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A new column may mean I won’t have to streak for You Tube

I do like the song Living on a Prayer. During my teenage years, it was the school disco song of choice, the boys playing air guitar, the girls quietly swooning over Jon Bon Jovi’s long frizzy locks, such were the days before GHDs. Ah, the good old 1980s. These were also the days before  the internet, the days when mobile phones resembled bricks, computer games consisted of Pac Man and a Sinclair ZX you had to program yourself, and You Tube was  a term the  neighbour two doors down used when you overheard her  gassing to your mum over the fence about “women’s things”.

The reason I bring this up isn’t necessarily because I have a hankering after bad perms and Wham Bars (those things crackled in your mouth!), but rather because I am contemplating the next step for my book promotion.  I blame it all on a lad called City Boy. Well, he’s not exactly a lad, he’s a former banker working in the City – and he’s written a bestselling book or two.  Now, I know a bit about promotion, but this man, he’s gone to a whole new level.  After reading a promo article by City Boy (real name: Geraint Anderson) I open up his website (www.cityboy.biz) and take a look at the things he’s done to get himself out there. My hubbie walks by just as I click on City Boy’s You Tube video.  He peers at the screen. ‘Is that..? Is that his..? Is that man running down the hill naked?’ I nod. My husband looks again. ‘But…why?’ I look at the laptop with him. City Boy is still running, now into a crowd. ‘It’s to promote his book!’ I cry.  Then, feeling I should qualify things, I add, ‘He’s at a festival. He’s streaking at a festival.’ ‘Oh, right, yeah,’ says my hubbie, as if that explains everything, and off he goes, slightly bewildered, slightly scarred. I go back to the video some days later. The content has been blocked by EMI due to copyright. Ah.

Clicking through to another City Boy clip, this time a skit to do with Johnny Depp, I sit back and have a think. My book sales are doing reasonably okay at the moment, but, after the initial push and coverage, things have gone a bit quiet.  There is the great opportunity of writing a regular column for our local paper, but I’m awaiting confirmation, so I can’t count my chickens (or is it eggs?).  So, what I need is a big boost. What I need is You Tube. I pitch the idea to several people, with various responses. ‘You’re not going to streak are you?’ says hubbie. ‘You’re mad,’ says a friend.  ‘Whooooa! Can we be on it?’ shout the kids. Hmmm.  To be honest, the whole thing does make me quite nervous. What would I do? How would I do it? How do I set a You Tube account up? Oh holy lord. After a bit of investigation, turns out, setting the whole thing up is pretty straightforward. You register, set up an account, choose a name that will appear to viewers, and you’re away. All you need to do next is make a video, upload it and pray to God that you don’t look an utter muppet. To the world. So no pressure, then.

And so to ideas. My lovely hubbie says he can video something on his iPad and talked about various ideas, including having our youngest play her guitar (as my book has guitar in the title…), and while that’s all great, I’m not so sure about having the kids in it, plus, to be honest, I’ve always had a few videos playing out in my head. One scenario, which has been in my head since my first job in marketing back in 1997, is set to Lionel Ritchie’s number, Celebration, where the whole marketing department, including the Director, get up on their desks in various dancing poses, singing into their pens and Filofaxes. Clearly, I either had a lot of spare time on my hands back then, or I was so bored I had to do what I could to make it sparkle. Whichever way, it was a daydream that fired many another over the years, many of which included big show songs and people singing into the camera whilst carrying about their regular tasks, such as vacuuming, teaching, scrubbing the loo or skydiving. Well, okay, maybe not sky diving.

