Monday Musings. 3/8/15

As I currently work in an office in the middle of nowhere, there are not many options for things to do on your lunch break. On my first day, I wandered around the industrial estate nearby in the drizzle and didn’t particularly enjoy it. A middle aged colleague spotted me and gave me quizzical look, which I thought was a bit unfair. She was there too after all. What was her game?

The only other option is to sit in the staff room, which is unreasonably small. As a new guy / the new guy (how long does this last? six weeks?), not many people know me so the disappointment in the air when I stroll in and pull up a seat at the communal table is almost tangible. I can appreciate this and don’t take offence. Of course people prefer being alone or with people they know well at lunch rather than having to make small talk with a man who has been sighted strolling aimlessly around an industrial estate.

I also look like shit this Monday so don’t really want to be seen. I’m unshaven (not in a trendy beard way but in a way that suggests I drank too much over the weekend) and I’ve neglected to iron my shirt. The facial hair isn’t a huge problem but the shirt is. Just a week ago a manager-type gave me a light-hearted / heartbreaking dressing down in front of a couple of other blokes because my shirt was badly creased. I laughed along but the feeling in my stomach was comparable to being last pick in a game of football at school.

So, I’ve decided to stay at my desk and try to do something productive. I haven’t mentioned what I am doing to my boss so it will hopefully be assumed that I am voluntarily working through lunch — something I have never done before in any job. I’ve already sorted my Fantasy Football team — over a week ago, which is arguably a bit too keen — so that’s out of the window. Given that sales of my first novel seem to have plateaued slightly / completely stopped in recent weeks, I’ve decided to write this; the second blog for my rather modest Goodreads page. I find the word blog irritating. It’s an ugly word isn’t it? The word ‘blog’ also makes me think of a nineteen year old girl writing about how their life changed because they went to the full moon party in Thailand.

Over the past weeks and months, I’ve tried various forms of social media to promote my book. I lack experience with social media and I’m almost definitely not very good at it. This does beg the question, can you be good at social media? I would assume that someone who is classed as good at social media / a social media talent, is someone who writes masses of Facebook statuses and is aggressively active on Twitter. Aren’t these people just a bit of a pain in the arse? It’s difficult to find a balance.

Of course, the internet is a great, free tool for someone who wants to sell their book, or wants to sell anything for that matter, so it’s a waste not to use it. But I don’t want to get to the point where pals talk about me behind my back saying how annoying I am on Facebook and how I have turned into a dick since my book came out.

I gave Twitter a go last week with limited success. There is just too much going on — it gives me a headache. I always find myself on the safety net of Football Transfer News anyway, which is unlikely to boost book sales. Trying to promote your book on Twitter is like screaming into an empty abyss. Along with millions upon millions of other authors. I didn’t realize until recently just how many people have written a book. (Loads. Loads of people have written a book.)

It seems that websites about book writing and book promotion take up almost as much space as porn does on the internet. There is a crossover though as many of the books I find promoted on Twitter appear to be porn. There seems to be a huge market for books with sexy titles that have photos of improbably muscular male torsos on the front. These men may or may not be vampires.
 I’m not criticizing as there is clearly an audience for these books. They are just very different to my book so seeking advice / networking (I’m bad at networking) with the authors and the people (women) who read them seems a bit futile.

To be fair, despite our different genres, many of these type of writers have been really friendly and supportive over book discussion groups. Most people are alright to each other over internet discussion groups. There’s always one dickhead that is irrationally angry about almost everything but in general, people do try and help each other out, which is reassuring.

With demand come business opportunities of course. There are legions of people out there offering to promote my book for a fee. (A couple of them have said they would do it for free but after further queries, this is the same kind of ‘free’ as a shell necklace is from a man who interrupts you at dinner in Majorca.) I’ve considered taking a punt with a book marketing man who looks fairly legit but it is a couple of hundred quid. I’m incredibly inconsistent when it comes to money — I see this as a lot and a large gamble yet I have spent the same amount on an average night out in Leeds before. (Not to mention losses on the roulette wheel.) If the guy did turn out to be a cowboy, losing two hundred quid would be shit but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Perhaps it’s the dented pride of getting ripped off that would be worse? Feeling like a gullible idiot is never ideal. This stems from the early teenage days of being approached by Nike-cap wearing rogues asking if they can borrow my phone. It’s not a borrow is it?

Ah shit, that’s the end of my lunch break. I was quite enjoying that. Until next time.

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