I like to start the New Year by looking back at the blog posts of the previous twelve months to see which ones were most popular. This year we can sort the top half dozen on some sort of geographical basis. (Links take you to the original blog posts.)
The most popular blog post of 2018 was a complete surprise to me. Antoine Vanner (whose own blog, at https://dawlishchronicles.com/dawlish-blog/, I highly recommend) suggested that I write something about Indian history and the 1857 revolt. I had written a piece on this before I moved my blog to WordPress, so I decided that I would reprint the old post – British India to 1857: The Rise and Fall of the East India Company. This duly appeared in October and readership since then has been quite remarkable. It is now the most widely post on my blog by some margin. I will definitely be writing more about India in the near future.
I wrote a lot about battle of Waterloo in 2018. It was one of these posts that was the second most popular in the year. It wasn’t one of the posts about the battle itself, but a rather drier piece about why Napoleon was heading for Brussels in the first place. Was it a pointless campaign by a man who had failed to come to terms with the realities of his situation, or could it have changed the course of European history? You’ll have to read the blog to find out.
Blogs about the battle itself were understandably popular. My pieces on the use of cavalry and the fight for Hougoumont were particularly well read, but one thing I learned in 2018 is that any post that mentions Napoleon and Waterloo is pretty well guaranteed a good readership.
I like to feature guest posts from time to time and these are often popular. Mary Anne Yarde’s contribution on King Arthur featured a lovely sculpture from Tintagel.
Last year my beloved and I got very involved in English Heritage’s plans for a park near our house. This ended up with us both learning much more about 18th century gardening than we had ever imagined possible. It resulted in a blog post on how a king’s mistress’s garden had morphed into a modern park and how we should treat the result. (It may also have contributed to some modifications to English Heritage’s plans, which I hope was a good thing.)
Beyond the Top Six
Further down the list was more and more Waterloo with a gratifying amount of interest in the international politics of the period as well as the fighting.
Malvern Festival of Military History. (I’m the one on the left)
In October I was very pleased to be invited to be a speaker at the Malvern Festival of military history. I was one of the panel talking about turning historical fact into fiction and this resulted in a few blog posts on the business of writing historical fiction. They weren’t quite as popular as Waterloo, but they did get a gratifying number of readers, especially the one about how much research actually goes into a historical novel.
There were no blogs on tango this year. They used to be very popular, but as more people began reading the blog regularly, presumably for the history, there was less interest in random posts on tango, so I stopped writing them. I miss them a bit, though. If anybody wants me to revive some of the old ones – or maybe even write some new – I’ll have a look at it.
A Word from Our Sponsor
Obviously I wrote a lot of blog posts last year (I lost count somewhere over sixty). What I didn’t write in 2018 was any actual books. In fact I did finish a couple of novels, which Endeavour has said they will consider publishing this year (2019). Understandably, they were not anxious to commit themselves publication until they knew that they had sold some copies of the six novels that I have out with them already (see my-books/). Fortunately, my royalty cheque (yay!) suggests that they may well decide to go ahead. I mention this because, like lots of other writers, I’ve noticed that my books are available on many websites which do not pay me or my publisher. That’s stealing. It’s not just that it’s wrong, but it can make the difference between a publisher deciding that it’s worth going ahead and putting my next books out there or not. I like having my novels professionally published because I think that a publisher probably does it better than I do and is able to market them much more effectively than me. If I can’t find a publisher, I probably won’t write any more books – and this goes for a lot of other writers too. So if you like books by independent authors or authors being published by small presses, please do go out and buy them. All of mine are available in paperback for £6 or less and the e-books are even cheaper.