Colouring book and felt tips out, I start to sketch some ideas of what the video could look like to which song. My brain is buzzing, and I don’t know whether it’s from the 3 espressos I downed or from the scary reality that I really might do this You Tube thingymajig. My hubbie walks by and stops to view my artwork. ‘Is that a toilet?’ ‘No,’ I reply, wounded, ‘it’s a car.’ ‘Oh.’ Just then, my Blackberry flashes. I pick it up and check my emails. ‘Oh my goodness!’ ‘What is it?’ asks hubbie. ‘It’s the Editor of the local paper, the Gazette. They want me to write a column for them. I’ve got to meet them on Monday.’  My hubbie gives me a hug. ‘Well done, honey. Proud of you.’  Then, pausing,  he adds: ‘At least now you won’t have to streak for You Tube.’ And with that, he goes downstairs. I return to my felt tips and stare at the page. Slowly, things are beginning to happen for me. I’ve been writing for years and years, and now, just maybe, I might have a stab at it. I pick up a brown crayon and scribble Jon Bon Jovi’s hair. I take a deep breath. Nope, still can’t quite get my head round all that frizz.

A newspaper photo shoot ends up in a toe de-fluff

It’s been a bizarre week. After the hubby pointing out that, given my own marketing background I should get and do the publicity for my own book, I begin to email out a whole heap of press releases  to various media outlets.

Contacting them starts with calling the news desk numbers. And it turns out that’s quite a nerve-wracking thing to do. Keen to get the name of the right person to send the press release to, I pick up the phone ready to speak, and immediately put it down again, hands shaking. ‘Breathe,’ I tell myself.  This is daft. Given my book has a Gloucestershire connection, I have decided to start with the local papers first, and my heart is racing. ‘God help you when you contact the nationals,’ pipes up my hubbie, toast in mouth as he passes by the study. I tut. He has a point. Actually, I chastise him, but I have to admit he’s been a great help – he has spoken to his contact at Radio Gloucestershire and turns out they’re very interested in running a story about the book. ‘I could kiss you!’ I shriek when he calls one morning with the good news. ‘It’s not come to that has it?’ he replies. He has a point. But at the very least my two daughters are excited – it’s quite sweet. ‘Mum’s going to be famous!’ they yelp, jumping, knocking over their lunch boxes. ‘Mum’s going to be famous!’ I sigh. ‘Not really,’ I tell them. ‘Mum, we’re so proud of you!’  they say. Aaah. ‘ We’re telling the teachers!’  shouts the eldest. Oh dear God.

Come the afternoon, I’ve taken several deep breaths, called the news desks and finally sent out the press releases with accompanying photographs (1 potrait, 1 landscape is best, according to my friend, Press Chris). So far so good. Realising it’s nearly school-run time, I am shoving on my Converse and jacket, when my mobile shrills. ‘Hi,’ says an Irish voice. ‘Is that Nikki?’ My heart bangs ten to the dozen. ‘Yes,’ I croak. ‘It’s the Gloucestershire Citizen Newspaper,’ they say. ‘We’d like to arrange a photo call for your story tomorrow.’ Oh holy Lord. After quickly stemming the instant need to vomit, I arrange a time and date for the next day. ‘Oh, and can you bring your Kindle for the shot?” she asks.  Oh heck. I do not own a Kindle yet, but have asked for one for my birthday. So I do what I know I only can. I lie, sort of.  ‘Um, that might be tricky, because, um, it’s being…um…fixed,’  I say. There is silence. Then, yes! I remember my friend, Jo, owns one, and she only lives round the corner.  Result. ‘But I can get one!’ I say, triumphant. ‘Great!’ she replies.  ‘Bye.’ And with that, she’s gone. I text Jo, fast.

Dazed, somewhat elated and now late,  I sprint to school (turns out it literally is the school-run), and am breathless on arrival, when the Citizen girl phones again. ‘Can you get Stuart to be in the shot?’ she asks. This is Stuart Langworthy, my hubbie’s teacher who inspired the book. I try not to scare her by heavy breathing into the phone. ‘Sure,’ I say, ‘no problem.’ This turns out to be a bit tricky, as of course Stuart being a teacher, is teaching. But, bless him, he’s up for it and after a few calls and rearranging, first one venue, then the other, we have a time of 10am for the next day at his school for the shoot. It’s the same school my husband went to, the same school Simon Pegg attended, the same school Stuart’s always taught at.

