WritersLife Wednesday – Blogging to Build an Author Platform

This is a great counter-argument to my post yesterday. I think my central premise still holds, that there are easier ways to sell books than through blogging, but the post offers a number of good points why you shouldn’t write-off blogging as a sales tool entirely.

Author Amie Gibbons

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I ran across a post today on how blogs aren’t as great for building an author platform as they are made out to be.  It’s here: https://authordylanhearn.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/there-are-easier-ways-to-sell-books-than-through-blogging/

I’m here to offer the counterpoint.  Now, this writer is completely correct in saying you should blog because you want to and not just because you are told you are supposed to.  If you don’t want to do it and you’re forcing it, odds are the readers can tell.

But I think he’s underestimating the power of blogging the right way (or at least the way I got from my friend Peter Grant)  

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There are easier ways to sell books than through blogging

Girl Scout Cookies

At the recent Bloggers Bash, one of the questions asked was why people started blogging. Many bloggers came up with the same answer, because they’d been told they needed to have a blog as an author platform in order to sell their books. When asked if blogging had helped, the answer from everybody was ‘not really,’ and while the answer wasn’t a ‘no,’ it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

This isn’t my first blog. I started blogging three years ago with another blog all about my writing journey (because nobody had thought of doing that before, right?). Over time I got bored about writing about writing so decided to start this blog where I could write about about anything, and I often did. However, I always had that piece of advice in the back of my mind, an author needs a platform to help promote and sell their books.

Eventually my blogging came full circle and I now blog about writing, or more accurately life as an indie writer as there are many more qualified bloggers out there that can help you with the nuts and bolts of how to actually write. I’ve met many wonderful bloggers, some of whom are novel writers, and I’m sure I’ve sold a handful of books on the back of them getting to know me through this blog.

During this time I’ve also got to know some writers who are making a real success out of self-publishing. I’m not talking about a Hugh Howey level of success but they are selling enough books to either make a living or heavily supplement their income. One thing links all of these writers.

They rarely blog.

Many have blogs but use them as a means to inform of new book launches or as a landing page for their mailing list. Some are active on other forms of social media but many aren’t. I don’t know whether the advice on the importance of an author platform passed them by, or if they chose to ignore it, but very few of them have an interest in building a social media presence. So how on earth did they become successful?

Blogging takes a lot of time and effort. In the two years this blog has been around (I’m ignoring my other one – as most readers did) I’ve written around two hundred posts. Each post varies between 500 and 1000 words in length. Add it all together and it’s the equivalent of nearly two novels worth of words. Then there is the amount of time I’ve spent creating posts, editing posts, replying to comments, not to mention all the time I’ve spent reading and commenting on the many blogs I follow.

I’ve listed below five things I could have been doing instead to sell more books:

1 Set up a stall in my village high street or a local town and harangue passers-by into buying my books

2 Contact all my local libraries and bookshops in an effort to stock or promote my books

3 Work a part-time job to raise money to pay for advertising through book promotion sites, Facebook and Amazon

4 Give them to the Girl Scouts to sell with their cookies for commission

5 WRITE MORE BOOKS

There’s a reason point five is in capitals. While nothing is guaranteed in the self-publishing world, the more books you have published, the more chance you have of your books gaining visibility. I said there was one thing that links the successful authors together but I lied. There are two. All of these writers have released five or more books over the last two or three years. I’ve released two and have a third on the way, but I could have released more if I hadn’t blogged so much.

When these successful writers aren’t actually writing, they work on their marketing instead, either to develop their mailing lists, creating direct promotions through promotional sites or by contacting book reviewers asking for honest reviews in return for a free book. They treat writing as a job rather than a hobby. They don’t wait for inspiration, they work every day regardless of whether they feel like it to not.

Of course, as I’ve said before, doing all of this doesn’t automatically guarantee success, but it increases the chances.

