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Hello, I just thought I'd say a bit...

I used to manage an award winning bookshop, did so for 25 years, then I opened and owned/ran one for 3 years, then I 'helped' set up/run one for 2 friends for a year. Then I went Freelance as me, 'out and about'.

Was it a good idea?  I'd like to say yes, but as it goes I'll be honest and say for 2+ years it's been pretty devastatingly torrid.

Because without a set venue, you can't draw a core audience to keep coming to support both pure economic needs of the enterprise and also build regularity for events.

There were some, who assured me I'd be so much better off... they even intimated they'd do combined events and we'd support each other, they sadly erm...lied...  but, maybe they just didn't know.

So, is it worth carrying on, has it improved?
Luckily ... Yes!

But it is still exceptionally hard work and has involved a lot of juggling skills and developing areas of work that were just not part of the original plan, that was simple, read, review/tell and sell and as often as possible. OK, with no shop and competing with the online jungle guerrillas it's nigh on impossible.

But, the freedom of movement and being able to do different tasks is a huge salve as it does keep you fresh.

Publicity is hard though, the actual media sadly, not that supportive really, bar a few...
Online is equally confounding, some will follow/see/like/RT and yet others who 'want' the exact 'same' support and help...
get theirs but never seem to reciprocate, this does upset me, hence no Facebook, as I did and would rant a bit, weirdly twitter causes me less stress, but I do need more followers etc @tonydoesbooks

I work a lot with libraries and also schools, luckily I have old contacts renewing and new ones finding me and coming. I also try and do my own presentations, talks, workshops and have and do edit and proof read and review etc.

The biggest worry always is communicating and getting any fees etc sorted, it seems so hard even to get £8+ VAT for my time and yet, I have huge resources and can do things a lot quicker than many who arguably get paid a lot more!
I try for £25+ VAT as really one hour 'doing' involves an hour either side coming/going so really it needs to be £30 to even remotely be worth it...
but trying to explain this...
some must think we have a fund to work from... we don't!
But, in fairness an awful lot of creatives and librarians etc work for very little, so it is just as is.

So, whilst I could air a stream of negatives, most are real, the industry has gone bust in my opinion as have libraries and school budgets and time to even engage and do much extra curricular... We must and also continue to be positive...

Let's support each other, work on the same wavelengths and get the publicity and media we can.

Firstly, certainly with twitter, please can you actually RT when it is even remotely possible, also if you are ever able, please consider buying a book when we say we can supply with a deal and free postage, why would you go online or to a supermarket, we are a fully paid up, insured and tax paying Bookseller.

I offer discount and free delivery to avoid the online big one, yet, very few buy... Please never bemoan any further decay of the 'industry' and such...

Libraries need us, so do use them, imagine if say, a big football team said..

OH, we can cover the costs of keeping one open near our ground, after all we are lucky we can pay £150,000 a week to 11 lucky lads,  that's only £85 million for the 1st team.

But, does it cost that to keep a library open with real qualified staff?
nope... do they both offer value and wonder for their communities, yes, and libraries can be open from 300-350 days and evenings a year, football is maybe 40 games or so of maybe 3 hours in real terms...  Yes some training and tactics etc... 

I really wonder... IF XYZ FC did say.. OK, here is £1.5 Million BACK to the LOCAL community could they survive, I mean they often play with 10 not 11 due to the silly things that happen on the pitch... and still keep going as they don't actually always do their job properly so get paid to sulk and watch, but libraries cannot do the same with no staff and resources, weird that.

Schools need to try and factor a bit of time to actually get the right people to answer calls, emails etc... My biggest worry is when I've sent really good info out, expecting some 'no thank yous' but really expecting... OK, brill... when/how much etc...
To get  neither because sadly admin seem to think it's not important to pass on or deny receiving it... and yet, I bet when they send out their emails asking for money from parents etc, they are far more pushy about it being right...
Honestly, read the info, send it through and get a polite reply back out, it really helps.

