It isn't just all about quiz shows for me, although they are obviously something that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years. I've played in many quiz competitions over the years, and enjoyed almost all of them, but here are some of the highlights.
Brain Of Mensa
Every year Mensa, the high IQ society, runs a competition called Brain of Mensa. It's a general knowledge quiz competition, and I have to say that it is probably the hardest quiz I have ever played in. I love it. The list of winners is pretty illustrious too - up to 2015 2 Mastermind champions and 2 Brain of Britain Champions were among the previous winners. It's fair to say that when I joined Mensa in 2013, getting to play in and try to win Brain of Mensa was one of the two reasons I wanted to join. Finding out if I would qualify for Mensa was another one.
I joined too late into 2013 to play in that year's competition. I entered for the 2014 competition. If you've never played in the competition itself, one thing that is involved is a lot of travelling. In the first round I travelled into deepest darkest Somerset where one of my opponents was a former winner and serial finalist. I won, and then the semi final involved a trip to Stevenage. I was runner up - and the first two qualified for the final. The final was in Birmingham, and I came third.
I had two responses to this. My first thought was that I didn't think that this was too bad a result for my first attempt. I had wanted to get to the Final, and get a medal, and that's what happened. However, ultimately my ambition was to win, and the first and second place, Steven and Les were so good that I couldn't see myself beating them any time soon.
2015 was a bit of a difficult year for me for many reasons, and so I didn't enter. COme the time to enter in 2016, though, and I thought - what the hell? The plan had been to spend a couple of years working on the weakest areas which had been asked in the 2014 competition, but that idea went the way of all flesh. But the fact was that 2014 had been fun. At the end of the day, you ain't going to win something unless you enter. So I did. First round, I won. Semi final I was against Les again, but at least I made it much more of a contest this time, and who knows, a little bit of luck and maybe I might have scraped a win.
Which is exactly what happened in the final. It was played in the Double Tree Hilton in London Docklands, and what can I say? The questions went my way - and I'm very grateful for it. I'll be honest, after seeing how good you need to be to win in 2014, I thought that it would need at least a decade of trying to win. The great things are that my name is now on the trophy. I may never win it again - let's be honest, I probably won't - but I've done it now. I don't have anything to prove in the competition, and can just enter for the fun of it from now on.
Which is exactly what I did in 2017. It did briefly cross my mind to retire, but why? The fact is that I enjoy the competition, and the pressure from before is really off now since I've won it once. For the first time ever I won a semi final, but it was not to be in the final. After a good start I faded away, but managed to cling onto second. Of course I would have rather won, but at least this meant that I now have a full set of gold, silver and bronze medals.
Left to right - 2016 Gold - 2017 Silver - 2014 Bronze
- Or the proverbial other side of the coin. For well over a decade several of my best quiz mates and I have been trying forlornly to win the Club and Institute Union National Quiz Finals. It's a competition which actually attracts some very fine teams indeed. We've been second twice, third 3 times, 4th a couple of times, and nowhere more than once. We just can't seem to win - our most recent appearance in 2014 resulting in a loss by half of one point.
One of the worst things about it is that we have on several occasions beaten Maesglas from Newport in the Wales and West of England semi final, only for them to win the final!
Winning the CIU is possibly the greatest ambition I have left in quizzing - possibly even more than completing the Mastermind/ Brain of Britain double.
The David Clark Mastermind 2007 Trophy
The Mayday in Melincryddan quiz is an annual event that is incredibly close to my heart for a couple of reasons. It was at this quiz I became a born again quizzer. For some reason the team I played in through the late 80s into 1991 broke up through a combination of illness and a member moving away. I hardly played in 1992, and not at all in 1993. Then, in 1994, my old headteacher - who went on to become Director of Education of Neath and Port Talbot - asked me to play with a team of kids in the quiz. I did, and we won. Then we played again in 1995. We came second, and when I was chatting to the winners they invited me to play for them in the Neath Quiz League. The rest is History.
The other reason is that it was the last quiz that I played in before my 2007 Mastermind final - and after I won the organisers very generously asked if they could name the trophy after me to commemorate my win. Well, I was never going to refuse , was I. I've since become the regular question setter and question master - and long may it continue.