This isn’t to say there aren’t writers who generate sales through blogging. There are a number who do just this, although the majority I know make more money writing books on writing or self-publishing than through their own fiction. There are, however, other ways to increase sales that are less time consuming and with a higher chance of success.

So why should writers blog?

Because it’s a wonderful opportunity to write something different, to let off steam, to connect with like-minded should, to find comfort and community, to help others much earlier in the process than yourself and be helped by those further down the line. It’s a way of making new friends, for discovering excellent books and for improving your craft. It’s a place to be yourself, to be someone else or to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

Most of all, you should blog because you want to, not because you feel you should. Blogging is a wonderful medium and I don’t regard my time blogging as being a waste, and nor did any of the bloggers I met at the Bloggers Bash. I just wouldn’t recommend it as a way of selling books.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

My top 10 blogging tips on building an audience

blogging wordcloud

image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/ licensed under creative commons

 

It’s been a week of milestones for my little blog. Firstly, I passed the 30,000 views mark. For a blog that’s been going less than two years, where I post on average once a week, I’m both thrilled and humbled by this achievement.

The second milestone is that this is my 200th post. It has been quite a ride since I first posted about a cat that defecates in my garden and I’ve learnt an awful lot along the way. My blog has changed from being a platform for me to play around with writing to a blog about writing, and specifically self-publishing. During my blogging time I’ve published two books, met many wonderful people, been introduced to the wonderfully supportive writing community, as well as discovered some fantastic books by new and exciting authors.

Thank you to all of you who read, comment and share my posts. You are a wonderful group of people and it’s a pleasure knowing you.

In order to celebrate these milestones, I thought I’d pass on my top 10 tips on building a blogging audience. Of course, if your blog is very personal, building an audience may not be your goal, so many of these won’t apply, but if you are looking to increase your readership then these tips are a good place to start.

1. Post regularly

The more regularly you post, the more likely people will find you and follow you. I see a significant drop in my weekly visitor averages if I post less than once a week. If I post more than once a week those averages not only rise, but grow week on week. It’s hard work (which is why I usually write just one post per week) but the response is worth it.

2. Have a purpose

When I first started blogging it was purely as a medium to play around with writing. I wrote about all sorts of things, some of which people found interesting, others that were barely read at all. However, as my blogging became more about one subject – writing and self-publishing – I found an audience – you! That doesn’t mean I post solely about writing and self-publishing, but the majority of my posts are in this area.

3. Keep posts to under 1000 words

This is a great rule of thumb. It doesn’t mean every post should be under this limit, but the shorter the post, the more likely it will be read to the end.

4. Don’t think what you would like to write but what you would like to read

This is based on a lesson I learnt while writing fiction. During the first draft, an author will often include lots of back story and explanation. It’s an important part of the writing process and enjoyable to write, but it’s as dull as hell to read and often gets culled during the editing process. Just because something is fun to write, doesn’t make it interesting to read. Make sure your posts offer your readers something, whether it’s knowledge, insight or a different perspective.

5. Interact with your readership

Except for my Recommended Reads, I always end my posts with a question (there’ll be one at the end of this post too). Sometimes this can be ignored but often it starts a debate which generates further interest in the subject. If somebody is kind enough to comment on your blog, answer them, promptly if possible. I’ve met many of my favourite bloggers and writers this way, as we discuss the topics raised, but even if it’s just a plain ‘thank you,’ it will mean a lot and encourage them to visit again.

6. Be yourself

The best blogs develop a little community of regular readers, based on a shared view, love or experience. The only way you can do this is by being yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t exaggerate or suppress aspects of your personality as you write, but to be effective there has to be a core part of you within your blogging.

7. Don’t be afraid to be opinionated

I’m not suggesting that every post should be deliberately provocative, but people like a good argument. If you have an opinion on a subject, give it. You will never be able to please everybody with what you write so don’t try to. Rather than avoid subjects or opinions you feel could be controversial, embrace them. Sure, this may turn off some readers but at the same time you will get to find your audience.

