All of my quiz books start off as a pun, something catchy that I hope will make my work stand out from the other quiz books on the product pages of Amazon. From the design of the front cover to the blurb on the back, each and every one of my books is completely self-published and marketed by me. I do this as a part-time hobby with the aim that one day I can exchange the word part for full.
My ambition has always been to write, not for a company or publication, but for myself. Most evenings you will find me at my desk sippin’ green tea, hunched over my keyboard (my mum has always said I have bad posture), scouring the web looking for information about a particular subject. This process usually takes a couple of months and is something I only decided to do a few years ago.
Back in January 2015, I had just moved back to the UK after spending 18 months working in the neon-soaked metropolis of Hong Kong. I was 27 years old, soon to turn 28, living back in my childhood room at my dad’s house with my, then girlfriend, now wife. I had no job, no car and no place of my own. One thing I did have, was a lot of confusion about what I actually wanted to do with my life.
A lover of one-liners, I often annoy my wife with corny jokes and not-as-clever-as-I-think-they-are play on words. One evening we were sat watching an episode of Game of Thrones when I turned to her and said “I’ve just had a thought, if anyone ever wrote a quiz book about Game of Thrones they should call it Brain of Thrones, ha!“ I exclaimed with an inflated sense of self-achievement. “Well…why don’t you?” she replied. I’m not sure if this was just to shut me up whilst the show was on or whether it was aimed as inspiration but I took it as the latter.
Over the next few months I divided my time between sending out CVs (I work in marketing by the way) and thinking of questions that would fit into my quiz book. By April, I had written 385 questions and answers, separated into 25 quizzes that were a mixture of general knowledge and themed rounds. I’d also managed to teach myself some basic Photoshop skills from YouTube videos and had scraped together a front and back cover. These were simple in design but I was pretty chuffed with how they turned out. I uploaded all of this to Lulu.com (the website I use to self-publish) and then ordered my proof copy.
When it arrived I was ecstatic, I couldn’t believe I’d created something that looked professional and had my name on it. It gave me a huge sense of purpose, this is something I could be truly passionate about and one day do for a living. That of course, was before I noticed that I’d spelt the word Brain, ‘Brian’, on the 3rd page….bugger.
A few weeks later, I’d made all the corrections needed (from now on I ask my dad to proof all of my work, thanks Daddio) and could see Brain of Thrones proudly listed on the 6th page of Amazon when you search for ‘game of thrones quiz books’ – what a proud moment that was.
I should point out one key person who I need to thank for a lot of this, Shaun Finnie.
Shaun is a good friend of my dads and someone who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the past decade. I met Shaun whilst out with my dad for a pint in ‘The Museum’, a popular watering hole in Sheffield’s Orchard Square. During our conversation my dad mentioned that he was proof reading Shaun’s first book “The Disneylands That Never Were”. Instantly I was in awe of Shaun’s achievement and proceeded to ask about this in a fair bit of detail; why he wrote it, how he got it published, how long did it take, where was he selling it…anything and everything about it.
Shaun took the time to explain self-publishing to me and some of the key details you needed to know. I didn’t know it at the time but this advice would go on to be some of the most valuable information I’d ever receive. The fact that I knew someone who had done this was inspiring by itself, now that I was armed with the details too, there was no way I wasn’t going to try this for myself.
Specialised in writing about Disney, Shaun has gone on to great success, creating numerous short stories, quiz books and even two novels which were recently published by Theme Park Press. Had it not been for this meeting, I don’t think I’d have had the confidence or the know-how to publish my own work. So I owe a lot to Shaun (you can check out his website here).
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m now set to launch my fifth quiz book: Harry Swotter – A Harry Potter Quiz Book. Writing is still a part-time hobby for me but with your help and support I maybe, just maybe, will be able to do this for a living. I’m currently working on a short story and have also begun work on my first fictional novel too.
Now here comes the sales pitch…
If you are a fan, or know a fan, of any of the subjects I write quiz books about then why not order a copy? Each book is priced moderately as I believe in trying to reach more people for less profit than less people for more profit. You’ll be helping me out and I genuinely hope you, or those around you, will thoroughly enjoy it.
Additionally, if you are feeling really generous, you can leave a PayPal donation. Why would I do that? Well, I’ll be honest and say that my aim in life isn’t to build a corporate empire of quiz books or bath in a bath tub full of dollar bills, it’s merely to be able to make enough money to live off. That way I can spend my days developing more books that readers will get value from. Any donations, no matter how small, will move me a little closer to achieving this goal.