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.

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....