There is a good reason why this blog is appearing on this site and this is about to become clear.
That said, I should probably temper my excitement, but dare-I-say-it, I might have stumbled inadvertently upon a breakthrough in my world of book non-sales.
A Phoenix might have been clutched from the flames in more than one respect. What is the plural of Phoenix btw, anyone? Phoenixes, Phoenixs, Phoeni…
My books have long been an enormous source of frustration. They represent a huge amount of pleasure and ‘achievement’ but with commensurate levels of profound disappointment. Books lovingly written and with each new one I am hopeful of bountiful sales and a rekindled backlist.
But I am not alone. Writers face ever lengthening odds in this digital age.
People are just reading less and on this I defer to the late great Bill Hicks…
“Look at what we’ve got here… we’ve got ourselves a reader.”
Most important in books sales is being able to create online noise which doesn’t suit me, not being a shouty type. It’s a folly, but I do not spend time consistently promoting/selling my books. I have never harnessed the web. My social media following is large but for the wrong reasons. It is the boys I have spawned not my books that people come to me for.
But I am not resigned to this malaise. Moments will catch me and suddenly I am fired up and determined to improve… as happened recently when I decided to embrace TikTok. The platform with billions of people, some of whom must be readers, surely?
And within TikTok, is a new thing called BookTok – the latest way to smash out book sales.
It must be a ‘thing’ if it’s made its way into my consciousness. I need this pronto, so I set out to make my videos because TikTok is all about videos, right?
Er… this is all I know. Amongst the many slurs I receive at home, ‘the bodger’ is one and the most relevant here: a tendency to bomb ahead with zero preparation and generally get things wrong.
As demonstrated perfectly by my assault on TikTok. I don’t have time for research, I have videos to make…
From my wardrobe I grabbed 9 suitable tops, (for 9 books), spent a little time planning what I might say and then hastily, I hit record for an eight-hour session of torture with my IT deficiencies cruelly laid bare.
But resulting with 9 videos all edited and ship-shape. I am relieved and mightily impressed with myself. Finally, I am being pro-active and on the front foot…
Naturally I was excited to share my efforts with Nikki. She watched them quietly and immediately I knew. Unlike her sons, she is not a good enough actor to mask her feelings. She had a volley of questions for me and my spirits plummeted.
‘Dom, what research did you do before you made these?’
‘I mean, have you watched other authors using TikTok?’
‘Why have you filmed them in landscape?’
What’s landscape? (I don’t say this, but I think it)
Our ensuing discussion re all thing’s strategy does not go well. Voices are raised, feelings are hurt. I decide to take Tessa for a walk. She doesn’t need a walk, but I do.
And by the time we return home (no poo), the first Phoenix is emerging. Perhaps to validate herself, Nikki has shared my videos with her boys, and they all agree…
Dad’s videos are awful. Shite. Typical dad, the bodger.
And with this, into the breach steps Paddy Holland who decides that dad needs some younger eyes and much help. Watching the hours of footage (in landscape btw which is incorrect) he spots a glimmer of an opportunity that could become gold.
Over a few days Paddy becomes obsessed. He creates a compilation of his hapless dad – getting it wrong and becoming ever more exasperated.
So, from the embers of my wasted day comes a video which all Hollands agree is brilliant. Hilarious but for all the wrong reasons. Never have I been responsible for such laughter which I had not intended and cannot claim ownership of.
There is some debate whether this video should ever be published since it does not reflect well on its ‘star’. But it will be shared of course because it might just be the Book Tok breakthrough all authors dream of.
The second Phoenix…
But ahead of publishing, I feel a need to qualify it and particularly the anger on show…
It is anger borne out of more than 20 years of accumulated effort and hurt. Many thousands of hours writing for derisory returns. On an hourly rate, not even close to minimum wage, so illegal then and a waste of my time?
Well, no, not really because I have enjoyed this process and don’t get me started on the hope it has provided and its value which is impossible to audit.
But now, with Paddy Holland on board and on-side, plus a canon of books that are worth reading, who knows?
Maybe, just maybe…
BLOG UPDATED SUNDAY 2ND JULY – you can now watch below.
Thanks (I guess) to my youngest Paddy Holland for this video.