A website tracking my attempt to publish my own book, "Brighton's Best Pubs". This is a locally produced guide to every pubs and bar in Brighton, the book is a comprehensive guide covering an amazing 300 pubs and bars within the city, utilising a unique pub rating system. Atmosphere, Beer, Barstaff, Food, Entertainment, Decor/Garden and Talent are all rated for each pub/bar. It also features maps, a Club guide and suggested pub crawls.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book Sales

The book sales figures are a mystery. This is for numerous reasons which I will try to explain:

1. It is being sold by the publisher directly, the publisher through a distributor (to retailers), directly by me and by retailers who I am supplying. These four sales methods have varying degrees of transparency.

2. Publisher Direct Sales: presumeably they know how many they have sold, but they haven't told me. I'll find out the combined number the publisher has sold when I get the first 6-monthly sales report, which is due in February.

3. Publisher through Distributor to Retailers: presumeably the publisher knows how many they have sent to the Distributor, the issue here is with stock. The distributor holds some stock (so that is unsold) and the various retailers are also holding stock (so that is unsold). I will get some information on this when the publisher sends me the sales figures (and cheque!) in February, but I suspect this will just be on the books that have been paid for, rather than sold (some retailers operate 30 day terms, some 60 day terms and I guess the distributor will have 30/60 days terms as well).

4. My direct sales: I've made quite a few, but haven't had a chance to do my paperwork for about 3 months, so actually have only a rough handle on this. Hope to calculate it over Xmas. These sales are to people I know, people I work with and people via Ebay and Amazon marketplace.

5. My sales to retailers: Again I haven't had a chance to do the paperwork recently, plus there is the added issue that the retailers may have unsold stock. Also they don't pay until the stock is sold and they are resupplied, or against their terms (30 or 60 days). Or in HMV's case they don't pay at all, yet, the b@stards.

6. So I guess this was more than you wanted to know, but there wasn't a quick answer, except "I don't know". My estimate is that I have sold about 300 books through #4 and #5. Maybe more, maybe less (given unknown stock levels).

7. Publisher sales: probably less than 300. They haven't really been very good at retailing the book. To my knowledge it is only in a few bookshops, and isn't in some of the ones that I think are essential (WHSmiths in the London to Brighton stations, Sussex Stationers [though they have supposedly ordered 100 copies] & Borders [who have shown interest in including it in their local books section, but don't seem to have, yet]). I know it is consistently selling on Amazon because I keep an eye on the stock levels. Also selling on Tesco, Waterstones and WHSmiths online.

So, if I had to make an estimate, then maybe 500 books sold. Which isn't a major success, but is approaching the break-even point.
The hot news on the Pub Jury front is that I have a web designer working on an international Pub Jury website where people will be able to submit ratings and photos. I'll send you links when its done (expected in January at the moment). I know you've heard this before, but this guy actually is working on it and looks like he will produce something!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Okay, this is just for an experiment, but try this link and watch the little movie:

"Funny" movie

Monday, November 13, 2006

Brighton & Hove Web Awards: Results

Well, we didn't win, which was kind of a relief as it would have meant going up on stage to make an acceptance speech, which I didn't fancy much. The Ocean Rooms won the prize for "Best Site for a Night Out", but it was still great to be in the shortlisted five sites for this category, especially considering the www.pubjury.co.uk website has had so little done to it in the last six months, and is a pretty basic site.

In fact the plan now is to upgrade the PubJury website to an interactive online database which will be able to take scores/reviews for any pub, anywhere! Very excited about that prospect and the hope that the data will then go on to enable the publication of more books: "Britain's Best Pub", "The World's Best Pubs" and possibly books for certain towns/cities if enough data comes in for specific places.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Brighton & Hove Web Awards: Vote for us!

Our site (this blog & www.pubjury.co.uk) has been selected for shortlist for the Brighton & Hove Web Awards 2006, making it one of the top 5 sites in its category! In this the category is "Best Site for a Night Out".

Voting is now open to decide who wins and you can vote for us at this website:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Buy the Book....and Give to Charity

The book is now for sale in the Alzheimer's Society shop in Sydney Street. If you buy your copy there then 30% of the cover price will go to help the Alzheimer's Society in caring for people suffering from dementia. To find out more visit their website:

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Second Chance to Advertise in the Book

The book has now been in print for about 2 months and the first print run of 1000 books has already sold out. The publisher, Pen Press, has just commissioned a 2nd print run, but is looking to do another larger print run in the near future.

The book has recently been featured on TV on ITV's Meridian Tonight (watched by 500,000 viewers), had a 20 minute slot on BBC Southern Counties Radio (100,000 listeners), had a full page feature (p.3) in the Argus and also had reviews in local magazines.

All of this publicity is expected to lead to heavy sales during the Christmas period. The book is also selling in 5 Brighton University retail outlets - with a captive audience of 22,000 students in Brighton University alone.

In addition the recently published guide has already received several accolades, including:
Exhaustive guide to the drinking delights of the most exciting city in the UK” – Attila the Stockbroker
The BBP guide does an excellent job” – Latest 7
This guide offers all you need to know, and for an affordable price! Highly recommended!” – Reviewer on Amazon
It's well worth a look if you see it at a pub, beer festival or bookshop.” – Sussex Drinker
The book is for sale in locations throughout Brighton & Hove and online via Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmiths and Tesco.com.

