Industry stalwart David Roche celebrated the publication of his debut poetry collection, a crowd-funded book of family-themed limericks, at Hatchards in central London on Wednesday night (6th September).
The launch was attended by an eclectic mix of family, friends, publishers, and fellow authors including Yesterday writer Felicia Yapp, who all joined Roche in raising a glass to toast the book's publication after months of fundraising.
Roche, who has sat on boards of HarperCollins, Borders, Waterstones and HMV and is currently non-executive chairman for the London Book Fair and chair of the board of directors for New Writing North, published Just Where You Left It… Family Rhymes for Modern Times with Unbound on 24th August.
The collection, announced last year, was born out of a particularly boring school poetry recital, after which he was inspired to write a metapoem about the whole “ghastly” experience of poetry recitals, poking fun at the “mighty and erudite” works of the Romantic poets while putting the fun back into the form. As a father of three, he later built on this to grow a portfolio of work covering a range of family topics, such as Latin exams, school meals, bullying and school sports days.
The project attracted 175 backers in total, seeing support from across the trade, including from Hodder & Stoughton c.e.o. Jamie Hodder-Williams, Head of Zeus’ Fiona Kennedy, Harlequin executive publisher Lisa Milton, RCW literary agent Peter Straus and LBF boss Jacks Thomas.
In an entertaining and self-deprecating speech, Roche gave special thanks to his "most professional and innovative" publishers at Unbound which he said had been "brilliant...in every way other than paying for the drinks at the launch party."
"You'll be amazed but this is not a guaranteed bestseller," he went on, revealing how he decided to do some marketing and publicity of his own by posting review copies to key influencers to maximise sales, only to discover one flaw in the plan - that postage was one stamp off, "so not only did I send it to all these top influential people, but they all had to go down to their local post office and pay an extra 30p," Roche said.
He shared his delight on discovering the book has made it to number 6 in Amazon's humour, verse and limericks bestseller chart along with the fact that it recommended to customers "if you like this you'll love sonnets of Shakespeare, Paradise Lost [by] Milton, TS Elliot and Pam Ayres' The Works". He also found on his way to the book launch that Waterstones Piccadilly had put the book on a table claiming to represent "the very essence of the most exquisite poetry today". The title of "best and most ambiguous" review meanwhile went to his former colleague Kennedy for saying "I hope it does as well as it deserves to".
After thanking all supporters profusely, Roche's son, Max, rounded off the toast by delivering a poem from the book on school sports days.
The book is available for sale, priced £9.99, with 20% of the proceeds going to charity New Writing North.