With the publication date of my book approaching (due in August, although pre-orders are being taken on Amazon.com, which is quite exciting), I’ve been looking at ways to publicise the project and get people interested, not for my sake per se but for the wider benefit of black grouse. I was never quite sure how writing a book about black grouse conservation would help the birds themselves, but we can only do what we can, and being a writer, a book was pretty much all I was fit to do. I don’t fancy running marathons in comedy costumes or being dropped out of aeroplanes to raise awareness, so I took the easy route and sat at my computer for a few months. We shall see what a difference it makes, but I’m still surprised by the fact that it’ll be the first natural history book ever written exclusively about black grouse. Perhaps that alone says a great deal about a bird which has slipped under the radar in so many ways over the past 100 years.
One suggestion that has been made to me is to develop a more significant online presence – I thought I was doing quite well to manage a blog, but apparently the world of internet marketing and e-commerce is a great deal more proactive and all-encompassing than simple blog updates. I’ve been assured that I need to LinkIn, acquire a Myspace and then social network my arse off to promote the book. Apparently, Twitter would be helpful to me, allowing blog updates to be posted across the world and letting me keep tabs on what is going on with mankind. Part of me is tempted but to be quite honest, I just don’t understand how it works and the amount of effort required to work it out is more than I am willing to spend. I do enjoy time on the internet and this blog gives me a nice structure to work along with, but when I’m online more often than I’m on the hill, I’ll lose the plot. It’s a pet hate of mine that so many conservationists who claim to be saving the world spend more time talking about it than actually doing it, and lots of people I meet to talk about moorland management can hardly reach down to pull their flies up, let alone haul themselves up a hill to actually see for themselves. I’d rather be harder to find and less search engine friendly if it means that when I do blog, it’s with muddy hands and a wet dog sleeping over my feet.
That’s not to say that this blog can’t improve in format (and content), and I’ll work on it over the next month or so in preparation for the book.
In the meantime, I’m getting over a bout of hellish ‘flu. I went up to the Chayne checking larsen traps after dark on Saturday and felt the heather heaving and squirming around underneath me. The moon was swaying around and I was in a cold sweat on the back of the hill, feeling dizzy everytime I blinked and longing for the security of a my bed. Gamekeeping in good health is one thing, but a four mile walk with a raging temperature is not to be reckoned with, particularly when you’re alone and it’s the middle of the night.