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  • Writer's pictureMichael Parker

A bucket and spade for me

This time last week, Pat was in hospital and was discharged during the afternoon, which I thought was a bit quick. This Wednesday she was taken back into hospital because the infection was still raging through her body. Thankfully it is now under control and we are expecting her to be discharged either today or tomorrow. She had a CT scan yesterday which helped. At least her brain was clear; something I was worried about because of her stroke last year. But she’s OK now. I phone her four times a day because there are no visitors allowed and virtually nothing for her to do in her single room. I can’t wait to have her back home.

Naturally, Pat’s absence has given me plenty of time to work in the garden pulling up weeds, filling hanging baskets and mowing the lawn. Yesterday afternoon, having already done a bunch of weeding that morning, I decided to watch an SPF podcast. It was Evan Gow of Story Origin, a book promotional group of which I am a member. Naturally, I was keen to see Evan and what he had to tell us, but I fell asleep and only woke when James Blatch was winding up the podcast with Mark Dawson. I decided not to look at it again until later and forced myself to go outside and carry on with the weeding.

My latest read is Cold East by Alex Shaw. It isn’t too bad and basically does “what it says on the tin”. Shaw is a competent writer, successful too, so I can’t say he isn’t well read. But it’s a book that is written for a market. And I think that is one of my failings; I don’t write for the market. I’ve often wondered, although maybe not anymore, why my books are poor competition for other thriller writers that inhabit the genres in which I write. I have no doubts about my ability, never have, but other writers nail it consistently, while I struggle to attract a firm readership. I think the answer lies in the fact that I write by inspiration: I get an idea in my head, maybe from a news item, or perhaps some occurrence in my life that triggers a story. I then research the idea and write the story. This inevitably means I am writing for myself and not the market I’m trying to crack. Is that a lesson learned for me? Has to be, right? So what can I do about it? While I’ve been looking after Pat (eighteen months now), I have struggled to put pen to paper, and now have no inclination to write. The desire hasn’t left me, but the thought of preparing a draft copy and all the research that’s necessary, just leaves me cold. But there is also an underlying reason for that: by attempting to write to a market, I cannot get enthusiastic about a project. It’s almost as if I’m prostituting myself on the altar of market necessity, and that’s ruining whatever story I try to come up with. So well done to Alex Shaw and all his contemporaries; they’ve got it cracked.

I’ve had a little run of success with my Facebook ads programme. I managed to sell 25 books in eleven days. When you consider my average organic sales are about ten a month, that result could put me closer to sixty or seventy. Trouble is that its costing me money. My royalties are slightly lower that my ad spend. But that’s something I have to expect for a while; I simply need to learn more and not fall asleep when I’m watching a training video.

No news yet from Joffe Books. Wish me luck!

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