A Turn Up for the Book

A Turn Up for the Book

Funny How Things Turn Out

Jac Forsyth, Alan Somerville and I are all part of the Frome Writers’ Collective as well as being founder members of a writers’ group that meets up on Fridays. In truth, we’re the only members of the Friday group!

One day, in a discussion about publishing, we agreed that neither traditional publishing, nor on-line publishing were completely satisfactory for us, so I turned to one of my old ideas – small-scale publishing of hand-stitched booklets with up to around 50 pages. I showed the rest of the group an example of the hand-stitched books, ‘Pip’s Poems’, which went down well. Alan then gave me his collection of seven short stories ‘Seven Sides of Life’, to publish and a friend gave me a collection of 30 limericks, entitled ‘A Bunch of Daffs’.

We gave various copies away, left some in cafés, and sold a few for the price of a cup of coffee, to cover publishing costs (excluding labour), but after this things went quiet for a bit.

Then, at the Frome Artists’ Café, Ray Campbell said:

‘Why do people buy mass-produced copies of art when they could buy from local artists at a similar price?’

It was a good question and one which I decided that might apply to writing and publishing too. So I set up a small display promoting my hand-stitched publishing service, in the area of Frome Library devoted to writers.  The library staff were helpful, even making an offer to organise a launch event – which I might still take up.

Then two-three months went by and nothing happened.  Each booklet had an e-mail address on the back cover for ordering more copies, but there were no e-mails and whenever I visited the library to check the stock of takeaway flyers there were still plenty there. Inevitably, I turned my attention to the many other projects I have on the go.

But then, out of the blue, Alan asked me to print seven more copies of ‘Seven Sides of Life’. It turned out that there was a ‘reading aloud bibliotherapy group, called ‘Reading Allowed’, which met at Frome Library on Mondays, and this group had liked the sample book so much that each member wanted their own copy. Since then, we have been asked for another six copies and we’re now preparing a booklet of children’s stories by Alan, ‘Topsy Turvey Tales’.

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My original idea of hand-stitched booklets arose from the death of my partner Freda in 2006.  Her friend, from her schooldays, has written a published book ‘Funny How Things Turn Out’.

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Some ventures are like plants – they grow from seeds, some of which fall on fallow ground; they grow at a natural, variable pace, depending on chance and the weather; force them, and they may grow weak. For me, the experience of producing the books goes to show that you should always pursue ventures. You won’t necessarily get the result you’re aiming for – in fact you probably won’t – but something nice will happen.

Paul Fine