Books, But No Booker


When Aneeta Sundararaj, our esteemed editor (or, more correctly, editrix), invited me aboard to join the rest of the crew on the good ship ‘How to Tell a Great Story’, I thought it best, initially, to discharge a maroon: ‘Whilst duly noting our mutual interest in self-publishing, I think I’d prefer to be permitted to “ramble on” (within reason) when and where the fancy takes me. That is to say, once I’ve lashed myself quite specifically and determinedly to the masthead of our ongoing self-publishing enthusiasm, I may want to go off at a tangent from time to time with a book review to starboard, say, a soupçon of salient autobiography to port –  even current affairs to leeward, should they at any time happen to impinge upon the literary atoll of self-publishing that remains closest to our respective heart of hearts.’

Or words to that effect.

Then, in accord with the Cap’n’s further request that I should furnish her with a title for this column, the best I was able to nail to this same masthead was “Read Write Self-Publish Sell”, opining that this might be useful since it would afford me the personal latitude I crave within the remit of this new monthly column whilst firing a warning shot across the bows of my errant verbiage, so to speak, lest I run aground on some personal hobby horse of a coral reef quite unrelated to the agreed core subject.

(Hey, you try nailing something to the masthead whilst you are simultaneously lashed thereto!)

Whereupon the Cap’n promptly fired a broadside with a title of her own making: namely, “WISP” – which mnemonic is representative of Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, my most recent (that is to say, my third) self-published book.

Mateys, who am I to argue when the Cap’n discharges her mind with such resolute determination, a certain steely glint in her eye, and a belaying pin within reach of each gauntleted fist? Besides, think it’s a great title!

So WISP it is, then – and, believe me, I intend to write about self-publishing in the main. But I’ll want to write about writing and about reading matter as well – and about selling our self-published darlings on, too.

In accordance with which express intention, it’s books to kick off with  – though, as my sub-title has it: “Books, But No Booker”, by which I mean to say: ‘You ain’t never gonna hear this boy enthusing about the Booker (MAN, Costa, whatever ) prize – or the Whitbread.’

Q. Why ever not?

A. Because the Booker and the Whitbread already get more press coverage than they deserve. And besides,London,London,London,London, Oxbridge,London. . .

Q. Eh?

A. The respective home towns of every Whitbread prize winner from 1999 to 2004. So they don’t seem to be sharing the awards out fairly, do they?

Q. You reckon?

A.  Flock of inbred carrier pigeons billing and cooing and reading each other’s messages. In fact, the author Graham Greene was so disgusted with the Booker/Whitbread prizes, he flatly refused to let his own books be submitted for consideration. John Fowles too.

Q: Who?

A: French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Collector..


So what’s the score, then? I mean, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that the Booker/Whitbread prizes are a Soccer tournament that’s played on an annual basis. What do you reckon the aggregate score has been over the past ten years?

Well, here’s my take on the situation, for what it’s worth: Booker – half a good book: the first half of Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre; the second half is [BLEEP – Ed.] Meanwhile, Whitbread – one good book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

The thing is, though, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a very good book indeed. Briefly, an autistic teenager relates his story in the first person singular – which sounds pretty boring, I must admit. But it’s very far from being so, believe me. Let me put it to you like this – if you can get into this book, you won’t want to put it down till you’ve finished it. And I can’t say fairer than that!

Okay, okay-y! I know I said you ain’t never gonna hear this boy enthusing about the Booker/Whitbread prizes. But it’s the exception that proves the rule, isn’t it? I mean to say there’s no way I’m going to keep quiet about it if any of my self-published books get picked for the Booker. Certainly not. Because that would be like George Harrison, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Waylon Jennings getting John Lennon to give me a bell at home this evening.

JL: Bill.

BK: Yeah. Who is this?

JL: John Lennon..

BK: Pull the other one.

JL: No, listen. See, the guys here, we were just thinking – well, we’re playing the Hollywood Bowl tonight, and – well, George suggested that maybe you’d like to come along and . . .

BK: Sorry. I missed out on a ticket..

JL: It’s been sorted, Bill. Go on, please. Get down here, please – and get yourself up on stage and lend us a hand.

BK: Par-ding?

JL: You heard me. We’re really struggling. Reckon you’re just what we’re short of: lip-synch guitar, thumb-in-mouth sax, the inimitable unplugged organ. It’d beef the set up a bit. Go on, get yourself down here . . . please, Bill!

Be like winning the Booker, wouldn’t it? Just as likely too! Hey, not just me. Oh, I don’t mean that. No, I mean any one of the 67.75 billion of us who live north, south, east and west of Watford Gap!

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website,

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