Royalty Check or Reality Check?

Posted by in April's Magazine

Everybody, it seems, has a book inside them positively bursting to get out. Or, putting it another way, as Lorenz Hart would have it. ‘If they ask me, I could write a book’.

Yet is it as easy as they say to have your completed manuscript published and then for it to suddenly hit the bookshelves, amassing acclaim along the way?



Then, once the book has hoefully excited lots of readers, the budding author will be rubbing their hands at the thought of vast sums of money funneling in their direction. Along with lucrative film & TV rights, evoking frantic bidding wars: “That’s Mr Spielberg on the phone for you… again!”

Yet, without meaning to sound too pessimistic, it’s safer to say that for the vast majority of aspiring writers a reality check is a far more likely scenario than a royalty cheque.

I recall a former colleague of mine from the BBC saying to me (in all seriousness) that he was going to write a book, about certain individuals he worked with. “What are you going to call your book?” I enquired. “C**ts I Have Known,” was his blunt reply.

Suffice to say, particularly with reference to its indelicate and unsubtle title, I am led to believe that it has not (as yet) seen the light of day.

Which now brings me neatly round to my story. About 3 years ago, I began (purely for a few nostalgic laughs) writing down memories and funny anecdotes about my past employment at the now defunct BBC studios in Edinburgh’s Queen Street.

With the vast majority of the torrid tales, bathed in a deeply un-PC light, reflecting the very different moral climate that was once the norm.

However, after a while, my collection of boozy, bawdy, broadcasting shenanigans, began to morph into something very different indeed. It slowly took shape, just like a book – or something closely resembling one. So with that in mind, I began to eagerly search for a potential publisher.

After scanning the Internet I carefully pinpointed several local publishers, eagerly sending extracts of my manuscript for them to read over. All the time thinking (naively as it turned out) that a book focusing on the BBC’s past historical and cultural position in Edinburgh would inspire their immediate and enthusiastic interest. Unfortunately, no sudden enthusiasm was forthcoming.

At first I thought this a little strange, considering that there has never been a book published that was solely based around the BBC’s presence in Scotland’s capitol city. But such is life.
With my disappointment quickly forgotten, I widened my search. I began to contact a number of UK-wide publishers, thinking that someone else might look kindly upon my first-time efforts, while recognising its (fingers crossed?) implied literary merit.

The feedback I received was generally positive and encouraging – at least no one came back to me with, ‘this is a piece of crap’! Though the majority of their conclusive decisions usually included statements along the lines of: ‘We like it. We think it’s very good, but we just don’t think it’s for us’. Fair enough I thought,
after all, many a celebrated author – JK Rowling being one shining example – has had the door to a potential Pulitzer Prize firmly slammed in their face while pitching their first efforts.

One particular publisher’s primary reason for turning me down was that they tend to specialise more in ‘dark fantasy’. I wonder if they fully realised that my book’s subtle subtext deftly delved into dark and shadowy areas, highlighting the odd character that seemingly defied logic or explanation, and some others who possess ‘something of the night about them’?

Joking aside, I then set out to investigate the possibility of self-publishing, this time through Amazon Kindle. The cost of going down this route would turn out to be considerably less than some of the quotations previously thrown my way. With some of the figures mentioned almost necessitating the requirement of a second mortgage.

So I submitted my manuscript to Amazon Kindle to evaluate and review, and awaited their reply expectantly. Then, after a scant few days, they came back to me. Only this time full of effusive and encouraging praise concerning my completed work. They really liked it. I must confess that I was unprepared for such glowing, compliments concerning the basic structure of the piece, as well as what they viewed as my affable writing style. Further adding, that in their eyes, it was ‘undoubtedly one of the best books of its type they had read for some time…’

It now appears that my humble efforts have been endorsed and vindicated. With the finished product – not only on the Kindle format but also as a paperback – published on the Amazon website. I’ve even got my own author’s page!

In the end the gods have smiled benevolently on me and I am inordinately proud to be the first member of my family to have a book published. Although my Dad would probably have preferred it if it had been ‘the bookies’ rather than the books that finally brought me some small degree of success!

Info: Lawrence P. Lettice’s, You Can’t Do That Here! This Is The BBC! Is available at Amazon now.

One response to “Royalty Check or Reality Check?”

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