Pottery Cottage – The Peak District killings that shocked Britain
It was a crime that shook 1970s Britain, and over forty years later it has become a local self-publishing phenomenon. Published in September 2019, Pottery Cottage has already sold more than 2,000 copies and has become Waterstones Chesterfield’s best-selling title.
Pottery Cottage has already sold more than 2,000 copies
It was written by Derbyshire Author Alan R. Hurndall, a seasoned journalist and film-maker who reported on the crimes at the time for the Sheffield Star. The book is written as a documentary thriller, chronicling the fateful days in 1977 and the aftermath.
Self-publishing inspires much debate amongst writers. Is it worth it? Is it legitimate? Is it now better than traditional publishing? Questions that are very hard to answer with authority, but ones that Alan is well placed to answer, having published his first book The Invisible Girl through Harper Collins in 2006.
Pottery Cottage had been on his mind for many years, and he had spent a long time researching and writing the book, but after contacting members of the victims’ family and learning that the sole survivor of the tragedy, Gill Moran, had refused her consent for any further accounts to be published, Alan left the project in a draw and moved on.
Cut to 2019, and Alan finds out that a detective who had worked on the case was gearing up to publish a book about the crimes, with consent. Alan now feels released from his moral dilemma, and is sitting on a piece of work that is in danger of being lost in the publicity of a new book. Alan decides that the only way to give the project the chance he feels it deserves is to self-publish, and he sets about self-editing, designing the cover, printing and marketing, using his not inconsiderable people-skills learned as an investigative journalist to get the book in cafes, garden centres, gift shops and book shops throughout the area.
Alan now feels released from his moral dilemma, and is sitting on a piece of work that is in danger of being lost in the publicity of a new book
So what does Pottery Cottage have that other self-published works don’t?
The project is uniquely local. It is a story that will resonate with people across the country, but for those who remember it, or have heard the story passed on down the years, it is a chilling reminder of something that happened on their doorstep. Large publishers are not well placed for hyper-local marketing, which is something Alan has done so well.
Self-publishing is a tool which can work very well when the author is confident that they have something that will interest many, but is not easy to sell on a national stage. And critically, as with all writing, it has to be first about the story. Is the story compelling? In this case, it very much is.
We chatted with Alan recently, about the journey of writing the book, and about the pros and cons of self publishing, and asked Alan to write a little bit about it. Read his blog here.