The price for a full page advert in the main body of the book is £250. All adverts are mono. You have the choice whether to advertise in the various sections of the book: Pubs, Clubs or Breweries. If you are interested in advertising on the website then that is also a possibility.

Please contact us by email or call 07812 583551 if you are interested.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rocks Magazine Review

"Rocks" magazine gave a short review of the book in their October issue, review extract follows:

"This is a brave and ambitious project considering Brighton has somewhere in the region of 400 places to get pissed. The enthusiasm of the Pub Jury is evident and the time and effort of visiting 300 pubs must be lauded."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Retail Rationalisation

Well, several shops I was selling the book in have sold out and in others it wasn't selling at all, so they were obviously bad places to sell the book. So I did a bit of rationalisation.

The book is no longer for sale in Resident, Wax Factor and Shoppers Paradise Gallery. I transferred the copies to HMV who had sold out. It also isn't for sale in em Space, mainly because it shut down!

Apparently the publisher no longer has any copies of the first print run left and are waiting on a 2nd run from the printer.

So you can now get it in:

The 4 Brighton University Student Union shops,
Blackwells Bookshop (Brighton University, Cockroft building),
The Basketmakers Arms (North Laine),
Both Pussy shops (Kensington Gardens & Bartholomews).

Shops which I am pretty sure still have stock are:
Custard (The Lanes, near the Bath Arms),
Sussex in the City (The Lanes),
Cardome (St James St),
City Books (Western Road),
Barnets Barbers (Old Steine, near St Peters Church),
Tourist Information (next to the Town Hall),
The Pavillion Shop (next to the Pavillion!),
Kemptown Books (Kemptown!),
HMV (Western Road or Churchill Sqr).
Dave's Books (Sydney Street)

I've heard that Waterstones had sold out and ordered more, but not sure if they have them in.
Borders, Sussex Stationers, & WHSmiths haven't stocked it yet, but may be ordering it.

Online you can get it on Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmiths, on various timescales....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Brighton Fans Pub Jury

Here's the votes of the "North Stand Jury", Brighton & Hove Albion Fans, from their chatboard:

I took all the votes cast there and added them up:
11 Votes, Basketmakers
8 Votes, Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson
6 Votes, Great Eastern, Caxton Arms
5 Votes, Evening Star, Lion and Lobster, Robin Hood
4 Votes, Conqueror, Cricketers, Greys,
3 Votes, Constant Service, Dover Castle, Hop Poles, Setting Sun, Sussex, Windmill

Everything else 2 or less votes.

Sussex CAMRA Pub of the Year

Sussex CAMRA named the Evening Star as their pub of the year for 2006. Runner up was the Stanley Arms in Portslade.
Ray Bray, Sussex and Surrey regional director for Camra, said the award was, "for the quality of the beers, the way they dispense it and the clientele.
"They use hand pumps. Being real ale, it is better coming out of a hand pump or straight out of the cask because you don't use CO2 or nitrogen.
"You can enjoy the flavour a lot more. Putting CO2 in there destroys it."
The pub is owned by the Dark Star brewery, in Ansty, near Haywards Heath, which this year has won awards for its espresso coffee beer, available in bottles at The Evening Star.
Last year the pub was awarded the accolade of Camra's Sussex and Surrey Pub of the Year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

As Seen on TV!

If you missed it you can catch it on http://www.meridiantv.com/ using internet explorer

Select Your Town from the left hand column and select Brighton News from the right hand side of the video window.

Or watch it on YouTube:

Where Can You Buy the Book?

Seems like in the rush of publicity that people are having trouble buying the book, so I thought I'd do an update of where it is now on sale.....
New Additions are: the 4 Brighton University Student Union shops, Blackwells Bookshop (Brighton University, Cockroft building), The Basketmakers Arms (North Laine), both Pussy shops (Kensington Gardens & Bartholomews).
Shops which I am pretty sure still have stock are: Custard (The Lanes, near the Bath Arms), Sussex in the City (The Lanes), Dave's Books (Sydney Street), em space (Sydney St), Wax Factor (Trafalgar St), Cardome (St James St), City Books (Western Road), Resident Records (Kensington Gardens), Shoppers Paradise Gallery (upstairs, Kensington Gardens), Tourist Information (next to the Town Hall), and The Pavillion Shop (next to the Pavillion!).

Shops where there may still be copies are Barnets Barbers (Old Steine, near St Peters Church), Kemptown Books (Kemptown!), and HMV (Western Road or Churchill Sqr).

I've heard that Waterstones have sold out, but have it on order. Borders, Sussex Stationers, & WHSmiths were resisting stocking it, but I'm hoping they've been asked for it enough times over the last few days to get it in.

Online you can get it on Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmiths, on various timescales....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ITV Meridian Tonight TV Interview!

Well, it feels corny to say it, but it seems that media interviews are like buses. I wait 3 months and then 3 come along at once! Yep, it seems that Meridian Tonight saw the Argus article and wanted to do one on the Brighton Pub Jury!

Yep, after having had a launch event for the media, where no media people turned up, they are now super-keen. It just goes to show that you shouldn't give up - if I hadn't got a friend to take photos and write the pub crawl article up, then I wouldn't have got any of this.....

So, who am I to say 'no' to the TV? So some of the jury went along and did a TV interview this lunchtime in the Basketmakers pub. The cameraman shot from lots of strange angles to maintain our anonymity, which is either going to look great or really crappy.

