Monday, 13 May 2013

The Top 40

Hi everyone.

Well, it appears that my blog has brought me to the attention of the wider world. My friend Jo Jo has been joking with me that I'm now a celeb, well hardly. So how did I come to be on Nick Ferrrari's show this morning on LBC?

Well it was indeed down to the blog. A few months ago I wrote a piece entitled DIY Dentistry, about how I took my own tooth out due to being fed up with paying excessive dentist fees and also being about to go on holiday and not want to go with the risk of serious toothache whilst away.

Lo and behold, the Express, much maligned by me in the past in this blog, ran a story yesterday about this exact same subject. Researchers for Nick's show googled DIY Dentistry and up popped my blog. They rang me up and the net result was that there I was at 8:30 this morning, telling millions of people across London my tooth removal story.

Sadly I did not get a chance to plug my book, but even so, it just goes to show the power of the internet. Just by writing this, and being out there, I am giving myself a "presence" in the world, and any one of these random ramblings can be picked up by anyone at any time. I'm now advertising my disco business via my blog and also have posted a link to the book on there - with a hit count now at 28,000+ I would be foolish not to. You simply have to maximise your opportunities in this life.

Speaking of the book, many have lamented (or maybe are relieved, lol) that they don't have a Kindle and can't buy the book. Luckily, a paper copy is on the way. I did a lot of research during the weekend into publishing options. Many didn't impress me to be honest - companies preying on the vain (OK, some might say that's me, but even so). These companies encourage you to publish your own shiny book and tell you how wonderful you are until you realise they want £999 to produce 20 copies of your book. I'm sure some do, but it is not for me.

Then I discovered CreateSpace. This is owned by Amazon and effectively allows you to produce a paper copy without putting any money up front. You can then advertise it online through Amazon and they will print on demand, upfront. I have prepared the manuscript and gone through all of the set up process and reached the point where I have asked to have a sample copy sent to me. I do have to pay for this, but only the cost of the book effectively. I have gone for the quickest delivery option I can find, so hopefully this book will be in my hands on Thursday. Somehow, it will all seem more real then.

If I like what I see, I will offer it for sale on Amazon. It will of course cost more, like most paper books. Paper is more expensive than data. The absolute minimum they would let me sell it for was about £7, I've put it up at £9.99 and I'll get £2 royalty per copy on that. The fact that it is on demand suits me fine. We've all heard stories of people who proudly paid thousands to order 500 copies of their book and 3 years later still have 490 of them sitting in the attic!

The Kindle edition is available currently at £2.97, I may run a promotion on it at some point.

Thank-you to all who have bought the book already, I am massively grateful to each and every one of you, and I won't forget it x x

One thing that is very interesting about selling on Amazon is that every product is ranked in various charts that are updated hourly. For example at the weekend after the initial sales flurry I was the #6834 best-selling book on Amazon - it has now slipped back to #20134. More importantly I was in the Top 10 in both the categories I placed the book in when I originally put it on sale which are as follows:

As you can see I have fallen out of the Top 10 now in both categories which is not so good, as when you look in these categories it shows you the 10 at a time, and like anything, if you are not on the first page you are nowhere. How many of you when you do a Google search go on to page 2? Not many, and not often.

I'm a devil for stats as you know, and it got me on to reminiscing about the golden era of the music charts. Back then the Top 40 was the holy grail. If you were #40 in the charts you were someone. At #41 you were no-one. Why?

Come back with me 30 years or so to 1983. Back then, in the pre-internet world, people were nowhere near as clued up about new single releases. Radio stations, including Radio One did not have their finger on the pulse like they do today. You did not get singles being played weeks in advance of release to build up demand. Basically until it got into the Top 40 it was ignored. Even for major bands. Which is why it was incredibly rare for a record to go straight in at No 1 unless it was exceptional circumstances e.g. Band Aid. In fact between 1973 (Slade - Merry Christmas Everybody) and 1980 (The Jam - Going Underground) - there were none at all!

By the 2000s virtually EVERY Number 1 went straight in. The world has changed.

I cannot begin to tell you how HUGE it was when that Jam single went straight in at number 1. I was only 3 when Slade's song came out. I was 10 when the Jam did it. As far as I knew, no single had EVER done this before. I even remember where and when I was. We had just broken up for Easter from school and I was at my Gran's house in Cowley.

I had become obsessed with the charts and every Tuesday lunchtime I would be glued to the "wireless" as Gran called it at 12:45pm. Back then the new chart was not revealed on a Sunday, they had to count the sales by hand so it took until Tuesday lunchtime to get the chart ready. The DJ on lunchtime on Radio One was Paul Burnett, later replaced by Gary Davies. At 12:45pm they would play the records that were Number 5 to number 2 in order, prior to counting down the entire Top 40 and ending with the Number 1 played on the stroke of 1pm.

I used to try and write the whole thing down in an exercise book, but he rattled them off so fast I could only get a few letters of each one and there would invariably be gaps. Often not helped by Gran calling "your fish fingers are ready". She always made me fish fingers and chips when I went there. Any gaps in my book I had to wait until Thursday to fill in when Top Of The Pops came on.

On this particular day I remember the countdown so well. We got to number 2, which was the previous week's number 1 by Fern Kinney. At this point I was convinced that number 1 was going to be "Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel as this had gone up from No 8 to No 4 the previous week and had not been played in the No 5 to No 2 countdown.

So imagine my shock when Burnett counted down to No 6 and Peter Gabriel was No 6! Who could possibly be No 1? Yep, it was the Jam with a single I was not even aware of having been released, which in itself was nothing unusual. Like I said if you were not in the Top 40 you were nowhere. Shops like HMV and the like were in their infancy then, you had only the likes of Woolworths and Boots, and they only ever had the Top 40 on display. But the Jam had a growing legion of fans and together they catapulted the record to the top.

Straight in at Number One

This was an amazing event, I was absolutely astounded and it was the talk on everyone's lips. Seem hard to imagine now, but the charts really were hugely more important then than they are now. Whether that is just down to me or that times have changed, I don't know, maybe a bit of both.

But it just goes to show how hard it was to go straight in at number one. Most records that made the top started their journeys from much lower down and took some weeks to get there. Being in the Top 40 was all important. The difference between No 40 and No 41 was a vast gaping expanse. To give an example. In 1985 there was a number one by Dead Or Alive "You Spin Me Round" that hung around just outside the Top 40 for weeks. Eventually it crawled into the Top 40 in the very bottom rung. From there it went 40 - 19 - 5 - 2 - 1. Being noticed is everything.

And that is the way it is with my book. I realise I am going to have to promote and will have to run promotions on the Kindle book to make sales. I need to be in that Top 10 to get noticed. So I shall keep pushing as much as I can. I am not going to give you a load of overkill on facebook, because I am very aware one can over promote. If I was posting ads to it every day you would be "Oh I'm sick of hearing about this f***ing book". Let's face it, we all get sick of the crap being constantly peddled every day. So I shall be as frugal as possible in my promotion. The next you will hear will probably be when the paper copy becomes available.

I guess the next step after that will be to consider whether or not any shops would stock it. I though about approaching Coles bookstore - after all, they have lots of copies of "Bicester Wuz A Little Town" in there which I believe they were involved in reprinting. I know because I bought one. But one thing at a time, eh?

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