BALDRICK’S CHALLENGE

The biggest puzzle for a new author is deceptively simple; how do you get the public to read your book, especially if you are publishing with an unknown ‘indie’ publishing house? A simple puzzle? No way. Better to give a chimpanzee a Rubik’s cube and start your stop-watch…

As I thought this one over I found it useful to imagine a conversation between fictional characters; in my case, between Edmund Blackadder and his medieval whipping-boy and servant Baldrick. “Well, Baldrick, help me out here.”

To which Baldrick gives his stock reply…   “I have a cunning plan, sire…”

“And are you confident of success, Baldrick?”

“Not immediately, sire, you may have to wait a while…”

“And exactly how long will I have to wait, Baldrick: until the introduction of universal secondary education?”

“That will help, sire. But mainly you’ll have to wait for the evidence.”

“Evidence, Baldrick, evidence? What evidence, precisely?”

“Evidence that your book is worth reading, sire.”

At which point, Blackadder picks up Baldrick by his throat, and demands, “Then what?”

Punctuated by choking noises, the reply is “You have to use that evidence to challenge people to read your book. Ask them, who wants to discover a great read? Given the evidence in favour of the book, what have they got to lose by having a look at it?”

EVIDENCE IN FAVOUR OF THE BOOK

Expert and media reviews

Professor Alan Carr, University College Dublin:  “A coming of age novel with a difference… what makes this an exceptionally memorable novel is his empathy for his characters and his thoughtful storytelling … a masterpiece.”

Anita Atkinson, Editor, The Weardale Gazette:  “The advertising blurb cannot do it justice. This is the most gripping and memorable story I have read…I thoroughly recommend it to everyone.”

Chris Lloyd, the Northern Echo:  “…weaves a dramatic story from his wife’s family, about the strange secrets of life during the Irish troubles, with other exciting tales from the second world war era…”

John Foster, BBC Radio Tees:  “…an amazing book… a fascinating story”

Elizabeth Taylor, Librarian: A great read for book groups.”

Public reviews on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com: As a reader, I trust the average score and the content of public reviews as much as than the critics. The average public amazon rating combining 32 reviews from UK and US sites is over 4.6 out of 5, which is quite exceptional. The numbers are small, of course, but as a stats expert I’d argue that is quite enough for a reliable sample.    

Reading groups: The book has also been given approval and praise by reading groups in the UK and the USA, with libraries in UK & Ireland buying bulk orders.

Media recognition: There have been six articles connected with the book in regional UK newspapers, an interview on BBC local radio, and an article in a Peshawar (Pakistan) newspaper (where part of the story is set). The author has recently been interviewed by Celtic Life international, a major North American magazine for Irish and Scottish émigrés. The range of material on this site hopefully speaks for itself.

My own history as an author: Deep down I was always drawn to story-telling. Psychology made me better at seeing the world through other peoples’ eyes, at understanding odd personalities, and describing the ups and downs of relationships. Writing non-fiction gave me the skills you need for a long novel. In therapy I helped other people to tell their own stories and then used other stories to help them see themselves and their worlds in a different way. Stories are very influential; the best way to de-glorify war for young people is to make a class read ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ or watch the opening half hour of ‘Saving Private Ryan’.     

The publisher: This new publishing company has established itself as a supplier to the main UK book wholesalers and also to Booknest of Sligo, in Ireland. 

So, what have YOU got to lose by having a look at it? 

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