Friday, 21 December 2007

Conference Notes

Last week was our company sales conference, which we have two or three times a year. The point of these is for editors to present the sales force with new and upcoming titles, so they are suitably enthused and briefed before they go out and sell the books into the shops. This particular conference was for May-August 2008, and as The Bromley Boys is down for an August publication date, it was down to me to talk the talk. I think the presentation went well with the sales reps in particular extremely keen, and asking to read material as soon as possible. Which is always a good sign. Anyway, this is what I said...

Picture the scene. It’s 1969. The Beatles and the Stones are doing battle at the top of the charts. A new TV series called Monty Python’s Flying Circus has just started. And England are world cup holders, officially the best team in the world.
Dave Roberts, a teenage boy in a sleepy south London suburb has been bitten by the football bug as so many of his generation. But rather than supporting the high-flying likes of West Ham or Arsenal, he has instead opted for a lifetime’s suffering in supporting his local non-league team, Bromley football club. And far from being the best team in the world, Bromley are the exact opposite. In 1969, Bromley suffer their worst ever season, finishing bottom of the bottom of the non-league league. Officially the worst team in England, the only saving grace is that they can’t actually get relegated, for the simple reason that there’s nowhere else for them to go.
The Bromley Boys is Dave’s funny and heartwarming story of a football club at rock bottom. Bromley are a club where the attendance is always given at 400, because no-one can bothered to count the crowd. They’re a team who let in so many goals that the taunting opposition fans actually lose count of the score. They’re a team who play in the bizarre Kent Floodlit Cup, a cup competition exclusively for clubs in Kent with floodlights, and get beaten by a team from Essex.
This is a personal coming of age story too. Dave’s obsession with the local non-league team does not exactly make him many friends, and that’s before he is sent to a local boarding school, where the only sport they play is rugby. In one particularly disastrous episode, Dave runs away in order because he can’t bear to miss Bromley play Ilford, buys an egg sandwich at half time by mistake, which means he has no money left for the bus back, and ends up walking across the fields of Kent at 2 in the morning, while the school, the police and his parents are all out searching for him.
There’s one final twist about The Bromley Boys, which is the blog that accompanies the book. Since Dave began writing the book in the summer, he and I have been blogging the book’s progress at The subtitle of the blog is ‘The Story of A Book From Start to Finish’, and that’s exactly what it is. Dave is writing about writing, I’m writing about editing, and then, as the book progresses and more people get involved, I hope that other people, including your good selves, will also contribute, to give a unique account of what is involved in putting a book together. I think this is the first time this has been attempted, and I hope that you’ll be keen to get involved.
To sum up, The Bromley Boys is funny, touching and extremely well written, the sort of universal football story that will appeal to fans everywhere. It taps into a long standing tradition of successful books about sporting failure. It also takes advantage of the nostalgia angle too – the 1960s setting will appeal to the many thousands who bought the recently anthologies of You Are The Ref and Buchan’s Football Monthly.
And if you remember nothing else, here’s your five second sound bite to remember, The Bromley Boys is a non-league Fever Pitch.

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