Graham Taylor has enjoyed an interesting and varied life so far. From being involved in the promotional side of the punk rock scene in London in the 1970s, to becoming a policeman (not a natural progression), to becoming a vicar (an even more unlikely progression) and from there becoming a number one best-selling author! What made Graham initially put pen to paper?
“A frustration with what was being published at the time,” he says. And Graham believed he could do better – a thought that probably many of us have had ourselves. From this premise, Graham wrote Shadowmancer – a gripping tale that takes the reader into a world packed full of history, folklore, magic, and smuggling.
Faber and Faber paid Graham £3.5 million for the publishing rights to Shadowmancer and his next six books after strong sales from his own self-published books – and the film rights were sold for an additional £2.5 million. Shadowmancer went on to top the British book charts for an amazing 15 weeks. Not bad for a self-published, first time author!
The Times newspaper described his book “Shadowmancer” as “The biggest event in children’s fiction since Harry Potter.”
We were very privileged to have had Graham as a director of Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd. for many years and he lent us his invaluable experiences and knowledge which enabled our new authors to become published at a reasonable price.
We asked him a few questions about how he managed to become the best-selling author he now is, from his self-publishing beginnings.
GHP: Graham, once you had written Shadowmancer, did you try to get a literary agent or publisher to read your book?
Graham: No. I’ve heard of so many writers who have gone through so many rejections over such a long time that I decided to self-publish the book straight away.
GHP: How did you go about publishing your book by yourself?
Graham: I hunted around to find a printer who would print my book for a reasonable price, and after finding one, I then looked for a proofreader who would proofread the manuscript at an equally reasonable rate.
GHP: Once the book was printed, how did you go about marketing it?
Graham: Firstly, I managed to get the book available through all the major book wholesalers and also though the main internet retailers. I then went to all my local bookshops and offered to do book signings and got the local papers to write articles about “the local author” and mention the signings. From these activities, people started to buy, read and enjoy the book and most importantly of all, to recommend the book to their friends.
GHP: What advice would you give to an unpublished author who is looking to get their work into print?
Graham: Self-publish! You keep control of your work; you are in control of the marketing of your book and you’re not working to anybody else’s timetable but your own. You also keep all the ancillary rights to your book, such as TV and film rights.
GHP: Where do you see the future of bookselling going?
Graham: I see the internet continuing to grow rapidly as an important force of retail bookselling. The major book retail chains are limiting their titles more and more, thereby offering the buying public less choice. I also hope there will be a resurgence of locally owned and operated bookshops that are prepared to offer a greater range of titles.
GHP: How do you perceive a self-published book versus a traditionally published book?
Graham: I, and an increasingly growing number of people, see self-published books on an equal footing with the books published from the big publishing houses. You just have to make sure that the end product is produced professionally and the manuscript has been proofread to correct all the silly little mistakes that inevitably are present in an author’s original manuscript.
GHP: Finally, Graham, what was your motivation to become a director of Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd.?
Graham: I accepted the invitation to become a director in Grosvenor House Publishing because I have wanted to encourage self-publishing ever since publishing Shadowmancer by myself. It is a difficult project to publish a book, and then organise the distribution and promotion of that book, without any “guiding light” to help you through the process. The whole procedure can be daunting and seem quite unachievable to the uninitiated.
Grosvenor House Publishing has put together an effective vehicle that enables an author to become fully published with all the distribution and registrations organised for a very reasonable price. Also, Grosvenor House Publishing gives the author a very helpful marketing package that covers all the basic necessities of how to actually get their book sold to the reading public – which after all is why we write books.
Graham Taylor has since written two more books, including Wormwood – another compelling adventure of sorcery, treachery, intrigue and supernatural struggles, which has recently been one of only five books to be nominated for the prestigious American writer’s award known as “The Quills”. Graham’s third and latest title is called Tersias and promises to maintain the tremendous successes of his first two books on both side of the Atlantic.
How did Graham achieve the success he now enjoys?
He obviously has a great talent for conjuring up wonderful stories and the energy and discipline to be able to write those stories in a very readable fashion, but Graham also possesses one vital ingredient, without which his marvellous books would still be just ideas. That ingredient is self-belief. His self-belief is so strong that he even sold his beloved Harley Davidson motorbike to fund the printing of his first book, Shadowmancer!