Anyway, so we and basically everyone we knew, sat down to watch Meridian Tonight, tonight, and we were rewarded with stories about an escaped bird with a 5 foot wingspan, a family going around the world in a bus (one day - the bus was a long way off moving anywhere!) and a haunted house (that wasn't haunted). Hmm.

Well, it seems that there were some "technical difficulties". Lets hope they get resolved and the article goes on tomorrow night!

According to the ITV Meridian Annual Programme Statement, over half a million people watch Meridian Tonight! Come on!

Argus Article

The book had an awesome feature in today's Argus - a leader photo on the front page and then nearly the whole of page 3 dedicated to the book. As someone told me, "You can't buy publicity like this!" Big thanks to the Argus!

For those interested (me): Argus circulation is about 41,000 per day (data from the web, please tell me if its wrong!)

"Friends crawl around 300 inns to produce definitive guide"
"The jury's in on the best pubs"

Live Radio Interview Result!

Well the interview went great - it seemed like about 15 mins, including a bizarre diversion into talking about chocolate bars. Very exciting being in the studio and talking, with the thought that thousands of people were listening in!

Unfortunately, no-one seems to have recorded it, and the "Listen Again" function doesn't work, so it looks like I will never actually hear the show! Anyone out there hear it? And even better, anyone got a recording?

For anyone interested (like me) BBC SC's audience is:
Reach: It is listened to by 272,000 people (11%) each week.
Hours: Each listener tunes in for 8.6 hours per week - a total of 2,350,000.
Share: In its area, it has a 4.5% market share.
So with any luck about 50 thousand people were listening as it was the early evening slot, which is hopefully one of the peak listening times. wow!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Radio Interview!

I'm going to be on BBC Southern Counties Radio tonight, on a slot about 'local authors'! 6.30pm ish.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hanover Beer Festival

Some of the pub jury took the opportunity to run a stall at the Hanover Community Beer Festival on 29 & 30 September 2006.
We had 2 excellent nights, sampling a wide range of real ales and selling a few books into the bargain.

The Pub Jury also ran the raffle for the Community Centre, raising over £70! The prize - a copy of the book of course! (plus 4 pints of real ale!).

It was good to meet lots of people and talk about the book and lots of pubs, also to meet quite a few off-duty landlords, some of whom were not very happy with the reviews that their pubs received! Oh well, you can't please everyone!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Brighton's Best Pubs: The Movie

Have a gander at the book on You Tube:


BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 1, The Belle Vue

At the invitation of The Pub Jury 30-odd people joined a pub crawl of some of the best pubs in and around the North Laine. It started in the Belle Vue, overlooking the station on Buckingham Place, where Theresa and Kirsty welcomed everyone with free shots of the house spirit, Mad Gold, and got the evening off to a crazy start! Theresa says that her pub is filled with “a collection of irregular regulars”, and she has chosen to decorate it with some of her own paintings.

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 2, The Battle of Trafalgar

Next stop was the Battle of Trafalgar in Guildford Road, which was already busy before we descended on it in force. Lee and his barstaff were soon pulling pints in a frenzy to keep up with the demand. Here the jurors introduced themselves – there are currently seven - Dave, Dave, Tony, Sandra, John and Tim are Brighton residents, whilst Jonathan lives just outside of town. The jury try to stay anonymous to avoid landlords trying to influence their ratings with special treatment!

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 3, The Evening Star

We weren’t in the Battle long before it was time to exit – the strict timetable allowed only half an hour in each pub – and off we went around the corner to the Evening Star on Surrey Street. The Star is rated by CAMRA as the best pub for beer in Brighton and it certainly didn’t disappoint with its wide range of real ales, lagers and cider. The landlord, Matt, and his staff are always happy to let you sample some of the beers before you buy and when we showed them the entry for the Star in the book they provided us with free bar snacks as a thank you!

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 4, The Caxton Arms

We couldn’t hang around though, there was important ‘research’ to be done elsewhere and we hurried up the street to the Caxton Arms, tucked away in North Gardens. Here landlord James told us he was currently redecorating the place and all the walls were newly painted. We didn’t get the chance to ask him whether the pub’s many trademark black and white movie star pictures were going to go back up or not! The back garden in here is a delight, hidden away below street level giving it a very cosy feel.

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 5, The Earth & Stars

It wasn’t long though before we had to knock back our drinks and head onwards to the next stop, over the Queens road to the Earth & Stars on Church Street. This pub is eco-friendly, carbon-neutral and has solar panels on the roof to provide its energy! It also has a range of organic drinks on tap, including the very tasty Freedom Lager. Lou and his barstaff gave us all free shots of organic vodka to toast the launch of Brighton’s Best Pubs book with!

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 6, The Basketmakers Arms

The last official stop was the pub that gets the highest rating in the book, The Basketmakers Arms on Gloucester Road. This put smiles on the faces of all the staff when we told them! The Basketmakers is a solid traditional pub with great beer and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. The décor includes hundreds of different tobacco tins nailed to the wall. These have been filled with messages from drinkers over the years and make some very entertaining reading!

