Closing chapter on book ordeal

John Foster with his book Scholar's Mate
John Foster with his book Scholar's Mate

A writer’s novel plan to promote his new book is back on track - as he’s finally taken delivery of printed copies after a frustrating, and expensive, ordeal.

Retired teacher John Foster, of Norfolk Road, was thrilled when he completed his second book, Scholar’s Mate, and came up with an ingenious way to promote it.

His daughter and grandchildren arrived from Canada for an official launch when he planned to begin giving away hundreds of free copies.

But his excitement turned to devastation when the printers went into liquidation, meaning he lost every penny of the £2,000 he had paid them to run off 1,000 copies.

However, the Cornwall-based firm which helped with his first book agreed to step in, and John has now been sent the finished product.

“I admit I was tense when I opened the first box, but all was well, and I am delighted with the results - and hugely relieved,” said John.

“It’s a really good job. Unfortunately I have missed two months of the summer, the prime time for selling holiday reads. Two friends helped move the 1,013 books indoors. They are stacked in my hallway and smell - yes, I do mean smell - delicious!”

John is sticking with his plan to give away 500 books, and has already started by giving a box to psychiatric nursing staff at the Northern General Hospital.

“It’s fitting, I think, because there is a thread of psychiatric illness running through Scholar’s Mate,” he added.

Other giveaways will target travellers on trains bound for London and Edinburgh, theatregoers, restaurant diners and supermarket shoppers.

Each secondary school library in Sheffield will get a copy too.

“I’m certainly no expert, but my theory is that word of mouth is the best form of publicity, and in any case what’s the point of publishing a book that nobody reads?

“It may seem crazy to still give away half the books, but I have to put the disaster out of my mind. There will just be no expensive holiday to Greece.”

Four years ago John gave up work as an Ofsted inspector and turned his attention to writing.

His first book, Nine Times in Ten, was published in 2011, while Scholar’s Mate is set in Sheffield and is about an ex-headteacher with a conscience about his past.