8. Be gracious when people disagree with you

If you are going to give your opinion, expect people to disagree with you. When this happens, read what they have to say and see if it makes sense to you. If it does, then don’t be afraid to concede the point. If it doesn’t, be gracious in your reply. Some of my favourite readers disagree with me often. Occasionally they have a point. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

9. Use social media to promote your blog

The WordPress reader is a lovely tool to discover new blogs but it has a limited audience. It was only when I started to actively promote my blog via twitter that my numbers began to grow. WordPress have a great system called Publicize, where you can link your blog to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and each time you post it is shared on the social media platform of your choice. Using the right tags and hashtags also helps to promote your blog outside your existing audience.

10. When in doubt, use a list

Can you see what I did there? There’s nothing better than a large block of text to turn readers off. Instead, structure it into a way that’s easy to digest. By far my most popular posts are structured around lists. This is no coincidence. With lists, people are able to quickly discover the gist of the post and decide whether to read further or not.

So, these are my top 10 tips, but what are yours? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

How to set up a mailing list on WordPress.com

Mailing lists are a key tool to help any author build an audience, and for fans of the author’s work to have access to exclusive content and information about new releases before anyone else. These are not to be confused by your blog sign-up, which informs those signed up of new blog posts.

At the end of last week I announced to the world that I’d set up a mailing list to inform people about any future releases. While the mailing list has proved popular (getting a free book may have helped) by far the biggest question I was asked was: how did you set up your mailing list?

Sadly, unlike on wordpress.org self-hosted blogs, there isn’t a specific widget available to link to a mailing list service. However, there is a workaround you can use. I set my mailing list up with MailChimp, an excellent free-to-use service. There are many other services available but this example is specific to MailChimp.

Before you start you will need to:

1. Register on MailChimp and set up a mailing list

2. Upload an image you want to use to promote your mailing list into your media library (I used the MailChimp icon but you may wish to create something more specific).

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.49.35Step 1 Login to MailChimp and select Lists from the left hand Menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.50.28Step 2 Click on the drop down arrow on the left hand side and select sign up forms

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3 Click on General FormsScreen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.50.57

 

 

 

Step 4 You need to either copy or note down the sign up form URL.Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.53.01

This sign up is one of a number of form that come as standard for any MailChimp user (you can click on the down arrow when on site to see them all). They are unique to you and can be amended as you see fit. The pages themselves are hosted by MailChimp and therefore separate from your WordPress blog.

**At this point I would recommend you go through the MailChimp sign up forms and amend them to however you want them to appear. To find out how to do this, click here**

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.59.17Step 5 Go to your WordPress.com dashboard and select appearance – widgets

 

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.01.30

Step 6 Select an Image widget and drag it to your sidebar

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.02.21Step 7 Complete your widget form.

Widget Title should be the text you wish to see above the image

Image URL: This is the URL for the image you previously uploaded to promote your mailing list. You can find this URL by clicking media and selecting the appropriate image. The URL will be on the right hand side of the page.

Link URL is the URL you either copied or noted down from your MailChimp sign up page.

Then press save.

 

You should now have a working sign up image on your blog!

If you found this blog helpful, you can always sign up to my mailing list by either clicking here or on the image at the top right hand side of my blog. In return, you will receive one of my e-books, of your choice, absolutely free! I promise not to spam you or pass on your details to anyone else.

Twitter tip for WordPress users

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image source: twitter.com

One of the great things about the WordPress platform for blogging is the sharing facility. These little buttons at the bottom of each post allow people who have liked what you’ve written to share it across many different social media platforms.

Like many other bloggers I use twitter. Twitter is fantastic a platform on which to share you content, but I’ve noticed recently that a a number of bloggers I follow are missing a great way of expanding their online community by not linking their blog to their twitter account.

Why is this important?

