Non-executive chairman of The London Book Fair, David Roche - an industry stalwart of more than 25 years - is crowdfunding a debut book of poems through Unbound.
The collection of limericks, also Roche's first book, is called Just Where You Left It . . . and Other Poems: How to Survive School, Parents and Everything Else That’s Unfair in Life and uses poems Roche wrote 10 years ago while his children were at school. It is pitched as "a book of humorous poetry designed to help your family start enjoying poetry again" that will appeal to anyone who considers themselves "more Pam Ayres than Alexander Pope".
Roche, who has sat on the boards of HarperCollins, Borders, Waterstones and HMV, is using the platform to fundraise in order to "find an illustrator, bring the book up to date and finish it with some new poems".
The book was born out of the "watch-watching" endured when his children had to parrot "mighty and erudite" works, like those of Coleridge, that "bored the arse off all the parents" at school rectials. Hoping to put the fun back into the form, what began with one metapoem about a "ghastly" poetry recitation for his son grew to form a portfolio of work covering everything from exams, school meals, bullying and sports days to embarrassing Dads and "nagging and know-all" Mums.
Roche told The Bookseller the project came about after seeing a call for submissions on a colleague's Facebook page who is also an editor at Unbound.
He said: "Unbound had its acquisition meeting and suggested we tried to publish the book through its platform. I thought that was hilarious; and thought we'd go ahead. It's useful for me as someone within the industry to go through the Unbound journey and discover how exactly they work. It's a very interesting model in publishing as well.
"One thing about Unbound is, apart from the financial model using crowdfunding, it's set up just like any other publishing house. You've got acquisiitons meetings to decide [what to publish] on the basis of the quality, the pitch and the submission. I'm sure the ability to get pledges is also taken into account - but I'm assured the quality of the book has to be something Unbound is proud to publish as well. Which makes me feel happier!
"It's never really occured to me to have [my poems] published. I don't know why it occurred to me at that particular moment to ping them across. It never really occurred to me to push them forward in any other way."
If the project takes off, he has undertaken to donate 20% of the project's proceeds to New Writing North, a charity which helps to develop reading and writers across the North of England, for which he is also the chairman.
The book is so far 20% funded, with supporters from the book trade community including the PRH chairman John Makinson, the London Book Fair's Jacks Thomas, chair of 2016's Wimbledon BookFest Toby Mundy, agent Peter Straus and Walker's chief global development officer Helen McAleer.
Every donation will earn fee-payers a mention in the book, while escalating amounts could earn sponsors such rewards as personalised poetry, a shepherd's pie, a slap up lunch and a round of golf, use of his summer home in Southern Puglia, or even a personlised tour with Roche at the London Book Fair including a visit to the Ivy Club.
Unbound is a publisher start-up that works via a crowdfunding platform. Other authors publishing with Unbound are Jonthan Coe, currently fundraising for The Broken Mirror, as reported last week, amateur chef Jonathan Meades, former Monty Python star Terry Jones and BBC comic Andy Hamilton, among others.