How I beat Wayne Rooney with my World Cup book

The 86th book of NORMAN GILLER’s career rolled off the presses within 72 hours of the end of the World Cup, and all for an upfront expenditure of just £100. But the way things are going, his 88th book may be for iPads only

So India’s cricketing god, Sachin Tendulkar, is to have 10 autobiographical books printed with his signature written in his blood. What’s new about that? I’ve sweated blood for more than 30 years on my books.

My latest, self-published book could have brought me to the brink of bankruptcy but for my decision to opt for the revolutionary digital Print-On-Demand publishing method.

Called World Cup 2010 Day By Day, it is an instant report on the South African football festival, and it was running off the presses within 72 hours of the final (in which, thank goodness for football’s sake, the Spanish artists conquered the Dutch cloggers).

It would have been done in 48 hours but for me having a senior moment and putting the wrong measurements on the jacket.

Thanks to England’s pathetic performance in the finals, interest in my project on the page I set up on Facebook fell away as quickly as Fabio Capello’s reputation for being a tactical genius.

The author in me is moaning about the parochial attitude of English football fans, who don’t seem to grasp that the World Cup is bigger than any one country. But the self publisher is congratulating myself on being sensible enough not to have faith in England to make significant progress in the tournament.

That is why I opted for the safer, less profitable process of Print-On-Demand, which means I risked just hundreds rather than thousands of pounds on a print order.

Just yesterday, a major distributor cancelled a 50-book order because of a lack of interest in the World Cup. I am not alone: Liverpool-bound Joe Cole has shelved his biography plans, while Wayne Rooney’s publishers must feel as if they have been kicked in the Jabulanis after paying millions in up-front fees for a five-book deal that has stalled after just a single volume.

So my advice to anybody out there thinking of following me down the self-publishing road is to make a study of Print-On-Demand. For an average-sized book, you are talking a unit price of around £4 and upfront setting up costs of about £100.

I use Antony Rowe/CPI of Eastbourne, who are not the cheapest but certainly among the best. They deliver what you want to a tight deadline, and also offer a packaging and distribution service that adds about £1.25 to each book price if you do not have the facilities or time to do the work yourself. You can even order one book at a time, if necessary.

When doing your sums remember to add in the overheads, such costs as illustrations, postage, packaging, storage, discount to wholesalers (as much as 53 per cent of the cover price with some bookshops), ISBN registration and advertising and promotion. If you do not have a personal website, I would say forget about self-publishing.

With No86 put to bed, my 87th book goes to the printer next week for publication in August. The Golden Double celebrates the 50th anniversary of Tottenham’s record-making League and FA Cup triumph of 1960-61, and is introduced and signed by Dave Mackay.

I am confident enough in that one to go down the traditional litho-printing route, which means about £2.25 per book, but you have to pay for your print run upfront. So that is a few thousand pounds at risk if I can’t find enough Tottenham fans to invest in some glorious club history.

Randall Northam, the SJA Treasurer and a proper publisher, kindly reminded me that I could offer my World Cup book as a download on the internet, which I will be doing in the near future. But first I want to get the old-fashioned paperback version into the hands of as many people as possible.

eBooks are the future, downloaded and read on computer screen or on such flat portable devises as the iPad (pictured above), the Amazon Kindle or the soon-to-be-launched Google computer tablet. Keep taking the tablets.

THEY COULD ALSO be the saviour of newspapers, with readers downloading hot-off-the-screen newspapers and magazines from around the world.

I learned from Roy Greenslade’s always informative Guardian Media blog that Andrew Marr is a convert to modern technology. A Luddite until recently, Marr came up with the cracking line that he is one of the news romantics.

As one of millions (yes, millions) of unpaid bloggers, I would question Andrew’s description of his suddenly discovered modern communications world as “The Golden Age”. More like the Dark Ages, with webmasters the world over trying to think how they can make their time-consuming toy at least pay for itself.

The Murdoch plan of hiding behind a wall trying to be seen is the logic of Mad Hatter land. If you hear a woodpecker-type sound coming from behind the Wapping paywall, that is the knocking knees of the scores of technicians who realise they ” so to speak ” could go to the wall if subscriptions do not pick up.

My Wapping moles tell me they have had a fall-off in traffic of a staggering 95 per cent since the Wall went up… and visits to the main rivals such as the BBC, Telegraph, Independent, Guardian and Mail have shot up. What do they have in common? Um, uh … they are free.

It is not journalists who will lead us webbies to the Promised Land of riches, but the sort of entrepreneurs who have given us PayPal. Thanks to that system, I am able to earn a crust by selling my books online. But I am closer to a starvation diet than I was used to when old Fleet Street provided the cash cow that I once milked.

I am an avid follower of Marr (despite his over-acting in his TV docos), but wonder how he would get on if suddenly parted from his BBC licence payers’ money and had to earn his daily bread in the Brave New World of the internet. News romantic? I think he’d very soon become one of the bruised romantics.

Please keep Uncle Norman out of the Dorset poor house by ordering his 2010 World Cup book: click here for details

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