Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sailing Against the Tide

One of many factors that made sailing on Veryan, our wooden boat, so interesting was that she was a very heavy boat with a very feeble engine. If the tide turned against us we simply didn’t get anywhere. This happened on one occasion just as we were trying to get into Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight. It’s a harbour that the guide books say requires ‘close attention to detail’, but running out of horse power adds a touch of additional excitement. As the wind and a ferocious current tethered Veryan to one spot, Tom and I stood in the cockpit gritting our teeth against what felt like a full gale willing her to inch forwards. On the beach, just a few feet away, a little old lady and her dog, untroubled by the tide, stood in the sunshine watching us and wondering what the fuss was all about.

Life’s felt a bit like sailing against the tide, despite last week’s fleeting visit from the Good Luck Fairy. This morning we woke to the news that archaeologists have uncovered Britain’s oldest house. ‘Does it have a ‘For Sale’ board next to it?’ asks Tom. It certainly feels as if we’ve been on the market for eleven thousand years. But whereas we’ve also woken up to the fact that the only way to sell a house in this part of the country is to take a savage price cut, many vendors are covering their eyes, ignoring the financial warning signs and thinking they can hold out for the full asking price. Until everyone gets real, no one in the current housing market is going anywhere.

Whilst not exactly sailing against the tide on the writing front, I’m certainly aware of conflicting forces. Writing the next book whilst promoting Turning the Tide is a bit like being helpless with morning sickness whilst watching a small child cross a busy road. It’s frustrating, too, not to get the promotional chances you’d hope for. Our nearest Tesco is tiny and, at this time of year, entirely geared to holiday makers. It’s hard to park and hard to shop – unless you want sun tan cream, barbecue food or a bucket and spade. A few local items do creep in, designed to attract the tourists, so why not include a really lovely holiday read – ie my book?

I put this to Tesco, after all it’s available online from them here, and had an email back saying ‘I am sorry to hear that we have not yet dispatched your books order. I appreciate how disappointing this must be for you’ and advising me to write to their Buying Team whilst making it very clear that the Buying Team probably wouldn’t write back. Somehow it’s just like being back on Veryan struggling against the tide!

Anyway, before you think I’ve turned into Mrs Moany-Moanisson, I was reminded again of how very fortunate I am when I read Joseph O’ Connor’s Once Upon A Life in this week’s Observer. He concludes, ‘If you have enough to eat, and a safe place to sleep, and nobody wants to kill you or take you from your family, you are among the most fortunate few of a troubled world, and you should never forget your sheer luck.’ Too true.

Painting is 'Two Pebbles in a Landscape' by Tom Tomos

15 comments:

Fennie said...

It does seem desperately unfair. I couldn't think of a nicer holiday read. Maybe you could send the Buying Team complimentary signed copies and hint that you may have a scene coming up in your next book about how hard someone works in hard pressed Buying Department and could they please get in touch. I suppose you could also do a book signing in Tesco's and another on the beach.

On the horrid boating front I can't help asking - only semi-facetiously - whether a sail would help?

Sarah Callejo said...

I hope they do listen to you, it would be perfect summer read, especially for people visiting the area.

Jane Lovering said...

Set up a stall near the front entrance, and do a little 'personal selling'? That should piss Tesco off nicely...

Seriously though, you can only do what you can do, if they choose to ignore your book then it's their loss not yours.

Milla said...

very wise words from the wonderful Joseph O'C. Mind you, Tesco are missing a trick not marketing a local author's book. A shame. Have you a Waterstones anywhere near you, or a Smiths?? The trouble is, I suppose, is that these giants often have so little control over their own ordering since everything is directed from some ghastly Mother Ship.

Pondside said...

Is there no possibility at all of a local decision? If large chains can buy local berries or local cheese etc, why can't they feature a local writer? Keep pushing!

Debs said...

Selling a house is hellish, you have my sympathies.

Tesco might not have stocked your book yet, but we only really have two stockists of note over here in Jersey, WHSmith and Ottakers. WHS definitely stocked TTT at their airport shop, so that's a lot of holiday makers and locals who were venturing forth on their travels who probably bought your book.

Not sure about Ottakers as I haven't ventured that far - all of 5 mins through town!

Pauline Barclay said...

Chris, I can more than sympathize with you re Tesco and all the marketing and writing. I too struggle with writing my 3rd book, keeping my Blog and web site updated etc. Looking for ideas to write a press release and all the things needed to market my two books. And then, when you think you just might be able to sneek into a well known store they send right back to the begining....mainly, talk to someone else or no, or write to X, Y or Z!

Don't give up, between us we will get there and the pleasure will be so much more sweeter when we arrive.

Wishing you continued success....lots of hugs!
Pauline x

DOT said...

I find driving an articulated through the front door of a supermarket draws attention to one's demands. The brilliant thing is you don't even need the necessay licence as you can just park and do a runner.

Flowerpot said...

I think the idea of a personal stall is a great one! Tesco's - huh. Keep at it Chris - and I love the quote! Take care x

mountainear said...

Hope you can find someone at Tesco to listen to you - sometimes they seem to forget that their customer base is made up of 'little' people like thee and me in their relentless drive for world domination.

Am also with J O'C's stance 100%.

toady said...

Interested to see your boat's called Veryan. Any connection to the village of Veryan in Cornwall?
Had a grerat camping holiday there once.

Chris Stovell said...

Fennie, thank you! I wish it to be known I didn't pay Fennie to say that.

Or Sarah. Thank you, Sarah.

Jane, wonder if they'll be eligible for club card points?

Milla, nearest Waterstone, 30 miles away - but I saw them and they were lovely - book signing arranged. Hurray!

Pondside - exactly! You tell them too!

Debs, and look what happens when you do go into town! Led any marching bands recently?! Good news about airport :)

Pauline, thanks for your kind words and for having me as a guest on your website. Good luck with promoting your novels.

DOT, yes and then I'd be sent to a retreat and not one where I can envisage doing much writing!

Fp, thank you!

Mountainear, did you manage to get your history book stocked locally?

Toady, hi, yes indeed. Inkeepers daughter at Veryan in Cornwall also, so we were told, named Veryan. Boat named after her... probably a yarn but quite a good one!

Cara Cooper said...

Tesco's hah or rather grrrrrr!!! It's a shame you don't have a Waitrose near you. They're brilliant and often stock local author's books. Still, keep trying, you never know.

sheepish said...

Firstly congrats on your Distinction, quality always shines through. Don't you just hate it when 'people' don't read what you have written. Never mind the tide has to turn soon that's nature!!!
BTW love the painting, would love to see them in the flesh sometime.

Chris Stovell said...

Cara, welcome - no, nearest Waitrose 100 miles away. Alas.

Sheepish - aw, thank you, for all!