I have expressed the virtues of self-publishing in the High Peak Review on several occasions, and I would not deter anyone who has the idea, the drive and the desire to see their name in print from going down this route, however, as an author there is nothing quite like getting your first offer from a real publisher to publish your idea. There are many who would say that until you have been traditionally published you cannot really call yourself an author, however I am a long way from subscribing to that view. If just one person buys your self-published autobiographical memoirs then it has been worthwhile!
Sometimes I have an idea that is worth circulating to prospective publishers and literary agents, whilst others are more niche and the only avenue really open to them is self-publishing. In December 2011, I was with my wife Sally at a rock and roll gig in a pub in Sheffield, when Sally asked the singer / pianist if he would like someone to write his life story. The artist in question was Mike Sanchez and he was very enthusiastic, so we exchanged email addresses, and that was that. In fact, I heard virtually nothing from him, until December 2012 when he arrived at the same venue armed with lots of biographical material and the project was under way.
Mike Sanchez may not be a name that you are familiar with, but he has shared a stage with a host of great musicians and singers, including Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Queen, Bill Wyman and many more. He was born in London, of Spanish parentage, and moved to the rock and roll hotbed of Kidderminster aged eleven. He joined his woodwork teacher in a band that was later to be known as Big Town Playboys, and they enjoyed success for several years. He also fronted Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings for around four years, as well as featuring Imelda May in his line-up as she learnt her trade, and he is generally regarded as one of the foremost boogie woogie piano playing vocalists in the country. He is renowned for his energetic and charismatic stage performances, as he sets out to make each show the best that it could possibly be. So, he had the credentials to have an interesting biography, and it was up to me to paint the picture of his life and career.
I wrote to many agents and publishers to no avail, and then I tried some of the rhythm and blues magazines that specialise in Mike’s genre. Although they could not help with the actual publishing, several of them pointed me in the direction of George Groom-White at Music Mentor Books. I contacted George and explained my idea, including a chapter breakdown and potential sales outlets (Mike sells a lot of cds at gigs and through his own label Doopin Music). After a brief exchange George offered me a publishing deal, and as a publisher he has already contributed a number of ideas to the fledgling project.
I am now getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of the project, contacting endless musicians to get them to provide quotes and to relate their experiences on and off the stage with Mike Sanchez. The two biggest coups will undoubtedly be if we can get one of Mike’s celebrity fans, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, to write the foreword, and also to get a few paragraphs from Eric Clapton on the success of the band, particularly in the “Big Town Playboys” era.
Mike still tours on a regular basis, despite now living in Spain, and I would strongly advise you to catch him live if you get the opportunity. Mike Sanchez: Big Town Playboy is due for publication in spring 2014, to coincide with his 50th birthday, and if you would like more information on his music and his shows you can visit www.mikesanchez.com.