Archive for November, 2010

Beware Pedestrians — short story by Gladys Hobson

November 29, 2010

Beware Pedestrians

You have been warned!

Les pedalled up to the sea end of the canal and stopped at the BEWARE PEDESTRIANS sign, grinning at his thoughts: loiterers on foot had better look out if they didn’t want to tangle with his super-geared Cannondale, SystemSix, the lightest and most explosive bike he’d ever ridden.
His legs turned into dynamos as he set off along the restricted road by the canal, aiming to reach the main road in one minute flat. The excitement of watching the Olympic contestants racing for their medals still fuelled his brain: now that he had his new bike, whatever they could do, he would do. Okay, he will have to allow for the fact that his bike had cost a fraction of theirs, but all things taken into consideration what he lacked in bike perfection he’ll make up with perfect coordination and sheer guts! His legs will go faster, his determination will be keener — he, Les Jolly — will be a champion to reckon with: this year, fastest along the canal; in four years time a winning member of the Olympic team!
‘Clear off,’ he yelled at the same time as he pressed the hooter he’d fixed to his handlebars.
The couple of joggers ahead of him turned their heads, saw him racing towards them and jumped quickly out of his way.
A dog walker came into view. A long blast on his hooter sent the dog off into the bushes with its owner still attached to the lead.
Eyes on the road ahead and breathing hard, Les had no spare energy to laugh at his thoughts, a pair of old wrinklies were doddering just ahead. Huh! Must’ve heard the horn but hadn’t budged. Did they think they owned the road? Were they deaf or daft?
Les overtook them, almost touching the old boy. He gave a quick glance in his mirror and noted with satisfaction that the old woman was clinging to the old guy who stood angrily waving his walking stick. Serves them right, pensioners think they have rights beyond their capacity to enjoy them.
Whoa! Woman with a kid. A long blast for that pair! That got her to pull the little blighter out of the way.
Now what we got? Ducks walking across the bloody road! Keep the hooter going for that lot. Damn — a splatter on my helmet as they flew off.
Nearly there. Keep the legs moving. What the—
Brake quick! Must be a bus-load of tourists. Ah! Saw me coming. Seems a couple fell in the canal — keep going, keep going.
Main road coming up now, take a detour up the Hoad.
Les slowed at the A590 junction, but quickly took off again as a gap in the traffic allowed him to get into the lane to turn right. Ignoring the blaring horns of motorists stopped in their tracks, Les put his legs into full power to shoot along on the inside of traffic until he came to the gateway that led up to the Hoad Monument footpath. He swung onto the pavement and halted at the gate, picked up his mechanical steed and hoisted it over the gate. He mounted the bike again and set off at full power. The uphill gradient kept his legs at full throttle but slowed down his rate of progress.
This was the stuff for men, not boys. He might be just sixteen but his muscular build — acquired through hard graft — medium height with body sun-tanned to perfection, spoke of his manhood. Pity the girls couldn’t see it under my gear, Les thought as he laboured on. I’m a man all right, a cycling tornado… unbeatable… unstoppable!
Hoot! Hoot!
Walkers saw him coming and stepped out of his way.
On and on, labouring hard up to the top of the hill. No time to gaze at the view from Hoad Monument. Now to ride completely round the mock lighthouse and back to the canal.
Wheeee… down… down…
Sheep scattered, their lambs chasing after them. Dogs barked and one of them gave chase pulling its owner off the path — both rolling down the hill entangled in the lead.
Hoot! Hoot!
An old gent pulled his old biddie partner onto a seat. Children ran out of the way: in his mirror Les saw them looking after him with awe written on their faces.
A skid brought him to a halt at the bottom of the hill. He lifted the bike over the gate, mounted again and crossed over to the left side of the road. A lorry braked hard with a screech of tyres. Les mentally laughed at his invincibility.
Now back at the road by the canal. He saw the sign, a copy of the one at the other end: BEWARE PEDESTRIANS
He checked his watch. One minute allowed for his return journey. His legs became dynamos again. He met again some of those he’d passed by on his way up, and he grinned at their startled faces and shaking fists. Nearing the end of his journey he saw the pair of old wrinklies sitting on a seat. Well, they’d better stay there if they knew what was good for them. He gave them a loud blast of his hooter just the same.
What the—
Les found himself spinning in the air, his feet, still attached to the pedals, took the bike with him.
Splash!

