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Friday 20 November 2015

The unsell

Tone Deaf has just passed 100,000 pageviews. Please don't depress me by saying you've racked up thousands more; I‘ll say you got there by courting populism.

Years ago Lucy did depress me (but for my own good, you understand) by telling me I should ignore my pageviews. That they are primarily a measure of intrusive systems seeking to discover the blogging equivalent of my toilet habits. Crow said figures get inflated if I accidentally mention the title of a set-book in the current year's eng. lit. exams.

I'm sure they're both right. All I can say is that the highest numbers of pageviews-per-post seem related to the highest comments-per-post. And comments are at least verifiable.

Natalie urges me to stir my stumps and promote my fiction more energetically. I do so want to be read - who doesn't? - but I approach promotion in diver's boots. It's not that I can't sell; I've personally sold magazine subscriptions to teachers in Indiana, charming ten bucks out of ‘em with my accent, however unlikely that sounds. Selling my fiction should be like selling myself, as when speaking to someone for the first time.

But it isn't. What can I say? Here's a book I enjoyed writing - I've no idea whether you'll enjoy reading it. Or: read this book, no charge, because you'll make me happy. Or: take this book, no charge, just pretend you'll read it. Or: this is my book, that’s my fist; it’s one or the other.

There’s status in writing a novel; not much, but it’s a task most people don’t do. Like going over Niagara in a barrel.  Promotion is the price an author pays for that status. That and the agony.  Some would say it’s a bum deal.


  1. Having just gone back to teaching for a short while. I have found that telling youngsters that 'I am a writer.' is great fun; plus, they take such little notice that I can do it as often as I want. When in the company of adults though, I find myself more cautious, I almost have to plan the announcement; and then announce the announcement to Mr B2 when I get home.

  2. This is probably an opportune time, RR, to do something I’ve been thinking about for some time now, which is simply to let you know that I’m out here, regularly visiting and enjoying your posts and others’ comments. But because a few years ago I banned my ego from interacting with anyone online, this is the one and only time you’ll hear from me. Well, until you hit 200,000 pageviews, maybe. In the meantime, congratulations and thanks.

  3. Blonde Two: Much as I adore you (albeit through the wrong end of a telescope, as it were) it is meet that we should never... well... meet. In celestial terms you are the sun and I am the dark side of the moon; you have been put on this earth to radiate, I at best to smoulder; you to utter the plangencies of Jeremiah Clarke's trumpet concerto, I to do the cello's growly bits in Op. 135. You are optimism, I (on a good day with a fair wind) am a sceptic. You encourage life I frequently question its validity. In fiction we would be yin and yang, in reality we are yon and yeng. I can say no more.

    FigMince: Ah, Jacques's sombre voice deep out of Arden; the atypical Oz who could have taught a university course on disenchantment, purveyor of creative gloom, musical (as I recall) but always in love with minor keys, a man seared and burnt by the exigencies of advertising. I miss you a lot and in the end I may have understood you.

    Late in the day I visited your blog. The many photos revealed you lived in a sort of paradise that wasn't quite suburban nor quite rural. In real life contentment must have pressed down like a burden and for a while you were able to compensate by contributing to Tone Deaf (Works Well too, I seem to remember) in a highly individualistic tone of voice. I am glad to have offered this facility; I hope it relieved what the French call the amertume.

    I'd beg you to make your eruptions more frequent but I know it would be futile. I am honoured - there is no other word! - that you occasionally read me. I can do no better than to wrap up this re-comment with Et in Arcadia ego.

  4. Well, at least, with selling via Kindle, you don't have to sit in cold book shop promotions grinning at purchasers of your book when they queue up to get your hallowed autograph in it. Although perhaps you might enjoy the experience?

  5. Avus: The signing process is for the lucky ones. It presumes the book has been accepted and published commercially and has already had some exposure through book reviews and/or at literary festivals. I have made use of the system (as a buyer) several times at the Hay Festival.

  6. I know nothing about promoting ones writing but I know about counting. There were times when I needed to count money in order to stay within budget limits and times when I counted cigarettes to rid myself of smoking habit. I avoid being depressed and therefore don't count viewers. I count my blessings though. blablabla just to let you know I was here.