Author Archives: Makri press

About Makri press

A small independent publishing company


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?”


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 and 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? 


‘Crossing the water’ crosses the big water

Well, it’s happened, The ship that sailed some time ago when I sat down to write the story of the Irish ‘children of independence’ has passed the statue of liberty and arrived in port. The book is now officially on sale in America (and virtually worldwide) thanks to Amazon. Love them or hate them, these titanic multinational companies have certainly changed our lives.

Mind you, the last time I had a book published in America (when I was a psychologist) it didn’t go well. After publicising the book by speaking at two international conferences, the publisher was hit by one of the first financial crises just as the book came out. There was a small print run  in the US but distribution became difficult and it proved very difficult to get hold of, especially in Europe. So I spent some time apologising over the phone to irritated professors from various European cities. It then took several years to get the rights back from the publisher – he had relocated to Florida, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. No, I’m not making this up. And second hand copies are offered at a crazy price on amazon because of their rarity…

Times are very different now. One or two copies of the UK edition had already found their way across, presumably bought by tourists who had crossed the water and taken it home, then put reviews on the US site. Thanks to those wonderful people, whoever you are.

US paperback link

US kindle link

What other people say about ‘Crossing the Water…’

Professor Alan Carr, University College Dublin: “A coming of age novel with a difference… ‘Crossing the Water’ begins against the backdrop of the Irish civil war when two boys are caught in an incident which will change their lives forever. They take different paths, but their lives remain linked in distinctive ways as a tale of friendship and conflict, loyalty and emigration, love and war unfolds. The novel spans three continents (Europe, America and India) and three decades (1919-1946) during which the central characters and their families experience the joys of life but also struggle with the realities of separation, trauma and loss. Ian’s background as a clinical psychologist informs his descriptions of both the problems that befall his characters and their resilience and coping methods. However, what makes this an exceptionally memorable novel is his empathy for his characters and his thoughtful storytelling … a masterpiece.”

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

Anita Atkinson, Editor, The Weardale Gazette: “The most gripping and memorable story I have read…I thoroughly recommend it to everyone…

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

Elizabeth Taylor, Librarian: “Describes the journey of two Irish lads from the trouble torn Ireland of the 1920s to the end of the Second World War; plus, the decisions they must make in loyalty and love. A great read for book groups.


Cheers and raise a glass to the Northern echo!

Some of you will be looking at this after reading about my childhood in Weardale in the ‘great daily of the North’ – and it is a paper I enjoy myself, which has survived and even thrived against the odds by remaining consistently relevant, a great mix of regional and national news, balanced and unbiased, and pitched at a level that can be read by people of all backgrounds. I hope my books do the same…

If you want to read some extracts from my book and reviews of it, look at the Makri press site The site also has some poems, quirky articles, and bits of psychology under ‘free stuff’
On this site, the ‘Voyages of discovery’ series tells the story of how I decided to become a publisher and my efforts to reach out to possible readers! (More to come on this later – thanks for visiting the site today)


The world of bookselling…

This voyage began when I counted up the number of friends I had and realised that even if every single one bought a book, I was still going have to find a way to sell books to that mysterious entity known as the public. Still, I could see a real upturn for my social life, since being a writer is a bit like locking yourself in a box and throwing away the key. It would give me a great excuse to ‘get out more’…

“It’s not what I expected.” This is how Thor Noggson described the source of the Nile, having set off years earlier for the North Pole. I said this too, about the world of bookselling.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a pre-austerity world of busy high streets and lots of shops, including lots of bookshops often run by very and knowledgeable people. So I set off to explore my local towns and see what remained of this lost world…

These days, it’s a bit like Jurassic Park mixed up with the Mappa Mundi; and the law of the jungle applies. The High Streets are sadly dilapidated and filled with pound stores, charity shops and empty spaces. And yes, there are some scary monsters out there – between them they have gobbled up most of the small bookshops. The biggest monster is probably Amazon who ate the arms and heads by supplying everything the shops did, and more, without the need to leave your house. Then the supermarkets ate a chunk of the bodies by selling popular books dirt cheap. Meanwhile the charity shops, like large neighbourly rats, nibbled the legs away by selling large quantities of cheap second hand books. And then the big high street chains gobbled up anything that remained in a decent location – eg Waterstones gobbled up Ottakars, who had in turn gobbled up Dressers, etc, etc.

So there aren’t many small bookshops left, and those that survive are often mainly selling mostly second hand books with a few new books of local interest. Even the big companies have circled the wagon trains in order to survive. There are very few book wholesalers left because they too have also gobbled each other up. The survivors avoid competition with each other by specialising in one thing eg fiction, academic books, or library supply. Then they demand horrendous discounts to stock your book, and supermarkets and high street chains get their stock from these wholesalers… the net result is an endless downward pressure on the price you can ask for your book.