BBP Pub Crawl: Pub 7, The Hobgoblin

Things were going so well that people didn’t want to go home after the Basketmakers, so we headed off to the Hobgoblin for some late night drinking in the huge pub garden. All-in-all the book launch made for an excellent evening with a fun crowd of Brighton pub goers!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Latest 7" Magazine Review

This review was in the 13 Sept issue of Latest 7 magazine:


Time at the bar

As a lover of proper pubs I was intrigued to receive by post a review copy of a new book entitled Brighton’s Best Pubs, written by a band of revellers who call themselves the Pub Jury. It claims to be the definitive guide to drinking in Brighton, an invaluable guide for residents and visitors alike. And it appears that the Pub Jury are aged between 25 and 50 years old and that the book grew out of ‘quiet time’ conversation that three of the jury had when they worked together. How I long for a job that has ‘quiet time’!
They are made up of a rocker, a cider drinker, a real ale fan, an artist, two parents and a nurse – just in case you need to know the demographics.
All that apart, the book is indeed an invaluable guide to Brighton’s potatory establishments, and despite the title it does include Hove. The material has been gathered in a sensible point-based system with marks out of 100 for each of the following; atmosphere, beer, barstaff, food, entertainment, décor/garden and a total percentage overall.
It came as no surprise to me to find that the highest scoring pub in town is, by their judging criteria, The Basketmakers Arms in Gloucester Street. I have been going there for years for the simple reason that it retained its identity as a real pub and sold beer and food. In an era when every pub in town was losing its name and often with it its identity, the Basketmakers was a beacon of sane and unsophisticated charm. I use the word unsophisticated in a qualified sense and by it I mean that the Basketmakers had not been gentrified, ponced up, cocktailed, gastroed or generally buggered up. It was simply a pub that sold grub and beer. Good grub too and well priced. It still does just that and so I applaud them and I applaud the guide for recognising that.
The BBP guide does an excellent job although I note that it omits to give points for child-friendliness, useful for those with kids and equally for those who wish to avoid them, and dog-friendliness is also acknowledged on an ad hoc basis. I would also have liked to see a comparative price factor included.
For fun they have included a series of top five categories which includes food, the vibe and totty which is sub-divided into straight and gay. The A–Z listing works well too but I would love to know who it is that thinks that Brighton Rocks, a favourite haunt of mine, is a ‘traditional pub’ or dated the barstaff at The Crescent in Clifton Hill as the oldest in town – surely a mistake.

The back of the book has quizzes and jokes, all rather jolly stuff and at £9.99 makes it both useful and entertaining.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Amazon Reviews

The book is now properly available via Amazon, as well as through WHSmiths and Waterstones online. Its also now for sale in the Brighton Tourist Information and the Brighton Pavilion Shop.
Heres a couple of reviews from Amazon customers:
"Whether you've lived in Brighton for years or are an exchange student looking for a suitable venue, this guide offers all you need to know, and for an affordable price! Highly recommended!"

"It covers every pub and bar in Brighton and is dead easy to use. The A-Z section means you only need to know the name of the pub and you can turn to it in seconds. Then you get the overall rating (%) and ratings for Beer, Atmosphere, Entertainment, Decor/Garden, Barstaff and Food, plus some comments. There are maps showing the pub locations, suggested pub crawls, a guide to clubs and other sections like jokes, games and puzzles."

Good stuff!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"The Best Available" - Sussex Drinker Review (extract)

In the Autumn 2006 issue of CAMRA's "Sussex Drinker" magazine, by Pete Coppard:

"One could not review this book without first commenting on the great effort that has been spent in tracking down some of the drinking establishments therein. The layout is very clear and the good quality photographs break up the text, making for an easy read."

"I think this would be a valuable document for new residents in the city wishing to find their way around and, given the lack of an up-to-date local real ale guide, probably the best available."

"A Foreword by Atilla the Stockbroker extolls the virtues of our Sussex Pub of the Year, The Evening Star!"

"It's well worth a look if you see it at a pub, beer festival or bookshop."

The Big Time

The book is now on sale in HMV (both Brighton branches). It should also be for sale in the Tourist Information office and the Pavilion Shop.

It should also soon be available in Waterstones, who have ordered it.

With any luck it will also soon be for sale in Borders, Virgin, WHSmiths and British Bookshops (Sussex Stationers).

If you want to do me a favour, go into one of the last ones and ask if they have it/order it there!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Other places the book is available....

Also now available in Resident record shop and the Shopper's Paradise Gallery, both in Kengsington Gardens. And in City Books on Western Road.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Books Selling....

Okay so the book is now also available in Barnet's barbers on the Old Steine (near the bottom of Trafalgar Street).

It seems to be selling fairly well, at least in "Custard" in the Lanes, where I re-supplied the shop after they sold out!

Otherwise, I am waiting to hear from City Books, whose managers are on holiday, and got favourable responses from HMV and Virgin, who might stock the book. Also awaiting responses from the head offices of Birthdays and Clinton Cards shops.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Books on Sale in Brighton Shops!

Well theres been no time for blogging since I got the books. First I had to send all the contributors a copy, then get the book on Amazon and Ebay. Since then I've been doing some things I should probably have got done while I was waiting for the books: getting business cards (with the book cover on) printed, getting posters printed, getting display stands for posters/books, finding out about events that I can go to to sell/promote the book, etc.

