Book week: Interview with Grandad

I sent a good few questions to Grandad about blogs and books and life and er porn. Below are the jumble of questions and below that are some very insightful answers.

So, tell us about the blog to start with. What’s it for? Who is it for?

You seem to have a massive community around your blog which gets bigger and bigger. What’s it like to have a daily audience and to have people there every day waiting for your words? Do you feel more pressured to perform nowadays?

I remember the day well when Michele told us all to check out the blog. It wasn’t soon before you were on TV talking about it too. And now a book. You hit the ground running and life is getting more and more interesting for you. When you first considered blogging, did you think it was going to be anything like this?

It has to be asked. OAP porn. You seem to get the most fucked up searches coming to you. You got a book deal, had any other type of “offers” from Adult entertainment or “niche” content producers?

So the book deal. Wow. Congrats. How did that come about?

You talk about the regime for getting the book started? Has your day become very regimented now? What’s your work ethic? Have you done any projects like this before?

When is the book out? What kind of marketing will be involved, do you think?

What’s next? Going to try and get O’Shea’s slot and spend time on the couch with Seoige?

Like it or not, you are now a role model to other bloggers. What advice would you give to them about blogging or getting a book deal?

** ** **
Answers from Grandad

OK. The blog…. You can blame Michele for that. I can’t remember where it happened [I think it was on the phone?], but in mid October 2006 we were talking about blogging. I knew absolutely nothing about it. I had read one or two blog posts, but that was it. I threatened to start a blog, and Michele told be that under no circumstances was I to do so, and that if I did, that no one would be safe! I took that as a challenge, and set up a blog the next day. Again, I didn’t even realise there were free blogging platforms at that time, so I set it up on its own server.

As I didn’t know what blogging was about, I just wrote whatever came into my head. I have more or less continued that to this day. Sometimes I have an idea, and sometimes I don’t but just write. Strangely, the spontaneous ones often get a better reaction. The concept of Grandad railing at tourists and Americans just evolved. In fact, since the blog started, I have gained quite a respect for Americans. It’s now the Irish I blame for embracing the American culture to the detriment of our own!

I don’t know how my community grew, or why the blog is popular. I write for my own amusement. If possible I try to make it amusing. I think it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Sheer luck. I don’t consider myself a writer, and had never written anything before, let alone published anything. My first break came when Sinead Gleeson was approached by the Irish Times to write about blogging. She was asked to suggest other bloggers, and for some reason, she chose me. I don’t know why. That was my first ever published article! Then I was approached to do the CapitalD thing. Again, I was amazed. It was great fun filming though. Strangely, neither the Times or RTE increased public awareness that much.

I think the first time I realised I might be on to something was when I was nearly shortlisted last year in the Irish Blog Awards as Best Newcomer. The next big break was when I was invited by Dario Sanchez [now no longer blogging] to join in a podcast with some people in America. That podcast has been running ever since. We lost Dario, but have since gained Baino from Australia. The podcast was a toehold into the States, and they now account for the majority of my readers.

I was recording the podcast yesterday, when one of the contributors pointed out that I hadn’t blogged yet. This was at 1.30pm here [7.30am, his time]. He said the first thing he always did at 6am was read my latest post, and he was pining. Others have commented too if I am late in writing, so I do seem to have created a pool of conditioned readers. Yes. That does cause a certain pressure. In fact, I am going away this week, so for the first time in fifteen months, I won’t be blogging. I will have to put up a warning to this effect!!

As for the way the site has developed – I am at a total loss. I hit a Feedburner figure yesterday of 285 which amazes me. A lot of it was to do with an article I wrote in October last about “How to drink a pint of Guinness”. Donncha Stumbled that, and the reaction was unbelievable. I had 26,000 visits from that one Stumble, and a lot of them stayed. Then I was shortlisted for the Net Visionary Awards. That amazed me, but the biggest shock was the Golden Spider. There was no way on earth that I expected that one!! Now I have the Digital Media Awards coming up. I’m shortlisted but I don’t think I’ll win. Leastwise, it’s very unlikely I’ll be going.

The book came about from an email. It was as simple as that. I got an email one day from Mercier Press, saying that they had been reading my blog, and would I like to write a book? We had discussions about it, and as you will have seen from today’s posting [Sunday], a novel sort of evolved from the discussion. I actually signed the contract on the day of the Spiders.

It is very hard going for a first timer. Usually what I do is spend the morning catching up with work. I than have a nap, and try to spend a few hours at the book. Some days I miss altogether, but generally it has become a routine. Some days it goes very well. Other days I panic. I will doubtless be meeting with the publishers when the first draft is done, and we’ll probably discuss marketing then.

The Senior Porn? Hah! That started out when I wrote a post about spam I was receiving. I inadvertently used all the wrong keywords, and of course that ranked me even higher. So, to an extent, I have encouraged it. Of my top 10 search term in the last month, only two are non-porn related!!! The Paris Hilton Naked Pussy went down very well. I rank very highly for her now. I am now an expert at search engine rankings! I even out-rank Cully and Sully and get a lot of searches for them. So far, no offers from that sector of my market :-(

As for what’s next? I haven’t a clue? I play things by ear. If the book does well, then maybe write another? And if it doesn’t, then I still have my other business [which refuses to die]. I never have high expectations and have already got a bet on that my book sales won’t exceed 500. So I’m not buying a suit to appear on The Plank’s show. I wouldn’t mind an appearance on Podge and Rodge though? Seoige? Forget it! Ni Bheolain? Bring her on!

You ask my advice? I don’t know. I don’t really know what I’m doing that is right. One thing I have toyed with is a blog on how to blog. But that is a bit like a writers course. If you can’t write, then you can’t be taught. But the kind of advice I would give in the blog, apart from the technical side of plug-ins and design, would be to have a rapport with the readers. I try to respond to as many comments as I can. They have taken the trouble to comment on my blog, so not only do I feel I should respond, but that it’s only fair that I comment on their blogs too. As for getting a book deal? They came to me. I think that more and more publishers are going to turn to the blogging world for fresh meat. They can see whether there is potential. If they think a blog is good enough, they will make the approach.

You say I’m a role model???????? I did notice a few times in the past that I wrote something, and not long after, a few other bloggers copied my style. I think I was one of the first to start writing about my search terms? That seems to have caught on. There are a few other quirks of mine that have suddenly become familiar elsewhere too!

2500 people have subscribed to my website instead of coming back each day. You can subscribe to the site using a feedreader or email. I'm also on Twitter. My online marketing blog might also be worth a visit. Thanks for visiting - Damien.

8 Responses to “Book week: Interview with Grandad”

  1. What a great post mate and what great answers.

    True humility from Grandad which adds even more weight to his thoughts on how he got where he did and how uncertain it all is.

    Makes me think that those of us (ok ME!) who think we know what we are doing are in fact no different to those that don’t shout about it and just get on with it.

  2. Grandad says:

    Thanks Damien! :)

    Can I claim I was quoted out of context?

  3. Sinéad says:

    Interview make for a great read :)

  4. Brilliant insight,,,,,great blogger

  5. Eolai says:

    It is a great interview, but I feel I should say that people writing about search terms is as old as blogging itself, older even since it’s been done for as long as search engines have existed. So unless a blogger specifically said they were prompted by Grandad there’s no reason to think they were.

  6. Grandad says:

    You’re right, Eolai. Just me getting carried away. [They do that quite often!]

  7. Michele says:

    And I’m still being blamed !! :)

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