Self-published writers are like sharks in a manner of speaking. If write they do with serious intent, then never may they remain still and survive. Because who, other than themselves is there to help them shift their books? Self-published writers such as myself, I mean, and *Blackley’s **Laurie Driver, and Alice Mellalieu-Campbell from *Harpurhey, and Tim Keogh and Brian Hughes, MBE, both of *Chadderton. ’Tis a simple fact of self-publishing that writers such as ourselves must of necessity keep on moving.
Friendless, we are in the main, (certainly in the capital centric, Oxbridge-inclined heart of English publishing where they’ll pinch our books rather than return them and disdain to respond to bona fide submissions). Similarly, we are snootily disregarded by the so-called quality press and (with the honourable exception of the local press: specifically, the Middleton Guardian, the N-E Manchester Advertiser and the Oldham Chronicle) granted minimal coverage (if any) by the cosily cocooned representatives of newspapers and television stations purporting to serve our north-west hinterland.
‘I hope no one imagines I’m a millionaire,’ million-selling Billy Hopkins, originally self-published himself, confided recently. ‘Because I get something like 5p for any book title of mine the supermarkets deign to sell.’
Luckily, I was able to set his mind at ease on this score. ‘They think we’re all millionaires,’ I assured him.
This conversation took place subsequent to this same Billy Hopkins having tried (to no avail, would you credit it?) to persuade Granada TV, the BBC NW TV News, Radio Manchester or Radio Lancashire to mention the fact that he has recently been awarded an Honorary M.Ed. by the University of Plymouth for ‘services to Literature and Education’. This is a lifetime achievement award which the Society of Authors elsewhere describes as ‘impressive’, this same degree having on previous occasions been conferred upon Bishop Desmond Tutu, Sue Barker and the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Peter Lord and David Sproxton. Having said which, Billy Hopkins, the octogenarian whose seventh Manchester-based novel Tommy’s World is currently on sale in Waterstone’s and on Amazon, then conceded: ‘Mind you, the joy is supposed to be in the actual writing.’
Which it is, of course.
But what must not be forgotten is that there are certain unavoidable expenses involved in becoming a self-published writer. For instance, the cost of publishing your book in the first place. And if a self-published writer’s book is not selling for any reason, he then runs the risk of having HM Inspector of Taxes treat him as a hobbyist. Worrisome, indeed! Because any self-published writer who may be so adjudged is not permitted to set his expenses against tax.
Accordingly, here is some advice aimed at obviating such a situation which I offer in Write It Self-Publish It Sell It: ‘The public libraries can wield much influence in getting your book out into the public domain. Given that the normal route to widespread distribution is closed to you , you are looking for a groundswell of interest developing from the grass roots up. Only the public library system has the potential of delivering the goods in this regard.’
And acting upon this principle earlier this year, I wrote via land-mail to every branch library in every public library authority in the Greater Manchester conurbation, offering to do a book presentation, free-of-charge, for any related readers/writers groups. All I asked by way of return was that I be allowed to bring a few of my books along for sale at a discount price, there being absolutely no compulsion to buy them. Simultaneously with this, I despatched a complimentary copy of Write It Self-Publish It Sell It for inclusion on the inventory of the main library in each authority.
Now, I can’t for the life of me remember how many library authorities there are in Greater Manchester. But certainly it’s in double figures. However, I do recall the number of branch libraries I contacted at that time – a grand total of 147 in all.
The response was immediate, unexpected – indeed, awesome!
Because the very next day Tyldesley Library booked me by e-mail to address their Readers Group, something I finally got around to doing only last week. And they treated me royally: a lovely, lively crowd which I was delighted to compliment on the buffet they generously provided for the occasion. I made sure to compliment them, too, upon a second e-mail they had sent to me, hot on the heels of their original invitation. This second e-mail queried somewhat warily: ‘How long do you go on for?’
To which, I responded as follows, reiterating myself herewith: ‘For about three quarters of an hour plus time for any questions.’
That is to say, if anyone out there is interested – social/church groups and the like, though, certainly there are no other Greater Manchester branch libraries out there, their listed addresses being quite simply poste restante . . . Tumbleweed drifts across the M60 clockwise, a passenger train rattles through Chadderton towards Manchester Victoria, an owl hoots in *Alkrington Woods, the church clock at St Leonard’s, Middleton, strikes thirteen . . .
But watch this space, please do, for news of whatever literary excitement Operation Lancashire Libraries brings my way!
*Districts of northManchester, some beyond the city boundary
**See Waterstone’s or Amazon for (starting with Laurie Driver) This Truckin’ Life, My Life, Nothing But Blue Skies, and Jackie Brown – the Man, the Myth, the Legend, to name but one of Brian Hughes’ ten titles. (N.B. Tim is “Timothy” on Amazon.)
Every Street In Manchester, Bill Keeth’s first novel, was shortlisted for the Portico Prize, 2006; Manchester Kiss, and Write It Self-Publish It Sell It were longlisted for the Portico Prize in 2008.
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.