First-time self-publishing author David Gluckman on his journey to get his book on creating drinks brands into print, and the things he's learned along the way.
I had a very unusual career. I was an inventor of drinks brands. You may know some of them: Baileys Irish Cream, Le Piat D’Or, Smirnoff Black, Aqua Libra, The Singleton, Ciroc, Tanqueray Ten and many others.
I thought my job was pretty unusual. And interesting. Lots of people said “Why don’t you write a book?”
I toyed with the idea for about 5 years. I wrote reams of text. But I couldn’t settle. Then I met a guy at a party. He worked for the BBC. And he was a published writer. He said “You’re the drinks man. Why don’t you write a book?" Another one. But he was the real deal. He had written books.
I woke up next day and send him all my papers. I assumed that nothing would happen and that it was last night’s booze speaking. I waited. Nothing did happen.
Then I had a call next morning. Really early. It was him. “I love your stuff,” he said “you really can write.”
That was the clincher. I needed someone, someone with authority, to goad me into doing something. To give me the confidence to proceed. Game on.
I signed him up. He piloted me through the first five chapters. He introduced me to his agent. The agent took me on. He worked for an important reputable company. I was overjoyed.
A year went by. Absolutely nothing. He said “Non-fiction isn’t happening this year.” We parted company.
I was angry. Determined. I was going to do it. I finished the book in 6 months.
I decided to start with a title and a cover design. That would make the book real, to me and other people. It was something I did with the drinks I developed, so why not with my own new product.
I went online looking for cover designers. Found a man called Jamie Keenan. I loved his work. I called him up and asked if we could meet. He asked to see my manuscript. I just wanted to talk to him, see if we got on. No online relationships for me.
We met a month later. He’d read the book. Said he was a bit intimidated by my preferences for designers who only developed one idea in response to a brief. He fingered his bag nervously and eventually pulled out a book with a cover on it. It was amazing. I bought it on the spot.
Then I wanted to find someone to design the book. There would be lots of pictures. Design was an important theme in the book. It had to look great.
I started by looking through the books on my shelves. I pulled out one called The Real Mad Men by Andrew Cracknell. I knew him vaguely in another life. I got in touch. The man who designed the book was called Simon Daley and he lived on the South Coast, at St Leonards near Hastings. I called him up and we arranged to meet at his place. We spent a day together and I hired him. As with the cover designer, I felt it was really important to meet these people and spend time with them. I think it paid off. We all became part of the crusade that was my book.
Simon Daley has just set up a company to help people publish their own books. It’s called Otherwise, and I cannot recommend them highly enough. They can access all the services you’ll need. And they are book fanatics. They adore books.
Simon Daley’s business partner, Angela Young, is a specialist in print and sourced the excellent Chinese company that produced my book. Their quality is superb. And the price was pretty good too.
In a way, writing and publishing the book was the easy part. It was the next part that was, and still is the toughest. Selling the book.
I started and am still religiously using social media as best I can. I am 78 years old so my skills are not at the highest level. As my book is a kind of business book, I have become addicted to LinkedIn. I have built my connection base from 10, when I started, to 2,450 today. I have sought out people who might be interested in my book. For example, I might find the brand manager on Baileys in Honduras and write to ask if they’d like to know how Baileys began.
And in many cases I have written more than one email. To remind people, to remind them again, and to thank them if I know they’ve bought the book.
I take my book with me, wherever I go. I flaunt it on the underground, on trains and on buses. I value every single sale. If an occasion presents itself, I talk about it.
And talking of talking, I am now approaching students at Business schools, offering to address them on the subject of new ideas. I am off on a ‘talktour’ of Scotland next week.
I have been incredibly lucky with the people I’ve appointed to help me. My most recent stroke of fortune was hiring a publicist. A brilliant man called Jeff Scott. One of the things I learned with Jamie Keenan and Simon Daley is that if you hire great people, you should do exactly what they tell you.
The message from Jeff was “I know my job. Leave it to me.” He did too.
In the time before meeting Jeff, I wrote hundreds of letters and emails. I made scores of telephone calls. I called in favours all over the place. But the yield was negligible.
Below you can see some of the publicity Jeff has generated after only a month on the job. It was all I could afford but he has taken my book out of the shadows and into the limelight.
My message to all would-be authors. Do it. It’s the best fun you’ll ever have. But you have to live it. Night and day. Awake and asleep. It’s a crusade.
David Gluckman was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 1st November 1938, the day that Sea Biscuit and War Admiral fought out the Race of the Century at Pimlico Park, Baltimore. Educated in Johannesburg, he joined a local advertising agency after university and soon fell in love with business. He made the pilgrimage to London in 1961 and worked as an account executive on the introduction of Kerrygold butter into the UK. Always a frustrated creative, he escaped into brand development in 1969, met a man from a drinks company called IDV, and his life changed forever. His book about his life creating drinks brands, “That s*it will never sell”, is published by Prideaux Press. It can be previewed and purchased via the website www.thatshitwillneversell.com.