“So you’re going to publish a book,” I said to Devvo yesterday via Skype. “How come? Surely you can’t read or write?”
“It’s a picture book, John,” he told me. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s a picture book.”
“For children?” I asked.
“Definitely NOT for children,” he confirmed.
“You have to paint your ceiling,” I told him. We were video Skyping. I could see a large crack in his ceiling.
“It’s the spare room,” he said. “We got a lotta work to do on our house.”
“It looks like the House of Usher,” I told him.
“Well, it’s me nan’s house,” he said. “I live in me nan’s house. It’s on the outskirts of Doncaster. It’s all falling apart.”
“Doncaster?” I asked.
“The house,” said Devvo. “She burns coal, me nan does. She burns coal. What the previous owners did was to re-arrange the walls but they did it really badly, so we need lots of money to fix all the things. It’s me nan’s falling-down house that eats all the money.”
“So what sort of book is it?” I asked.
“Filter tips?” I suggested.
“No filter tips,” said Devvo, “but I’ve made little stories with me and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve called him Arnold Shuitzman, because I thought that sounded more fun.”
“OK,” I said. “Look. You’re a chav from Doncaster. Writing a book is a bit above your station, isn’t it?”
“I’ve done it,” said Devvo, “because I like pictures and drawing and I want to make some money and people make money selling things. So I thought Let’s make a book to sell.”
“So it’s got photographs?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’ve drawn stuff and I’ve learned how to use PhotoShop a bit and I’ve written stuff and drawn bits and found pictures and put them in PhotoShop and made really cool pictures so people will go Ah, they’re dead funny, aren’t they? Yeah, they’re dead funny!”
“Can you send me a copy of the book?” I asked.
“I can send it to you as an eBook,” said Devvo, “but you have to keep it to yourself because, if you allow these things to be freely available, it would be jeopardising everything and I know what you’re like, giving away things.”
“No, I understand,” I said. “Some of us have been trying to turn our blogs into eBooks for the last two years and I’m two months away from proofreading the first one but, my god, it’s like wading through treacle.”
“That’s why I’ve just done pictures,” explained Devvo. “It just took two weeks to do and it was really fun.”
“So you’re artistic?” I asked. “Or autistic?”
“Bit of both,” said Devvo. “No, I’m not artistic at all. That’s the thing. I’m probably the least artistic out of all the people that exist. But that’s alright. Maybe I’ve found a little talent. Maybe it’s another thing to add to my bow.”
“Your bow?” I asked.
“My bow,” said Devvo. “When it’s done, it’s going to be a printed book as well as an eBook. The Kickstarter appeal has done really well. It’s got close to £900. We met our Kickstarter target in 24 hours and it closes on 15th March.”
The book’s estimated delivery is the end of March. If you pledge £10, you get a physical and a digital copy of the book. If you pledge £250, Devvo will perform “at your house, in your house, on your roof, in your car, at your local church. Whatever.” And you also get ten copies of the book.
“So you reached your target in one day,” I said. “What are you going to do with the extra money?”
“Well, this is it,” said Devvo. “It’s clever business with crowdfunding. You put the target at an achievable level and you really want to make more anyway. So it’s all just clever business. I really need to get about £1,000 to make good quality books.”
“So,” I said, “if you get more money than you expected, you’ll make an even better quality product?”
“Well, that’s it,” said Devvo. “That’s it. And it means I get the books cheaper in print which means I can make more of a profit, which is what everyone’s after really, innit?”
“You’re going to sell the physical copies at gigs?” I asked.
“I’m going to sell ‘em at gigs, sell ‘em online. People like to buy stuff, John. I’ve done three gigs in the past two weeks and I’ve sold about sixty T-shirts. I did one gig in Barrow-in-Furness and I got bored of selling T-shirts I was selling that many.”
“There’s nothing else to do in Barrow-in-Furness,” I pointed out. “When I was a TV researcher, I went to Barrow-in-Furness to talk to a man who was blind and wanted to parachute jump. It took forever to get there and, when I did, the weather was overcast, the houses were roughcast and the people were downcast. I think suicide may be an option people in Barrow-in-Furness take to improve their lives.”
“But they were the best people I ever met!” enthused Devvo. “It felt like I were doing a gig to loads of mates I’d just met. It were real good.”
“So who is the audience for your book?” I asked. “Where is the gap in the market?”
“It’s one of them books,” replied Devvo, “that fits in the gap where you think Ah, we don’t need a book there. Like in your toilet. You’re sat on the loo and you need a little toilet read. You’re there for five minutes and you think, Oh, I’ll have a little read of that! It’s just a dead good, dead funny book that people need to have. The main thing I’m excited about is having a copy for myself. I can have a copy of my book in my toilet and have a look at it and laugh at it. Anything else is a bonus, really.”
“Is this book,” I asked, “connected in any way to Bob Slayer’s increasing empire of books, comedy venues and drunken revels?”
“It’s published through the Heroes name,” said Devvo, “and I’m absolutely delighted to be part of Bob’s growing empire and just general, exciting stuff in life, really.
“This Friday, I’m playing the Leicester Comedy Festival with Bob – We’re doing Devvo’s Deal or No Dealer gameshow and Bob’s my glamorous assistant and then I think we’re doing the same show at the Bath Comedy Festival together.”
“So Devvo’s on the rise?” I asked. “What can you do after being an internet sensation, a stage sensation and potentially a publishing sensation?”
“I’m starting to become a businessman,” he replied. “When people talk of Devvo in his early years, he’s just stupid, swearing and this, that and other. People don’t allow me to get older, but Devvo’s got better at business. So my plan is to start an empire selling T-shirts and books and all the things people don’t need but need. Filling those gaps.”