My Biggest Mistake: John Drummond
Sunday 03 July 1994
I found that finishing the book - far from being the end of it - was only the start of the troubles. It's only when you have finished the writing that you become aware of what can be the rather rough end of book publishing.
In the course of my book coming out my publisher was taken over, and this resulted in a series of name changes. Coupled with this was an alarming change in personnel, who are, after all, an author's main point of contact.
When you deliver a book for the first time, you assume that you are plugging into a massive marketing effort that has been tried and tested over the years. What is more likely to happen is that the publisher will issue a press release and then make clear that the author is expected to make a huge effort to ensure that as many people as possible know about it.
Although this is a shock to the first-time author, it is not surprising when you consider it from the publisher's point of view. The small publisher tends not to have the resources to devote to marketing, while the large one is probably publishing a book a day, so it does not have much time for each book. The exception is if you are somebody like Joan Collins, where the promotion needs to match the investment made. But I was unaware of that equation at the time.
But it is not just the marketing that can be disappointing. Distribution is also a problem. Good Business received very good advance reviews, which were carried on the cover. But, despite this, family and friends who tried to obtain it were either told by bookshops that they had never heard of it or that it would take weeks to order.
It makes you wonder how any book sells. I was very tempted to do what I heard other, now well-known authors have done - hire a van and take a load of books from the warehouse to distribute around the country.
It was all a great shock. Because I have been a businessman all my life I made the assumption that publishing was like any other business - which proved woefully wide of the mark. It seems that although many publishers are now part of big corporations, they can still behave in old-fashioned ways. They often do not seem to have been hit by modern management thinking.
For example, I was talking to a publications editor the other day about another book. When I said that it might appeal to a wider audience than the one originally envisaged, he looked at me with incredulity. The idea seemed to be that achieving larger sales than expected would pose a problem. Other businesses would love to have that problem.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have gone about things differently. I think the choice of publishers is very important - I have no complaints about Butterworth-Heinemann, the publisher of my second book - though flexibility is rarely available to new authors.
But you need to realise what can happen. I come across people in business all the time who think they are doing something interesting that they should write about. They always assume that once they have got it to a publisher their problems are over.
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
Sir Paul McCartney makes his stance on Scottish independence known
PM sets out tough new anti-terror measures in response to heightened threat
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...
£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...