Birmingham Mega Quiz
In one important respect the Mega Quiz is the biggest quiz I've ever played in. We played for about 6 years, and won 4 times in those years. The first time I played there were about 100 teams taking part, in aid of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham's charity, and there were never less than 50 teams. On the best occasions this was a very smoothly run, slick operation, and a really enjoyable evening.
I would suggest that if you don't like quiz leagues, then you're probably reading the wrong website. I love 'em. I shan't go on at length, but these are the leagues I can remember playing in: -
Port Talbot Quiz League c. 1988 - 9 - Played 2 years - won league and cup double
Llandeilo and District League - 1991 - Champions
Neath Quiz League - c. 1995 - 1999 - several times league and cup champions
Morriston Hospitals Quiz League - 1995 - 6 - Champions
South Wales Echo Quiz League - early noughties - after several attempts champions once
Swansea Independent Quiz League - early-mid noughties - twice champs in 3 years - twice cup winners in 3 years - 1 year was a double
Bridgend and District Quiz League - 2011 - 16 6 times cup and league double winners
How Can YOU get onto a TV Quiz show ?
I'll start this section with a word of warning : -
If someone offers you the chance to get on TV if you pay them a certain amount of money - he or she is LYING to you, and the best thing you can do is tell them where to get off. The only person who can get you onto a TV show is you.
I say this , because before the application process for Millionaire was changed a number of decent if naive people were scammed out of their cash by people who claimed they could get them on the show for a consideration.
When people find out that I have appeared on a few shows they often tend to ask me this question - how did you get on the show ? The most difficult part of the process is summoning up the courage to actually fill in and send off the application form, or to fulfill whichever process the application takes.
I’ve appeared on 8 different shows, Come and Have A Go . . . , Eggheads, WWTBAM, Mastermind, Are You An Egghead, Brain Of Britain, Mastermind Champion of Champions and Only Connect – and I appeared in 2 series of Mastermind. I've also failed to get on several shows that I applied for. Each one I've appeared on had a different application process. For example – in Come and Have A Go , you actually qualified by playing along with the previous week’s show interactively. I didn’t, our team captain did, and I was invited to join the team after. So in the case of that show it wasn’t about what you know, it was about who you knew.
Eggheads being another team show, I was invited to join a team, whose captain had filled in an application form. From then we were summoned to interview.
WWTBAM had the most random selection process of all – which simply involved answering a question on the phone, or online, leaving a phone number, and waiting to be rung back. Of course, the more times that you did this, the more chance you had of getting rung back.
Mastermind followed a similar course to Eggheads, of application form ( this time done online ) followed by audition.
"Are You An Egghead" was a little more unconventional. I didn't apply for the whow at first, but the production team at 12 Yard contacted me through the Mastermind people. They asked me to apply, then gave me a phone audition, then gave me a live audition. A bit long and drawn out.
Brain of Britain involved sending for an application form, then doing a phone interview. That was it.
Champion of Champions was slightly different. The main qualification for it was, rather obviously , being a mastermind champion, and that's a qualification I have. So it was all down to being one of the 16 champs invited on the show - and I'm very grateful that I was.
Only Connect involved a team application , with a test to fill in, then an audition. We couldn't all make the same audition, but the production team were very accomodating, and interviewed two of us in Cardiff, and the other in Manchester.
There’s not much advice I can give for this, but here are a few thoughts on the subject, drawn both from my own experience, and also from those of some of my quiz friends.
1) The Things they Don't Tell You
WARNING - this bit is just my own opinion based on my observations of the application process - it is not backed up by concrete facts
Yes, this is just my opinion, but I hope its worth reading just the same. You have to bear in mind that a TV company making a quiz show which uses members of the public is first and foremost trying to make a piece of entertainment. Often they will have very specific criteria for the people they select firstly for audition, and secondly for their show. Everything will be taken into consideration - the way you write about yourself, the way that you talk and the way that you look. Also the particular demographic you belong to.
