One of the areas of my retirement life I haven’t told you much about has been what I affectionately call my old gits group (the kind I said I’d never join, but that was then and this is now). I have described the grave robbers talk but that’s about it and I’m not going to tell you much more about it now except to remind you that, at the meetings, we have speakers and a recent one talked to us about selling articles to magazines for money. You will understand the relevance of this cryptic opening if you stick with me.
Our magazine writer / speaker told us she had started with – fish – writing articles for fish magazines, starting with cold water fish and moving up the scale (apparently) to tropical. She also confessed to a lovely little scam about getting small amounts of money or garden centre vouchers for sending in fake letters and then, even more fakely, replying to them. I thought our elderly, rather traditional group, would be shocked, stunned into disapproving silence, not a bit of it, they thought it was a great idea. I think we will see an increase in fake letters to say gardening magazines in the immediate future. Our lady, who I am not naming, for fear that she will be arrested, moved on to writing stories in 3 or 4 regular magazines. I hadn’t heard of them but I suppose they were what might be called women’s magazines. So be it. Anyway after that morning life moved on and I mostly forgot about our speaker even though she sent me a nice email / comment about my blog which is another reason I would not want her locked up.
Back to the main theme of this blog. In a fairly recent issue of The Oldie (a magazine I genuinely enjoy by the way), if you had read it, you would have seen an advertisement for this very blog. I thought it was a clever way of spending £150 and getting my blog before a wider audience. I have to say, according to Google Analytics at least, that wasn’t what happened although I did manage to spend the £150, but hey ho, worth a try. Thing is that a nice young man, at least I assume he is both nice and young, sounds it, doing his job as somebody who gets advertising revenue for the magazine now calls me on a semi regular basis asking if I would like to repeat the exercise. I keep putting him off, partly because the results were less than over-whelming and partly because I want to try other things. Anyway point is, he, let’s call him Jack, called me a few weeks ago politely enquiring if I might be interested in doing it again.
Somewhere buried in the back of, what these days passes for, my brain, I had the thought about writing for magazines, you know like the lady said and with the wacky idea that somebody might pay me a meagre pittance for my efforts. So when Jack came on the phone I knew what I was going to say to him.
What I didn’t know was just how difficult this effort at self-promotion was going to be. To be honest I felt a bit of a heel. Exploiting this nice young man. Would he fire off an email to the editorial department and mention that my blog was available at a modest price for hire, I asked? As we know, in publishing, it’s not what you know etc. Jack, slightly reluctantly I thought, agreed. I said for him to do this task and then contact me in a month’s time. Why I should have felt so embarrassed I’m not sure, it’s not as if, even when your work for local government, there isn’t some element of selling, of self-promotion, so why should this feel so different? Perhaps it was something to do with the feeling that I had left all this tawdriness behind and entered a purer existence. Dunno.
Anyway I did the deed, I asked Jack to promote my blog, and now I only have to sit back and await the results. I think, without being unkind to Jack, I know what the result will be – sorry, we aren’t looking for any other contributors and, by the way, can we have another £150. I may be wrong and if I am, I shall apologise unreservedly in these pages. What is slightly disconcerting is that I should care enough to embarrass myself trying to increase my readership by such Machiavellian methods. Poor Jack, sacrificed on the altar of my ambitions. I did tell myself, when I started the blog, that, while no compromises meant no readership, that would be OK because I was writing this blog purely for myself. Simply, and at its most basic, a form of writing as therapy and now here I was prostituting myself for my art.
But not to worry because, as I’ve suggested, there is zero likelihood of my ploy having any positive outcome. If you’re mildly curious as to how this turns out then keep reading. I’ll let you know what happens in a few week’s time or, if the ploy works, look for me in The Oldie probably in their editorial column. Richard Ingrams stand aside. So my retirement wagon rolls along. Not sure how many wheels are left on this particular vehicle but at least nobody can accuse me of not trying stuff. I never imagined that retirement would offer me so many opportunities to feel cheap. Keep pushing those barriers.
P.s. It’s a few weeks since I wrote the bulk of this blog and I haven’t heard a word from Jack, he’s stopped pestering me about paying for another advertising slot. I think I might have hit on something here – the way to get rid of cold callers is to ask them to do something for you first and say you will only listen to them after they’ve done what you want. Not quite sure of the details yet but I’m sure there’s something in the idea. That’s the great thing about retirement you get the time to have brilliant ideas. So I don’t get published, who cares, I save another £150. A retired person needs to be careful with his or her money.