But, hey ho, there was an upside to my voyage. The monsters aren’t all bad; if you’re clever enough you can get a piggy back ride and use them to sell your books, especially Amazon, but only if your book is good enough. And the big chains bookshops are still full of helpful people, even if their ability to help local writers is more limited by company rules. Plus, I did get out more, and found that one town I had thought of as a real tip, the armpit of the northeast, had a delightful and historic town centre.

Maybe all this is a simply the result of the digital revolution. The paper book may not be dead yet, but most of the people who buy paper books are no spring chickens… I feel an ebook coming on, but not yet, I tell myself, I need to sell a few more paper ones first. So at the end of this voyage I realised that what I needed was… a cunning plan. Where the hell is Baldrick when you need him?


“Publishing can’t be that difficult, can it? It’s not rocket science… is it?” Thor Noggson did not say this on his way to the Upper Nile in the 18th century; I did when I realised that, barring divine intervention, the only publishing company likely to publish my novel was… my own. As Thor did once remark, on long journeys confusion is obligatory.

Thankfully I had been well-prepared for this task; successive waves of NHS cuts had gradually deprived me of secretarial support and forced me to learn basic word processing. Maybe I should have taken a secretarial course in the first place.

So, having armed myself with various publishing manuals, I prepared to cross the black and inky sea of the dark arts (fonts, formats, typesetting, bindings, paper types, file conversions). My initial terror subsided as I slowly learned to navigate the ‘word’ help system and discovered that… it was all there. Labyrinthine it may be, but it’s like granddad’s cellar; every tool under the sun, if you can root them out – more like caving than rocket science. So after much, much brain pain, I had a word file sized and spaced like a novel, converted to PDF (printer format).

To get official recognition as a publisher of serious work rather than a back street leaflet man you also need to register with Neilson and buy some ISBN numbers  from them (each book needs one). Not expensive, and it turns out the forms are a piece of piss compared to the average disability benefit application…bingo, Makri press was born. And yes, I am going to publish other people’s work too, if it’s good enough.

A quick mention for editing; you can pay someone to do it, or you can risk your sanity and do it yourself. Reading aloud to yourself for weeks on end can be a bit risky, especially when your wife used to be a psychiatrist. (Fortunately for me, these days Sheila usually has her earphones on while she listens to her Ipod.) Then there’s copy-editing; this is a bit like letting loose your inner obsessive-compulsive…yes, I can hear the laughter from my old university housemates at this point…

The most important task is to get a decent cover; when it comes to books, that’s what most people look at before they buy, let’s face it. Here, I was just lucky to meet someone – thanks again, Angela.

Printing? Well, it’s like removals or anything else. Find out what other people say about companies, get three estimates and choose one. Then prepare to fill your landing and other spaces with piles of shiny new books wrapped in polythene.

They arrive; reality bites. “Oh my God, I’ve done it now.” This is where the urge for self-expression (shout it from the rooftops) finds itself at war with the urge for privacy and self-protection (put them in the loft and hide). And the practical bit… how on earth am I, with the business sense of a lab rat, going to get them out to that mysterious entity known as the public?

…to be continued…


Thor Noggson, the 18th century Icelandic explorer, achieved fame and fortune when he set off to find the North Pole without his compass only to discover, in a roundabout way, the source of the upper Nile…

He summed up his approach to life in the words, “It’s easy to build a ship; keeping it afloat is the difficult bit…”

For me, writing a novel is relatively easy, despite the long time scale. The hard part is getting people to take you seriously by reading it.

I’ve already written two psychology books, but my experiences of the traditional publishing industry did not inspire confidence. After publicising my first book by speaking at two international conferences, the publisher went bankrupt just as the book came out – or rather, didn’t come out. So I then spent a lot of time apologising to irritated professors from obscure places. It took several years to get the rights back from this publisher – he had relocated to Florida, presumably to avoid the lawyers. No, I’m not making this up. Eventually, I brought out a second book, which did quite well for a year. Then the company was taken over by a large American corporation who listed all their British authors in very small print at the back of the catalogue, and I vanished back into obscurity again.

As for the world of fiction, it’s a bit like the world of beer in the 1970’s. A few large companies (breweries) dominate the market and forcibly market a rapidly decreasing number of authors (keg beers). Plus, I don’t tick many boxes. I’m not thirty-something and I’m not a celebrity gardener, soap actress, or failed politician. I’m not an Oxbridge graduate, and I’m not in the masons… putting it bluntly, I don’t know anyone in the world of fiction. JK Rowling was rescued from a bin by a junior assistant who persuaded her boss to take another look. I decided my chances of being rescued from a bin were decidedly slim, since the economic problems mean that most of the junior assistants are now on the dole…

As a reasonably competent DIY man and fixer of anything that goes wrong, I thought, well, publishing can’t be that difficult, can it? It’s not rocket science… is it?

…to be continued…