Well my initial post about book promotion, last month, did at least make some impact, albeit small. The statistics on my Blog show that it received 16 views on the day I posted. About half of these were referred from Twitter – my Blog posts feed directly to my Twitter account. There were also some views prompted by Facebook, which was a surprise as my Blog does not feed there. Perhaps some kind friend mentioned my post on Facebook.
This current post has been put together over at intervals across more than a fortnight. I have hopped between various ideas, and been a bit lacking in focus. Perhaps I could have divided these ideas into a series of posts, but here I am trying to bring some coherence to them. One aspect, I think, of my OCD is that I become bogged down with the detail of enthusiasms as well as worries. Sometimes I will think at great length about an idea for a few days, following which the idea drops out of my thoughts. Another few days later, the thought pops back into my head, with consideration of why it seemed important, and then not important. Asperger’s combined with OCD can lead to a great kaleidoscope of ideas – or equally, just a muddle.
In recent years Europe United, a football book (definitely not an argument against Brexit as I voted for Lexit), published in 2005, has consistently been the most popular of my works on Amazon. On the day that I posted the book promotion piece, I found that my latest print book, The World Cup and International Football 1872-2016, published in May, has recently attained its first sales ranking on Amazon. This means that, two months after its arrival, people had started buying it from Amazon, while there are also copies on Ebay. At the end of July, I posted a couple of pieces to mark the fiftieth anniverary of England winning the 1966 World Cup. These have been followed in August with posts about football at the Olympics, but these have received little interest. On a brighter note, the Word Press statistics tell me that the number of views of my Blog in July were the highest for at least 12 months. As part of this, the last week of July brought the largest number of views in a week for more than two months.
Fifteen Minutes of Fame is my personal favourite book. I suppose the first assumption of many people may be something along the lines of, why is an obscure person claiming to be famous? In practice, the book is a modest account of a modest literary career. There is an element of satire of the celebrity autobiography genre. At the same time I have written a book which I, and some of the people who have read it, value as a piece of comedy, with many tales of my eccentric antics. On the other hand, the blurb also mentions that a central theme of the book is my struggle with Asperger’s and OCD. One of my aims is that one day I will be able to emerge as an advocate in some way for people with Asperger’s. This in turn leads to the issues of somebody with Asperger’s lacking the confidence to project themselves. At the age of 51, I often feel I have not yet settled on a real purpose. As John Lennon once sang, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. That feels so poignant to me, as the lyric is from the song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), which John recorded for his young son Sean, shortly before John was murdered in 1980.
Over the years I have read various web pages offering advice on how authors can promote their work. One suggestion that sticks in my memory is that an author should seek to get potential readers interested in them as a person, growing an audience, rather than just plugging their books. I mostly use Twitter to share, and debate, political news. Other subjects I regularly Tweet about include mental health, football, music, and just random things that interest or amuse. Literature in general, and my books in particular, feature less than might be expected. Perhaps I can find a way to change the emphasis.
I probably use up too many hours on Twitter, when I could be writing, but I do find the debate and interaction fascinating. Being active on Twitter improves my confidence, as my following grows, while I am not afraid to debate big subjects with famous people. The need to keep messages to 140 characters may also help me in getting a point across in a concise manner.
Twitter can become addictive. Some days (too many days) I will spend hours on Twitter. It is a great place to share information, and banter. I have recently taken to posting photos of frogs, seen in the garden, on Twitter. These have amused or interested several people. Unlike many men, I can also multi-task, as I am writing this while also Tweeting – hopping between the two.
My Tweeting has certainly had one noticeable effect recently. I often send Tweets to BBC journalists about news items, and the way in which they are presented on their channel. I rarely get responses but, to her credit, Martine Croxall, a presenter on the BBC News channel, has been willing to enter dialogue. Sometimes Martine is welcoming, other times the responses have been cool. When I suggested that – as somebody with a modest public reputation, and a lot of political knowledge – I could join her on the late night BBC Papers slot, Martine was less than positive. On July 24, at the end of a 10.30 review of the papers, I Tweeted Martine, complaining that the piece had been dull, and featured the BBC’s bias against Jeremy Corbyn. Martine replied, asking what could be done to enliven things. This led to a chain of messages, and banter, that included the two journalists providing the review, Ben Riley-Smith (Torygraph) and Joel Taylor (Metro, freebie paper at railway stations). There was also a guest appearance from some bloke, called Joseph, working at the BBC, whose main interest was arranging to meet Martine for coffee at the BBC canteen (has it improved since it was featured by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four?). I was pleasantly surprised that Martine Croxall began the second paper review with a mention of me by name, saying I had been in contact to request different stories in this 11.30 instalment compared to 10.30, and more “oomph” in the presentation. There appeared to be a (large?) element of sarcasm from Martine, but it was also nice to be recognised. Martine mentioned Tweets from other people who had responded to the earlier instalment, and this piece of interaction improved the latter review. Subsequently Martine Tweeted a link to the papers review on the BBC Iplayer, and mentioned “Oomph”.