Book Review: Finding My Voice: A Forty-Year Apprenticeship in Sound by Sherie Griffiths

Finding My Voice by Sherie Griffiths

“For some time after I came out of hospital, I absolutely hated anything involving crowds.  That obviously made shopping a nightmare for Mum.  When she had no choice but to take me, a chore became an ordeal.

Until she hit on an idea.  Along with the other toys in my pushchair, she gave me a radio.  It was a simple little ‘tranny’, with one waveband and two dials…but it took my mind off of what was going on around me and gave me a noise I could control.  When I think about that now, I have to say it was a stroke of genius and it started me off on the habit of a lifetime – at one stage a very expensive habit…

My other favourite toy was a red phone.  I can remember when I was around three, having the radio in one hand and the phone in the other.  Hold that image…”

Finding My Voice is the non-fiction memoir of Sherie Griffiths, founder of the company Savvy Business (recently rebranded as Speak For Yourself).  In it she guides the reader through her past and her present with warmth and a lot of humour.  It’s hard not to feel that you have known her for a long time; her words are as engaging as if you were sitting in her home having a cup of coffee and a casual chat.

Sherie is visually impaired and, naturally, this has somewhat influenced the twists and turns of her life.  But it is clear from her story that she has to an extent become a successful and inspirational businesswoman because of her disability rather than in spite of it.  She admits that her stubborn nature often refuses to allow her to give up or to be held back.  Her determination to succeed is stamped all over her fascinating story.

Savvy Business was founded to provide downloadable audio podcasts on a range of commercial topics.  Today, her company Speak For Yourself has expanded into promoting the use of the spoken word in business and advising companies how to make this more personal approach work for them.  In this book she shares with us “the very personal story of how I’ve been designed to work with audio”.  From a very young age, Sherie was hooked on technology – she owned her own transistor radio while still a toddler in a pushchair – and is still a self-confessed gadget junkie.  Her tour through her addiction for and the development of radio technology from the 1970s to the present day makes for surprisingly enjoyable reading, not least because of Sherie’s passion for her subject.

She isn’t afraid to talk about the struggles she has had to face: having to attend a special boarding school for blind children; coping with being far away from her large family; putting up with bullying from classmates; striking out as the only visually impaired student in a mainstream college; and overcoming heartache at the death of loved ones.  Yet she never once asks for our sympathy.  Somehow she always managed to find a reserve of resilience to keep on plugging away at whatever the latest challenge might be.

Finding My Voice is a self-published book.  I mention this because self-publishing can have a stigma attached to it: surely if a book hasn’t been taken on by a professional publisher then the author is merely releasing a rejected work?  Well, I don’t know if Sherie has considered the traditional route or not, but I’ve been reading more and more recently about the advantages of self-publishing.  You don’t have to worry about finding an agent, or wait for rejection letters, or lose commission on sales, and a writer can have a lot more control over their cover, their publicity, and many other aspects if they are proactive enough.

Of course, an agent and a publisher has a vast range of contacts and marketing resources to draw in a greater number of readers and give you a better chance of success, should you be signed in the first place.  However, the rise of popularity in eBooks in particular enables a self-publishing writer to build an audience and offer a competitive price for their novel.  Choosing this path can also provide instant gratification: seeing your book in print or on the virtual shelves at Amazon must provoke a great sense of pride, however it has come about.

In this instance of course, this particular book is used as a great promotional tool for Sherie’s business, and I would imagine that it’s not necessarily a huge deal if it’s not a bestseller.  The greater benefit is to be had from persuading other businesses to find out more about Speak For Yourself and its owner.  Who wouldn’t want to work with someone who has revealed so much of themselves to you and whose voice you feel that you can trust?

This really is just the bare bones of what self-publishing can offer.  I’m certainly not trying to make an in-depth analysis myself – I don’t know enough about it – I just want to avoid any potential readers being put off by the imagined shame of a self-published book.  I’m not saying this is the best book you’ll ever read, but I’m glad I was introduced to it and I’m glad of the insight it’s given me both into the difficulties faced by a visually impaired person in life and in business, and into the world of audio.

You can find out more about Finding My Voice and buy a copy from here.

Read more about Sherie Griffith’s company Speak For Yourself here or check out her blog.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Barry
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 21:18:22

    An interesting and insightful review exploring not only the book but the author herself and self publishing.

    Reply

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