ISBNs – the final frontier

Yes, without an ISBN and an EAN barcode you get nowhere – so here I am in India, trying to re-publish the book with a new ISBN and barcode, only this time registered with global ISBN services so that “Finding . . . ” can be taken on by an international distributor and we can really begin to see it in bookshops etc.

What is wrong with my old ISBN? It ‘belongs’ to Kindle and they have not registered it with Nielsen’s directory, nor will they. It’s a sham code, looks the real deal but when you get to enquire further, the book does not show up. It does not exist. Like poor Monty Python’s parrot, it is a dead ISBN, it is an ex-ISBN, it is no more, it is non-existent.

So, back to the beginning again, I talk with new publishers about self-publishing “Finding . . . ” and again try to negotiate through the mire of packages with gemstone names. Charges that mean I will have to sell some thousands before the basic costs are recovered. Features and add-ons that I cannot believe I need, no matter how hard they push the rhetoric.

Beware fellow authors. Self-publishing means SELF in capitals, take everything on board and learn it all before you need to know it!!

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The plot thickens . . .

Yes, the ‘free’ KDP/amazon ISBN assigned to my book is only useful for sales through their websites. For regular bookshops and other platforms I will need to buy another ISBN and have this new number inserted. Beware fellow self-publishers – not everything good in life is free!!

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Distribution – harder than writing, harder than publication.

It’s the next in life’s conundrums, how to ensure that even the dear souls who want to buy my book, can get their hands on it. I discovered yesterday that the ISBN is not registered with Nielsen’s – the central registrant of ISBNs. That being so, my book is invisible to any bookshop wishing to stock/order it.

That is even after I found out that the paperback, or hard copy, is not available in any of the countries bar those served by particular amazon websites – notably USA, UK, Spain, Germany, France and Japan. Good for some, but a great wealth of english speaking people live in other countries than these.

Disaster. So, now my work is not as an author, or even as a publisher, now I have to dig deep and become a distributor, marketeer, promoter and one-man-magician. Halleluyah – it’s all to learn.

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Book sales vs making a story available.


It was one of the first ‘struggles’ that I had, as an author, to deal with. Is this for money? Ego, vanity publishing? or the more seriously honourable urge to get my message out? Had I answered affirmatively to the first two, this book would never had hit the light of day. No, it was always about the latter – having something to say and wanting to have folk (primarily those who would otherwize never had had the chance to hear it) the opportunity to hear it.

Now that the book is ‘published’ the next thrust must be in promoting, keeping it in the public view, so that as many as possible could take it up. Well, a new idea came to me today. IF people who like the book, or simply want to read it but cannot afford to do so, IF enough people requested it from their local libraries, THEN there would be more sales and more visibility. This would work with ordering it through book shops too.

So, think about it and see if you can support getting the message out by doing some of this with me. Share posts on social media, order the book through bookshops rather than Amazon online and try to get it in your local library.

with love, Martin.

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The book in photos – in colour

At least most of them! For the scrimping on the cost of production, and thus eventual retail price, I decided to publish the book with black and white photos. Not the best I know, but I didn’t want to price the book totally out of the pockets of those that may be setting out on their journeys and a bit short on cash. So, the photos that were shot in colour are uploaded here, under the heading “Photo Stream”.

Some are rather grainy, but then I am no photographer, never had a serious camera and many years have passed by between the events depicted and now. So, apologies – I felt that they might help decorate an already quite long and involved storyline. Kinda, lighten the load!!

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Published in local paper.

There is a risk, and I took it. I held a random telephone conversation with one of the local newspapers’ journalists and now I have just read the published article. And, wow, is what I have to say. If this is the level of journalism that passes muster for a local rag, then maybe my dedicated retirement from the ‘regular workforce’ is misplaced. I will be warier next time.

So, please read it (copied to the article page) in the knowledge that I had nothing to do with the penmanship – though the quotes are quite accurate.

