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Backdrop Basics Book Launch!

It's book launch time! Break out the bubbles to celebrate Model Railway Backdrop Basics...

Making a surprise unannouced release this May, is my brand new book Model Railway Backdrop Basics. Thanks to the joy of writing full-time in 2023, I've quietly slipped this book into the world while everyone was waiting for news on the release of my Weathered Wonders book, which just so happens will be my next release in a few months time.

Available now through Blurb

Success is a funny thing. After chasing it for the past two decades, to finally be able to celebrate writing full-time over the past year with a new Book should be a sign that you've made it as an Author. There are two more books I am working on, a keynote speaker engagement that I have accepted for later in the year, and two model railway exhibitions I have just confirmed I will be at with my new layout to close out what will be a fantastic 2023. And then comes the realisation of what you have created, and what you will most likely be remembered for in this crazy thing called life.

But first the book...

After commencing 2023 with a layout refresh and installing a new backdrop on my Philden Coast model railway shelf layout, I simply had too much information inside my head to let this book idea go away.

Turning Philden Street Yard into Philden Coast, was a relatively painless task, thanks to being able to easily replace the former backdrop with the panoramic photo I took while on holiday in Coffs Harbour back in 2018, (and I say that tongue-in-cheek, as one chapter within the book shows what can go horribly wrong). So fresh from revamping my existing layout, and with all the techniques and lessons learned from completing six different backdrops on four layouts within the past five years... (I don't know where I'm going with this?), I made the call to bump this project ahead of Model Railway Weathered Wonders.

Inside, there are five different backdrop techniques demonstrated in order of difficulty. As I've discovered from decades of being involved in the hobby, a Model Railway Backdrop isn't necessarily forever. I started with a plain blue sky backdrop on my original Philden layout, and even after it had made the cover of the Australian Model Railway Magazine back in 2018, I reinvented the layout by installing a printed self-adhesive photo backdrop over the top of it, before the layout was dismantled ahead of my next big project. That project turned out to be Philden Street Yard, which amongst other different ideas I experimanted with at the time, included a mix of photos of buildings and kit structures against a painted blue sky backdrop.

When the backdrop came out ahead of a layout revamp, it was back to the idea of a self-adhesive printed photo backdrop to change the layout from inner Melbourne to the NSW North Coast. Scaling and sizing the photo image to be able to print the backdrop as a high quality image can be tricky. So inside the book I even include a chapter on using a freeware photo editing program to be able to stroll confidently into Officeworks with your new backdrop image on a USB stick for them the print for your layout.

Basically, this book becomes the book I wish I had when I set out to build Philden. All the information is in the one place and laid out for the reader to decide which degree of difficulty they are most comfortable with, rather than flicking through 30 years of old Model Railroader magazines looking for a brief article on doing a backdrop one way or the other.

Now for the Monster...

Success can be a funny thing. After commencing my professional writing career with my first novel in 2006, the year 2022 saw me writing full-time for the first time. Apart from two windows of working on my novels uninterruptedly between changes of jobs and following the sale of our house, funding a career as an Author has been the biggest challenge of all. There's been seminars, writing workshops and business coaching, even a period of time being mentored by another widely published Author.

If its not the time involved, its the cost of pursuing writing as a career that will wear you down. None more so than trying to write books about model trains. With four Philden Model Railway books now available, and two more to follow, I feel I've reached the end of the line when it comes to the areas of expertise I feel confident writing about, and the amount of material I have at my disposal to use for my own photography and examples shown within their pages. To fashion anymore book ideas using the small layouts I currently possess, would quickly become a case of same-old same-old. Hardly the string of books I would like to end a career on. It seems fitting to end my career writing as Phillip Overton, with a model railway book. Perhaps that is what I'll be more remembered by in time.

To build another layout at this point of time as the basis for another book idea is simply not feasible. Given that my first model railway release, Build a Bookshelf Layout, required a few thousand dollars to print, order and distribute so I could have the book available in the best hobby shops in this country, my latest release will see me outlay three to four times that amount. Given their success, not only are more copies being asked for each time I release a new book, but restocking the earlier sold-out titles adds enormously to the distribution costs. Success has created a monster. A monster that needs to be seen to at the expense of being able to afford any new models or build a new layout simply to be able to show something different in the next book. All that before I begin to add up the amount of time I've poured into this project at the expense of a regular job that pays things like holiday leave, superannuation and a thing called a regular wage or salary,

Producing the next two Philden Model Railway books will be my last. I know I've mentioned before that I'd like to produce another Australian railway photo book following a holiday at the end of this year. But as my wife and I are now faced with family members who are ageing and in ill-health, it has become impossible to plan a photo-trip and scout photo locations, when we can't be certain if we'll be heading this way... or that way, depending on when and where a nursing home placement comes up. So I'm happy with the knowledge that I have already produced three such photo books. It turns out that my last such railway photo-trip back in 2018, was my final one.

23. It seems such a fitting number. The year is 2023. Producing my final two books this year will see me celebrate book release number 23 before the year is out. And it also happens to be Michael Jordan's famous number 23. 23 books by '23. Over and out. Done and dusted, and the world won't have to hear about Phillip Overton anymore.

Just like Jordan's documentary The Last Dance, I'm heading into the next six months knowing that this is the last dance. So while you take a moment to read this and wonder whether you perhaps should buy a copy of my latest book Model Railway Backdrop Basics, ask yourself when you are likely to see another set of 100% independently produced Australian model railway books on a scale such as this again? There's no advertising inside. There's no paid for comment. There's no pre-orders, crowdfunding, patreon page support or go-fund-me fundraisers. Just one guy with a love of model trains, who wanted to make something happen. So I did, even if it has meant having to side-hustle on eBay with weathered rollingstock and selling off my own lifetime railway collection to help offset the costs.

I hope you've been enjoying my book releases so far. And I do hope you jump aboard to support me as I go full heads-down, bums-up to produce the next two books and reach number 23 before we hit December. Model Railway Backdrop Basics is available now, direct through Blurb, with a limited number available at this time though my eBay shop (links below).

Otherwise, watch for it to appear in select hobby shops later in June/July.


This post first appeared on Philden Model Railway, please read the originial post: here

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Backdrop Basics Book Launch!


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