194 Radio City: The Heart of Liverpool

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Location: Denbighshire, United Kingdom

After deciding to resign from the Civil Service after 25 years, I am now free to pursue my dream of writing. My first book '194 Radio City - The Heart of Liverpool' was published through Lulu in April 2006, and is available from good bookshops and internet suppliers. If you have difficulty getting a copy, please contact me.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Just a thought.....

Have been thinking about Lulu and the whole "Print on Demand" business in general. It's not dissimilar to when the independent labels started up in the music business. The major labels wouldn't sign up a lot of new bands, as they were only interested in megabucks and a particular sound, so these bands turned to the "indies". This meant that they could still be heard by people and quite often they did rather well. Think about John Peel and the bands he championed. Loads of them went on to become stars, who might otherwise not have been heard at all. Nowadays we have sites on the web such as Myspace where bands can market themselves, provide their own videos and music, and can potentially build up a strong fanbase without having a record deal at all.

The major book publishers of today have a very similar mindset to those major record labels back then (and now, of course). I speak from experience here, having tried them first. There is a lot of snobbery and money-mindedness there. They clearly weren't interested in anything that wasn't going to sell by the million straightaway. My book obviously has a niche market, and added to that is the fact that it's my first book, so I always knew I had no chance with them. But I knew that some people would want to read my book, so self-publishing was the only option. When I found out about Lulu, it seemed perfect. It was actually a bonus for me that I could see the whole process of writing, publishing and promoting right through to the end.

People who want to write for the sheer love of writing can now do so. Maybe they only ever want to publish one or two books for themselves and members of their family, but that book is still valid to them. And why shouldn't they do it too? They have the right. With the new "POD" publishers everyone can have their turn. Unlike the old vanity publishers, it doesn't cost thousands of pounds to publish your book any more. The cost is within most people's reach and, as long as someone has basic computer skills, it really is something that can be achieved by all.

I think we will see a lot more books coming to prominence through these "POD" people. It is already big in America, where it began, but it is just beginning to catch on over here too. The majors will fight back (and in fact already are doing so) saying that a book which hasn't gone through the whole process of editing, marketing and everything else they do, is somehow second rate, but we can leave that for the person who reads the book to decide. People have already contacted me to say that they have been inspired by the fact that I have got this far and now are going to do it themselves. I think that's fantastic. They no longer need be put off at the first hurdle of finding an agent or publishing house. They can join the new brand of "indie" writers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

At last! Book now available to buy!!!

The box of books arrived here safely yesterday. I have checked them and they are all OK and ready to go. I am being kept quite busy now. I visited our local printers this morning (Fineline in Ruthin) and they are going to do a run of 250 flyers which I will be able to use to pass onto people, promote interest etc. I will also have some business cards printed for when I visit the bookshops around the area. I have also decided to get myself a car sticker to advertise the book, and have some key rings run off as well.

The press release was written last night and will be going out very shortly. There are two versions: the first one is for Merseyside, and the second is for everywhere else (most notably North Wales!) Looks like I will have to suffer having another photo taken, which I am not looking forward to!

It is also time to contact everyone who contributed to the book and let them know that it's finally published. First copy will be going out to Lesley Marshall at Radio City, and I've also decided to donate a sum (amount yet to be decided) on every book sold to City's 'Give A Child A Chance' charity.

SO!!! If you would like to buy a copy of '194 Radio City - The Heart of Liverpool' by Kathy Barham, the cost will be £8.49 (£6.99 for the book, plus £1.50 p+p) and you can get in touch with me by using any of the following: If you have a Paypal account you can pay through kathytom.barham@dsl.pipex.com. You can also get in touch with me direct by emailing me your details at kathybarham@hotmail.com, and I will let you know where to send the cheque, or you can simply telephone 01824 704595. Of course, if you prefer, the book is available direct from Lulu (http://www.lulu.com/kathybarham) but the p+p is more expensive here. If you have any special requests, (polite ones only please!) for example if you want the book signing, don't forget to let me know.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's Arrived!

On Wednesday morning my review book arrived from the States, and I have to say (and I include myself here to some degree) for people who were slightly sceptical about the quality of books published by POD publishers when viewed alongside 'real' publishers, there was really nothing to worry about. It is perfect! Exactly how I wanted it. The print and layout, including the black and white photographs* have come out clearly and professionally and the cover is fabulous. I'm really proud to be able to show it around and say this is mine. And remember, unlike subsidy publishers, Lulu has charged me absolutely nothing for printing my book. The only cost to me has been my cover design fees and the Global Distribution deal, both of which were optional. Pretty good eh?

There were a couple of typos, which I corrected (my fault, not Lulu's), and now version 2 is available - however, this is where I had a dilemma....