An hour later, sitting on a trolley in the A and E department of the local hospital, Les related to the police how he came to be fished out of the canal by a pair of pensioners:
‘But they sent me and my bike into that oversized water butt deliberately,’ he complained. ‘That old buzzard’s walking stick is still entangled in my front wheel. He’s responsible for my broken ankle! I’ll sue the blighter!’
‘Sir, there are warning signs at both ends of the road by that canal,’ said the policeman. ‘You should have taken notice. We have some assertive pensioners who do not take kindly to having to jump out of the way of cyclists. If you saw a sign on a gate “Beware of the bull” I assume you would take notice?’
‘Of course,’ said Les.
‘Well, I suggest the next time you see the warning notice: “Beware Pedestrians,” you do just that!’

From – Still Waters Run Deep, stories of hidden depths
Magpies Nest Publishing
See Author site

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The Churchwarden’s Conversion — short story by Gladys Hobson

November 20, 2010

The Churchwarden’s Conversion

A pleasant stroll by the river?


“Mystery trip? It’s a mystery to me why Doug Hammond brought us here. Pouring with rain, freezing cold, and nothing to do till tea time.”
Doris showed her displeasure by pushing up the spokes of her red umbrella so hard that the fabric turned inside out. At that very moment a fractured waterspout showered down a collection of rain and filth from the gutter.
“Bloody hell!” she yelled, as cold dirty water ran over her blue-rinsed coiffeur and down the back of her neck. “Why the devil did Doug bring us to this God-forsaken dump.”
“Hush, Doris, this is a church outing not a pub crawl.” Her dour husband — thin, tall and bent, long poker face with slender crooked nose, a slash of dusky pink for a mouth, and with hair doing a remarkable imitation of a worn-out bottle-brush under a shabby cap — looked around to see if anyone had heard his wife’s ungodly tirade. “Here, give the umbrella to me, I’ll sort it out.”
Doris pulled a few dead leaves from the nape of her new blue jacket. “Huh. Okay for you. You look like a drowned geriatric rat, no matter how much you dress up. Dark suit and striped tie for a coach trip? And that stupid flat cap, you never take the damn thing off. And don’t think I haven’t seen you polish your shoes with it — disgusting.” She dabbed at her hair with a handkerchief and then pulled tissues out of a pocket to mop her neck and shoulders. “My new jacket’s ruined. Not that you care.”
Henry looked dolefully at his wife of forty years, and wondered what had happened to that demure, slim and pretty redhead that had won his heart. No doubt about it, an unbridled appetite for chips with everything, plus an old-fashioned drawstring corset, had given her a real live bustle of Victorian proportions, no matter how much she blamed her size twenty on bearing their two children. Was he to blame for her dissatisfaction with life? He righted the umbrella and passed it back to her. “Hold this and I’ll help clean you up.”
“Just get that damn rubbish out of my hair.”
Henry sighed; she used to speak so nicely. Television soaps have a lot to answer for. He carefully removed the detritus from the now blue-rinse-with-brown-streaks hair-do. He actually thought the change rather fetching. He liked her scent too. Lavender water mingling with her light makeup? It took him back to their wedding bed, it always did. Now he got the scent but none of the action.
“Look, Doris, there’s a church across the road. A notice says it’s serving coffee. That’s good. We can look round the church until the rain stops.”
He took hold of her elbow but she pulled it away.
“You think I’m going on a mystery trip to spend my time in a bloody church? I have enough of that on Sundays. You go, I’m going to that shoe shop we passed back there.”
“Hang on, Doris. Look, the sun’s coming out. We can take a walk in that park by the river.” The last thing he wanted was to go home laden with shoes that would hardly get worn. His pension wouldn’t stand it anyway. “I think there’s an old castle near the river bank. You always like visiting old castles and country houses.
“Oh, all right. How long is it before we meet for tea?”
“The coach picks us up again at half four. Doug said by the bus stop, close to where we were dropped off.” Why tell her it was the other end of a row of posh new shops and a Bingo hall? “I don’t even know where we have tea. Like the rest of the trip — it’s a mystery.” He took hold of her arm again, but she pulled it away.
“For God’s sake, let me get this umbrella down, before you poke my eye out,”
Henry put up his hands in alarm. “Don’t blaspheme, Doris. Please remember you’re the wife of a churchwarden.”
“Huh. How can I forget it, with you spending most of your time either in church or messing about in the graveyard. Anyone would think you were booking a plot for permanent residence.” She gave a loud sniff. “I only came on this mystery trip to please you. I don’t get a thrill spending an afternoon with a load of holier-than-thou pensioners.” She pushed the umbrella under her left arm and started walking, her handbag clutched to her breast as though expecting to be robbed at any moment.
“You’re going the wrong way.” He took her arm again and led her in the opposite direction, along a line of drab shop fronts, most of them smelling of urine and looking as if they were due for demolition. “You’re not exactly spending the afternoon with the others, we will only be with them for tea.”
“And for the bloody journey! Sitting in a coach just looking at the rain. And with Holy Jo sitting behind us, stinking of fish and boiled cabbage. Huh! He’s forever whistling All Things Bright and Beautiful. Hell… that’s what it is, sheer hell.”
Henry steered Doris round the corner and through the park entrance. “Jo Brown’s okay. He just wants to make folk happy.”