Diversity matters. The fact is that whether you like it or not the majority of people who apply for shows are
b) Middle class
c) 30 - 50
and this is even more true once you move further towards the most serious end of the quiz show spectrum. So if you do belong within this particular section of Society, then you may find it harder to get on than you may think, even just through sheer weight of numbers.
Not only that, though, but there seems to be a clear line of demarcation between the kind of contestants who do well on serious shows with more prestige, but little or no material gain to be had, and shows with serious prizes or amounts of cash on offer. Or to put it another way, once you have been successful on Mastermind, don't think you're ever going to be offered an audition for In It To Win It, for the sake of argument.
However, we can presume that you're reading this since you've never actually applied to go on a TV show before, in which case its a more level playing field. So lets take the first step, and move on.
Application form ( posted or online )
You're unlikely to get onto any show without filling in one of these. If you can, do your homework. Watch the show- see what it involves, and if possible, try to build up a picture in your mind of what their typical contestant is like.
Please remember this :
DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO LIE ON YOUR FORM ! –
Most if not all application forms have a disclaimer at the bottom which you sign guaranteeing that the information you give is accurate. Deliberately mislead , and you can be disqualified, or worse.
This does not mean that you have to volunteer information that they don’t ask for. But if , for example, the form asks whether you have ever appeared on a TV show before, don’t say that you never appeared on any other show if, for the sake of argument, you’re a former Grand Finalist of 15 to 1. As I have explained, different shows have different rules regarding appearances on other shows. For example : -
* When I appeared on Eggheads they told us that they didn’t really want anyone appearing in a team twice.
*15 to 1 also had a rule that once you had been knocked out you couldn’t come back.
* Up until 1995, Mastermind had a strictly 1 appearance only rule. Thankfully, that only applies to the winner now. In fact, they seemed very interested in the fact that I had been on TV before when I had my first audition, and in 2007 it didn’t count against me the fact that I had lost in the first round only the year before.
Somewhere on your form you will get the chance to sell yourself, via additional information. If you are a very everyday contender with nothing particularly interesting or outstanding about your details, this is where you can stake your claim.
* Think about the most unusual, interesting, or just downright strange thing about yourself, and shove it down.
For example, I always put down the fact that I have five children, as it gives the people who decide who gets an audition something to get their teeth into. If you are lucky enough to have an unusual profession like, for example, a taxidermist , then you’re almost guaranteed to at least get to the audition stage.
Auditions are funny things. I have had eight auditions, 4 carried out face to face, the others over the phone. 6 auditions led to appearences, while 2 were unsuccessful. This comes back to my point about knowing what is expected of you.
The first audition was for Eggheads, and it involved playing a version of the game against 2 other teams. The problem was that it was an audition for the first series, so it had never yet been shown on TV, and we had no idea what the producers were looking for. The show was being sold to us on the basis that the Eggheads were going to be 'the most formidable quiz team in Britain', so we figured that they would want some decent teams on who could give the Eggheads a game. Thus we made the tactical decision to play it straight, and wiped the floor with the other two teams. Bad move. They were both eventually used on the first series, and we weren’t.
At least this meant that for the second audition we knew better than to show too much ability. When asked, we kept stressing that we were a ‘bunch of lads who all used the same local ‘ – true - , and who did a quiz now and again – stretching the truth – and who only wanted a laugh or two and a good day out, whether we won or lost – which was a complete lie, as we were in it for the money. Whatever the case, we got on the show.
When I had my first audition for Mastermind I decided to play an absolutely straight bat with them. I told them about my quiz career to date, and about my other two TV appearances. I also showed that I could compromise over specialist subjects too. Actually, I say compromise, but I really mean capitulate. They rejected all 4 of my original subjects, but I was able to come up with others. If nothing else it showed how much I wanted to get on the show. However I do think that the quiz questions they ask you in the audition must be really important. I’m sure I did really well in this one.
The phone audition for the second go at Mastermind was really just a chat about specialist subjects – which was fine this time, as two of them were subjects for the semi and final the previous year and so had already been agreed upon, and then another 20 questions. My rational half said that they wouldn’t have bothered giving me another interview this year, unless they were going to put me on, since they knew me from the year before. This proved to be right.
