Just so people know, I won’t be writing any more music books after the two Beach Boys ones I promised to write. It seems that no matter how clearly I label the books, or how much I make available for free, the majority of people buying them who care enough to post reviews have four complaints:
1) That they’re not sessionographies or reference books listing times and dates.
2) That I have opinions which they disagree with
3) That they don’t contain any photographs
4) That I use what they consider an excessively large type size.
1) and 2) are never going to change, because dry reference books already exist about these people. I’m interested in analysing the music, not in saying “the session took place on 23rd March 1964 and featured Joe Drummer on drums”, and am never going to write that kind of book. 3) would only change if someone was willing to pay the many hundreds of pounds per book photo licensing would cost. And 4) isn’t going to change, partly because I don’t consider twelve-point type to be exceptionally large, and partly because I want my books to be accessible to people with visual problems (I design the layout of my books specifically to make them easy for my wife, who has limited vision, to read).
This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing and publishing books — I’m writing a novel at the moment, I’ve got a book on comics I’ve been planning for a while, I’m going to turn my Mindless Ones Doctor Who essays into a book, and so on. Expect at least four books from me in the next year. But after I finish the Beach Boys books, I’m not going to write any more music ones. I’m not going to spend six months working on, say, a book about David Bowie for the end result to be three days of sales followed by “Hinkey doesn’t even tell you the recording dates! He thinks he’s an expert and yet he thinks Kooks is better than Life On Mars! And Hinkey uses large print!” It’s simply not worth the stress. I could just punch myself in the balls and save everyone involved a lot of time and effort.
The annoying thing is I know there are a lot of people who *do* like those books — but they’re not the people buying them, and I don’t want to write books that sell to people who don’t like them and don’t sell to people who do.
I’m not being self-pitying here. The reactions of the people who *do* like my music writing have made it more than worthwhile for me to write those books — a lot of people I like and respect, and a lot of total strangers, have said lovely things about them. But I don’t write books in order to upset people, and so I’m going to concentrate on my other writing.