“Happy? Happy? Driving them nuts with that damn whistling?”
“You only had to ask him to stop, Doris. He’s a kindly soul.” He tried to ignore his wife’s continual moaning and take in the pleasant scene: a formal sweet-scented flower garden and acres of mown grass, with nature-reserve islands dotted around. He followed the path along the river’s steep bank. The other side of the river, deciduous trees, glorious with summer foliage, dripped diamonds of light to the rough grass below. Water bubbling over rocks sparkled in bright sunshine. Against slate-blue clouds, a rainbow suddenly appeared. “Look Doris, a rainbow!”
“Never mind a bloody rainbow, did you hear what I said, Henry? I did tell the old geyser to shut up… when you were up front chatting with one of your girl friends.”
He sighed. The rainbow quickly disappeared as if knowing it was not appreciated. A lovely walk and fresh air but they might as well be at home. “They’re not my girl friends, you know that. I was merely asking them if they were—”
“I don’t give a damn what you were asking them. How do you think I feel? My hubby trailing around the coach, chatting up any woman still capable of giving him the glad eye? Body snatchers, that’s what I call them. They’re after any man — young or ancient — capable of unzipping his own fly!”
“Keep your voice down, Doris. And don’t be crude. Remember you—”
“Are the wife of a churchwarden? Or is it Jake the rake?” She stopped and gave him a long hard look. “I’ve heard talk, Henry. You and Mary Balding… goings-on in the vestry.”
“Goings-on? You know we meet occasionally to meditate for half an hour. Anyone can join us. Sometimes a few do. Really, Doris, look at me… I’m not exactly a Sean Connery.”
“She’s no Mona Lisa.” She burst out laughing. “Mona Lot, would be more accurate. The way she goes on about the cost of living, she should spend less time on the Costa del Sol.”
Henry had to smile. For once Doris was right. He’d been thinking of giving up the meditation at the church because Mary spent most of the time moaning. Not about the cost of food, but about her husband. It made him feel uncomfortable. “Maybe you’re right, but not about the chatting up. Well… I guess I do like to make sure everyone is happy. After all, I suggested the outing. It was Doug who decided on a mystery trip. He’s been driving coaches for years. I thought he would know the best places.” He did a sweep of a hand. “You have to admit, now the sun’s shining, this park is paradise.”
“Shit!”
“Doris, really. No need to be like that. It’s lovely here.” He looked around to see if other walkers had heard. A woman with a big dog about fifty yards away. Could she be within range?
“You fool. Dog shit — I put my foot in it.” Bending, with difficulty, to look at the soul of her shoe, her face blossomed to a brilliant crimson. “Some paradise with this stinking muck.”
Shaking his head in disbelief, Henry took a plastic bag out of his pocket and knelt on the wet grass to clean up the smelly flat-heeled shoe. Why can’t she look where she’s walking?
“Idiot!” Doris yelled, “Now you’ve knelt in the bloody stuff.”
“What? Oh dear. Never mind, let’s get your shoe clean first. I’ll do my trousers by the river. I’ll have to use my hanky.”
The sun suddenly disappeared behind a cloud and drops of rain began to fall. Doris quickly put up her umbrella.
“Ow!” Henry felt a spoke hit the corner of his eye, just as he was rising to his feet. He saw red all right — blood running down his cheek.
“Let me clean it for you.” Doris pulled the hanky out of Henry’s hand.
“No! Not with that.” But it was too late, Doris was already wiping his face with the hanky he’d polished up the shoe with.
“Bloody hell, Doris!”
“Hell? Henry, you just said…”
He didn’t hear any more, He was running down the bank to the river to wash his face, while trying to rid his mind of ungodly thoughts concerning his wife and dog owners.
With rain falling in a brisk shower, he chose where a tree gave slight cover and knelt on pebbles at the side of the river, first rinsing his hanky before using it on his face. His trousers must wait. He was aware of Doris shouting from the grassy bank where he’d left her, but he was in no mood to listen. Suddenly he felt a warm sensation on his backside. Curious, he turned his head and met face to face with a Golden Retriever. “What the—”
Too late, the dog had peed all over him. He shook his fist. The dog appeared to grin before running out of reach. Henry stood up, caught his cap on an overhanging twig, which propelled it off his head and into the jaws of the laughing dog. Each time Henry dived for his cap the dog ran out of reach, clearly enjoying the game. Fury rose and exploded from Henry’s throat. “You damn, bloody dog, drop the bloody cap or I’ll belt the bloody life out of you!” He waved his fist, tears of anger and frustration running down his cheeks.
The dog dropped the cap and Henry dived for it. Not since playing rugby had he managed such a manoeuvre. But the dog was too quick for him. He scooped up the cap and took it for a paddle in the river.
Henry fell on his knees and raised his arms and eyes to heaven. “My cap, my precious cap!”
He felt a rush of air beside him. Doris’s bustle of a bum nearly knocked him over as she threw herself at the dog about to run off again. She grabbed the cap and somehow managed to maintain her balance as she tore it from the jaws of the dog.
“Well, it’s a bit torn but I can patch it up for you. So for God’s sake stop your wailing.” She pushed the soggy cap back on his head. “I don’t know, Henry, what would you do without me?”
“Oh, I am so sorry,“ came a voice from the bank. “Rover is a very naughty boy.”
“Naughty? He’s bl—“
“Never mind,” Doris cut in quickly. “Dogs will be dogs. Is there a place we can clean up, and get a cup of tea?”
“How kind of you to be so understanding. Would you care to come over to my place just the other side of the park? I’ll get you some tea while you clean up and dry out.”

