The Poet Lorry Park Zeroes In.

I threw a stone cover for AmazonA few years ago I went to a public auction with a friend who was looking for some furniture. Whilst we were waiting for his lot to come up, an enormous quantity of cuddly toys came under the hammer. It seemed that it was the entire contents of a bankrupted shop. The price started somewhere at the edge of the cosmos and came down to something I could afford by raking about amongst the fluff covered boiled sweets in the sofa. Within a few seconds I owned several hundred cuddly giraffes, tortoises and some things that looked like socially disadvantaged wildebeest at the end of a hard day in the stampede.  I applied for a pedlar’s certificate and set out on a career as a door to door salesman. The giraffes and tortoises flew out of my sack. I sold only one wildebeest to a guy spaced out on wacky baccy who thought it was an alien.

Plan B in my retail conquest of the planet was a market stall. That weekend I was at the town tat-fest with my trestle table loaded with cuddly alien cattle. I figured that since the goods were not selling I would offer them at 50 pence each. After lunch I reduced the price to zero but still the poor beasts could find no homes. Then, a fellow trader wandered over and looked at the creatures and declared that they were from a top designer label and that by giving them away, people thought they were junk. Accordingly I increased the price to £5 and added a sign saying “Top Designer Brand”. By dusk, the herd of alien wildebeest had gone. I shared the spoils with a guy who had lent me a truck to transport them and the market stall authorities. There was enough left for a good old fish and chip nosh up and a week’s  caravan holiday. (It rained and the kids were sick). So much for my flirtation with Capitalism.

So it is with some worldly experience that my poetry collection “I Threw A Stone”  is offered for free until the close of play on the 18th December. It is of course a top designer brand. So far I have shifted one copy in the UK and have zoomed up 900,000 places in the charts. Sales are probably not helped by the fact that Amazon UK have removed all but one review apparently on the basis that people liked the book. (One could become quite annoyed about all this but poet karma keeps my thoughts on a higher plane).

Here are the links.

USA: http://amzn.to/QVtsVA

UK: http://amzn.to/TVdUke

Germany: http://amzn.to/U88fVT

France: http://amzn.to/UCmhO3

Italy: http://amzn.to/UCmhO3

Spain: http://amzn.to/Z0jCX3

Japan: http://amzn.to/TV0R2m

Brazil http://bit.ly/U7QshE

There we are then – Roll up! Roll up! There ya go my love, cheap at half the price me old China, perk ya selves up wiv a poem or two. Roll up! Roll up!

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Sock It To Me Babushka.

I grew up in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and the cold war. A common form of conversation in the 1950’s was what would you do in your last four minutes of life. Many young people said “Sex” but I was a bit too young to know what that really meant. Nowadays 4 minutes would just about get me out of my poet’s overalls. The proposition was that 4 minutes was the length of warning we would have of Russian nukes arriving at a town near you. No one knew why they would be launched and we only knew that our boys were ready to do the same to them. I did not know where Russia was. I was very conscious of Cuba in 1962. When I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1977 we had to receive nuclear war training from two instructors who were dubbed “Nuclear Ned” and “Roentgen Ron” who explained to us about shooting starving looters and dealing with the thousands casualties beyond help. It was at about this time I began to wonder if the world controllers were necessarily the best guys for the job. The 1986  film “When the Wind Blows” which looked at Civil Defence in time of attack makes salutary viewing.

So, let us look at the Eurovision song Contest. The Russian entry has been chosen. As I reported to my American readers last week, the UK has chosen Eurobert Humperdinck (75yrs) to represent this Sceptred Isle, this Mother of Parliaments etc. We may as well give up. The Russians have won and for sure have my vote already. At first the choice of a band of grannies in traditional costume singing in Udmurt and (I think) some English may not have seemed calculated to win. However, their performance is so genuine and full of love that it will sweep the board. Check out the clip and at the beginning look at the old lady on the far left. A younger stronger woman next to her has an arm around her and they exchange a glance which is beautiful. It is about friendship and support. Seeing other cultures, their loves,comedies and struggles is the end to War. Ladies and Gentlemen here is Buranovskiye Babushki singing “Party For Everyone”.

I don’t know about you but I found that quite emotional. Look at those socks and remember that we were all going to annihilate each other a few years ago.

At this very moment my collection of poems “I Threw A Stone”  is free on Amazon KDP. Come on guys – just click on it. You do not have to read it. This could be the first time a living poet has got into the charts! It comes with MP3 Audio. Here are the links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

Blow Out Your Kite

I love kites. Just saying the word has made me want to write a poem about kites – not about the fabric but about their embodiment of hope and possibility, about the vision lost in the blinding sun, the futility of fighting Nature on a windless day, the paradox of a thing set free, yet to fly only because it is tethered. So many philosophical  thoughts arise in contemplation of the kite that it is hardly necessary to bother standing in the park, often with a bored child in attendance, running running running and running to launch a dream into the air of nonchalant breeze-less afternoon.

I do go on – but it’s the poet in me. The actual tethered end of the above ethereal paragraph is the subject of my FREE week-end on KDP select. As regular readers will know, I am not very computerate. Also I know nothing about building platforms, operating audio equipment, kite flying and e-pub/marketing. The more I read, the less I know. Writers selflessly give of themselves to help other writers. This aspect of the “community” is almost an antithesis of many aspects of our modern lives. Because I just cannot do all the left right click, hash pipe, salt delete I am grateful to a small outfit who keep me a little bit free to write, THINK and make some money by working. So it was that this morning I went for coffee with Rosina from Gallo-Romano and of course dear old Emma who is to blame for coercing me into this whole new world.

This is what has been happening. Over the past weekend both of us put our books out for free on all the Amazon platforms. Everything was pulled off other sites since Amazon is more or less the whole deal anyway. Emma will do her own take tomorrow for the Insecure Writers but she is happy for me to give her stats. OK – the situation was that we were putting out a collection of poems, a serious short story and a “supermarket” style romance novel. Even for a non worldly duffer poet, this seemed like an intriguing experiment. These are the raw download stats.

Supermarket Romance Novel: 7,600

Literary Short Story(With MP3 audio): 328

Poetry Collection (with MP3 audio): 121

All items were equally tweeted, splashed and splattered, battered and finally tattered. Downloads ran at about one per minute I think. Since the free deal ended, actual sales have continued at one per hour but only for the Romance. On a recent blog line I noted a comment by Jack Durish about so many questions in this whole business and I’m sure Rosina will be looking into her marketing ball. However, the quick snap shot suggests that these figures are in line with tree book shop sales. Although the poetry fared worst, it still reached the highest “chart” position for a living poet. What does that tell you about poetry sales in general and probably the acceptance by the e-reading public of this form? Rosina has a working hypothesis that the current e-read top up is like putting fuel in the tank of your car. You consume it. You do not  periodically take off the cap and sniff its essence. But – it’s all early days as these platforms evolve. I think the adaptation and media consciousness of writers will decide the future as much as the technology.

I will not grind on with analysis, but one odd stat. Emma’s “Sub Prime” was selling equally with the Romance when it was not free. Obviously it’s about the audience demographic…you can tell I’ve been mixing with buzzy bizzy folks can’t you.

Oh – yes  the kite. Somewhere above you there are currents of air. Can you run fast enough and long enough to tow it up to catch them? As you let go more line, the friction and weight of the string create more drag and you have to run faster. Oh – sod it, I’m off to the poet’s cave to write a kite poem.

PS For my non UK readers, an old London song carried the refrain “blow out your kite/from  morn til night/on boiled beef and carrots

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