Whenever anybody shares one of your posts by twitter using the share button, your blog generates an automated tweet structured like this:

Blog title – blog post url – linked twitter name

Below is the text generated for my last post:

The difference between creativity and inspiration http://wp.me/p3Dds0-fH via @hearndylan

If you notice, I’ve already linked my twitter username, @hearndylan, to my blog. This means whenever anybody shares one of my posts, I get a notification from twitter letting me know what has been shared and by whom.

This is incredibly valuable information.

Think about it for a moment. This person has not only read your post, they liked it so much they wanted to share it with all their twitter followers. And if they enjoyed your post, there is every chance their like-minded followers will also enjoy the post and share it to their followers, and so on. Every time this share is retweeted, your twitter username is tweeted with it, meaning you get to see each and every person who enjoyed your post. How cool is that?

But what should you do with this information? The most effective twitter users know that engagement is key to building a strong following. This is where the true value of linking you username comes in. If the person who retweeted your post likes your writing so much, wouldn’t they be a great person to get to know better? The very least you can do is thank them for sharing your post. You could ask them what they most liked about it, you could follow them (if you don’t already), respond to some of their tweets in return. From these small interactions, friendships blossom. I’ve lost count of the number of great twitter friends I’ve met this way.

But, if you haven’t linked your blog to your twitter account, all this information is sent to @wordpressdotcom, and is lost to you forever.

So how do you change your settings?

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 09.10.08The good news is this setting is very easy to change. Simply go to your Dashboard – Settings – Sharing. Fifth from bottom you will see an option snappily titled “Twitter username to include in tweets when people share using the Twitter button”. Replace ‘wordpressdotcom’ with your own twitter username (without the @), then press save.

 

Milestones

bday

image source: (www.decobike.com)

Being buried in the first edit of my sequel to Second Chance, I’ve missed a couple of important blogging milestones.

Suffolk Scribblings is 1 year old

In fact, Suffolk scribblings is one year and a couple of weeks old (I told you I was a little distracted). In that time the blog has changed from being a creative outlet allowing me to write about things other than my book to being a blog mostly about the writing process with the odd piece about anything else that takes my fancy. It wasn’t planned this way, it just happened. It’s funny how these things creep up on you unnoticed.

12000 Views

Yesterday I had my 12,000th page view. This is 11,997 more than I thought I would ever get (I always knew my mum & dad would have a look, plus maybe some random stranger). Anybody who has written a blog will tell you how nervous they felt pressing publish for the first time. You are nervous on two counts: that you won’t be ridiculed for what you have written, and that this futile act of shouting in the dark will reach the ears of a kindred spirit. Since that first press of a button I’ve had visits from all over the world (97 countries to date) a fact that I find, frankly, mind-blowing. Thank you to everybody who has taken the time to read my blatherings, whether they have been about village life, writing, supporting your fellow indie authors or the ongoing psychological warfare that maintains the flames of love for my wife and soul mate. I appreciate each and every visit.

1000 Comments

By a strange coincidence I also passed the 1000 comments threshold yesterday. Out of all the milestones I’ve achieved, this is the one I find most amazing and satisfying. I never expected to meet people through blogging (I know, I was very naive), let alone that people would have enough interest in what I’d written to interact. The big surprise is that I now think of a number of these people – people I have never met and in some cases have no idea what they look like – as friends. It has further strengthened my faith in humanity.

Sadly, as in life, I’m not the best of people at keeping in touch with those I’ve connected. As the number of blogs I follow has increased (along with writing, twitter and good old-fashioned life commitments) the amount of time I have had to comment and interact has lessened, but it does not mean I don’t read your blogs whenever possible, and feedback when I can. For anybody who has connected to me via this blog, I would like to thank you for your generosity of spirit, your frequent encouragement and the occasional clip around the ear if I take things too far.

The future

All this may sound like I’m building up to a goodbye but it couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a little behind on my Recommended Reads but I have a number of self-published books waiting to be read on my kindle and I will get back to them as soon as Patrick Rothfuss gets his claws out of my brain. I have a host of blog titles sitting in my drafts folder waiting to be written, plus I will be sharing one or two golden oldies (a year is a long time in digital terms) that some of you may have missed.