Then this week I went out to some non-bookshops and non-mainstream bookshops to try to get them to sell the book. The mainstream bookshops will only sell it when it has gone through the book systems (Nielsen, then their own systems) and then they can stock it. Pen Press are supposed to take care of promoting it to them. Anyway, so I had quite a lot of success getting shops to take the books and they are now available in the following shops: Dave's Books (Sydney Street), em space (Sydney St), Wax Factor (Trafalgar St), Sussex in the City (Lanes), Custard (Lanes), Kemptown Books (Kemptown!) and Cardome (St James St). Hopefully they will also be sold out of some other shops too, but I have to speak to the managers/owners first.

Since all this had eaten into my initial allocation of books I nipped down to Pen Press and got another 100-odd books to sell. I'm hoping to shift a lot of these on Sunday on a stall in the Hanover Day mini-festival. If you want to come along and meet me and buy a copy then I'll be on the end of Coleman Street, near the Geese pub. Cheers!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Book Now Available to Buy!

Wow! Yesterday the publisher contacted me and told me the book had arrived. I rushed down there and it looks great. I picked up 100 copies which I will be giving to the contibutors, friends and family. Some will be left for sale. If you are interested you can buy it here:


or here:


The book will probably be available in the shops sometime during September (it has to go through various book sales processes, ISBN number, register with Nielsens, into the retailer systems, etc)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Still Waiting 2....

Still waiting for the first print run of the book.
Pen Press are good at a lot of things, but keeping authors updated on progress and keeping to promised timescales are not two of them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Proof Read

Woo-hoo! I got the proof. And wow....it was amazing to hold the book in my hands. It was just so exciting.....it didn't seem real. I've been messing around with this project for I don't know how many years....maybe 5, maybe 7......and to hold an actual book was just incredible.

Anyway, there were a couple of minor issues with the proof, but I have addressed them with the publisher (Pen Press are giving really good service - they are definately earning their money so far!) and printing should be go soon! They say the first print run should be completed in a week or so....so after that the book will be available to buy.... can't quite believe it....

Monday, June 19, 2006

Still Waiting.....

Still waiting for the proof to appear.......(drums fingers impatiently).....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Latest Cover Draft

From my latest conversation with Pen Press, publication may be as soon as within 2 weeks!
Above is the latest cover design!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Attila the Stockbroker

Attila has written a short foreword for the book, and for free too! What a nice man! The best thing is that he has never met me or heard of me, but he responded to an unsolicited letter via his favourite pub (pubmail....hmmmm!) almost straight away, and then abided by my ridiculous timescale of needing something "tomorrow if possible".

You can find out more about this anarchic political musician/poet/comedian at his website:
and then on myspace you can hear some of his songs for free:

Just don't call him a celebrity!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pen Press

I am now considering an alternative to the printer I was looking at (who seem to call themselves cpi rather than Antony Rowe). I was looking at printing Lithographically (translation: proper printing rather than digital) with them and printing 2000 books for about £1800, which seemed a rather good deal.

However I am now looking at Pen Press, who are a local Brighton publisher. They are the kind of publisher where you have to pay up from (£1950-ish) for the book to be set up, but after that they act as a proper publisher. The point of this is that the author takes the risk that the book will fail, not the publisher, however the royalty payments you receive are higher than mainstream publishers, so if the book is a success then you should soon re-coup this money, and potentially it will be a better deal in the long run.

Well after meeting the manager and the technical people I was very impressed. They seem skilled and enthusiastic, and prepared to adjust their position to fit the author/book, rather than a 'one size fits all' approach. They were also very professional in their approach and attitude. As a local Brighton publisher they offer advantages to a local author, especially (like in my case) when you are publishing a book with a local focus.

Anyway, my decision is not yet made, but I am definately leaning toward the Pen Press route.....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Update on Progress 2

I am currently finalising the book - I've reformatted the whole thing over the last week and jazzed up the presentation a bit more. I'm also going to improve the photo quality and I might improve The Clubs section (which will improve the appeal of the book to the 18-25 age bracket).

I have also done a lot of work on the cover with a graphic designer friend and it now looks really professional - you will be truly amazed! I am! I'll try to get a page uploaded, but currently the file is over 20 meg!

Finally, I am also going places with the printer, and have an alternative in the shape of a publisher in Kemptown called Pen Press. I have to meet with these to see what they can deliver for me. At the moment it seems like the printer option is faster, cheaper & I have more control, but the publisher option would probably remove a lot of the administration of sales, plus, being in Brighton they may have more ability to get the book into retailers without me having to go around with a backpack full of books and talk to lots of people....

I'm also trying to finalise the outstanding possible advertisers. If they don't make their minds up soon I will go ahead without them. Time is wasting!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Talking to Printers

Hmm....they don't talk entirely in English.

The problem is that I am basically acting as my own publisher, but with no knowledge of how publishers work. There is a certain amount that is obvious, a certain amount that is easy to learn (using the web), but some of it is just hard.

Paper types. Book sizes. Embedding fonts & greyscale images. All require some effort to comprehend.

I fear the other things that I do not know.

Then there is money.

And I would never have started my book in Word if I knew what I know now. Microsoft Publisher maybe, but not Word.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Harveys Update

Harveys are going to sponsor the book.