Two hours later, Henry helped Doris up the steps of the stuffy coach. He was in awe of the change in her. Instead of laughing at his fall from grace, she’d been most understanding.
“Where have you two been all afternoon,” Mary Balding, said. “We’ve all had a grand time at the Bingo hall. Betty’s won five pounds.”
“Oh really?” said Doris. “Actually, we were invited for tea at Rockingham Hall. It was rather splendid, but I don’t wish to talk about it. I dislike name-droppers.”
An awed silence filled the coach. But it didn’t last long; fluttering conversations began and gradually turned into a flood of speculation and rumour.
Henry smiled. Yes, they did have tea at Rockingham Hall — in the housekeeper’s flat in the attic. He glanced at Doris, looking serene and happy. “Enjoying the mystery trip then?”
“I don’t know about that, but I’m enjoying having a normal husband for a change.”
Whistling sounded behind them. Henry turned round in his seat.
“And you can stop that bloody whistling.”
“Henry, really,” Doris said, a huge grin making dumplings of her cheeks. “Naughty, naughty. Don’t forget you’re the churchwarden.”

Visit my author site for details of my books published in the UK and USA

Starting your own publishing house.

November 16, 2010

Starting your own publishing house.

The last post concerned the problem of getting published and turning to self-publishing. (Suggest you read that first)
Here I am telling the story of how Magpies Nest Publishing was set up as a channel to get my books into the market place. Plus various problems to do with marketing your book.

Magpies Nest Publishing (www.magpiesnestpublishing.co.uk) was set up by my son. This is completely different to using the ‘ready to use’ blogs that are simple to set up but restrict in other ways. Magpies Nest Publishing is not a blog, but a showcase and a means to order books over the web. I have no knowledge of computer language and my son does all the changes needed from time to time. I can’t even get at the programme to do any changes because it is on my son’s computer, not mine. He does not want me to fiddle with it anyway — can’t blame him as I would only mess things up. (Being an old biddie, relatively new to computers, that is one thing that I really am good at!) PayPal, complete with shopping basket, is really needed but I have to wait until it can be done. Hopefully by the time most people read this it will be set up.

I did not set out with the intention of starting a publishing house. But I had already written a number of novels, and submitting to agents or publishers that objected to the author submitting to other firms at the same time, was indeed tedious, especially when a reply could take months. Knowing that agents only take on one or two new authors a year (and those not necessarily from submissions) out of the thousands of hopefuls, was not encouraging. But, as you may have gathered from my last post, I continued as I looked into alternatives. The false agent was a huge blow. I’m just thankful I did not broadcast the mythical coming contract. The showcase venture collapsing was also a blow as all this meant that I had not submitted my work to genuine firms for quite a while. Back to square one!

