Archive for May, 2019

I had another grand day at Salisbury on Thursday, selling more copies of the book alongside Rupert, who invariably called out to any familiar faces, “How many would you like to buy?”

I was approached by various racegoers who came up to me to say they’d already finished it, and enjoyed it greatly.  “I read it in two settings”, said one.  “I couldn’t put it down,” said another.  It’s so nice that people liked it, and that they took the trouble to say so.

One gentleman apologetically pointed out three factual errors in the text, but he did it so charmingly I didn’t feel in the least chastised.  None of them were show-stoppers.  Nor was one misprint Jeremy found.  Nobody else has pointed it out – or thought it worth mentioning.  I’m told it’s almost inevitable that this sort of thing happens.  It’s hard to get 60,000 words completely correct.

We must have sold around a hundred so far, and that’s before any reviews have appeared.  You can buy it from me by cheque (only £14.50 including p&p for readers of this blog) or from the racecourse at


There are some great banners on the course advertising the book.  I must take a picture of one next time I’m there; not, perhaps, the one which is directly underneath a permanent sign saying “Toilets”.

Sales were quiet at Ascot’s two-day meeting the previous week.  The crowd was very small by Ascot standards on the Friday.  It was much bigger on Saturday but they weren’t very interested in books.  As it turned out, the writer David Ashforth (who was also present for signing duties), Rupert’s assistant Neil (another author) and I wound up buying each other’s books.

A flurry of correspondence with the Ffos Las printers, spotting and correcting various small misprints, culminated with me being sent a loose-paper copy of the book yesterday.  Just as well, as I found something wrong despite having made “final adjustments” at least three times before.  Once I’m satisfied (again) I’ll let them know and the presses can start rolling.  Apparently they’ll need two weeks to print the necessary number of copies, which brings us up to a few days before the planned launch date of Thursday 6 June.

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Book launch days always cause me trepidation as they approach and last Sunday at Salisbury was no exception.  I needn’t have worried.   Bad weather had blown over the day before and the day was dry, and not quite as chilly as feared.  That meant Rupert the bookseller was present, with line of trestle tables selling racing books, pictures, key rings and fridge magnets.  Any racegoer he recognised was assailed with an enquiry as to how many Salisbury books they were going to buy.

The racecourse directors kindly invited me to join them for lunch.  They were very welcoming, genial and chatty, and the food was delicious.  I could get used to that sort of treatment.

There was a productive signing session after race 2.  Another after the fifth was less so, but I rejoined Rupert after the seventh and eighth races (it was a marathon card) to catch potential sales to people who were going home.  After reckoning up at the end of the day we decided sales were very satisfactory.  Once the accounting was complete and I had done all I could to help Rupert pack up (before a squadron of racecourse staff arrived to provide expert assistance), I took some stock back to my car.  An hour and a quarter after the last race, I was on the way home.

I’ll be back at Salisbury on Thursday 16th hoping to sell a few more.  Before then Rupert and I will be at Ascot this Friday and Saturday trying to do the same.  Marketingwise there is still a lot to do.  I handed in a review copy at the Racing Post’s London HQ this week.  I have yet to contact my old book-purchasing customers, but I may leave that until the Ffos Las one is ready.

As it turned out, there were no major issues with the text and it is now with the printer.  I’ve already had a pdf version back.  The main issue is, I think, is the propensity for most racing scenes to be landscape whereas a book will be portrait shaped.  There is always a dilemma about whether to have several images rotated to fill a full page, meaning you have to tilt the book sideways to look at them properly, or to have two small landscape images one above the other on a single page.  Either way, the finishing line is in sight.

I was glad to see that Hayley, one of the people who I worked with on the Uttoxeter book, was elected as a local councillor last week.  Her boss David is one already, and fortunately for the sake of workplace harmony, they both represent the same party.  I’m sure if they can repeat the success of the racecourse in their own local communities, their constituents will be well served.

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