Sunday, 16 May 2010

Confidential thoughts

I finally caught up with Julian Temple’s excellent Dr Feelgood documentary, Oil City Confidential, the other night. A few thoughts that arose while I was watching it:
  • That Wilko Johnson is a bit odd, isn’t he?
  • The songs I knew Dr Feelgood for - the chart hits like ‘Milk and alcohol’ and ‘Down at the doctors’ – were actually recorded after Wilko left the band. I never realised that
  • Dr Feelgood were to the early 70s what The Yardbirds were to the early 60s: a shot in the arm for British blues, a shot of pure adrenaline. I wish I’d seen them live at their peak, but it was before my time
  • Did I mention that Wilko Johnson really is quite odd?
  • It’s also odd that no one really followed the Feelgoods’ lead. The accepted wisdom is that the energy and on-stage aggression of the band was a major influence on punk, but I’m not aware of any blues bands who picked up the baton and ran with it. Maybe it’s just that punk was so all-pervading that any potential new young blues bands went down that path instead
Talking about the Feelgoods also gives me a chance to repeat one of my favourite pieces of trivia: that every member of the band had the same name. Bassist John B. Sparkes kept his, drummer John Martin became The Big Figure, guitarist John Wilkinson became Wilko Johnson, and singer Lee Brilleaux’s real name was Lee John Collinson. What’s more, when Wilko left the band, he was replaced by Gypie Mayo, whose real first name was (guess what?) John, and he in turn was replaced by Johnny Guitar. He was eventually replaced by someone called Gordon, and that’s when the rot set in.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Amazon mystery solved!

Good news! I’ve finally worked out how a self-published author (ie me) gets paid by Amazon:

1) Customer buys book through Amazon
2) Amazon notifies a sub-contractor (Bertram Books) of the order
3) Bertram notifies Nielsen (the organisation that issues ISBNs) of the order
4) Nielsen notifies the publisher (ie me) that an order has been received
5) The publisher (ie me) supplies the book to Bertram, who then send it to the purchaser
6) The publisher (ie me) then submits an invoice to Bertram

Simple, isn’t it? Except that it took me several emails to find out about step 6, which is by no means obvious. It seems that the brave new world of self-publishing still has a few kinks that need ironing out.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

In the hot seat

I did my first proper ‘press’ interview today, for a new online arts and culture magazine called The Kaje. It wasn’t remotely stressful, since (there’s no point denying it) I enjoy talking about myself and my writing. Answering questions about my other books did remind me that at some point soon, I’m going to have to get back to my new novel, which I started in the autumn and then put on hold while I set about publishing, and then publicising, First Time I Met The Blues.

Still, the effort is paying off in various small ways. MyWatfordNews, a local free magazine, is going to run a piece about the book next month, and I’ve also been asked to write a first-person piece for Blues In Britain magazine. It all helps.