I have now written three books about On The Buses in my writing career to date and along the way there have been difficult obstacles to overcome along the way. The problems that I have had to overcome I will mention on this page.
Firstly, it has proved problematic getting first hand accounts from those that have worked on either the spin-off films or television series of On The Buses for a number of reasons. It was especially tough when writing On The Buses: The Complete Story as I was a debutant and unpublished author who lacked contacts in the entertainment industry and that is why that book was chiefly to contain the bare bone facts of episode and film synopsis, mini-biographies and some filming locations information. Once I had published work out there and rubbed shoulders with cast and crew members at my book launch event and the Annual On The Buses events which I now organise it was a little more possible to garner information from people who worked on the hit sitcom. However, other insurmountable objects remained in place as many of the main cast had sadly passed away long before I began writing my first book and other cast and crew members who I managed to track down had no real recollection of working on the show. This is understandable as they maybe only spent a day on set in a career that lasted decades so memories will fade in the mists of time. My latest book An A To Z of On The Buses does contain more recollections from cast and crew members which I have gathered over the last three or four years.
Copyright is a big obstacle to overcome. On The Buses was a smash hit sitcom and when I first decided I was going to write a book about it I had to be sure those that held the copyright to the series and films would have no problem with this. I contacted ITV and I was told I was free to write about whatever I wanted as long as it wasn't defamatory and likely to cause upset. However, that wasn't the end of the problems to overcome. I often get asked why there aren't more photos in my books and the answer is pretty simple. For images (even screenshots from the episodes and films) the lion's share are under copyright to ITV and it costs £100 a photo for the right to use one photo in a book. Other photographic agencies work to a similar system though costs can be cheaper at perhaps £50 an image. If you wanted a book with around 30 images in it the cost would be between £1500 and £3000 depending on where you shop but I found a way around this in the end. In my first book On The Buses: The Complete Story all images were ones taken by myself of filming locations, The On The Buses Quiz Book had no images and An A To Z of On The Buses has over 20 images which were either donated to me for use in the book, were my own photographs or were kindly supplied by The Official On The Buses Fan Club. All of them were free of charge.
The process of finding an appropriate publisher can be a minefield with many problems to overcome. Many of your big publishing houses will NOT entertain manuscripts if you are an author without a literary agent such as myself and even a host of other mainstream publisher have the same policy. Straight away this eliminates a host of potential publishers. When approaching a publisher you must first make sure they publish books similar to your own otherwise you are wasting your time. You must also decide which avenue of publishing to go down as there are many now. Independent publishing houses are more accommodating to first time authors and lesser known authors but you may find the financial rewards (profit per book sold) may not be what you were looking for but at least you do not have to worry about publishing costs and most will market the book for you as well. Vanity publishing (not one I would recommend) is when you pay a heck of a lot of money up front for your book to be published - it will guarantee publication but the publisher is less likely to put any love or care into the project once they have your money in their bank account plus the personal satisfaction you, as an author, will garner from this method just would not be the same I would imagine. Another avenue of publishing is self-publishing where you invest your own money in the project with a self-publishing company. Costly it is but you hold all rights to the manuscript so if you are not happy with how the publishing company is handling your project then you can take your business elsewhere. Also when book sales start coming in you will keep a far bigger share of the profits which should more than compensate you for your original outlay of costs at the outset. Another option is for you to totally cut out the middleman and go it alone. By this I mean set up your own publishing company and publish without a third party involved - an avenue that one day I may explore myself but we shall see. It means you make all the decisions on how the book looks, where it gets marketed, the design, the style......everything. An exciting but daunting prospect guaranteeing mighty hard work on the author's part.
Another obstacle I have had to overcome in my writing career is.......time. I work full-time as a Hospitality Host for First ScotRail and this takes up a big portion of my time so it has proved problematic fitting in the time to write in my spare time especially as shifts at work can vary from early starts to early finishes or late starts and late finishes. If I return from work exhausted it is not a good time to write as a tired mind isn't the most productive however enthusiasm can help to pull you through. I suppose this explains why there has been such gaps between my publications. I began researching my first book and writing it in 2008 and so it has taken me around six years to get three books into publication. I am no expert but a full-time author could probably turn out three or four times as much books in that time.
Also a problem when writing about a hit television series or films is the market place coverage. By this I mean that a lot of subjects have been covered completely such as Carry On films and a whole host of other sitcoms. Most of them as well have endorsements and memories from key cast or crew members no longer with us so to try to write a book on those subjects and hope to better them is wishful thinking at best. When I began writing my first book around six years ago there were no books out there about On The Buses so it left me with something of a blank canvas to work from.
Another image-related problem I find (which will be even more of a problem on my latest project) is preparing the images for the book. It is not as simple as obtaining images and placing them in the word document and being printed perfectly. The images individually need altering to a specific level of dpi (dots per inch) before they are up to the required standard of being printed in a book to a high enough quality. The more images in the book, the more time consuming and laborious the task but this has to be done meticulously.
Marketing is key once your book is on sale. The better the marketing the better the sales I find. Marketing can be done through different means such as interviews on radio stations or in magazines and newspapers so it is helpful to try to build up these types of contacts. A newer form of marketing is becoming readily available as we speak in the form of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. These social media outlets can allow you a global form of marketing reaching beyond the more traditional form of radio and magazines/newspaper articles. Of course book signings offer another chance to get your book out there in the public circles. Book signings needn't be restricted to bookstores either as social events and libraries offer book signing opportunities as well.
To be continued.....