"Are You An Egghead ? " was something different. The producers asked the Mastermind people for my phone number. Mastermind rightly refused, but told me 12 yard, the production company were interested. They asked me very niely to apply, then to audition, even though I wasn't what you'd call enthusiastic. So this pretty much told me that I'd get through the audition, and I did. I think there was one quality I had that they were interested in. I'd won Mastermind.
I had a phone audition for an ITV show called Britain's Biggest Brain. I DID put down on my form that I was a former Mastermind champion, but the guy who interviewed me still seemed shocked and surprised when I told him. I thought to myself - we won't be hearing back from this one, Davey boy, and to be fair, we didn't.
I don’t know if this helps at all. I suppose the only real advice you can give is :-
*If you want to be on a show, then you have to actually go through the application process.Grit your teeth, send off for the form, fill it in, then send it back.
*You have to sell yourself, but you cannot afford to lie. Chances are you will get found out if you do.Everybody has something special about them. Its worth spending time and trouble to come up with yours - it doesn't have to have anything to do with quizzing, but at least it will give them an excuse for picking you.
• It really isn’t all that difficult to become a contestant on a TV show if you are determined to do so. Most shows which require contestants will actively encourage you to apply. As someone who has never appeared on TV before you may well be a lot more appealing than you think you are. The most popular shows will actually give you information on how to apply on their websites.
• Conversely though, the more popular that a show is, the more difficult it is to get on. So you must not allow yourself to become too discouraged if you don’t get on the first time that you apply. Persistence is necessary.
• The most important thing to remember is that no one is actually going to ring you up out of the blue and ask you to take part in the show – you have to apply for yourself ! Most people who talk about going on TV never do so, not because they are particularly lacking in required qualities, but simply because they never begin the application process.
Making A Quiz
There comes a time in many quizzers’ lives when we are presented with the opportunity to make our own quiz. We’ve all seen quizzes before, and unless you’re reading the wrong website, then we’ve all played in quizzes before. But how do you actually go about compiling one ? It’s a fair question, since nobody will actually give you lessons on putting one together. Nobody has the oracle on this one - there's more than one way of doing it. With that in mind, I’ve put together a few tips , a 10 step guide to making your own quiz, based on over 10 years experience, which might just help you to make the best quiz you are capable of, and avoid the mistakes many question masters make.
Step 1 - Make sure you're doing this for the right reason
Ask yourself – why am I doing this ? I’m serious about this. You could do a lot worse than spending a few minutes thinking about why you want to make a quiz. I think the answer lies in this fact. Any landlord could easily buy in a ready prepared quiz for very little money. If they have decided not to go down this route, then the reason may well be that they think that home-grown quizzes are generally more enjoyable than the generic quizzes some places buy in. The key word is ‘enjoyable’. You are making a quiz in order to give the participants an evening’s entertainment. Not, I hasten to add, to show off, or to compete as Question Master against the participants. Anyone could sit at their PC for a couple of hours, and find a set of questions hardly anyone could answer. What’s enjoyable about that ? Remember that you’re preparing the quiz for the audience, rather than for yourself, and you’ll at least be setting off on the right foot. If you can provide something for everyone in the evening, then you'll have done a cracking good job.
Step 2 Find out what a 'good' quiz is actually like
Do a little research. You need to know in your heart of hearts what a ‘good’ quiz is actually like. Maybe the venue you will be preparing your quiz for already has a set format you will have to stick to. That’s fair enough, but it still leaves you with a huge amount of choice of the type of questions you can include. Go to as many different quizzes as you can for a couple of weeks, or longer if you can. You’ll start to develop a feeling for what sort of question works well with teams.Remember, you need to know what range of things might be asked in a good quiz - how difficult would the average question need to be - how serious does it all need to be. When you start to think seriously about these questions, and apply them to other people's quizzes, then you'll be well on the way to forming your own set of values about what makes a good quiz. This will be a tremendous help to you if you start to set questions on a regular basis for your local quiz.
