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Book Sales, Signings and Presentations

Self-Published Authors, three, (l-r) Laurie Driver [This Truckin’ Life, The Railway Years], Bill Keeth [Every Street in Manchester, Manchester Kiss, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It], and Tim Keogh [Nothing But Blue Skies], photographed at their joint Book Sale at Middleton Arndale Centre on the Saturday before Christmas, 2009.

The three self-published authors pictured above, myself among them, live in the north Manchester area in the UK, though they are far from being unknown to readers of ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. Because they agreed some time ago to being interviewed by our esteemed Editor, Aneeta Sundararaj.

[See ‘Blow Your Own Trumpet’ for ‘The 7 Ages of a Storyteller’ by Bill Keeth; ‘Driver, Storyteller’ by Dennis Burnier Smith aka Laurie Driver, and ‘Storyteller from the Skies’ by Tim Keogh aka Timothy Keogh, should readers care to look him up on Amazon.]

Like myself, Dennis Smith is a writer of mature years, now retired from work. (In my own case, please read ‘escaped’, though, for it is now twenty years and more since I fell from the chalkface – on the same day, incidentally, that the Berlin Wall came down. There was obviously something in the air.) To be fair to him, Dennis kept going a bit longer – as a long distance lorry driver in the UK, since you ask, and his two books, This Truckin’ Life and The Railway Years (soon to become a trilogy) tell of his 40 year career on the road. Meanwhile, the self-published books named here are best-sellers, no less; and lest you imagine that Laurie Driver’s books have sold well as my own have sold well (that is to say, 2, 500 books or so since publication, thank you very much), I urge you to think again. Because, were you to check up on the Amazon.co.uk Sales Rank of This Truckin’ Life, which just so happens to be 270,238 in Books at the time of writing, you would perhaps come to realise that there are times when Laurie Driver’s sales have matched those of Dick Francis. That’s right, the Dick Francis, of Devon Loch, not to say book-selling best seller fame! Think about it: there are long-distance lorry-drivers nationwide. Which is what makes Dennis aka Laurie Driver a self-publishing best-seller on stilts.

And Tim Keogh, who is in full-time employment as a teacher in Ashton-under-Lyne still, his specialty being French, looks like having a similar self-published best-seller on his hands. His book is already on sale at Man City’s City of Manchester Stadium. Just think of the potential customer base there on a match day!

I first heard from Tim earlier last year when he very kindly posted through my letter-box a copy of his self-published book, Nothing But Blue Skies, the story of his early years and lifelong support of the Manchester City football team. This was accompanied by a billet doux explaining that, in writing his book, Tim had made good use of my own book, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It. I quote: ‘Have used it as a bible this last eighteen months or so!’

Boy, did that cheer me up! Because I really was a bit down in the dumps at the time because Write It Self-Publish It Sell It was not doing half as well as my other books.

Think about it. I am convinced there are thousands of people who are wannabe writers worldwide. But therein lies the problem: worldwide. How am I to distribute my book worldwide without unduly penalising the customer with excessive postal and insurance costs?

Another problem I have come up against is that, with there being so many other books on the market dealing with self-publishing (including a ‘Dummies’ guide), potential customers tend to imagine Write It Self-Publish It Sell It is just ‘more of the same’. That is to say, textbook-like, irredeemably didactic.

It’s not. It’s meant to be fun to read!

In the months to come, perhaps next time out, I fully intend to return to the subject of ‘how WISP is different from other books dealing with self-publishing’. But for the time being, ye self-publishers, I urge you, should opportunity arise for you to emulate Laurie Driver, Bill Keeth and Tim Keogh, then do so . . . Sign books together, sell ’em together, present them together.

Don’t be precious, don’t stand aloof. You need all the help you can get. You know you won’t get it from commercial publishers or literary agents, you won’t get it from the Arts Council either. So lend help to each other. I’m not talking about cooperatives (perish the thought we should all write exactly the same), but I am talking about cooperation. You are bound to gain strength from it, to learn something from it, to create public interest in what you have to say – and sell.

Emulate Laurie Driver and Tim Keogh even more, provided it suits you to do so. Ask yourself, is there any subject you are personally interested in and/or very knowledgeable about (work or leisure) that has adherents nationwide? Then write about it. Your customer base will be all around you or, at the very worst, only a postage stamp away.

Back to the photograph. It was absolutely freezing that day of the Book Sale and the doors to the Middleton Arndale Centre kept sliding open, letting warm air out and cold air (and customers) in. Mine, was the suggestion that each of us should disappear individually for half an hour every hour and a half in order to warm up, stretch our legs, have a bite to eat, a hot drink and a wash and brush up.

That Saturday night it snowed and the snow lay on the ground for weeks.

May 2010


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, http://www.novelnovella.com.

Click here to return to the index of stories for W I S P


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