Celebrity Endorsement

In this crazy celebrity-obsessed world, I decided that it would be a good idea to try to get some kind of celebrity endorsement for the book. I was aiming for a comment that I could put on the cover, but a foreword or a celebrity photo on the cover would have been a real winner. This aim was further backed up by my failed experiences in getting a mainstream publisher - common themes were that you either had to be famous already, or already have a book published. The theory then was that a celebrity name on my cover would accelerate the book from self-publishing to mainstream publishing.

The start was a list of appropriate celebrities. I wanted someone who's name would help sell the book or give it some added value. Celebs that fit the bill were either local Brighton celebrities, or national celebs who live in Brighton (read: have a house in Brighton), or otherwise drink/pub linked celebrities. Unfortunately most celebs aren't actually famous for being drunk (or don't want to be) and the ones that are are also famous for harder drugs, too.
Then I had to get a list of contact points for these people. This is suprisingly easy for some. You can join IMDB on a free trial which gives you agent contact details for most celebs. [Bizarrely there is a kind of celeb ranking process as well, so you can see that suchabody is #6,432 most famous in the world, etc].

So I got my list together and either emailed or wrote to the agent of each celebrity. I offered no money, but said that a share of any profits from the book was negotiable. So far, only 3 have had the decency to reply:

Al Murray (The pub landlord), declined: "Al's schedule does not permit for anything to be added and when he is free, I am only considering paid offers." Which is at least brutally honest.
Gaz Coombes (from Supergrass, who lives in Brighton) declined, no reason was specified.
Mark Little (comedian, soap actor) has been passed the email and is apparently still considering the opportunity.

The other celebs who haven't yet responded, and so fall a little further in my opinion of them are:
Zoe Ball, Sara Cox, Johnny Vegas, Neil Morrisey, Danny Baker, Steve Coogan, Jamie Theakston, Darren Day, Noel Gallagher, Simon Fanshawe, Terry Garrogan & Captain Sensible.
Okay, so I was reaching with some of them, and some are definately scraping the bottom of the barrel (Darren Day - what was I thinking???). But Noel Gallagher does apparently have a house in Brighton and just how good would it have been to have a quote on the cover saying "Fookin' Brilliant! - Noel Gallagher"?

I didn't even bother with a couple of others. Paul McCartney just seemed like no chance, and I bet he can't even go into pubs. Fat Boy Slim (aka Norman Cook) who lives in Brighton has said in an interview that he doesn't like pubs (which is ironic for a man brought to fame by a song called 'Happy Hour'!).

Mark Williams (of the Fast Show) lives in Brighton, but I couldn't get his contact details. Anyone know him?

Update: Mark Little has decided 'not to take up this opportunity'
Update 2: Simon Fanshawe has replied with a personal email offerring to help if he can!
Update 3: Simon Fanshawe cannot help. Maybe people are right about him after all....
Update 4: Letters left for Mark Williams and Atilla the Stockbroker at their favourite pubs.....

Monday, April 17, 2006

Update on Progress

Well, I've been busy trying to finalise answers from Harveys and CAMRA, both of which are not responding quickly....and still haven't decided either way.
Also trying to get more advertisers. A concerted campaign to sign up clubs and restaurants has not been very successful. Lots of "send me some more details" followed up by conspicuous silence.
Don't they realise that its cheap to advertise in this book?! Only £150 for a full page, which will be in every copy sold until 2008 sometime. And books don't get thrown away. Seems like a bargain to me.
Otherwise, the inside is done, the maps are done, the cover is nearly formatted to the printer's requirements. I'm basically waiting for my potential advertisers/funders. I could just go now with the money I have, but it'd be a kicker if I sent it to the printer and then *someone* turned around and asked for 2 full pages = £300......

Monday, April 10, 2006

Have a pint on me!


Or if you like Bitter:

Earth & Stars

The Earth and Stars in the North Laine can provide some excellent organic draught beers

The Dragon

The Dragon in Kemptown is in the top ten pubs in town and has excellent food too

Open House Garden

A sunny day is a good day for the Open House's garden

Friday, April 07, 2006

How did this Fool's Journey begin?

Myself and two other guys used to do project work for the Post Office. On one particularly long project the work had massive peaks and troughs which could last weeks. When the peaks hit we just had too much to do in too short a time, but during the troughs we sometimes had almost nothing to do. Unfortunately we had a Victorian-style boss who equated bums on seats with work being done, so we couldn't leave early/arrive late/take time off. So we filled the time with all kinds of discussion and nonsense. One particular discussion was around which was the best pub in Brighton. This lead to a decision to make a big list of the pubs we knew and run a Eurovision-style competition to work out the best. As I recall we managed to make a list of 40-odd pubs that day. I can't remember the winner.

Anyway, over the weeks of a particularly long trough this competition evolved into a quest. We would go on post-work research missions (read: pub crawls) to see the various pubs and score them. Over time a scoring system evolved and the list of pubs we knew of grew. At first we just started noticing and remembering all the pubs in the streets around us, then added others that other people told us about, then others from magazine adverts and the telephone directory. The number grew. As it did and knowledge of our quest spread, so other jurors joined. The results became more reliable, the system was tweaked to ensure the overall ratings reflected our personal views on the pubs. The list grew to its current level of 300.

Over the years that followed there have been hurdles. Brighton has an ever-changing pub and bar culture. Places change their names, redecorate, management changes, new bars appear and in turn are transformed into old pub or vice-versa.