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Really, a book tour?

I was there, lying in my bed, thinking about how to give due honour to the release of my book . . . and thought, “Why not retrace my steps. Visit the places I have lived, folk I have known, and in a rather ritualistic way, give thanks for the life I have lived”. What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Sport – is it the new opium of the people?

We grew up with Religion being downplayed as a human foible. An addiction, that was to many a sign of weakness – whereas in other countries, not to go into names, Religion still held the higher ground. So, what is it that turns us into herd animals, chasing wildly around the park?

I was in Liverpool in the early seventies, a time when their footie team was creaming everyone in sight. It didn’t touch me then, and it certainly doesn’t do it now . . . but there are large sways of folk for whom the winter traipse to the terraces is the highlight of their week. And that is those that frothed themselves over the football; when I was younger there was the other element too: the guys who went for the booze and a chance to attack the other team’s supporters. Maybe not always physical, but the insults hurled, the excessive gesturing and the heady intoxication when their team scored or put their opposition to fright.

My story, my book, tells of an aspiration, the search for a condition that quickly had nothing in common with the intoxicated highs of my youth and surely a revulsion for this crowd madness. The original attraction to the ‘underground’ drug culture was diversion, a rebellious exploration of something different. And, after a few years of this and that, it became a distraction only. The spectator cults, the booze culture, craving an identity manoeuvres – I grew away from them and can now feel only estrangement from all this.

Sport, religion, sub-culture groupings, they all seem to be society’s way of undermining the individual’s ability to achieve that delightful state of inner unity, humility and personal joy. John Lennon’s song comes back to me –“ . . a working class hero is something to be . . “ and l can’t help feeling that he short changed himself a tad. Maybe he was winding down at the time.

Ok, enough chatter. When I met Sri Ram Chandra ji of Shahjahanpur, and felt his presence, his light and warmth, there was no going back. No synthetic stimulants, no hysterical groupism, no socialized contentment, no place to be except on the road towards a type of freedom that does seem to be a bit out of favour in this day and age. The predictable patterns, the stereotyped behaviours, repetition, repetition, repetition. If we don’t move forwards, we die. We blow ourselves up, or we destroy the planet, overpopulate and denude its resources. We have to as the colloquial saying goes: “we have to grow a pair” and step forwards towards the light.

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SEO for dummies

Yes, that is what I need. I get the idea with the concept of getting your ranking up so that more traffic finds you and so on .  . . but this is all jargonated gibberish to a guy like me. My old website, for the optical business I once had, had all sorts of metadata, keywords hidden somewhere – but they never got me into google without me searching on the URL in its entirety. Yawn. So, now a new day, I have some hours, let’s see if I can crack this one again.

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Press interview

On the phone, to a guy who has only the press release to go on – quizzing me on the why’s and wherefor’s of my book, my life. Strange game. Do we speak to the guy, and help him sort out his life’s trials, or do we make PR for the book. I have a feeling I erred on the side of the former.

In conversation we reveal ourselves to the other, and in so doing offer up our foibles to inspection. That was OK, but from the questioning out come all sorts of messages. He sees this, but not that. He presumes this, while I am working on that. Eventually it gets down to discussing what makes him tick, rather than what I hope to achieve by publishing all this personal, pseudo private stuff about me and my life.

It is hard not to be drawn into the topics of the day, Trump and Brexit being somehow the top of the list. In the words of my Guide in life matters: “What you cannot cure, you must endure”. And, the level of chitter chatter that is generated by these topics, where none can cure them, is astounding.

Meanwhile, as I scribble these words, I am resonating with another event happening on the other side of the world. the body of my dear friend and fellow traveller is being cremated. Dear brother Tom Hansen is no more of this world; just yesterday I saw him in one of our videos. So, as he moves on and all our brothers and sisters in Denmark and Canada [and everywhere I am sure] give him their prayers . . . promoting the book makes me feel a bit  indulgent!

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