Monday, August 14, 2006

Promoting the book

As a columnist you have to suffer the slings and arrows of attacks from outrageous bloggers. ‘Nervously_waiting’ has accused me of being a tad obsessive about maintaining authority over my writing. I’ll be absolutely up-front, in this aspect of my life I’m a fully paid-up, 100%, anally retentive control freak. But pray dear reader consider the following mitigating circumstances that have contributed towards this horrendous affliction:
  • Most articles or book proposals disappear into the ether without even a cursory ‘thanks, but no thanks’
  • You get a standard rejection letter that prompts the reaction, ‘have they actually read it?’
  • They print your article as a “letter” ie, you don’t get paid for it
  • Some faceless editor hacks it to bits and leaves out key phrases and ideas
  • They take ages to pay up and only respond to a threatening letter
  • You get a gushing reply, “super, wonderful piece, must include it”, you wait, and wait… and wait, finally in response they admit they can’t remember the piece anyway
  • Then there’s the magazine that will remain nameless, that printed an excerpt, used my real name and didn’t even mention How Not To Teach…

Yes, editors and publishers they really xxxx you up.

The hardest part of writing is being your own critic, developing your own style, what works for you, is it any good? I’ll return to that in another blog.

I’ve read some advice about promoting books and one salient point is not to peak too early, the most important work is around the launch date, but I’m still trying to prepare for the day. I’ve had some business cards printed with the details of the book to hand out to family, friends and acquaintances.

My wife gave some out in her local playgroup, but they couldn’t quite get their heads round the anonymity bit, who the hell was ‘Mr Read’ and was she having an affair with him?

In the summer holidays I’m also going to visit some bookshops in the area with the Continuum rep. On the internet I’ve got pieces on the

Socialist Teachers Alliance and Indymedia web sites. I’m still debating whether to set up a web site to promote the book, any ideas?

‘Nervously_waiting’ also advises me to be ‘grateful’ that I’ve managed to get a book published. Grateful? I’m sure that when writing was first discovered 5,000 years ago during the Indus civilisation there was an editorial committee, on one side were the idealists who recognised that it was a tremendous breakthrough for humanity, would raise the cultural level and promote ideas and intellectual enquiry.

Lurking in the shadows there would be a budding Rupert Murdoch calculating the glass beads he could make and if only they would spice it up a bit with some drawings of scantily clad slave girl. No prizes for guessing which side won, or what today’s deals tell us about the publishing industry – Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle’s £350,000 contract and Wayne Rooney’s £12 million over 5 years. Let’s not get all sentimental. Like every other industry, the bottom line is the bottom line.

Promoting a book like How Not To Teach is tough. I had an e-mail from a leading education charity that said they were considering offering the book as one of the prizes in an online competition, a few days later I received another e-mail that basically said, “I’ve asked the bosses about this and er… we don’t want to offend our sponsors, can we read it first?”

Great, so Ofsted rampage through schools and without over-dramatising I know of instances of nervous breakdowns, failed marriages and forced early retirement, but when a teacher writes a “controversial” book everyone is running for cover. Maybe it just confirmed my opinion about charities.

On a more positive note How Not To Teach is also available in America and Australia, wonder if Continuum would consider a tour out there?


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