Anyway, it got to the stage that it seemed that something really valuable had been created. And with photographs, maps, and some fleshing out (club info, pub crawls, games etc) it became the forthcoming book that it is now.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Book Progress

The book has now been updated for all the pub changes that have recently happened, and is now completely up to date. It covers 300 pubs and bars and has photos for lots of them.

A mate, who works as a computer games artist, has almost finished making 9 maps for the book. They look fantastic, really professional.

I've been pursuing people for sponsorship and advertising. Out of about 160 letters I sent out (most with a colour print of the draft cover, attached) I only got 1 response! Really disappointing considering I spent ages getting the wording right, carefully selected businesses that I thought the book would appeal to and mainly targetting businesses who already pay for advertising in other Brighton publications (Whats On, The Source, etc). Luckily the 1 has now been confirmed after 2 meetings and will be paying for £xxx worth of advertising! Fantastic!

The book is still being considered by both Harveys Brewery and CAMRA for sponsorship/advertising. Also, a friend's company, which deals with small businesses, including hospitality, is considering advertising in it as well!

I am still pursuing my list of 160 possible advertisers with phone calls and some of them sound interested, but usually its a "send me more information by email" and then I hear nothing. I'm going to keep going with these, as basically the publication of the book is now going ahead, thanks to xxxxxx, so any more advertisers are just going to help.

To be honest its harder than I expected. The book is the ideal place for a number of businesses to advertise, and I'm undercutting the competition in terms of prices. I would have bet real money that Brighton night clubs would want to advertise in it. And casinos, curry houses, etc. After all it is very possible that the book will be in the hand of groups of guys with packed evenings in mind and wallets full of cash....

Otherwise I have 1 major task - preparing the book for printing. This is hard when you have never done it before. I am especially struggling with the cover. The printing company wants me to make a whole cover file (back/spine/front) in one image. This is really difficult, as it has to be the right dimensions, I am dealing with complex images (lots of pub pictures) and its basically a headache.

Then once its printed and I get over the excitement of holding a copy in my hand, I move on to the challenge of retail.....

Want to be a Brighton Pub Juror?

So you fancy becoming a pub juror? Well it’s tougher than you’d expect. Many wannabe jurors have fallen at the first hurdle of actually submitting scores – a rather crucial exercise! If you do get into the scoring habit then you are required to score 50 pubs before your scores will be merged into the ratings system. This is to ensure that the overall scores are not distorted by the addition of just someone’s favourite drinking holes and that the juror has a wide range of pubs to assess their scores against. On top of all this, think of the commitment that is required with 300 pubs to share your time between – that’s over a pub every night for a year, with weekends off. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!

Of course, this is the initial stance. Once there are a lot of jurors I would be hoping to make an automated website which would absorb all the ratings that people could submit and absorb them into the collective. Of course there would have to be checks on the scores submitted to prevent anyone playing the system to promote their pub or reduce the scores of another one.....

But for the moment, if you are interested, then drop us a mail....

The Pub Rating System

The aim is to provide a fair, balanced and objective assessment of every pub in the city using a standard system so that bars that appear remarkably different in themselves can be compared on a level playing field.

Pub jurors are the key to the system – the more the merrier! They pay unannounced rating visits to pubs and score the unsuspecting hostelry against six different factors.

At the time of going to press there are seven pub jurors spanning a twenty year age range and including a CAMRA member, a cider drinker, a rocker and one woman! This eclectic mix generates a remarkably balanced scoring system. Six of these are Brighton residents, with one living in a nearby village. All of them have lived in the area for at least ten years.

So what are the factors to rate a pub against? Well…..

1. Atmosphere

This is actually the hardest factor to define. It describes that quality about a place that makes you feel happy there. It might be that it’s kicking or that it’s a good place to go with a group of friends. It could be the other people there, or the lack of them. It’s the feel of a pub rather than anything concrete. Mostly these pubs will be comfortably full with a good crowd of people who are enjoying themselves.

  1. Barstaff

Good barstaff are quick to serve the right person with the right drink for the right price. They will chat to you or leave you alone – as you like. They’ll go out of their way to make your drinking experience a pleasant one.

  1. Beer

This is not just beer, but all drinks. To get a good score a pub will serve a good range of high quality drinks for reasonable prices. Obviously there is a heavy focus on beer here, so expect a pub that just serves expensive bottled lager to fare poorly.

  1. Décor/Garden

This is about how a place looks and how comfortable it is. Sunny, well-tended beer gardens, nice art or well-stocked wooden bookcases are a good way to score well, while worn carpets with plastic chairs will have jurors headed for the door.

  1. Entertainment

Encompassing a wide range of diversions from live music, DJs and quizzes through pool, darts, pinball round to newspapers, boardgames and machines. Some Brighton pubs even have cabaret, cinema or saunas!

  1. Food

Obviously this covers the quality of food that a pub serves, with range and price also important elements of the score.

Jurors rank the factors in order of importance to them. The combination of all the jurors’ rankings is used to create a weighting for each factor. These weightings are used to combine the individual scores to create the overall rating for each pub. At the moment by far the most important ratings are, predictably, Atmosphere and Beer. Food is the least important factor in the overall pub rating.

Each juror scores each pub they visit from 0-4 on each factor. All the jurors’ scores are then averaged to produce a reliable group assessment for each pub.