So a big thank you once again for all your support over the past year. Long may it continue.

Pay it forward – 6 weeks on

Pay it forward

When I wrote my original Pay It Forward post, I had little idea of the reaction it would cause. It was largely written as a statement of intent for myself. Why should I, as a self-published author, expect people to buy my work when I didn’t buy books from other self-published authors myself? I decided to change my behaviour, with the aim of purchasing and reading the work of those I had met since beginning this journey and promoting those books I’d enjoyed.

At the same time, I wondered how many other self-published authors bought work from their peers.  The final paragraph – where do you come in – was written in the hope that one or two of my fellow authors would be converted to the cause of paying it forward. It was added mostly as an afterthought. My think was that maybe my thoughts would influence one or two others to join in and spread the love too.

I should have known better.

Since starting out as a writer I have found many wonderful, supportive people from within the writing community, and the pay it forward post has introduced me to many more. It has become the most viewed, most commented and most liked post I’ve written to date. I’ve lost count of the number of  times it has been re-blogged and retweeted. Since first published it has gone on to have a life of its own. There may be days go by without me hearing a mention of the post before it once more springs back to life as it is discovered by another writers. You only have to read the comments in the original post to see the many wonderful people committed to the idea.

The other thing I have learnt is that it wasn’t an original idea. Many authors had come to the same conclusion long before I had and have been reviewing or promoting books from independent authors they admire. I have never been so pleased to have people approach me to say “welcome to the party.” I’m just sorry it took me so long.

In the six weeks since starting down this road I have read a number of self-published books. Without fail, all have been well written and presented. One or two weren’t for me, but that was more likely a failing on my part rather than the author’s; they still received my money and the statistical uptick from my sale. Those I have enjoyed have been promoted here under recommended reads, as well as receiving a review on Amazon and Goodreads.

One unexpected benefit of starting this process has been discovering how much I enjoy reading short stories. It is a format I’ve avoided in the past (I know, burn the heathen) as I like getting buried in large novels, or novel series, but I’ve really enjoyed the novellas and short story anthologies I’ve read to date and will look them up more often in the future.

An important part of my personal ethos I haven’t mentioned so far about paying it forward is around what I hope to get out of it. The short answer is: nothing. For this concept to work well any support has to be given freely, without obligation. I would be horrified if any author I’ve featured felt obligated to do the same for my work in return. I would, however, be delighted if they decided to pay it forward to self-published authors they have enjoyed (if they haven’t already) but that’s a choice for each individual alone.

So finally I would like to thank everybody who has contacted me, everybody who has committed to pay it forward from now on; all those wonderful people who have been doing this for a while now. I have been truly humbled by the reaction of the self-published community, of which I’m proud to be a member. And if you are a self-published author new to the concept, I would urge you to consider giving it a go. All you have to do is every now and then choose to buy an independently published book and if you enjoy it, tell everyone. That’s it. Simple, eh?

Pay it forward

Pay it forward

I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the difficulties faced by independent authors like myself. The indie author community is very supportive of each other when it comes to the writing process. We encourage and congratulate, offer tips and advice, yet when it comes to talking about independent books we tend to focus predominantly on our own work. I am as guilty of this as many. But a number of things have happened recently that have made me decide to change.

How independent musicians support each other

As some of you long-term readers will know, I used to review the monthly Live at the Cottage gig that is held every month in my local village. These gigs attract high quality unsigned acts, most of which make a living through performing live and selling their independently produced CD’s. There are many similarities between what they are doing and what we, as independent authors, are looking to achieve, and that is to make what they produce available and seen by the widest audience possible.

One thing that has impressed me with many of these musicians is their generosity to their fellow performers. Despite the falling number of live music venues, these musicians often recommend other artists to venues and promoters, as well as offering support slots to give others artists chance to become better known. The other thing that they are happy to do is put their money where their mouth is and buy the work of other independent artists. I spoke to a couple of artists at a recent gig and when they found out I was an independent author they both bought my book without hesitation. Why? Well in the words of one “you’ve paid to see me, it’s the least I can do.”