Step 3 Work out the broad design of your quiz
Time to start getting practical. Work out the broad design of your quiz. You need to know : - how many rounds will there be ? How many questions will there be in each round ? Will all the rounds be general knowledge, or does each round have its own theme ? What’s the average ability level of the teams like ? Considering questions like this will enable you to arrive at a template, and know how many questions of each different category you’ll actually be looking for when you start gathering your questions.
Step 4 Find your sources and gather your questions
The logical 4th step, then, must be to begin to gather your questions. In my experience you have a wide range of sources available to you as a question master, and you are taking a huge risk if you only use a minimal number of sources for your quiz.
I have nothing against quiz books, and in fact have a large collection of them, and always use several quiz books to help produce any quiz I make. However there’s a lot of dross out there. My current favourites are
Jeremy Beadle’s Miscellany –
the 2 quiz books compiled by Magnus Magnusson –
the Prince of Wales Quiz Book –
Bamber Gascoigne’s Challenging Quiz Book,
On The Tip Of My Tongue.
However I have many others. As a rough rule of thumb, when you’re buying a quiz book, avoid anything that calls itself “The Best . . . “ or any variation on that theme.
Quiz Reference Books
If you’re going to compile quizzes on anything like a regular basis then you can do worse than invest in one of these. The finest of all is “The A – Z of Almost Everything” by Trevor Montague, which is a positive boon to quizzers and question setters. When I started I used to always source a few questions in “The Pears Quiz Companion”. This has been out of print for some time now, but there’s a lot of second hand copies out there. It’s a little out dated, and has some famous inaccuracies, but its still a good fall back source of questions. Apart from anything else, you can use these to verify answers to the questions you have chosen.
If you go to a quiz, and you hear a good question, then if you think it’s a good one, so will other people. So use it in your own quiz. Its all part of the cross pollination that is so much a part of quizzing life.
Serious quizzers do an activity which is commonly known as “doing the papers”. News and current affairs is a valid and common quiz subject, and with a little practice you’ll soon become adept at noticing which news tidbits will make tasty questions.
Basically, anything can become a question. Things you’ll see on the telly, hear on the radio, read in a book, see on the internet will spark off the thought in your head – that would make a good question ! -. Well and good , as long as you check that your source is correct.
You might notice that I have avoided saying ‘make them up out of your head’. You see the problem is that a lot of things that people are certain are correct really aren’t. Until you’ve really developed your question master’s eye, I would strongly advise you to avoid taking this route at all, and even after to only do this sparingly. Above all else, if you do use a question 'out of your head' always always always verify your answer with a reputable source. Believe me, this will save you making a fool of yourself down the line.
As a rough rule of thumb, I would never use less than 5 or 6 different sources for questions for a typical 80 question quiz and often would use more than this.
Step 5 Put your Questions into rounds
So now you have your questions. Congratulations, but the job is not even halfway done yet. Look at your questions, and think about combining them in rounds. Yes, you could always shove them down willy-nilly in any old way you like. If you do that you’re gambling with your quiz. You might by accident get a winning combination. You might also by accident end up with a combination that negates all of your hard work. Do you want all of your hardest questions in your first round ? Not really. Each round, if you can manage it, should have something for everyone. Breadth, and balance. You might not quite achieve this all of the time, but if you actually try to do so you’ll develop a sense of what will work together, and your quizzes will become all the better for it.
Step 6 Write the rounds and questions down carefully
Now you can write your rounds down. This is I believe the most neglected aspect of compiling a quiz, yet its one of the most important. The way you phrase your questions can make an easy question harder, or a hard question easier, or a simple question impossible if you’re not careful. Phrasing a question well is a craft rather than an art, and crafts are something you can learn and then develop your skills in. Read each one of your questions back to yourself. Read it out loud if it helps. Is it absolutely clear what you require for the answer ? Because believe me, if there is any possibility for misunderstanding, then some of your teams are definitely going to misunderstand it. Its not deliberate, but it is a fact – so take care with the way you phrase each one of your questions.