That night, it’s a case of figuring out what to wear. ‘Mum,’ says the eldest, eyes narrowed at a blouse hanging up, ‘that’s okay. But make sure you don’t go too old lady.’ Then she’s off, head in book, her job done. I sigh, peer into the mirror  and pull at the wrinkles around my eyes. Make up. I’m going to need make up.

Thankfully, the photographer who meets us the next day is a nice guy. ‘I know your husband,’ he says as he sets up the room for the shot. ‘Most people do,’ I say, sighing.  The photographer is keen to get the Kindle, containing my book cover, into shot , but something’s wrong and it’s not playing ball. Last night, me and my friend Jo, whilst she was teaching me how to use it, actually deleted the book by accident. Oops. On top of the cover crisis, the photographer is actually two hours late – the Citizen girl forgot to tell him of the new time and venue we arranged, so things (i.e. me) are a bit fraught. But no matter. I stand, I smile, I hold up my friend’s Kindle, the Amazon page it’s sold on projected on to the screen behind me. When I am asked questions, I hear my voice shaking, but thankfully, no one seems to notice. Stuart is lovely, the photographer is kind and my friend Emma, who was also taught by Stuart, has turned up ready for lunch. ‘You off to work now?’ asks Stuart, once the shoot’s over. I shake my head. ‘Shopping,’ I say. ‘Ah, a bit of retail therapy,’ he replies. Hmm, yes. Therapy, I think. Therapy would be good.

That night, I am getting my youngest daughter ready for bed as she asks me about my day. I tell her about the photographer and the newspaper, and she beams a smile at me. Bless her. ‘Off you go and clean your teeth now,’ I say, as I nip down stairs. Two minutes later, she is calling me from her room. ‘Yes?’ I say, coming back up. ‘Mum,’ she says, sat on the floor, feet out, ‘since you did so well today, I have a present for you.’ She wriggles her feet. ‘You can clean out the fluff from my toes!’  she announces. I smile and kneel down.  ‘Oh honey,’ I say. This is a first. Removing fluff from her toes is her favourite thing. This is a Big Deal. ‘Thank you, sweetie,’ I say.  And then, giving her a hug,  I begin to de-fluff  her toes. Now this is therapy.

Feeling the need to sell myself, I ended up apologising for any bad reads

Oh my goodness. It is 8pm on a Tuesday evening and I never realised publicising my new book would end up taking over my life. And it has. I am now obsessed with getting the word out. As I sit here, I can feel the skin around my eyes shrivelling from too much staring at the screen. I need a shower, I am hungry, but I cannot stop plugging this book.

Most of today, in between work and trying to write book #2, I have spent on-line trying to drum up support and sales. Oh my days. Twitter has been the main source of my focus. Today, my bright idea was to draw up a list of as many celebrities in the writing, journalism and book world that I could think of in order to tweet each of them. The tweet consisted of: a) I’m a new writer; b) would you read my new book; and c) if you like it, can you tell people. There was a link too, directing them to my Amazon page. I think I may have clogged up everyone’s feed at around 12 noon.

It feels quite strange bombarding everyone in this way. I may be Irish, but I have a strong steel spine of British reserve to which selling myself does not fit up against. One of the mum’s outside the school gates the other day said she had downloaded my book and was looking forward to reading it. So I started saying, ‘Oh crikey, I hope you like it, and if you don’t, I’m sorry.’  At which point my close friend told me off. ‘What are you doing,’ she said, tutting. ‘You have to sell it! If some says, I have downloaded your book, say, great, you’re going to love it. See?’ I nodded. I had a lot to learn.

‘Hey,’ said another mum on my way to the car. ‘Guess what? Downloaded that book today!’ I smiled. ‘Great!’  I said. Then: ‘I hope you like it…Sorry if…I mean, if it’s not your cup of tea!’  Hmm. I’ve not quite got the hang of this.