But even before then, I received a letter from a friend’s son who was climbing Kilimanjaro along with a group of students from Durham University. He was looking for sponsorship. Having very little cash at the time I offered to write a small book about my childhood. I had been encouraged to write a book by someone who enjoyed the occasional funny references to my youth. Here was an opportunity. I had no great plans, just thought a booklet something like a Church Magazine — printed, put together and stapled by myself, at a place where I knew it could be done. However, it grew. Someone offered to sell it on their website, the man who did my Manuscript Appraisals offered to proofread it, and so I just had to do a decent job of printing it. I enlisted a cartoonist to help with illustrations to go with my line drawings. and I began looking up local printers. The local printer could not do perfect binding I required and suggested a firm in Kendal. A good quality book was produced by the traditional method. Someone suggested 1,000 copies as being the cheapest way to buy them, I already thought 500 would be far too many. But I decided on 750 and wondered where on earth I was going to sell them! However, my son said we should get an ISBN and bar code, or they could not be sold in shops. (You have to get a minimum of ten ISBNs All this information can be found on the Internet) He saw to all that, and he formatted the book. Quite a job with having to fit in so many drawings — some having to be shrunk or adjusted, and occasionally the text wrapped around an illustration.

We got a lot of publicity from the local paper because of the Kilimanjaro expedition as well as the uniqueness of the book. This carried on to illustrate an article about wartime labeling — Utility! Photos of my young friend actually standing on the mountain also gave another occasion for the book’s mention. My son’s firm sold many books through their on site gift shop and fellow employees bought the book. A visiting rep for the Lakeland glossy magazine read the book and put a brief review in the next publication. A reviewer for Westmorland Gazette wrote a nice piece too. Some people bought multiple copies for Christmas and birthday presents too. I was stopped in the street and supermarket to be complimented on the memoirs and was told how much it brought back memories. Buyers passed it around family and friends — some abroad. I even got letters saying how much it was enjoyed. Delightful, amusing, hilarious, entertaining — praise abounded! Even so, sales were mostly local. I sold a good batch to a book warehouse but at 50% discount not much left for charity. Others took 30% 35% or 40% but quite a few were sold with every penny profit given to the cause. Hence we eventually handed over all profit plus a few donations to the charity — over £1,500. (Some through the sponsoring but most afterwards direct to the charity). Recently, due to requests we could not fulfill, we produced a second edition with 40 extra pages and more illustrations. I could not risk another traditional plates production as I did not expect to repeat previous sales, so I went Print On Demand. Their new site is in preparation but I am very pleased with the service I get from them:
http://www.bookprinting.uk.com
Another new site, which appears to be excellent for fulfillment services and generally helpful for self-publishers is
http://www.authorcraft.co.uk
Apart from getting a free copy of ’10 Big Mistakes that cost Authors Money’ it claims to be a creative community of writers, authors, journalists, bloggers,designers, illustrators, editors, proofreaders, programmers, web designers… visit there to find what else. I have joined the community, it might well raise my enthusiasm, and who knows — sales?

Having successfully formatted Red Boxes (When Phones were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes) and got it registered (which puts the book into a catalogue and onto Amazon etc. and also requires six books to be deposited in British deposit Libraries) my son suggested we use up the spare ISBNs on publishing my novels.

A novel is much larger than my memoirs. To buy more than 200 maximum seemed risky (as well as requiring storage space) and traditional printing would be far too expensive so I turned to digital POD. I looked on the Internet and received a variety of estimates. I chose a firm in Derby and they did my first two novels. But they closed their book printing side of the business – or sold it. If the above fulfillment company, with its connection to the above mentioned POD printer had been around then I would likely have enlisted their services. As it turned out, I found novels incredibly difficult to sell. Even after getting awards and local newspaper publicity. There are so many cheap books around and this is an area of low population. And I guess , being an oldie who had to give up driving years ago, it difficult to get around and get my talents known. Posting books to book warehouses got me nowhere (except the more local one, which is not taking more due to present financial restrictions.) Posting books elsewhere just meant loss of books with seldom a confirmation of receipt. Same with trying for reviews in nationals. I had it confirmed by the Telegraph that they only review books freely available to purchase in any bookstore. Of course, bookstores won’t buy books unless they are certain of selling them.

