Archive for November, 2011

Marketing Days

This week I have emailed those of my readers with whom I am in email contact, alerting them to the existence of The Days of Fontwell.  Interestingly the majority of responses say they will buy the book at the course. 

One of the local history respondents has already bought a couple.  She is working on a piece about Fontwell based on researching tithe maps in the area.  I am reminded that I never found out who owned the land before Alfred Day’s immediate predecessor.   I had assumed it was the church authorities, with tenant farmers occupying it for centuries.  That was one of the lines of enquiry there simply isn’t enough time to investigate – one of the perils of working to a deadline.

As for other previous customers, I will be writing to them this week.

There’s nothing new to report on the Bath front.  I live in hope that my ears didn’t deceive me at Kempton last week when a national newspaper racing journalist said he would mention it in his Christmas book review.  Sometimes one hears what one wants to hear!  I will keep a lookout, but I have visions of me haunting WH Smith’s newspaper section each day flicking through the sports pages to see if anything’s there.  (Other people – always men – are always standing in that area, seemingly reading Which Motorbike? and Amateur Photography Monthly cover to cover, so why shouldn’t I have a look at one newspaper?  Especially as their online content is no longer free.) 

I’m sending him the Alfred Day book as a friendly reminder.  I’ve seen him at Fontwell quite a few times and I’m quite hopeful he likes the place anyway.

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I am not a party animal, but I went to one on Saturday and not only did the hostess pass some of my books around, but one or two people admitted they already possessed copies.   That was a nice surprise.  A couple of weeks earlier I was talking to a racing man who’d just come back from a holiday in France, and he told me there had been a copy of the Bath book at the house of the people he was staying with.

At Kempton today for lunch in the panoramic restaurant, my friend and I were placed at a table for four, sharing with two ladies we had never met before.  We got talking, and when one of them asked, “Are you in racing?” it was the work of a moment to produce copies of Bath and The Days of Fontwell for their inspection.  It transpired that they agreed to buy a copy of the Brighton book sight unseen, which I am about to send to them. 

Earlier I was talking to Rupert, who sells books at a number of racecourses, and he bought some Baths from me.  To my surprise, he also took a Croydon, which I had with me just in case.  A racing journalist from one of the top daily papers passed by and Rupert pointed me out to him as the author of Bath.  The journalist said he was going to do a Christmas books article and that Bath will be mentioned!  I’m pretty sure he has seen the first Fontwell book – I’ve seen him there from time to time – so I had better send him The Days of Fontwell in case he likes that.  I must also send a copy of Days to the Racing Post; maybe to the man who reviewed Fontwell in 2008, as he gave it a good write-up.

And before Kempton I went to collect the auction lot I won a few weeks ago.  Browsing through it at home tonight, it felt like more than the 169 pages advertised.  They are all drawings of racing scenes cut out from 19th century sports magazines.  Most were from big meetings or were typical race situations.  I wonder who it was that cut them out and who else kept them so neatly for over a hundred years.  There are news stories on the back of each page, so there may be book material there as well as the illustrations themselves, some of which may be useful for future books of mine.

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It turned out that I was able to bid online for that item with a potential “long-term benefit for research” after all.  When the bidding opened nicely below the range of guide prices, deciding to “play” was quite easy.  I got what I wanted for a lower figure than I was prepared to go to.  Whether it’s a good deal remains to be seen, as I have not been in a position to see the goods yet and won’t collect them until the week after next.  Only then will we see if I have a bargain or something to put up for auction again!

I obtained a copy of The Days of Fontwell from the printers on Tuesday and it was fine.  The full consignment was delivered to my home a few days later and I took some to Fontwell today, where the racecourse will sell some for me.  My trip there was preceded by a visit to a couple who helped me kick-start the research for the first Fontwell book.  Now they have put me in touch with some local organisations whose members will, I hope, be interested.  I’ve let some of them know, but the next few weeks will entail informing the others and people on my own mailing lists. 

This sort of generosity has been pleasingly common from a variety of people when researching and trying to sell my books.  Usually I am a stranger to them, but they put themselves out to be helpful. 

Another example of that arose yesterday.  A few weeks ago I sent a review copy of the Bath book to the publicity officer for an organisation that promotes local history in the Avon area and supports the myriad of groups in that region.  He sent me his draft review yesterday, which began, ‘When I was first asked to review this book I thought “I am not at all interested in horse racing”’, but ended with ‘having now read it and seeing how Jim Beavis has put it together, I have no hesitation in recommending it.’   To have entertained someone who doesn’t like racing is very satisfying. 

Now let’s hope some of the ten thousand people on his mailing list want to buy it.

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After some more toing and froing with the printers, seeing further proof copies, undoing changes I hadn’t asked them to make, and letting some of them ride, I am told the presses will roll on Monday.  Copies of The Days of Fontwell will be ready on Tuesday.  My hope is that they can be delivered to me at home later in the week.   It’s still a time for anxiety, waiting for the final version.  With previous books I’ve seen enough things change between one proof and the next – where no changes were meant to have taken place – to be concerned that there’ll be some new ghastly surprise in store.

I have started emailing organisations in the Fontwell area to make them aware of the new book, which will, God and printers willing, be available at the racecourse from next Sunday for £5, or from me for £6.50 including postage and packing.

Two auctions of racing memorabilia this week have come to my attention.  On average I notice one or two a year, and here are two close together.  Going through the items on offer I can’t help but be tempted by some of the pictures, books and souvenirs on offer.  A few years ago papers connected with Golden Miller, one of the best jump horses of the 20th century, came up for auction.  There have been a few books about him, but none recently, and there was likely to be fresh material for a new one in these papers.  Inspecting them before the auction I suspected the guide price was on the low side.   This turned out to be the case, and a friend of mine who bid for them could not withstand a determined counterbidder.  Where those papers wound up I don’t know, but let’s hope a publication comes out of it one day. 

I’m considering bidding for something which may have a long-term benefit for research as well as being of interest in its own right.  I emailed a question about this lot to the auctioneers.  They’ve answered; now I must decide quickly whether to submit an online bid for the auction tomorrow.  I can’t view the item or attend the auction in person.  If I bid, how much?  Within the guide prices?   High or low?  How much do I want these things?  It’s a dilemma.

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