If I suddenly had David Walliams for a week, they'd soon want to say they deserve or want him to visit... what is different then if it's someone else, arguably many others are better and funnier and do more too. It does worry me that the perception of who would be worth a visit is so off the radar of why and who can and will... It is so important that children get time with 'experts' and ironically I mean strangers...
not just teachers/librarians.

Even the very best cannot add the sparkle and freedom that presenters do. So, schools need to keep half a day or so open for extras...
not always have such a rigid timetable... that's when it gets silly, they turn down a huge treat just for PE and I liked PE, but I really do think...
an inspiring experience arguably for free or little per head cost is just so much better and hey, can we not do exercise at home and out and about, joined in PE is pretty wasteful of time and effort I feel really. Encourage some exercise as PART of days/lessons but not AS a lesson.

Anyway, it would be really amazing, if some more would ask about 'workshops/talks/book sales/just ordering a book/ sharing time/resources.

We can do Arty stuff, Wordy Stuff, Talk about a huge variety of subjects in an interesting and accurate way, and we are local to the ones we can do it for, so our time/travel costs are lower than some who have to make a huge effort to come and stay etc...
Albeit we'd do the same if asked, but it needs to be a little more thought through... We can and will travel, but it will cost more...
So, use us nearer home!

ASK and we will always say what we can do and when and how much... But please consider that we are really as equal as you or anyone else, so at the very least always offer £8+VAT and we are far more likely to be able to do things and not admit defeat and become redundant and looking for a less suited endeavour...  

Proof reading and some editing for instance... I've done... it takes a lot of time/effort and yet I rarely get even £8+VAT but without the second eye and a discussion the work often isn't good enough, but we hear 'Why isn't it getting published etc?' , because it needs me or similar to get it there is why! It's a team game books...

Vikings and activities, we can do... we have done... see our Formby Day at the end of Sept every year for instance.

We do a mean Dahl event and are working on Seuss and Donaldson, they probably won't come to you, but we can...

Book Stalls are hard work as the sheer carrying, displaying and such all take effort, so if we can do one...
please try and encourage some actual sales, it's depressing to see kids with expensive electronics and footy kits who should and need to read and enjoy inventiveness and expression etc 

and learn more , not get a book... but be told they need to apply themselves, get stamina, read and develop..
but they are allowed TV time and PC time..but not a fiver on a book... it does upset me really.

We also do proper Storytelling on our own and with Sally-Anne we have done Festivals and we can adapt and write stories and we add music and performance, so again, see the other website www.purplepenguinpublishing.co.uk and see what we can do and ask us....

We help run a wonderful Open Mic Poetry and Singer/Songwriter Night , the 1st Thursday in Hightown at the Pub by the station... the performers are brilliant, they deserve audiences... You can catch up on TV if you really need to, you can't catch up on live wonders and real experiences...

We are helping establish a Merseyside branch of the Federation of Children's Book Groups, it's brilliant, there are national groups, but only a handful North of the Gap... So, try and find a way to join in and help grow together in stories. We have only to talk to ever do.

The BBC 500 Word Short Story Comp is just launching, enter and have fun, but why not do your own in school too!

I want to get my 2020 Vision for a Better HERE and with WORDS and PICTURES going properly, it needs more than just the idea, so add to it.
I'm speaking to LFC about a use of their space and some input for schools near Anfield, maybe it's a 'Read and be Well Red scheme', it can work anywhere if we talk and get to grips with sharing and combining resources. But unless we get those resources and indeed funds from Corporates relying on the Arts Funding and such, is seriously less likely to result in things ever happening. They can even claim a tax break which is surely better than some ways of avoiding it... Be philanthropic... it's a good thing.

I have oodles of time, knowledge and experience and contacts and skills... can i get to use them and maybe earn a minor standard of living please! I've not got the nasty overheads many have, but I do need to cover keeping the car, insurances and such... lets get to be a bigger and better team and not play on our owns....