However, after the first two novels, we published a delightful poetry book called The Primrose Path. The poet is an ex-Yorkshire miner, Bob Taylor. We met through a group formed after the false agent debacle. I loved his poetry and persuaded him to let us publish it. I illustrated it for him. But he, like me, had written a few short stories. So I invited submissions from other members of the group with a Northern connection and we published an illustrated book called Northern Lights. All the contributors bought copies at the cost of printing and could sell or give them away as they wished. 50 copies were bought by a warehouse bookseller. I had a second print run done and we are now out of stock again. Of course, we would do another run if needed. Unlikely, since our sales are almost entirely local with only a few Internet orders, as with novels.

Having had short stories printed in Internet journals, two years ago I decided to publish my own anthology — Still Waters Run Deep, stories of hidden depths. (Mainly stories — humour, mystery, crime, semi-erotic, with a local setting.) It went in the local paper and the next day customers were queuing outside the bookshop waiting for it to open! I had tried to get it published but the publisher who enjoyed reading the submission said it was not what they published (they only published regional) and suggested where I might try. It did not suit them either but they sent information on what they do publish. Why go on trying when we can do it ourselves?
But no matter what kind of books, readers have to be really keen to pay more than the cheapest books on the market. We live in a small market town in Cumbria. When I asked a market bookstall if he would like 10 of my books at a promotional price of 10 for £5, he would not even look at them. He waved his hand over the stall and said, ‘This is what people buy. This is what they want. Known authors and known books.’ Then he turned away and ignored me. However I have given copies to the local Oxfam and they sell out there. Again, books are cheap! At least the money goes to charity so that is okay.

I have set up an account with Gardner’s so I can sell through Waterstone’s. BUT I have to contact each manager personally to ask if he will take a copy. The local, Barrow branch, of Waterstone’s (ten miles away) will take orders but will not stock. (Daft really! All that postage – me to Gardner’s, Gardners’ to Waterstone’s when I could just deliver it myself, but they have their reasons). I either break even or lose on every book. Waterstone’s in Barrow used to be Ottakar’s. That manager was great. He not only took my books (sold 30 of Red Boxes) but actually read my When Angels Lie and said it was good. He was moved to Kendal and bought some books there too. All these helpful bookstores have been swept away by big business. The local bookstore (keen to help local authors) closed one of its shops then sold the other. The new owner gave up but it has been opened by a new owner who is quite friendly. He has accepted some of each of my trilogy.

The trilogy, like my other novels, is also published in the USA and will shortly be published in India. Also as an ebook in Australia for worldwide distribution.

I do not pay to have my books published anywhere, but I have paid a great deal for editing, proofreading and appraising by professionals. Even the books of top authors get many edits before books are released. Recently, one best selling author got the wrong draft of his book printed in thousands by mistake, and they all had to be pulped! I managed about four typos in one of my books and worse in another — a small paragraph got left in that should have been taken out. But no one seems to have noticed. Most books on sale manage to get a few typos but unedited books give a bad impression of an author’s work.

However, without great marketing skills, it is difficult to get books into stores countrywide. But to get books cheap enough you need to print in thousands. Some regional publishers get grants, but not publishers like Magpies Nest. But without expensive promotion and publicity a publisher can be left with a load of books destined for pulping. A rather small book publisher (Snowbooks) states it takes them £10,000 and six months of their time just to launch a book, and that is without the publicity big publishing houses use. But Snowbooks have the experience of which books sell and the know-how to get them into the shops. Quite possibly my books, as they are, would not sell even if published by Random House! Well, I guess I will never know the answer to that.

It only takes something extraordinary about a book to attract a grapevine of twitters and it does occasionally happen. Word of mouth does sell books but they have to be in the market place attractively on display to get noticed. Otherwise why do publishers pay out huge sums to get even top authors’ books in windows and on display, complete with posters, leaflets and special offers, and in glossy magazines, and on posters on station platforms and so on?

Having one’s own publishing label is really little different from other forms of self-publishing. Unless you have a firm doing fulfillment for you it is just more hard work. Even so, it can get books into big stores if there is a will to do so. An ISBN and barcode is essential. Your own label gives you complete control over your book but you may have more work to do. But then, all publishers, large and small, demand a lot from their authors. Likely, if you pay someone to self-publish for you it could cost far more and the results be less satisfactory. Those who provide services are the ones most likely to make money out of your book. But then, DIY publishing without the necessary skills, can produce very poor books. I could not run Magpies Nest Publishing alone, but younger people with the necessary skills certainly could. And of course, you can get books printed cheaper, even if you have to buy in batches rather than singly. But there is always the option of fulfilment services.