Lulu strongly advises that with every new review, before you order a large number of books, you order one copy first so you can check for errors in the printing etc. I thought long and hard about this, and then decided just to go ahead with a large order. The reason being that it was only a couple of typos that I corrected, nothing major. Also, I have to begin marketing this book and getting the press release out etc, before I go away on holiday. I don't want to delay the book's release any longer. So although the book is, in theory, available to buy from Lulu (and you can check it out by going to http://www.lulu.com/content/266943) I wouldn't advise any of you to buy it from there until I have checked that they are OK. And anyway it will be easier (and cheaper) for people to buy direct from me, and I will let everyone know how to do this as soon as I have received my shipment and given them the all clear to be sold.

So fingers crossed everything will be OK this time!

* Perhaps the only minor issue I had with the photos was that Lulu was unable to include them as black and white plates in the centre of the book. Instead they are printed on the normal paper within the text. Initially, I admit I was bothered about this, but I have researched many published books which use photographs in this way, and I no longer have a problem with it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Promotional Material

I am currently in discussions with Lin (my designer) again regarding promotional material which I could have printed up to help me spread the word about the book. I want a car sticker (but only one - for me!) which will mean that wherever I go (and I do travel a lot of miles) I can advertise the book, but I also like the idea of having bookmarks made up. I'm thinking along the lines of them having a picture of the book, a brief synopsis, the web address and contact details etc. These will be handy for me to give out to friends and family, contributors, bookshops etc, and basically anyone else I come in contact with. I will let you know what happens with these, and whether I come up with any other promotional ideas (beanie hats, t shirts, mugs, plastic aprons.....!?!?!?)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Your Lulu order has shipped..."

I received an email from Lulu this morning confirming that my book has been shipped. This was a lot quicker than I was expecting, although I am still unclear exactly how long I can expect it to take and where its coming from (US or UK). Lulu suggests 10-15 business days, but it could be up to 30. (Why? Do they bring it across the sea by coracle????) But anyway, the fact that it has shipped appears to be a good sign. Apparently I would have heard by now if there were any major problems, because having purchased the Global Distribution option, it is a much more professional service and the printers are more exact over margins, spacing, layout etc, returning the upload to the author to sort out any problems before printing. In theory, any mistakes I might find when the preview copy arrives should be minor ones and easily corrected.

Global Distribution, for those of you who are interested in publishing through Lulu, means that the book will be assigned an ISBN immediately, will be included in the Books in Print bibliographic database in addition to the Lulu website and will be listed with Ingram Book Company and in the UK through Bertrams and Gartners.

So far so good.....!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shipping Costs and Some Interesting Links

Have been having conversations via email with Lulu all day regarding shipping costs. Basically, because Lulu is a 'Print on Demand' publisher, it works best when people go to its website, or Amazon, and buy one book at a time. Of course, if I want to market my book and sell direct from here, I will need a stock of books. This is where the potential difficulties begin.

I am trying to figure out what it will cost to ship a number of books over to the UK, but I keep being told by Lulu staff that my best bet will be to wait until the new UK printer is up and running. However, this won't be until the summer which is too late for me. I really need to know what it is going to cost me now, and which would be my best (ie cheapest) option, but am getting no useful reply as yet. Still, as long as they get the answer to me before the book goes on sale, that's fine.

In the meantime, here's some music.....

No seriously - I'd like to take this opportunity to mention a couple of guys who are almost as mad about 194 Radio City as me. Namely Nigel and Brian. They both have wonderful websites which are full of things relating to the station in its golden years, and, if you haven't done so already, you should take a look to whet your appetite in preparation for the book.

Nigel's site can be found at www.194radiocity.co.uk. There's loads of interesting stuff in there (including some photos of mine) and a forum for fans of the station where you can share your memories and chat to other fans.

Brian's is at http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/briansaudio/radiocity/index.html There are loads of jingles on there, some of which at least should sound familiar to most of you, as well as some very interesting audio interviews and promotional photos.

OH! And I must say a big congratulations to Brian for being the only guy clever enough to actually work out how to add a comment to this blog! Well done mate!!!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Its All in the Printer's Hands Now

Well, Saturday night was the night when, armed with a couple of glasses of chilled wine, I finally let my book go out into the big, wide world - well, to the printers anyway! Despite having read all the horror stories on the forums at Lulu, and being prepared to have a difficult job ahead, I have to say the on-line uploading of both book and cover was all pretty painless. In fact, I can't help thinking it all went rather too well! But I have ordered my preview copy to check everything is OK, and as long as that is fine, we can look forward to it being available to buy very soon.

I have purchased the Global Distribution deal and this means that availability takes a little longer than normal. However it also means that I have a book with a price and bar code and ISBN number printed on, so I can sell it in bookshops, Amazon and wherever, rather than just through Lulu's website. Lulu is fine if you live in the States, but we don't, so having solely an American distributor (epecially for a book about Liverpool culture) wasn't really going to work, I felt.

Anyway, that's where we are! I will be in touch again soon, hopefully...