Wednesday 6 February 2013


Flashmob. Wikipedia says: A flash mob (or flashmob) is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.

So the modern version of what we all used to do as kids then? Stand in a busy place – a shopping centre (open air, obviously), park, or anywhere that isn’t enclosed – and look up at the sky. Squint a bit and point. If you’re with a friend, exchange a few oohs and aahs. Sooner or later somebody will want to know what you’re looking at, but won’t want to ask so will look up too. It then takes on a life of its own à la Emperor’s New Clothes, as nobody will want to admit they haven’t a clue what’s going on. When you have gathered enough of a crowd, walk away. It works. I’ve done it.

Of course these days with the internet and social media available to everyone everywhere, it’s easy to call up a group of friends instantly if something’s going on. So here’s an idea … take a paperback of your book, or maybe two or three if you can, into your local bookstore. Or any place that sells books, but refuses to stock your book because you’re an indie (read sub-species) and Gardners or whoever won’t deal with you. Hide said books on shelf and leave. Can you get into trouble for putting stuff into a shop, as opposed to stealing it? I don’t know.

Call up your mates. One or two initially. Get them to go into shop and rave loudly about your book. Call some more up. Of course there aren’t enough books to go round. And you’re a local author! Why doesn’t the local bookshop have more of your books?

Of course they won’t be able to pay for them as the books aren’t on the shop’s stock system. Which means they don’t exist as far as the shop is concerned. But with any luck the manager will hear all the fuss and come out, and if there’s an ISBN on the book and it looks professional, he just may be tempted to buy some stock to satisfy these fans who have met you recently at some literary event (be creative…) and want to buy your books.

You might have to persuade your “fans” to come back and actually buy the book later, of course. Or even at the time, if the manager is astute enough to facilitate this. But he might order more. And then you’re on the system aren’t you? You officially exist.

Have I ever done this? No. If you try it, let me know how you get on.

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