Three day book tour!
The Great Post Office Scandal had next to no advertising, marketing or launch budget. Bath Publishing are a tiny (but delightful and committed) publisher. TGPOS is their first mainstream book. They don't have the sort of relationships that could see them wander into the Waterstones' chief buyer's office and tell them about their next hit publication. They can't swing reviews as favours.
Going out on the road and physically telling people about the book is therefore essential. It is something we can do.
Bath Publishing and I have now worked with some wonderful folk in Wanstead, Manchester, Derby, Bath, Farncombe (Surrey) and Liverpool to put on a series of readings and Q&As - many involving former Subpostmasters. The response has been astounding.
My first talk before a paying audience was at The Wanstead Tap on a Wednesday night in January. It is a lovely venue, with a committed live events audience, but I don't know anyone in Wanstead. It sold out. Fifty people bought tickets costing £8.50 to hear me talk about the story, on spec.
I had no visual aids and no real clear idea of what I was going to do, but I was happy to give it a go. I needn't have worried. People are so engaged and enraged by this story. They just want to find out more. So I told them everything I knew. After two hours we had to knock it on the head, but it was such a powerful experience.
Over the last couple of months I have spoken at various venues, with various different guests attending and had the same incredible response. Seventy people in Manchester, a hundred people in Bath, two hundred people in Farncombe. Last week in Liverpool four former Subpostmasters came along, two of whom I hadn't met before. I invited them onto the stage and they spoke so movingly about their experiences, it became very emotional. But people did not leave sad, they were motivated and determined.
The last question asked by a member of the audience at the Liverpool event was a rather plaintive "What can we do to help?"
As I burbled a bit, a former Subpostmaster turned to the questioner and politely said "Tell. Everyone."
So that's what we're going to do.
A friend of mine is a live events producer who knows the bookers at most of the small theatres in the UK. Between us we have put together a run of three nights based on a format which has been growing organically since my first reading in Wanstead. There is the usual introduction to the story and a few short readings, but this time we are going to put together some audio-visual testimony and explanatory media to make it a more comprehensive experience. As before, we will be joined by some very special live guests.
To ensure the venues are happy and to cover the costs of things like a professional sound engineer, travel, accommodation and food, we are selling tickets, but we have tried to keep prices as low as possible, so you can bring your friends. 10% of everything we make on this mini-tour will go to the Horizon Scandal Fund.
The first dates we have booked are:
29 June 2022 - Ropetackle Theatre, Shoreham-by-Sea - info and tickets here.
30 June 2022 - Chequer Mead Theatre, East Grinstead - info and tickets here.
1 July 2022 - Leatherhead Theatre, Leatherhead - info and tickets here.
We want audiences to come along hungry to find out more. We want them to depart having been armed with the facts of this scandal and determined to spread the word. Please put one of these dates in your diary if you can - especially to the Leatherhead event - the theatre there has 500 seats!! It would be great to see you and I promise they will all be unforgettable events.