Book club

I was approached the other day by somebody who had bought my book to tell me how much she had enjoyed it, even though it was “not the type of book she would normally read.” I’ve heard this a number of times from different people, and the phrase is also used in a couple of Amazon reviews. What she said next, though, was great. She used to read all the same type of book but then joined a book club to get her out of her comfort zone. Since then she has discovered a number of books that she loves which she would never have read otherwise. She also said she would recommend my book for them to read (which was very kind).

Promotional sites

There are a number of sites that offer to promote your books. Some are very effective, having built up mailing lists and being selective about what they promote, but many use twitter to bombard you with promos every two minutes. I’ve also seen a number of indie authors use the same tactic, whether to promote their own work or in promoting the work of others. There may be some mileage in this because why do it otherwise, but to me it just comes across as noise. When somebody recommends a book, I want to believe they have read it and enjoyed it.

So where is this leading?

I buy and read a lot of books yet very few, until recently, have been written by independent authors. I have been happy to take advantage of  the many free books on offer – often the first in a series – but rarely move on to buying the next in line. Most of the books I do read are by established authors and like my good blogging friend Jools said in her most recent blog, I am a completer. Once I’ve read a book from an author I like, I want to read everything that they read. This leaves very little time for anyone new to get a look in.

Yet at the same time as an indie author I am desperate for people to buy my book and leave a review. A number of people have been kind enough to do this, but there is a long way to go before I could say I was earning enough to live on, and I know that most indie authors are face the same issues. So it is a little hypocritical of me to on the one hand ask people to buy my book yet not do the same for others.

Pay it forward

I’ve decided that it was time to put something back into the indie author community. I will commit to buying (actually I’ve already started) books by other independent authors, being open-minded about genre or type, initially focussing on those I have discovered through blogging. If I like the book I will post about it on this site under a new series called Recommended Reads. This won’t be a traditional review – if I don’t like a book I’ve bought I won’t say anything (because the fault may well sit with me) – but a series of recommendations of those books I genuinely like. I will also post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. This will help spread provide  exposure as well as a genuine sale. Even for those books that weren’t for me there will be a benefit, as they too will get an extra sale, bumping the book up the charts giving much-needed visibility.

Where do you come in?

I’d like to start a supportive community of indie authors, similar to what I’ve seen with the indie musicians. If you are an indie author, or you are a prospective author, or even if you are a friend of an independent author; I would encourage you to do the same me and commit to buying work from lesser known indie authors. Many authors blog, or have Facebook or Twitter accounts. If you like a books you buy, pay it forward and tell people about it. Write an Amazon or Goodreads review. It will take only a few minutes but as you know it would mean a lot to the author concerned. Even a small number of us doing this will make a big difference, but the more that take part, the more we can support our community.

If you are interested in getting involved, please feel free to reblog this to help get the momentum going. I’m halfway through my first indie book (which I’m loving) and hope to get post about my first recommended read next week.

Thank you for your time.

Normal service to be resumed shortly

Time for a rethink

Time for a rethink

My life tends to work like this. I publish my book, get excited, decide to write the follow up (and the follow up to the follow up) and at that point all the other things I agreed to do at various points have now come to fruition. I’m doing some consultancy for a friend’s business, building a website for the local pre-school (with two others lined up), have my normal childcare duties and, of course, I’m on a purple patch with the first draft of book two. Something has to give and sadly that something is this blog.

It won’t be for long.

Just for a bit

Until things calm down.

I may also be less active reading and responding to many of the blogs I follow. It’s nothing personal and I can’t wait until things quieten down so that I can catch up with you all.

So many apologies in advance. I hope it won’t be for too long but I’m sure I’ll find time for the odd tweet before I’m back with a post about how terrible writing is and why the hell did I agree to put myself through this again.

