schools and directed Afghanistan’s largest eye-care program. Twenty-four years of development work in Pakistan and Afghanistan followed his success as a cattle breeder in outback South Australia.

I urged Grant to take his manuscript to better known publishers but he decided to trust me with his baby. Grant spins a great yarn but could afford to be more confident in the power of his stories. I returned the manuscript with a single instruction. Delete every second adjective. More show, less tell. Trust your story.

Grant’s insights are as valuable as they are costly to acquire. Cross-cultural learning can be at once, humorous, humiliating and traumatic. Grant’s writing is revealing and the development of his own character is shared with candour and transparency.

When Grant refused to sign a standard contract, I rolled my eyes. Curious to know what a retired stud farmer considered a fair deal, I asked Grant for a counter offer. Grant’s royalty-free proposal was as elegant as it was novel. I receive all revenue until the project breaks even. From that point, Grant and I share net income fifty-fifty. I’m so glad I thought of that! Deal.

Grant is a gifted raconteur and shameless self-promoter. This makes him the perfect author. Grant regularly sells one book for every three members of his audience. For a medical appointment he packs four books. One for the passenger sitting next to him on the bus. A second for the receptionist. A third for the specialist. And, naturally, a fourth for the return trip. His fastest sale occurred during a ride in a lift.

While Shoot Me First follows a strong chronological narrative, his second book navigates complicated territory and required a more a sophisticated structure. I’d Rather Be Blind simultaneously moves to and from a crisis: the diagnosis that cut short Grant and Janna’s overseas service.

Openbook Howden account manager, Grant Woolard, has handled every print run of both of Grant’s books. Printing in China is tempting but we have good reasons to print locally. At Openbook Howden we enjoy competitive prices, reliable quality, a two-week turnaround and an economical storage and dispatch service. A third of our stock is delivered directly to Grant’s garage in Adelaide. The rest is delivered to leading stockists, our wholesaler and the Broad Continent office. Above all, I value the easy rapport and down-to-earth approach.

Grant Lock lives the adventurous life— in business, in difficult places but also at home in the more significant roles of husband and father. This is his gift to us.

Why would I publish books when I can publish people— like Grant Lock?

Michael Collie // Publisher, Broad Continent

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