What better place to go drinking than Brighton? Newly a city, gradually transforming itself from a pleasant seaside town to an exciting metropolis, with a glorious micro-climate making it the Algarve of England. Known as a miniature London-by-the-sea for the cultural mix and wide entertainment available, but with friendly locals and manageable size.

Sources say that there are over 400 places to get a drink in Brighton and judging from the heavy research undertaken to complete this book, they are probably right.

This book covers every pub and bar in Brighton, Hove, Kemptown and Hanover. There is also a section on nightclubs. Hotel bars are only covered if they actively encourage non-residents to drink there. No restaurants or places where you have to eat to be able to drink – you’ve got to draw the line somewhere! This area spans from the Western line of Sackville Road on the Hove/Portslade border over to the East at the Marina, to the Northern boundary of the end of Preston Park to the Southern extreme of the end of the pier! There are also a few notable additions outside of this patch.

The total number of pubs and bars covered by this edition is 300 but there might be a couple of others hidden away – drop us a line if you know of one!

The Best Pub

The best pub is a welcoming place, a home from home, with a roaring fire in the winter, a smiling barmaid or friendly barman, various distractions to entertain you, or a calm haven or refuge to escape the rigours of the modern world. It’s full of familiar faces, background laughter, ready with a foaming pint of the finest real ale, a perfectly chilled lager or a wide range of whiskies. There is a garden fringed with flowers in bloom, a room with comfortable sofas, a smooth wooden floor and a long bar to lean against. There is music when you want it and quiet when you don’t, games or newspapers, quizzes or bands. It’s a place to watch your favourite team play, chase the opposite sex or just plain get pissed. The best pub is one thing to one person and another to another. The best pub varies depending on your mood and the day of the week.

British pubs are a unique part of the culture on our islands. They are something that is appealing to visitors and badly missed by Brits abroad. How do you quantify how good a pub is so that someone else knows what to expect?

This book is based on a system that has evolved over the past few years in an attempt to rate pubs to determine just how good they are and which of them is the Best. It isn’t perfect, because rating pubs is a very personal experience and sometimes it is just not possible to say what is so good about a place where you feel happy and at home. But we think we’ve had a good go at it and we hope you will agree.

Clubs, Restaurants, Retailers, Pubs! Advertise in the book!

The book target markets would include students, tourists, hen/stag nights, Londoners and locals, mostly for men aged 18-40.

These people will be people who go out. They need to eat. They are active. They spend money. They might go clubbing. They might come to your place. But only if they know about it. Email me and ask about advertising rates and options in the book!

So, Fancy Publishing my book then?

Come on you publishers. I know you watch blogs. Pick this book to publish and save me a lot of effort.

So What's So Difficult about publishing a book?


Not far off the truth really. First you have to have an original idea. Then you have to write the blasted thing, then find someone to publish it.
If you can achieve all this then you are on easy street. Its the publisher thats the hard bit. Just to get your foot in the door you either have to be famous already, know someone who is or already have a book published which is selling. That means for most of us, no chance at all.

So the other option is self-publishing. Its hellishly expensive/time-consuming as far as I can tell so far. Vanity publishers will do whatever you want and do a lot for you, but it will cost you a lot. Then there are print-on-demand publishers, but again, the more you pay, basically the more you get. I'm going with Antony Rowe I think. They seem the most reasonably priced, but it looks like the author has to do a lot of the work, like getting an ISBN number, designing the cover, formatting the book, etc.

Then once its printed you have to get it into Retail. Haven't faced that challenge yet, but I'm thinking about it.

At the moment I'm trying to gather Advertisers. Hopefully some advertising money will help cushion the probable financial loss of the whole project...

What are your Favourite Pubs in Brighton?

Hi All

Why don't you have your say and tell me (and everyone) what you favourite pubs are?


The full book Blurb

Heres the book blurb:

A locally produced guide to all of Brighton's pubs and bars:

The Definitive Guide to

Brighton's Best Pubs

An A-Z of every Pub and Bar in Brighton, independently rated by the Brighton Pub Jury

The book is a comprehensive guide covering an amazing 300 pubs and bars within the city, utilising a unique pub rating system. Brighton is one of the most popular and attractive destinations in the UK and it is the ideal time to produce this publication while no complete guide to the pubs of Brighton currently exists.

The scoring system is weighted across seven categories for each of the destinations: Atmosphere (how does the location feel), Beer (selections), Barstaff (quality of service), Entertainment (live acts, games, quizzes), Décor / Garden facilities and Food. Each of the destinations has been visited and marked by a select panel of Brighton residents over the course of two years. The information is constantly updated in order to produce the most comprehensive guide to Brighton’s teeming pub culture.

The book features an introduction, explanation of the system, a description of the top ten pubs and a guide to twelve areas of Brighton, with the best pubs in each. There is a section on the best pubs by category (e.g. the best pubs to go for food) and crucially the core of the book is an A-Z of every pub and bar in Brighton illustrated with photographs of some of the pubs.

In addition to all this there are eight suggested pub crawls, a section on drinking games, some pub jokes, a guide to the night-clubs of the town and much more.

The book will be pocket-size (A5), and approximately 200 pages. Target markets would include students, tourists, hen/stag nights, Londoners and locals, mostly for men aged 18-40.

Opening Shot

Hi there

I'm aiming to use this Blog to talk about my progress publishing my own book entitled "Brighton's Best Pubs". Its proving a trying journey to date, and probably started about 6-7 years ago....