By Chris Burn
They say you feel most alive at times of great stress and danger. Such as putting on a book promotion event. I sure feel alive today. The Edinburgh Book event at the Serenity Café is imminent and I don’t know whether to “kill myself or have a cup of coffee” (thanks Albert Camus, I knew that quote would come in handy one day).
The light-bulb moment when I thought “I’m bored. I’ll try writing a book” seems awfully long ago now.
Poetry Changes Lives was written mainly for self-amusement and self-education and I didn’t give much thought to whether poetry really could change my life. But it has done so. The book has also acquired a life of its own.
Nobody told me that writing a book would be the easy part. So easy, in fact, that there are thought to be nearly nine million self-published books floating around on Amazon. But very few are read because nobody notices.
The trick is to get your book noticed. But how?
If I knew the answer to this, I would be rich and famous. I probably wouldn’t tell you either. But I do now see that, unless you are well connected or very lucky, it takes a lot of hard graft. And constant learning.
Selling books is not about giving people what they want. It’s about making them believe that you have what they want.
So here I am on the marketing treadmill: a tiny book event in London; a rather big book event in Amsterdam; a smaller but very constructive event in Liverpool; learning new angles all the time. And now a big, big one – the Edinburgh event, with support from my friend Maryam Ghaffari, the talented producer of the Edinburgh Got Soul Choir. It has to be big. It will be big. It must not flop! Hence my Camus moment.
Good news is coming though – on Sunday I was featured in an article in the Sunday Post and the Edinburgh event was mentioned on BBC Radio 6 by Shaun Keaveny – he even composed his own wee poem! And people are accepting invitations to come. So it’s looking good…
One thing I do know for sure though is that poetry has changed my life, and it’s been the most amazing experience. May it continue long after this is but a happy memory (oh yes, it will be!). And a big thanks to all those who are helping me on the journey – Manuela, Stephanie, Rupert, Annabel, Alex, Johnnie, Maryam and many others – including Shaun Keaveny !
There’s just time for a cup of coffee with Albert.
Photo: Albert Camus with rollup.