I published over eighty blog posts last year, which is probably rather too many. It does look as if people are reading them though. I’m not sure I entirely trust WordPress’s statistics but they claim that that has been a big growth in hits on my website recently, which suggests that someone, somewhere enjoys reading the stuff I write. Actually, I say “somewhere” as if I have no idea where my readers are but WordPress says that most of them are in the United States. This is odd, as I don’t sell many books in the United States. Are you real readers or are you bots? If you are reading this from the USA, why not say hello in the comments? And maybe even buy one of my books.
2022 saw the usual collection of personal ramblings, book reviews, historical nuggets and even (say it soft) plugs for my books. But what did people actually read?
Book reviews were popular. I often feel a bit embarrassed writing book reviews because, honestly, why should anybody care what I think of a book? I remember once reviewing a book that I thought was a bit of dire self-published nonsense only to discover later that it was actually a best seller on the New York Times list. All book reviews are subjective, but apparently some people like to read mine so I will carry on doing them.
In December I ran a blog post which embedded me reading the first 20 minutes of ‘Something Wicked’. This got a lot of visitors but I have no way of knowing how many actually listened to the reading. Were you one of them? Do let me know.
Several other posts about my own books were also well read, which was nice. Sometimes I feel that people want to read the blog posts about other peoples’ books or historical events, but are much less enthusiastic about reading things promoting my own work. This year seems to have been a welcome exception. Thank you for everybody who did read these posts. Perhaps they contributed to a definite uplift in sales this year.
I’m always happy to feature guest posts, especially from historical authors. I’ve had some lovely guest posts in the past year. Carol McGrath’s recent one on ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was particularly popular.
Back in November I was very lucky to be invited as a guest to the officers mess at Saint James’s palace. I couldn’t resist writing about it on my blog and it seems that a lot of people enjoyed reading it. I’m happy to have shared my day with you.
Amongst the straightforward history posts, the most popular seems to have been my essay on the British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1806, which features in ‘Burke in the Land of Silver’. There was also a lot of interest in a series of blog posts which combined chatting about a holiday to Ironbridge with an outline of the town’s importance in the development of the Industrial Revolution.
It’s not just about the number of visitors. One reason why so many blogs appeared last year was that for a while I ran a post every week based on my wife’s diaries of two years before when we were in lockdown. These did not get as many visitors as the average post, but it did generate some discussion on Twitter and people who read them were sometimes very enthusiastic about them. Two years ago does not feel like history, but it’s amazing how quickly something that affected everybody so immediately is drifting hazily into the past. The government’s inquiry into what went wrong (and things obviously did go wrong) seems to have been set up with a view to reporting once we have all forgotten what actually happened. I think it’s important that we don’t, so I was happy to publish these diaries. They are honestly worth a look. Search for ‘Journal of the Covid Years’.
So there we are: the usual eclectic mix of subject matter. There was even the inevitably compulsory post on tango, written after a visit to Buenos Aires. I must be doing something write because you still read my blog — more and more as the year went by. Thank you very much for exploring this weird mix of subjects with me. If you’re enjoying them, I’m always happy to hear from you. And if there’s something you would particularly like me to write about, please let me know.
Here’s to exploring more random stuff in 2023.