Thursday, 3 February 2011



Forgive Us Our Press Passes by Ian SkidmoreBeWrite Books today breaks new digital ground in its exclusive teaming with an innovative print publisher who's launched an exciting new genre ... HACK-LIT.

Hack-lit is books by hugely experienced and immensely talented old-school journalists with appeal to a general readership. So, really, it's quietly been around, if unrecognised, for donkeys' years.

Journalists have always been uniquely skilled in successful mass-communication with their reading public from the first crude single-page news and ballad sheets to today's raunchy tabloids, admirably courageous publications that can bring down governments, and impressive film documentaries that can, and do, change the world.

And when you hear that tired old adage, 'don't believe all you read in newspapers', remember that if there was no essential truth, they would not still be on your doorstep every morning or in their online incarnations. Governments, giant global corporations and the rich and famous would not shudder in fear at the journalist's (largely) unfettered due to publish and be damned Рwith only you in mind. Freedom of the press is a basic human right ... and mankind's saving grace. Always believe the evidence before your eyes rather than a warmed-over clich̩.

Journalists have been writing for you since soon after Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenburger (Gutenberg to thee and me) was just a messy thing in his pram and then a struggling young feller knocking an old wine press into a primitive, hand-cranked printing engine, away from prying eyes in his cellar ... the written word's first best-cellar?

It took ebooks nearly six centuries to revolutionise Gutenberg's wonderful basic model (everything meantime has been mere twiddling with his prototype). A book's a book, its content is king. In the long, long run, little has changed other than its means of presentation for wider consumption.

But what makes this new venture different and so very special is that Revel Barker, who heads Revel Barker Publishing (RBP), has identified journalists' full-length contemporary non-fiction books as a specific and deserved literary category in their own right and now publishes them in spanking new paperback form.

There are currently a dozen titles – and counting – in his Hack-lit catalogue here.

And Revel – former managing director of the massive Mirror Group of newspapers in the UK, and no mean reporter and writer himself in humbler days as an on-the-road hack – has agreed, with enthusiastic author-cooperation, that BeWrite Books should help spread the word by giving many of his titles the ebook treatment in beautifully prepared new digital editions, word-faithful to their print equivalent, to run in all modern formats for international distribution and instant download at $5.95 (that's about £3.70 or local equivalent) for reading on electronic platforms from PCs and laptops, through the entire range of new ebook-dedicated reading devices and tablets, to iPods and ubiquitous Blackberries and smartphones. A couple of swift jars in tap room currency.

This, folks, is new technology at work and applied to a new genre ... an art form with whiskers on it.

The new hack-lit ebooks – to be released by BeWrite Books at a rate of about one new title every month or so – cover everything from outrageous (sometimes graveyard) humour and big-star and randy-royal, true-as-gospel insider gossip, to intriguing mystery and suspense, and to fascinating winks and nods as to how the mighty have fallen (and risen) in our lifetimes.

Hack-lit's authors range from the world famous to those lower-profile scribes whose by-lines countless millions of readers over the years glimpsed only in passing in small print at the top of memorable and glowingly informative news stories from the field and breathtakingly insightful in-depth features in newspapers and magazines.

Hack-lit is the inside story in its tell-all glory and riotous infamy. It's what you really shouldn't know. Stories told out of school. More accurately in this case, out of the pub.

And the word 'hack', I must explain, is not an insult but a compliment in intimate journalistic company. Like the naughty 'n-word' in an exclusively black group, the cheeky use of 'queer' within gay circles, or calling your female boss 'love', its casually barbed and misinformed use by outsiders is not welcomed. There's an easy answer ... become an insider. Pull up a bar stool, stand your round and join our members-only circus. Join the hacks.

First up is the hilarious Forgive Us Our Press Passes (released in BeWrite Books ebook editions today) by an author who, quite literally, has whiskers on him.  Ian 'Skiddy' Skidmore sports one of the most impressive handlebar moustaches in living memory. He lost in a public moustache contest with the famous British TV and movie star, the late Jimmy Edwards, only because Prof Jimmy had cheated by cunningly mingling his own handlebar with whiskers sprouting from his cheeks. Skiddy's is guaranteed cheek-free. Like a man who plays from a square bat, as per the gentlemanly rules of cricket, Skiddy's outstanding growth originates sportingly and entirely from his stiff upper lip. Oh, and he also has one of the most impressive journalistic CVs you could dread to read.

Ian's an old superhero of mine from my own newspaper days; first shared with him and other worthies on late night/early morning reporting shifts in the Daily Mirror news room in Manchester and the office's after-hours watering holes back in the sixties.

Manchester was the largest press printing centre outside Moscow at the time – Fleet Street itself trailed in third place. Now, Manchester no longer quakes as the giant presses thunder and even proud and historical Fleet Street is a mere address in London EC4.

Ian Skidmore was an ace national newspaper reporter, news editor, syndicated columnist, and he also hosted his own hugely popular weekly BBC radio show for many years. He also has nearly thirty non-fiction books and novels under his hugely generous belt, many of them best-sellers. And he writes on in his lively eighties with another new book already on the stocks.

Forgive Us Our Press Passes
is ... och well; I won't bother you with that here. 'Read all abaht it!' and its author by visiting the front page of the BeWrite Books bookstore or pop into RPB's bookstore through the link provided above.

You could also get some intriguing and/or belly-laugh-fun info straight from source as a Friday regular if you visit 'the last pub in Fleet Street', Revel's own website.  That's where a whole bunch of us old news hounds from around the globe gather to bay at the DH Lawrence-style Moon and Stars and to swap tall tales and dark secrets among friends.

Ian himself has a wonderfully entertaining and insightful blog, Skidmore's Island, which is updated with new material every Sunday.

Next Hack-lit title up? Who knows? We'll spring it on you as a surprise in March. So watch this space.

Info on the ebook edition of 'Forgive Us Our Press Passes': author, Ian Skidmore; editor of revised and extended edition, Revel Barker; technical preparation, text design and ebook distribution, Tony Szmuk at BeWrite Books. Available at the BeWrite Books bookstore and all major and minor online ebook retailers as of now. For paperback, hit any major online bookstore or just drop a line direct to the RBP publisher: 

And a reminder: even if you don't have a Kindle or sadly found no other fancy new reading gizmo under the Christmas tree, you can read all BeWrite Books ebooks in PDF on your old-fashioned PC, laptop or netbook, Kindle Mobi editions can be read on your home computers by free download of the Kindle-for-PC app and ePub can be read using free Calibre Library software.

***As usual with new BB releases, the first six readers of this blog post can email me for a free download of 'Forgive Us Our Press Passes' in the digital format of their choice. Review is more than welcome, but not an obligation. That's

Happy reading and best wishes, chums. Catch you very soon with a stunning new BeWrite Books mystery novel release in paperback and ebook from popular crime mystery author ... Ros... well, wait and see, eh?

Very best wishes. Neil

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