Step 7 Roadtest your questions
Look for an opportunity to roadtest your quiz, and seize the opportunity to do so if you find one. I am fortunate that I can take a set of questions into work a couple of days before I use it at the club. My colleagues aren’t quizzers, so their reactions to the questions will give me a good idea whether my questions are too easy, whether there is anything confusing about them, how well the rounds work together etc. If need be, then I can change questions afterwards. I never make huge changes after this, but on the other hand often when I do this kind of fine tuning it does help me put on a better evening at the club, and that's what its all about.
Step 8 Deliver the quiz, and stay alert to reactions
Now you are actually ready to do your quiz, but your job isn’t over – keep your ears and eyes open, and try to assess how well its going. There are many cues, some subtle and some not so subtle, which can give you invaluable feedback about how well the quiz is going. Take the scores, for instance. If the majority of your teams are scoring less than half marks for each round, then you may have produced an excellent quiz, but I’m afraid that its too hard for that particular audience. Next time, take the level down a notch or two and see if that works better.
A more subtle indicator is the amount of background noise. If a venue becomes too noisy to hear yourself think, then I’m afraid your quiz probably isn’t grabbing everyone’s attention as much as it should. However complete silence is not a good sign either. Ideally you want teams discussing and arguing over the questions.
Be honest with yourself. If it hasn’t gone well, acknowledge it to yourself, and think about how you could have improved it. If its gone well, then be pleased, and again, think about what has worked well, so that you can try to repeat it next time.
Step 9 Be honest and self - apprasie your quiz
Be prepared to put your hands up and accept the flak if it all goes pear-shaped. Being honest with yourself about your quiz will help you improve and hone your skills as a question master. Don’t allow yourself to become so disheartened that you give up. Sometimes a quiz can go down flat for no real reason you can put your finger on. All you can do is try to pinpoint what you could have improved, and do it better next time.
Step 10 Encourage constructive criticism
At the end of the evening, try to encourage constructive criticism from the participants. Unreserved praise is nice, but its not exactly helpful. If someone is nice enough to say that they enjoyed the quiz, encourage them to say what in particular they liked. Most people will be able to make a valid observation. Likewise, negative comments like “It was crap “ are equally pointless, and to be honest, anyone who would actually say this to someone who has made up a quiz for no remuneration except perhaps a couple of pints would deserve to be beaten over the head with The Judith Keppel Quiz Book. Use constructive comments to help you when you come to make your next quiz.
* Nobody has seen or done it all. However long you've been making quizzes, always be prepared to take on board valid points other people may make to you.
* The question master is NOT always right, and a rigid insistence that the answer you have written down is always infallible can lose you respect, especially if you have made a genuine error, but are too proud to admit it.
* Just because you have compiled one successful quiz, do not be misled into thinking that you will be able to make a living from setting quizzes. There are a number of people/organisations out there who are much better established, organised and resourced than you are on your own, and none of them has made a million from it. This is your hobby. Unless you are very lucky, it will not become your business.
I did say in the last section that unless you are very lucky quizzing will remain your hobby – it will not become your business. I stand by that. However, I do still get people asking me about the possibilities of turning this great hobby into a revenue source. Well, in a spirit of honesty, here’s my experience on the subject.
There are several ways you might think you can make money out of quizzing. Let’s examine them in turn.
1) Win Money
Yes, the most spectacular way of making money out of quizzing is winning it. We’ve probably all dreamed about winning the big one on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, for example. Well, I for one can vouch for the fact that it’s not an easy thing to do. In fact winning money on television isn’t easy to do full stop. First of all, you have to get on the show, and believe me, the more successful you are , the less easy it becomes to get through the application process. Even if you get onto a TV show with a cash prize, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to win it. I’ve been on 3 shows with a cash prize. The only time I ever took money home was on Millionaire – and that was after getting the £32,000 question wrong. Don’t get me wrong, £1000 is more than some people have ever made on telly, and I’m not complaining, but it’s a long way from £1 million.
