Selling Bryant & May

With the delivery of my tenth outing for Bryant & May, ‘The Invisible Code’, I’ve reached the end of my current publishing contract, and indeed all of my contracts until somebody, somewhere picks up some of my new books. They’re written – all I need is the publisher’s nod. That’s easier said than done in these trying times, although the surprise return of the hardback is apparently down to its new acceptability as a comparatively inexpensive gift.

Bryant & May must look like a dicey proposition to anyone – a ten year-old series that didn’t get picked up for TV, a series that sells to those in the know and gets great upmarket reviews, but which is invisible to Daily Mail readers and not popular with the swathes of the general public who like supermarket thrillers. The oddest insult/compliment I was paid was from a colleague’s wife who said; ‘I didn’t get on with Bryant & May, which is funny because I’ll usually read just any old thing.’

So, how do I convince the lip-movers to come on board? Perhaps I could suggest some marketing ideas to them. How about; ‘If you love Jo Nesbo, and you obviously do because I’m sitting in a departure lounge and every single person around me is reading the same goddamned book, why not try Bryant & May?’

Or ‘Love spending a lot of time with old people? You’ll love this!’

Or ‘If you love Sophie Hannah, stay away from my books or I’ll kill you.’?

Or ‘Choose a Bryant & May novel. It’s just like WH Smith without the cheap Galaxy bar’.*

Or ‘No Brighton coppers or dead Eastern European call girls were harmed in the making of this novel.’

Or ‘Bryant & May – now available with extensive notes and explanations for the easily confused.’

Or ‘Bryant & May – for when any old book just won’t do.’

All suggestions gratefully accepted.

*New service; explanatory notes for overseas readers. Station chainstore WH Smith makes its counter staff flog books by forcing cheap, paving stone-sized chocolate bars onto customers.

PS Keith Page’s drawing features Arthur Bryant’s bookshelf.

26 comments on “Selling Bryant & May”

  1. Alan Morgan says:


    Bryant & May and the Gun Porn Omega Paradox?

    Bryant & May in Whitechapel?

    Bryant & May and the Ripper, Templar, Big Ben, Double Decker, Union-Jack painted MG roaring across London Bridge, Carnaby Street, Fish and Chips mystery?

    Bryant & May of the Rings?

    Bryant & May and the sorted gangster, nice one, pretty prostitute, charlie, rough estate, immigration scandal?

    Bryant & May and the Chamber of Secrets?

  2. Wayne says:

    It would be a shame if they finished with the the Da vinci EErrr Invisible code.

    I wonder if those nice people at PS might pick them up and you could get a whole new twenty book deal out of it. So just how many book have you written ready for publishing?

    Long live B&M. Remember the prequel avenue is another route to glory.

  3. Diogenes says:

    Short explanatory notes might be a good thing for some of the more obscure references. Living in Australia but having lived in London for a few months, I get most of them but I miss a few.

    Andrea Camilleri has them in his Montalbano books, as does Parot in Nicholas de Floch. Even some untranslated series, like Melvyn Starr’s de Singleton, have a glossary.

  4. Cid says:

    Yeah the next one does need to be more explicit, ‘Bryant & May and the Gorblimeyguvnor’ or something like that.

    Though, who tf is Sophie Hannah? Quite oblivious, I remain.

  5. Avid Reader says:

    Someone better give you a new contract for Bryant and May! We Yanks love the series. These guys will never be too old to solve a mystery

  6. sparro says:

    ‘Bryant & May – buy one, get the other free.’

  7. sparro says:

    ‘Bryant & May – buy one, get the other free.’
    “..and would you like a half-price bag of traditional penny-sweets with that at Bryant & May novel”?

  8. sparro says:

    ‘Bryant & May – buy one, get the other free.’
    “..and would you like a half-price bag of traditional penny-sweets with that Bryant & May novel”?

  9. sparro says:

    ‘Bryant & May, as not seen on TV’.

  10. sparro says:

    Time for the inevitable tie-in and brand sponsorship, methinks…
    “Bryant & May and the box of matches”

    “As Arthur drew the vesta along the friction panel, he mused upon the words on the back of the box; “Keep dry and away from children”. “Sound advice, I always do”, mused Arthur as he put the now-flaming end of the match to the bowl of his pipe and…..”

    And since tobacconists can now longer display tobacco in their windows, I think many might wisely be cajoled into a display of your Bryant & May novels.

  11. Vickie says:

    Cid – Sophie Hannah writes dreadfully disturbing psychological mysteries; yes, there is death, but the over unsettling features of her stories are how creepy humans can be.

