Writer’s blog: Stardate: 10.10.2013
As Jimmy Durante might have been moved to type, had he been a writer instead of a whatever he was, sitting at my computer the other day a bolt from the blue struck me clean between the eyes – a laser beam of inspiration. It left me dazed and reeling and then excited beyond words with its potential for furthering my career as a best-selling author of note and making me quite wealthy. I haven’t felt so enlivened about an idea since my brainwave at fourteen that my dad should try to cross the Atlantic by pedalo to get famous and rich. I still have an old black and white photograph of him going into the water off the Cornish coast. I hope he made it. He never writes.
It is quite possible that this is not an original idea. There is little originality in the world anymore – even less so in writing and self-promotion/self-publishing/self-prostitution. But I haven’t stolen it from anyone. Any similarities to anything existing are purely accidental and coincidental. (My lawyer said I have to write that bit.)
My big idea concerns generating interest and money (in advance) regarding my next Romney and Marsh File. It suggests to me the possibility of making a lot of easy money and generating a media frenzy to rival Savilegate. Perhaps I could, just for a day, an hour, be what’s become all-too-commonly known as ‘an Internet sensation’.
So, here it is: I’m going to sell off the names of new characters introduced to the literary experience that is The Romney and Marsh Files. For a trial period of one book only, ordinary mortals (readers) can gain immortality through the pages of the next ebook instalment of this hugely popular contemporary mystery/crime/thriller/police procedural series. Think about it. The ebook will never be out of print. For as long as the planet manages to generate electricity your name will, like the love in the theme tune to Titanic, go on and on. Generations of your ancestors will be able to share with friends, family and colleagues your foresight, your famousness – you will be remembered for eternity on Earth (and maybe on a spaceship heading to far off galaxies). And when the TV rights get purchased…
Why stop there? My head is now literally splitting with my body’s physiological inability to contain my enthusiasm for the natural progression of this idea and it does hurt. Crimson rivulets seep from the torn seams of my cranial flesh as the joins of my skull succumb to and expand with the internal pressure of original thought. There’s something else there too, something clear and sticky to spatter my clothing, laptop and desk. I can sell the title! Romney and Marsh and the Case of the Missing (insert brand name here) Tomato Ketchup. So what if there isn’t any ketchup in the story. Who would care? Merchants, think about readers scanning thumbnail images in Amazon’s crime fiction department – Death to All, Everyone Must Die, No Survivors, Massacre and Mayhem, The Case of the Missing (insert brand name here) Tomato Ketchup (Brand name and instantly recognisable product logo over-sized).
I can approach leading brands for product placement rights within the story.
DI Romney sat down heavily and proceeded to drink noisily and thirstily from his cold and highly refreshing tin of Diet Coka-Cola (deliberate typo. No one has paid anything yet) ‘Oh God, DS Marsh that tastes so good. I’m so glad I choose this brand over all others because it really hits the spot and quenches my thirst in ways that no other cola comes close to and I’m sure my libido and sexual stamina are increased by my daily consumption of Tescbury’s own brand fair trade rich dark chocolate which is on special offer at participating stores this month if you just mention my name (DI Romney) and the promotional code number 48839.’
‘Really, sir? I’ll definitely be giving those two products a try next time I visit Dover’s Castle Wharf Shopping Arcade which has free parking on Thursday nights between seven and nine. And a carvery.’
DC Grimes pushed through the double doors into the inner sanctum of CID.
‘Hey, Peter. Your hair has got a real shine these days. What conditioner are you using on it?’
‘Morning serge. The wife discovered this amazing brand of two in one shampoo and conditioner which saves me time in the shower and gives my hair this healthy glow. It’s called Wash and Run and it’s really cheap. But never mind that now. Have you tried the new bog paper from Morristrose? So soft and absorbent. One wipe and just about everything comes off clean and fresh. You wanna look?’ Grimes’ hand went to his belt.
Yes, we all mention brands in our books from time to time, but for effect rather than profit. In my first Acer Sansoms I had the villains driving around Istanbul in Audis. Maybe I should contact Audi and threaten to change the Audis to Range Rovers if they don’t provide me with an Audi TT or a cash alternative.
But what I’m really talking about here is proactively seeking sponsors for product placement and not just a bit of name dropping. Example: DI Romney pulled up to the petrol pump in his new Ford. This could become: DI Romney pulled up to the petrol pumps in his new Ford Mondeo 16V Cosworth in Air Force Blue with Recaro seats and the alloy wheels optional extras. He’d bought it on the strength of it being voted Which Magazine’s best value family sports saloon for the second year running. He’d been particularly fortunate with his purchase – Ford were operating a 0% finance package over five years for anyone quoting the promotional code: RomneyandMarshCosworthOffer.
Maybe I could forget writing and become an agent. I could set up deals between authors and advertisers. Have a website – a proper one not a blog pretending to be one. I could take a commission. I could become rich and infamous.
So where was I? Right, selling names of characters in the book. I think I should create a sliding scale of fees that matches a character’s involvement in the story. So far we have:
Main murderer – £500
Murder victim 1 (non speaking part) – £100
Murder victim 2 (speaking part and lots of screaming) – £250
Postman (non speaking part) – £100
Alien that DI Romney finds in his garage (speaking part but you can’t understand a word it says) – £250
Man masturbating in lift (non speaking part but plenty of strange noises) – £100
Mad woman who drowns kittens in bucket of her own urine (speaking apart) – £250
Maybe I need to go back and write in some more characters. Maybe a few of them should be more appealing to be identified with by potential investors craving immortality. Let’s face it if you’re going to be immortal you want to spend eternity as someone cool, not a wanker in a lift (literally). Or maybe I should auction off the roles. Dutch or normal. The sky’s the limit for this shizzle. The opportunities are limitless.
I’m half-way through the book so plenty of time for interested parties to contact me with offers regarding opportunities to prostitute myself, my art and the holy sanctity of the written word for economic gain.
I know what you’re thinking but look what’s happened to TV. The haunted fish tank has product placement all over. Everyone’s selling out, leaping aboard the gravy train, claiming their spot at the trough. My mum told me about Jamie Oliver. If the squeaky clean Golden Boy of cookery can bend over to take it from the corporate advertising gang-bangers there must be a fortune to be made. Why else would he do it? In fact why did he do it? Surely, he doesn’t need the money. Silly me. Money’s addictive. Obviously.
Maybe Romney and Marsh could get fed up with being confused with that corner of Kent and change their names by deed poll to Rolls and Royce (big money in that one) or Benson and Hedges (controversial but with the muzzle on cigarette advertising these days I reckon they’d jump at it. I could have all the covers re-deigned to look like fag packets (great thumbnail images). Romney is well known for his filthy habit but I’ve never named his brand. I could. For a regular standing order into my off-shore account.) Oh, hang on. What did I say about original thought? Someone’s ahead of me with that one – Bryant and May. (Break for belly full of scorinish laughter.) What was he thinking? What can they offer him? There’re only so many free boxes of matches one can use in a lifetime. Maybe DI Benson and DS Hedges could bump into Bryant and May in a book. Think of the laughs and in jokes. (If you do let me know because they escape me.)
So, immortality anyone? Sort of.