Saturday 19 December 2009

As One Little Goldmine Closes

Just over twenty years ago I decided to take a modest advertisement in The Bookseller magazine – “Ghostwriter for Hire”. At the end of this year I am told the magazine will be closing the Directory page which has carried that ad almost every week since.

I owe The Bookseller a huge debt of thanks for all the fascinating people that little ad has steered in my direction over the last couple of decades.

When Zana Muhsen went into her local library to enquire how she could make contact with a ghostwriter, it was a copy of The Bookseller that the librarian pulled out to consult. Four million or so copies of the resulting book, “Sold”, have since been sold and many other authors, publishers and agents have been led to my door along the same route.

There were many months when the ad produced no results at all and other writers, following my lead and buying space themselves, would come and go, often disappointed not to be able to see instant results for their outlay. But every few months another opportunity would find its way through to me from that calling card, which I left permanently in the publishing world’s equivalent of their Post Office window.

I have no idea how the economics of the magazine’s advertising pages pan out these days, but I’m guessing they have done their sums before deciding to close this particular window.

Is it one more small brick in the bridge leading us all away from printed media, across choppy and uncharted seas to a totally digital world? Probably.

Whatever it is, taking that ad twenty years ago was quite possibly the best business decision I ever made – closely followed by the decision five years ago to ask the wonderful folk at Wordpool Design to build me a website.

1 comment:

Andrew Porter said...

I remember seeing all those ads, through the years that I subscribed to THE BOOKSELLER. They were one of the more interesting classifieds, which I remember along with Bent's Notes and all the stuff by Penny Mountain. I hope you got enough business out of the ad to make up for the expense.

Little bits of my past keep breaking off and disappearing, and your ad is, alas, one of them.