- 17 Jan 17
Olaf Tyaransen catches up with million-selling author Paul Howard, who currently has two new books out at the moment. One is the latest in his satirical Ross O-Carroll-Kelly; the other concerns an entirely different class of Irish legend...
Having clocked up well over a million sales of his long-running Ross O’Carroll-Kelly series, Paul Howard is one of Ireland’s most successful writers… but it didn’t happen overnight. When the then-journalist self-published the very first ROCK book in 2000, he wound up having to pulp more than half of the original print run. Having created the obnoxious D4 rugby jock for a popular weekly column in the now defunct Sunday Tribune, Howard – who worked for the paper as their chief sportswriter – had decided to weave the pieces together into a comic novel entitled The Miseducation of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly.
“In the beginning, in a fit of optimism, I ordered 5,000 copies of the very first Ross title,” the 45-year-old Dubliner recalls. “I had no idea what 5,000 books looked like until they arrived, and they arrived loaded on five pallets on this truck. I saw two of those pallets and went, ‘God there’s a lot of them’, and the guy goes, ‘There’s three more in the truck!’ So 5,000 is a lot of books.”
Howard hadn’t just self-published, he was also selling them himself. “I was driving a Nissan Micra at the time,” he laughs. “It was my first car. I just went from shop to shop. I didn’t even think to bring them to a warehouse and sell them at the Eason’s warehouse. I’d go to Eason’s on O’Connell Street and they’d say, ‘What’s it about?’ and I’d say, ‘Oh, it’s a satire about Celtic Tiger Ireland, about privileged young people’. And they’d say, ‘Sure, that sounds pretty good. Yeah, well give us ten and we’ll see how they go’. Like, I’ve got 5,000 of these things!”