Monday, 3 June 2013

Living out a dream

I've been thinking a lot about writing recently, understandably, and I have come to the conclusion that the old adage "write about what you know" is definitely one to follow.

Having published one book, clearly I am thinking about what my future writing possibilities are, if any.

I have toyed with the idea of writing an original novel, or play, as I've previously mentioned, but just find myself absolutely devoid of inspiration when it comes to creating original, fictitious characters. It seems I can only write about what I know - and that is the real world.

I guess the closest I have come to fiction is the mooted sketch show idea I had, as previously reported in the blog entry "The Jason Ayres Television Show", but even those outrageous characters had more than a hint of my own personality in them.

So my sci-fi novel seems destined never to be written. So what will be written? Well a sequel to Fortysomething Father, almost certainly. That will be the next one, but what to do after that? Two books along the same lines are probably OK, but I really ought to think of some original ideas.

All I've got so far are the following (working titles only at this stage, if I can even think of any):

1) The Gourmet Guide To Junk Food.

This is for all the people who are sick to the back teeth of reading constantly about healthy eating and dieting. It seems there is not a single book out there to help the would-be glutton who has had enough of the lettuce brigade getting on his/ her case and would love to read a good honest guide to eating what they actually enjoy. You've already read my thoughts on a number of these subjects, buffets and such like, so I've plenty to work with. It will be full of handy hints and tips such as the one I recently gave you about Ryvita - don't spread the butter on the smooth side, but on the side with the holes so you can get more on. That's if Ryvita was the sort of thing this book would recommend, which is unlikely. Full of ideas for chapters, and themes - the "alternative" Ploughman's lunch is one I have in mind - still I'm not giving all the secrets away here, you'll have to wait for the book for that one.

2) Kebabylon

This is basically a travel style book where I go around Britain eating in all the local greasy spoons, kebab shops, chip shops and anything else I can find. A sort of Palin for fat people. Obviously it would not all be stuff about junk food. There would be bits where I'd grab myself a bag of chips in Skeggy or somewhere and sit out on the sea front waxing lyrical about how the fish and chip trade was boosted by cod out of the North Sea or something or other, in between mouthfuls of fishcake. Main problem with this book idea is the practicality of buggering off travelling for several weeks to write it. It's alright for the likes of Bill Bryson, his kids are grown up. Might have to put this idea on hold for a decade or so.

3) Some sort of horse racing and betting book

I was asked by one of my mates when I published my book what it was, was it a guide to how to win on the horses? Well no it wasn't, but I could certainly write such a book. Then maybe hold to ransom some of the bad sport bookies who have barred me from betting from them. How much will you pay me not to release this book? OK, getting a bit carried away there, but it's certainly something I could write - bit of a specialist audience though. I reckon Daryl and Gary would buy it though, they need it!

Well there are a few ideas anyway. I don't have to worry about anyone nicking them, as I doubt whether anyone could manage to write them in quite the way I could. Which some people seem to like, bizarrely.

How do I know this? Well, a month after launch, it seems that my book is actually starting to be noticed and to sell. It's all quite exciting for me. I really set myself up for a possible fall doing all this, but faint heart ne'er won fair lady, and whilst she is not exactly won yet, she's certainly melting a little bit.

Here's a quick summary of how things have gone to date.

In the first week there was an initial flurry of sales from friends via the blog and facebook. Then it quietened down a bit. I did a free kindle promotion to try and garner some reviews - around 150 were given away. After that sales dropped off a bit. I put the price down to £2 for the Kindle version and launched in paperback.

I also put a review copy into Cole's in town who have agreed to stock it, so if you aren't someone that's into internet shopping, and you want to get a copy, you will soon be able to buy it from there.

Sales dropped off during late May, and I thought, well, that's it, I've given it a good shot, I haven't failed, I did what I set out to do. Then a bad review appeared which I thought would be the nail in the coffin. Up to the end of May I had sold 46 Kindle copies.

Then something remarkable, and unprompted by me happened. Suddenly at the beginning of June, the book started selling. It rose up and up the sales lists until reaching quite high in the rankings, increasing its visibility. In the first 3 days of June, I sold 32 copies. Now this might not sound a lot, but bear in mind, I have no idea who these people are now. It is genuinely selling to the wider world. I can only assume they have read the bad review, decided to look at the "Look Inside" link on the book which allows you to look at the first few chapters, disagreed with the reviewer and decided to buy.

The good run of sales has launched the book up to around #3000 in the overall book sales rankings on Amazon - bearing in mind there are over a million books available I'm quite happy with that. I'm also in the Top 5 in both my categories, these are:

Bearing in mind that there are over 1000 books available in that top category I'm quite amazed. What I am really hoping for now is to get some good reviews from these people who have recently bought, to counter the review left by the last reviewer. Not that her review seems to have done me any harm.

They update these rankings every hour or so and I find it quite exciting to keep checking them to see if I have gone up. It's like following the pop charts as I mentioned the other day. Where do things go from here? Well I hope it's up and I have not peaked. Every time I think the sales may be drying up, suddenly I pick up again. My immediate dream is to make it to #1 in one of my two categories. That would be amazing, though I have some way to go to get there. Those in the top 3 positions are way outselling me, so things would have to pick up dramatically to overhaul them. It will truly be a champagne moment if I get there.

The other good thing about generating plenty of sales is that you start to appear in the listings of other books in the "People who bought this item also bought" section, which means more visibility and more opportunities. Not only that it's leading me towards other books in the same genre, which is helping me, because I am able to see what other similar types of books are out there.

This is like living out a dream for me - I have already exceeded my own expectations, and what happens from here, well anyone's guess. All very exciting as I say, I will keep you posted, and for those of you that have been with me for a long time now, I hope you are enjoying being along for the ride as much as I am - I know I have said it before, but without your belief in me and support, I simply would never have got this far.

All I can say to anyone is, never be afraid to chase a dream, because of the risk of failure or ridicule. Another old adage springs to mind "You've got to be in it, to win it".

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