They say that you feel most alive at times of great stress and danger. Such as putting on a book promotion event. I sure feel alive today. The Edinburgh Book event at the Serenity Café is only two days away and I don’t know whether to ‘kill myself or have a cup of coffee’ (thanks Albert Camus, I knew that quote would come in handy one day). The little light-bulb moment when I thought ‘I’m bored, so I’ll try writing a book’ seems awfully long ago now. And awfully innocent.
Poetry Changes Lives was written mainly for self-amusement and self-education and I didn’t give much thought to whether poetry really could or would change my life. But it has done so. The book has also acquired a life of its own.
Nobody had told me that writing a book is nowadays the easy part. So easy in fact that there are thought to be nearly nine million self-published books floating around on Amazon but very few are read because nobody notices. The trick today is to get your book noticed. How to do this?
If I knew the answer to that I would be rich and famous. I probably wouldn’t tell you either. But I do now see that, unless you are very well connected or very lucky, it takes a lot of hard graft. And education too.
Marketing books today is not about giving people what they want or desire, it is about making them believe that they want what you have. Marketing today is about manipulation; social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are vital tools but they require a scientific approach based on data analysis – the likes of Google Analytics and Adwords are crucial for success or failure. This much I know.
So here I am on the marketing treadmill: a tiny book event in London, a rather big book event in Amsterdam, a smaller but very constructive event in Liverpool; learning new angles all the time. And now a big, big one – the Edinburgh event, with support from my friend Maryam Ghaffari, the talented producer of the Edinburgh Got Soul Choir. It has to be big. It will be big. It must not flop! Hence my Camus moment.
Good news is coming though – on Sunday I was featured in an article in the Sunday Post and the Edinburgh event was mentioned on BBC Radio 6 by Shaun Keaveny – he even composed his own wee poem! And people are accepting invitations to come. So it’s looking good…
One thing I do know for sure though is that poetry has changed my life, and it has been the most amazing experience. May it continue long after this is but a happy memory (oh yes it will be!). And a big thanks to all those who are helping me so much on the journey – Manuela, Stephanie, Rupert, Annabel, Alex, Johnnie, Maryam and many others – including Shaun Keaveny!
There’s just time for a cup of coffee with Albert.