I look forward to catching up with you all shortly. Until then, here’s a lovely song by Stephen Hodd, recorded live at Live at the Cottage last year and which I wrote about here. If you get the chance, look up Stephen on Soundcloud and listen to the whole set. Simply beautiful.

Positive discrimination for Suffolk

Southwold on a typical summer's day ©Dylan Hearn 2013

Southwold on a typical summer’s day ©Dylan Hearn 2013

According to the Guardian today, the comedian Dara O’Briain has “hit out” at a BBC ban on men-only panel shows. For those of you who are either a) not from the UK; or b) from the UK but have better things to do than worry about the make up of panel shows, a senior member of the BBC has put out an edict banning all men panel shows in an effort to rectify gender imbalance. The fact that such an imbalance exists should be no surprise to those of us who watch QI, Mock the Week and the like. The problem is, according to Dara O’Briain on Twitter, he has said no such thing. What he actually said was that it was wrong to make the edict public, because now talented performers who would have been chosen to be on the show through talent alone, will now be seen as the token woman. He has a point.

Sexiest ginger on the planet - Suffolk's Ed Sheeran (image source: banging-edsheeran.tumblr.com)

Sexiest ginger on the planet – Suffolk’s Ed Sheeran (image source: banging-edsheeran.tumblr.com)

This, though,  got me thinking. Because there is another, much more under-represented group that should be on TV: people from Suffolk. Now you may scoff but name me one person who originated from Suffolk that appears on a panel show. Stumped? Me too. In fact you will do well to name anyone from Suffolk on TV at all. This is a travesty. How could a county that produces talent the likes of Ed Sheeran and er… Bernie Ecclestone be subject to such discrimination? It’s not like the media have never heard of Suffolk, they own most of bloody Southwold after all.

And it’s not like other parts of East Anglia are under-represented. Norfolk, happy to look down on the people of suffolk due to our lack of city status, have their own regional television centre in Norwich, complete with it’s pro-Norwich City Football club version of Pravda – Look East. Norfolk is also the birthplace of Stephen Fry, the charming polymath; actor, comedian, and host of another allegedly mostly misogynistic all male panel show QI. Essex do even better. Because of it’s closeness to London, Essex often appears on television, usually in one of the summer holiday ‘let’s go to the seaside’ episodes of Eastenders where the whole cast end up in Clacton for the week. And of course, they have their very own TV series – The Only Way Is Essex, or TOWIE for those who struggle to remember a string of five words. Yet for Suffolk, other than the TV series Lovejoy – starring Ian ‘f*%$ing’ McShane of Deadwood fame – which finished 20 years ago, and Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler) who left Eastenders 19 years ago, there is nothing.

Well I’ve had enough.

It’s about time us Suffolk-folk did something about it. To start with, I have a number of suggestions for TV shows based in our beautiful county that could showcase our creativity and talent. For example:

A stunning sea view - Sizewell B (image source: www.bbc.co.uk )

A stunning sea view – Sizewell B (image source: http://www.bbc.co.uk )

The Glowing: a paranormal mystery about strange glowing creatures set in Dunwich, just down from the Sizewell nuclear plant

Bury St Edmund: A gameshow where every week two teams fight it out for the opportunity to lay Noel Edmunds to rest – in Bury St Edmunds

The Pickwick Paperchase: A team of people run around Ipswich, who’s people and streets were the inspirations for Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, trying to find the person most like the round-faced and portly Samuel Pickwick

Lavenham - catnip for wattle & daub junkies (image source: www.britainexpress.com)

Lavenham – catnip for wattle & daub junkies (image source: http://www.britainexpress.com)

The American Tourist – Local people from Lavenham see who can tell the most outrageous tale as historical fact to American Tourists and be believed

You see, we have the talent, we have the ideas, we have the connections – usually blocking the bar at the Lord Nelson, Southwold; there is no reason that the people of Suffolk should carry on being discriminated in this way. If there is enough support, you can expect to see my petition on Change.org soon