Today’s blog guest is Phil Miles, author of Passion United a football fan book which I reviewed yesterday here on the blog. Here is the link http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-31Z
Let’s find out more about Phil;
1) Where is your home town?
I live in a village called Holybourne, which is almost a suburb of Alton, a market town in North Hampshire. I have lived here for eight years and enjoy the fact that I am close to a town and its amenities, yet a stone’s throw from dozens of footpaths through beautiful rolling countryside.
2) How long have you been writing?
In a sense, all of my life. I loved English at school and excelled in essays. Even outside of school I would write short stories and illustrate them. I wish I had kept hold of them now to compare. During my teenage years I didn’t write, but was an avid reader. The lure of girls, socialising and in particular football put a dent in my creative aspirations.
Following college I took up IT as my main career, more by accident than design. However, I took every opportunity on offer to write and loved writing any work related documentation, such as user guides, technical documents and even sales proposals in later years!
In my late twenties I applied for and was offered a job as a junior reporter at the Portsmouth News. I really wanted it, but at the time I had a young daughter, a new mortgage and simply could not afford a large cut in salary
3) How long did it take to get all the content of “Passion United” together?
In terms of the poetry and narrative, it was around 4 months, plus a couple of weeks for proof reading and final editing. At first it started as a collection of original poems, inspired by a friend (an ex professional footballer from the 60s) who died of a long term lung condition in January 2012. I then decided that poetry on its own would not appeal to a wide enough audience so I embarked on selecting various aspects to research and write narrative about, aspects of the game that I know are often discussed and debated by fans across the land. I spent around 200 hours to research the factual elements of the book.
I also spent the best part of a month selecting photos used in the book. This would have been done in under a week, but I realised after researching copyright that I would infringe copyright issues, so I had to rethink and find suitable photo replacements and seek permission for their use from the various contributors. This basically delayed the book going to print in early August, my original target date.
4) You have an interesting mix of information, stories and poems, how would you describe your book to a potential reader?
Without being derogatory to my work, it could be described as a “toilet” book. It is not a novel with an end to end plot or complex characters, so can be picked up, read for a bit, put down and picked up again later.
However, I believe it is a book that will appeal to just about any football fan or followers of any age, no matter who they support. My memoirs are built on my personal, but vivid experiences of the subjects covered. I have tried to put the reader in my situation at the time, so they can visualise and relate it to their own similar experiences when following their club. Many of the poems are intended to add a tongue in cheek angle on some of the subject matter covered, particularly fan “traits”.
In terms of genre, I have previously used the phrase that it’s a “concept” book, as I have not come across any others that utilise the same mix of poetry, narrative, fact and humour.
5) Your book looks at the many changes in football and its supporters over the years, which was your favourite era and why?
This is a hard one to answer. In terms of the game from a neutral aspect, then the early to late seventies, as this was the period I could start going to matches with my friends. Couple that with the fact that you could see your schoolboy heroes of the time up close, and without the elitism and prima donna tendencies of the top players today, it was both enchanting and nostalgic.
From a more personal aspect (in following my chosen team) then the first five years we had in the top flight, culminating in winning the FA Cup in 2010 and going to watch ‘my’ team at the new Wembley 5 times in just over two years. That was a fantastic experience.
6) Once anyone has written a book, the next step is selling it, tell us briefly about your own journey in self publishing.
When I decided that I was going to write a book in February 2012 I knew nothing about self publishing; I assumed you needed a literary agent and try to secure a publishing contract. I read a lot about the pitfalls of going down this route, mainly the time it could take (if ever at all).
I soon found out about self publishing and through a little research I chose to go with an established UK self-publishing house. This means I had to pay them to set the original manuscript for print and for the print costs of the first 500 copies.
Through my contact with established “indies” since, I now realise there are even more independent ways and options to achieve your goal, that only cost a fraction of what I paid.
However, without traditional literary agent or publisher, you are left to deal with all promotional aspects. No one is going to magically appear to help promote or sell the book for you.
My main line of attack was to offer the book for review to high profile individuals in the football industry, i.e. a well known media broadcasters and high profile players or ex-players. However, I was unsuccessful despite sending more than 40 copies with a personal cover letter to various high profile individuals, but alas, no reviews. It depressed me for a while leading up to Christmas, but I battled on and sold more than 300 copies in wind, rain and hail (mostly outside of Fratton Park).
I also distributed around 60 copies to Waterstones, local bookshops and even pubs, all provided with self designed promotional posters. However, the sales did not reflect my efforts or costs.
My promotional efforts will be very different next time round and started a lot earlier. I also think, through having previous experience and a book already published, it will help my credibility.
7) How have you dealt with the ever changing facts and results in football since you first published your work?
Since publishing, not too much has changed on the whole, although some references to specific situations I discuss in the book have moved on. I have been updating the original manuscript to cater with this and will consider a subsequent edition, with added narrative and a few new poems. The plan is to have it ready before the kick off of the 2014/2015 football season (before in Kindle format).
8) Your football passion shines through in your writing, tell us about “The Footy Poet”
Basically, I am a very ordinary, down to earth person, who has a passion for both writing and football. Therefore, the choice to write my first book using football as a subject was a no brainer. Outside of writing and following Portsmouth FC, I operate as a sole trader to help small businesses with all areas of design and print for marketing and promotional impact, including brochures, banners and web site design and build.
When not working or watching football I enjoy walking in the countryside around me, gathering creative thoughts. I also enjoy playing pool whenever I can at my local, and an occasional game of golf.
9) For all our overseas readers, I know you are a fan of Portsmouth Football Club, many sports clubs have nicknames, what is the history of Portsmouth’s?
Another difficult question to fully answer as the real origins of “Pompey”, a nickname for both the city and the football club, has never been truly established. There have been various theories and explanations put forward, some believable, others more far-fetched, but nothing has been definitively accepted as the real reason.
The only thing I can safely assume is that the nickname was given to the city before the football club and that its origins are most probably related to Portsmouth’s naval connection.
10) I believe you have plans for more books, tell us what you hope to write about next.
I have a number of projects planned, including two full “autofictional” type books about someone with Alzheimer’s disease and another with Schizophrenia respectively. However, as these are likely to take up a huge chuck of time, I aim to publish a collection of (non-football related) poems and a couple of short children’s stories, set to illustrations.
I also need to establish a habit of writing at least one blog a week to promote my work and awareness of Phil Miles, the author.
Author web site: http://www.footypoet.com
Author Bio: http://www.footypoet.com/#/biography/4564489727
My Poetry Blog posts: http://philmilespoetry.wordpress.com/
Thanks Phil, and good luck with the writing.