Archive for January, 2008

Curate’s egg

A large parcel arrived yesterday – so I now have some stock of my book. Off I went this morning to visit a couple of local book stores. The first was encouraging: they took three copies, on sale-or-return, and the A4 point-of-sale poster that I designed. This emphasises that I am a Local Author. They were anxious to know if I would be getting any publicity, and I was able to tell them of coverage in two local papers, as well as the website and blog. They obviously found this reassuring. I asked if they would be interested in a ‘signing’ session, but they said these were not worthwhile in their experience.

The second bookstore – well, it’s more of a general newsagents really – took a desultory look at the book and said no, they didn’t think it was their sort of thing. Fair enough. One out of two is not bad, I suppose.

I also called on the Tourist Information Office. They weren’t prepared to display the book, but gave me a list of local organisations that might be approached with the offer of a talk.

There’s a long way to go . . .

A paradox

It’s an odd thing: the British Council (currently under attack in Russia) gets £189 million from the government for ‘promoting British culture in overseas countries’. At the same time, the Arts Council is proposing to withdraw funding from dozens of theatres up and down the country – notably, in my area, the Bristol Old Vic and the Northcott Theatre in Exeter. Yet surely British theatre is one of the things we are most envied for, and have most cause to be proud of?

Talk about killing, or at least paralysing, the goose that lays the golden eggs. . .

Looking up . . .

Feeling brighter today. A copy of my book (at present the only copy in the world, I think) arrived in the post, so I can actually believe in its existence at last. (More copies are being printed as I write). And today a local paper rang up and asked for an interview. Another confirmed that they are running the story as written in my press release. Many friends have written, promising to buy a copy. So perhaps I was despondent too soon.

Had a discussion on religion today – with a friend of whom I am very fond, though we are at opposite poles. She examines everything from a position of Belief, and will bend whatever she hears or reads to make it conform with that belief. I start from a position of Scepticism, based on a suspicion that Man created God in his own image rather than the other way round. Still, I try to keep an open mind, and I enjoy our debates.

Enough philosophy for today, I think.

A dull thud!

I sent out a load of press releases on Monday, announcing the publication of my book to a waiting world. The result? Zilch.

Having worked in PR for many years, I thought I knew how to put a release together; what to put in, what to leave out. I had expected the local media, at least, to take an interest in a septuagenarian author living in the area, publishing his first book – with an exotic background. But so far, nothing. No excited young reporter, anxious for more information. No invitation to a radio interview. Of course, it’s just possible the release was so good it told them all they needed to know, and they’ll run the story anyway. We shall see!

Perhaps (in spite of my name meaning ‘salesman’) I am not very good at selling myself. My innate modesty has probably held back my acting career, too – though I was a late starter, anyway. Still, if I may say so, I have had some success . . .

Next week I shall start the rounds of the local bookstores. Watch this space!

Cover story

Acting on advice given in a comment on my last post, I have sent out press releases to what I think are the appropriate publications. My wife thought I was through with the book when the writing was finished; in fact, now the hard work really begins …

Having written about the book, I thought I ought to try incorporating a picture of the cover. I am rather proud of having designed this cover myself. The background is a photo I took in Kuala Lumpur in 2004. It is the old railway station.

My book cover

A Fresh Start

This is my first post on WordPress, having moved my blog over from Blogger.

I am now in a strange limbo: my book –“Playing the Empire – A Dancer’s Life” – has been published, but as yet I have not received my copies from the printer. It is listed in the USA, on, but not yet in the UK on So I feel I can’t yet launch my marketing campaign. Still, only a few days now, I hope . . .

Someone asked who my book is aimed at. I suppose, like most biographies, it will appeal particularly to the older generation – to those who still have some nostalgic recollection of, or feeling for, the first half of the Twentieth Century, and perhaps to some who lived and worked in overseas territories. But, insofar as it tells the story of a remarkably courageous young woman (I guess she would be called ‘feisty’ today), I would hope it might interest younger people as well. Time will tell.

Big Day

Christmas and New Year’s gone, and already we are well into 2008. But today is a big day for me: my book, on which I have laboured for the past six months, has finally gone to the printers and, technically, is published today – though it’ll be a few more days before it can be ordered on line, either as a hard copy or as an e-book.

It’s a biography – of a woman who was born in 1903 and died in 2004 and who, as a dancer, performed all over India and the Far East in the Twenties and Thirties. It’s title is Playing the Empire and it is, in a way, the story of the last years of what we once called the British Empire.

You can read more about it on

My book cover

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