500 Voices

As charity e-book Voices In The Crowd hits another milestone, Paul Balm describes how it was put together

Ask my friends and they’ll tell you I’m very good at coming up with ideas or, at least, I do it quite often. Actually, don’t ask them. They tend to wince when I use the words “I’ve had” and “an idea” in the same sentence. There are times when they can come in a bit of a scattergun process, almost like a stream of consciousness as I leap from one idea to the next making jumps from one part of an idea to another in my mind that make perfect sense to me but can just appear to be random gibberish to everyone else. The closest thing I can compare it to is when Alan Partridge his pitching TV show ideas – Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, Inner City Sumo, Monkey Tennis, that sort of thing. Any time you’re throwing ideas out like that there as some real duff ideas that are quickly and mercifully forgotten but some can stick and I tend to keep going on about them (this does include the darts/gymnastics crossover but that’s only a joke, honest).

These ideas tend to have two common and interlinking factors to them. They all seem very easy when I think of them and none of them ever are. “Voices in the Crowd”, the Rink Rush book was like that. I had the idea last summer and it seemed so easy at the time. All we had to do was get a load of stories from hockey fans, chuck them in an e-book, publish it and sit back and watch the money roll in (for charity of course). In a way it did happen like that but it wasn’t anywhere near as simplistic as that implies. It took a lot longer than I expected for a start, which was mainly due to me underestimating everything.

I’d like to think, though, that I’ve also learnt a lot from doing it. I’m almost an expert on Amazon’s publishing app, I’ve learnt that you don’t just chuck books like this together, there has to be a flow to how the stories fit. I think I got it right, in places, but I probably didn’t get every single one right. There’s also the question of making sure that you don’t get clumps of stories from fans of particular teams or individual writers. We had more stories from Panthers fans than anywhere else which is probably to be expected but it meant that you have to be careful not to alienate fans from others clubs and mix things up. Basically sorting out the order was, at times a bit of a headache. Some stories have a position in the book that is obvious. The first story in the book (which, incidentally was also the first we received oddly enough) is a perfect starting point because it charts the story of their first game and the final one, which was previously available in a slightly different format on here, about the first (still feels odd adding that word) Rink Rush always felt, once I’d decided to include it was only ever going to be in one place. The rest though, yeah a real headache.

When I wrote that last paragraph about the “problems” I was going to use the word nightmare to describe them but I didn’t because it wasn’t. A new story from a Panthers fan might have meant that I had to work out where it went for the reasons I’ve listed before but it also meant another story to read and in almost every case relate to on one level or another. British Airways ran an advertising campaign years ago that had pictures of, for example, a baseball player stood next to a man in cricket whites above a tag line of “There are more things that bring us together than keep us apart” or something like that and that’s what these stories are like to me. We always wanted the book to be written by fans from all over the country as we wanted to show that really, deep down, the only real difference is who we support and I think and hope you agree that we’ve achieved that.

The other reason it was never a nightmare was the writers themselves, the people who took the time to tell us the stories. The book might have my name on the front but it’s the acknowledgements page at the back that contains the names of the really important people. I said at the start of this segment I keep having daft ideas and that’s true but it’s people like this who make those dreams a reality and I will always be grateful to them.

That would be a great way to end but I want to finish on a couple of other points. Today we passed the £500 mark for profits raised for the book. That’s not a bad achievement for a book that was only launched a couple of months ago. OK, I doubt JK Rowling is quaking in her boots but you’ve got to start somewhere haven’t you? With that in mind, before I go, I sort of have to plug the book to those of you that haven’t bought it yet. You can get it from Amazon here. It costs £3.99 and every penny of profit that we make after Amazon have taken their cut goes to Cancer Research UK as part of the second (that’s weird as well) Rink Rush so please, please buy a copy if only to find out what happens to you when you don’t sign a Giants’ fans programme the right way.

If you have already bought it then thank you & if you haven’t already done so please write a review on Amazon to say how much you enjoyed it. If you’re on Twitter please give the Rink Rush a follow at @TheRinkRush to keep up to date with what we’re up to and hopefully at least one event during the off season.

You can follow Paul on Twitter @MrBalm

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