    CF – your stuff is great; I think you are correct that flashy marketing might be just the ticket. And re the “obscure” references, I’m sure I miss most of them, but B&M live at the top of my “buy immediately upon release” list. A glossery would be fun (and, oh, joy, more tedious work for you!) but not essential to the overall story, IMHO. It’s like insider’s jokes…some people get it, some scratch their heads but pretend they got it (loud guffaw), and some (like me) are happily oblivious.

  12. Lostintown says:

    What about…
    Bryant and May – The perfect match
    Bryant and May and the Danish pullover.
    Bryant and May – more popular than John Grisham!

  13. Simon says:

    Bryant and May – The Solo Years (Could be two books or one book in two halves)

  14. Dan Terrell says:

    From this past Sunday’s NYT Book Review, Crime by Marilyn Stasio: “‘The Peculiar Crimes Unit is not like other…divisions” of London’s Metropolitian Police Force, Christopher Fowler warns us in The Memory of Blood (Bantam, $25), the lastest in a delightfully anarchic series of novels featuring an eccentric pair of elderly sleuths who may very well be crackers. There’s a cunning pattern to these mysteries, and it goes like this: Arthur Bryant, the department’s mad genius, and John May, his pragmatic longtime partner, are presented with some weird crime, and in order to solve it, they must familiarize themselves with some idiosyncratic feature of the city. A previous story had them tracing the hidden routes of London’s underground rivers. Yet another had them researching its ancient pubs. Here, a grim case of infanticide has them reading up on the genesis of Grand Guignol horror in the English stage and the origins of the puppet character Mr. Punch as the pagan life force. Funny thing, though. When he’s with the flamboyant members of a new theater company, Bryant looks positively normal.” Nice review. Fist punch the air.

  15. Dan Terrell says:

    How about: “Byrant & May – Support the Elderly and Receive This Fine Book by way of Way of Thanking You,” volume I.

  16. Dan Terrell says:

    NUTS! Did it again. “Bryant & May – Support the Elderly & Receive This Fine Book by Way of Thanking You,” volume I.
    Bad, bad right typing hand.

  17. Neil says:

    How about Bryant & Me – the no holds barred, warts and all biography of a sex starved pensioner and his questionable display of presumably boiled sweets …

  18. Philip Jackson says:

    How about offering free boxed of matches instead of chocolate at the counter?

  19. snowy says:

    Dear Admin

    Having 10+ stories is an asset, but forget TV, too expensive and closed to anything new and interesting.
    Imagine Bryant and May on the wireless, fast, affordable (relatively).
    As many scene changes as you could imagine, any location that takes your fancy.
    A shorter production time means a better chance of getting a top class cast.
    In the UK, dear old Radio4 seems to have a constant demand for new crime drama.
    But if you have your own production company, you could also tout the finshed product to NPR in the States, (to the doubtless delight of US readers).

    (PS When casting Longbright, what about the delightful Fenella Fielding.)

  20. Gretta says:

    Bryant & May: How being sexier than Samantha Brick has ruined our lives.

    I’m agreeing with snowy. Have often thought B&M would work well on t’radio, and there’s many authors/works I’ve been introduced to via that medium. And there’s a multitude of brilliant voice actors to choose from. If you could somehow slip Toby Longworth into the cast, I’d love you forever.

    “…the surprise return of the hardback is apparently down to its new acceptability as a comparatively inexpensive gift.”

    Not here, it’s not. You’re looking at NZ$50-60(about 25-30 quid) for a stock standard fiction hardback. Paperbacks are regularly NZ$30-40, even ones produced entirely in New Zealand. Is it any wonder people head to Amazon and get the same thing for less than half that?

  21. Alison says:

    Bryant & May: it’s not about the matches

  22. Alison says:

    Or even – Bryant & May: 100% matchless.

  23. Nostalgia.Detected says:

    I have also been thinking recently how good a radio adaptation would be – preferably in the form of a long running series rather than a one-off drama.

    On the subject of publishers, have you already got a publisher for the B&M Graphic Novel and for the next part of your autobiography?

  24. Steve says:

    “Bryant May…with him,one never knows.”

  25. Helen Martin says:

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. have been hit with another 10% budget cut and one of the items they’re cutting is radio drama. I wonder if they might be open to *purchasing* some if it was cheaper than producing themselves.

  26. Clarissa says:

    Late comment, but I am ALWAYS trying to promote these books to people, and I suppose one of the best things about the series is that it’s a little difficult to encapsulate like this! But I do like the various attempts above. Bryant & May: everything else is rubbish.

    P. S. Inordinately pleased that a) you’re using the same blog theme that I do on my two WordPress blogs, haha. Also b) that you do like Doctor Who. Discussions of “who ELSE would you really like to write for it” always result in my immediately suggesting you.

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