Sunday, 25 September 2011

Getting Started - Be A Quiz Winner !

I don’t want to get all precious about this, but for many of us I suspect that writing is something that we do anyway, whether there is ever any chance that someone else will read it or not, and not because we think that we may have identified some niche in the market , and be able to make a few bob from it.

Not that I would have a problem with this happening.

“Be A Quiz Winner !” is the first piece of writing that I have sold commercially. I didn’t write it in response to any perceived need, and I didn’t see that there’s any huge market out there crying out for it. No, its simply that I thought that for this first go at trying to make any money at all out of writing that I’d go back to first principles. Write about what you know. And while I will never be classed among the ranks of the really great quizzers, its fair to say that I do know about winning quizzes.

I’ve loved quizzing for over 20 years, and its been a source of a huge amount of enjoyment in my life. As with any essentially competitive activity, over the years you do learn how to get the best out of yourself- if you’re any good, anyway. The challenge was to put all of this down in writing, in a way which would make sense even to the casually interested quizzer, or the complete beginner.

I settled on some section headings to start with. These ended up as : -

My credentials and experience
The Glittering Prizes
Quizzes – what to learn and how to learn it
Pub quizzes , and how to win them
Skullduggery !
League quizzes and how to win them
Television and other broadcast quizzes
A Few Last Thoughts

My first thought was that I’d better start off a little defensively, and justify why anyone should bother to pay any attention to what I say on the subject. I thought that I’d better explain just what you could win in the average pub quiz as well – which to be honest is not a lot. I explained the differences between pub, league and TV quizzes, the legal ways to win, and the less than legal ways that some people use.
At 15000 words its not a very long book at all, but I looked on it as a start. Which led to the next questions – so you’ve written it – all well and good. But how are you going to sell it ?

All I could come up with at first was eBay. However that is not without its own problems. For one thing they don’t let you sell something which you are going to deliver electronically. The best way for me to sell it would have been to deliver it as a document file via an email attachment, but you can’t sell that on eBay. So then I decided to sell copies from my own PC printer. But then printing is expensive, as is the cost of sending it through the post. I compromised by stating that I was selling it as a CD ROM document – and that when people bought it I would send them a free complimentary copy by email as well as the CD ROM. This compromise was the best solution I could come up with, and it worked reasonably well. If nothing else it was nice to get some feedback from people who read it.

I looked into self publishing on Kindle, and when I was fairly certain of all the ins and outs, I went for it. Since then I’ve published another 3 books on Kindle. But Be A Quiz Winner ! was first, and its still my best seller.

Just in case this has whetted your appetite, here’s a little extract , from the book : -

“Quizzes – What To Learn and How To Learn

While it is not actually always the case that the team that knows the most will win a specific quiz, it is true for the majority of the time. So it’s fair to say this : -
• If you want to win more quizzes, then somewhere along the line you are going to have to learn some things.
Its stunningly obvious, yet you’d be surprised how many people won’t ever bother to learn anything they might use in a quiz. We’ll look at the best ways of doing this later on. Still, if you are going to invest your precious time and energy in something as frivolous as learning things for quizzes, then you want to make sure that you’re not wasting that time by learning things that you don’t actually need to know. So what do you actually need to know to win quizzes ? Well, in order to answer that question, we need to think about the purpose behind any pub quiz.

Whatever format your local pub quiz may use, it’s there to provide an evening’s entertainment and amusement for the participants, so that all of them will want to come back and play again next week. I refuse to believe that anybody goes along to play in a quiz because they like being made to feel ignorant or stupid. So any question master who set out to continually ask whole quizzes full of questions which would have this effect on the participants surely wouldn’t last very long.
This means: -

The vast majority of questions you’re likely to get asked in a quiz are meant to be answered - they’re gettable !

You don’t actually have to have a mind like an encyclopedia to hold enough knowledge to ensure that you will always do well in a pub quiz. So what information do you need that will help you to become a successful quizzer ? Let’s think in terms of categories. Yes, if you want to be a regular winner, you can’t really afford to have any categories or subject areas which you can’t stand and so don’t want to know anything about any more. “

If you want to read more, then there’s a link to the Kindle edition in the list of my books and websites on the right. Alternatively you can buy a CDROM from my web store - there's a link to that on the right as well.

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