But then, it’s not just about TV quizzes, is it ? There are pub quizzes going on every week, and some of these give cash prizes. Well, that’s true. However , and I don’t know if this is just a local thing in my part of South Wales, the numbers of quizzes giving cash prizes has certainly diminished in the last decade or so. The majority of those you’ll find offer small prizes, of maybe about £20 . There’s no guarantee you can win these either. When a cash prize is involved there’s more likely to be phone cheating going on. Here’s another pessimistic thought too. The more money available as a first prize, the worse the quiz tends to be. Which means that you have to decide what you want to do. Are you going to take a professional attitude, and go to the quiz which you don’t enjoy in the single minded pursuit of the £100 first prize, and have a rotten evening if you don’t win ? Not to worry, anyway. With a decent cash prize, all you need to do is to win it three or four times in a row, and you’ll either be invited not to take part again, or the rules will be changed to stop you winning, or the prize will be dropped.
Winning money in quizzes is very nice, but as a source of unearned income it’s not to be relied on. In fact, it can really get in the way of enjoying your quizzing, which is why you started it in the first place. Look on anything you get for winning quizzes as a nice bonus – that’s the best advice I can give you.
2) Set Quizzes for money
Yeah, it’s not as easy as that, though. If you want to set quizzes – and why wouldn’t you, it’s a lot of fun – then you’ll find someone who’ll let you do it for them. But finding someone who’ll pay you to do it, that’s a different matter. You can’t blame landlords and club stewards. A company like Redtooth has so many clients that they can offer a set of questions for a pittance. You might not like the kind of quizzes they produce, and I certainly don’t, but huge numbers of punters are quite happy to play in them, week in , week out. OK, so there is still a place in the markets for independent setters, but it’s really hard to get your foot in the door without contacts, or reputation. Even with a reputation it’s not an easy thing to do. I do make a little money from doing this from time to time, but only because I know an independent setter, who pays a very fair rate on the occasions when I put together a set of questions for him.
Don’t kid yourself that just because you can occasionally put together 60 questions for your local pub quiz, that you could start to produce questions on an industrial scale. Supposedly you could make money if you set questions for a quiz league. Well, believe me, you’d have to earn every penny, because producing sets of A and B questions every week , with all the answers balanced for fairness and checked for accuracy, is no easy touch at all.
For all that, some people do manage to make money out of setting quizzes, and I take my hat off to them. But I can’t imagine that it’s possible to make significant money without a lot of hard work getting yourself established, and to be honest, a hell of a lot of luck.
3) Other ways
OK, cards on the table. I would not be averse to making some money from my quizzing. Oh the shame of it ! Still , there we are, it’s out in the open now. As a matter of act at the start of August 2011 I made up my mind to see how much money I could make from quizzing – if any – in 12 months. The idea being that I would invest any money I made in premium bonds. My first thought was to sell pub quizzes on ebay. That brought its own problems. For one thing, you can’t expect to sell it for much, because there’s so much competition. Yet you’ve got the cost of printing your quiz, and sending it through the post. If you’re lucky you might break even. That’s no good. So then I came up with the idea of writing a dozen quizzes and handouts, and putting them all on a CDROM. That was better. I also wrote a book of tips on winning quizzes. These meant I was offering a lot more to customers, but the cost to myself was actually less, because there was no printing involved. I also made a commercial website to try to sell the CDs, and offer my services as a question writer and quiz host.
I make no bones about it, I made a big thing on the write up of each about my Mastermind win. Still, numbers sold were very small. So I came up with a plan B. Basically, I took my book of tips and self published it on Kindle. Encouraged, I also wrote three specialist quiz books – The Quiz Show Quiz Book - The Mythology Quiz Book – The Cryptic Quiz Book. Basically, specialist quiz books were a mistake. I enjoyed writing them, and they did sell some copies, but not many. For a few months “Be A Quiz Winner” was by far my best seller. So I had to make some tough decisions. I slashed the price on each of the books to make them as competitive as possible. I also took the CD with the handouts and the 12 quizzes. I removed any picture handouts, and added more quizzes to make it up to 1000 questions. I called it the Pub Quiz Master Quiz Book, and after a slow start it became my best seller.
You can find all of my books on Amazon. If you click on the link below then you’ll be taken to my author page on Amazon. All of my books are competitively priced, and you can do a lot worse than adding them to your collection.