I did it. I made my money back.

So, Cows fans, that Oxford Times article must have pushed things over the edge, because I have now made back the money I spent in publishing Grow Your Own Cows.
That was kind of what I wanted to do – prove that it’s possible to publish without losing money. So I feel genuinely proud.
So, what have I learnt? I have learnt:

test image

blah blah hello

1) I have some really, really nice friends. When I first started the website for the book asking if I should go ahead and publish, I sent an email to all my good friends and colleagues. They passed the email on to all their good friends and colleagues. And before long I was getting hundreds of votes. I am continually amazed at how supportive and kind my friends are. Thank you.

Mr Orlov

The meerkat has more fans than me. But he spent much, much more on advertising

2) never underestimate the power of Facebook. It brought me fans from all over the world. I may not have the pulling power of that meerkat, but I was still surprised how quickly people joined up to the Cows facebook fan page.

Maria at work

Maria in the white hot heat of creativity

3) that if you think an artist is brilliant and you want to work with her, it’s worth asking – she might turn out to be as friendly and lovely as Maria Smedstad of Em fame.

4) that the printers at Information Press are lovely, and professional to the last drop

5) that if you walk into a bookshop and ask them to stock your book, they will, astoundingly.

Minima badge

This is the picture on his badge

6) that my parents are secretly proud I wrote about them, even if they grumble about it on the surface. My dad now permanently wears a Minima badge on his lapel. ==>

If you voted, bought, wrote a review, suggested a way I could promote the book, sent me a nice email or recommended GYOC to a friend, I really am grateful. I love the internets.


The Oxford Times runs a feature… just in time for, um, the post-xmas rush

Limited Edition. Very exclusive

Back in November the Oxford Times asked me to write a piece about Grow Your Own Cows for their literary/weekend pages. So I did. I was excited! People would see it and buy the book for Christmas. The article was scheduled for the first week in December.

They’ve decided to run it THIS week. First week in January. Thanks, Oxford Times.

Still, better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper. If you want to read it – and see my ugly mug in real life – click through to the article here.

It’s only good publicity if you mention what you’re selling

So, I went to London at seven in the morning on an entirely unheated train (thanks, First Great Western) and arrived at Broadcasting House.

I met the rather nice Garry Richardson, the sports blokey from radio 4, who has a very strong Berkshire accent when he’s not on air.
And I met Sandi Toksvig, who is not small at all.
And I met the poetry lady who had a big red woolley jumper on.
And I met Fi Glover of course who was very nice.

So I nattered and nattered, I told the story of my dad, the bee and the underpants (see picture)

The bee in the trousers

Bees always walk upwards

and it all went very well. But guess what? After saying nothing but “www.growyourowncows.com” again and again on the radio oxford programme, I failed to mention
a) the book
b) the name of the book
c) the website
d) anything useful at all.

Am going to go away now and hide under the duvet. I’m an idiot idiot. If you want to Listen Again, it’s on the Saturday Live site. If you want to lobby them to link to my site, then bless you bless you, please please do.

PS I’ve got a book out you know. Grow your own… oh, never mind.

Reb goes national

This is the big time (well, as big as I’ll ever get). Radio Four’s Saturday Live programme with Fi Glover.

Saturday 19th December.

Getting up very, very early in the very, very cold morning.

It’s amazing how many of my (male) friends have a big crush on Fi. It’s that slightly sardonic posh accent I think. Will blog again when I find out what she’s like in the flesh. Control yourselves.

Here’s Fi for you to look at while you listen.

Fi Glover

A little picture of Fi

Reb on Radio Oxford part 2

Well, cow-fiends, I went to Radio Oxford, and had a nice cup of tea in reception while I waited to be brought in to the Jo Thoenes show.

Jo Thoenes

The very lovely Jo Thoenes

While I was waiting, the receptionist took a call from a madwoman somewhere in the region who had rung up in order to tell Radio Oxford that she didn’t like Gok Wan, and she was sick of seeing him on her telly, and she wanted the receptionist to take him OFF the telly NOW. Bear in mind that not only is Gok not a radio star nor an Oxford celebrity, he’s actually not even a BBC employee (his show’s on Channel 4). The receptionist was very polite. Not sure I would have been.
Anyway. A little disconcertingly, as Jo was announcing that she was looking forward to meeting Reb Williams, Reb was still in reception feeling nervous and looking at the awards on the wall (there’s one for how well Radio Oxford reported the 2007 floods in the county, which is in the shape of a sandbag. I’m not kidding). Then the producer came and fetched me, and I went in to the little studio and took deep breaths.
The weird thing about this is that I have been in a LOT of news studios. I used to work in government press offices. I am used to coaching officials on how not to be nervous when faced with the Today programme. But I realised I have never personally been behind the microphone, and I also realised that I was expecting Jo to be all Jeremy Paxmanesque and quiz me about, I don’t know, the environmental movement and vegetarianism or something. She didn’t. She was lovely, and very friendly, and I didn’t need any Bridging Statements or Lines To Take or anything like that.

I did talk too fast though.

If you want to hear the show and find out what I said about my dad and what he did with a condom at the dinner table, you can for a limited amount of time on the 24 November Listen Again feature. If you want to skip straight to the interview, it starts at 09:17.

A condom

A condom for Drayton, who wants more pictures in the blog

Reb on Radio Oxford

I’m not sure I believe it till I’m actually on air, but this afternoon I have to go to Radio Oxford to be interviewed about Grow Your Own Cows on the Jo Thoenes show.


Will blog about it afterwards. If I survive.

Bookshops are now stocking Grow Your Own Cows

Yesterday and today I set off to ask, very politely, if any bookshops would take copies of Grow Your Own Cows. I fully expected them to laugh in my face.

They didn’t!

They took them! Here is a list of places that now stock the book.

They were even quite nice about it. This is how it went:

Me: hello, do you ever take books by local authors?

Bookseller: (sceptical look)… mmm…. yes…
Me: Well here’s my book! blah blah… Good Life… blah blah… Cow in the garden… blah blah

Bookseller: (sceptical look)… yeah…

Me: have a look at the blurb

Bookseller: (chuckles)

Me: so…?

Bookseller: ok. I’ll take 6 copies.

It was that easy. I was very proud of the blurb. If you haven’t seen it, here it is….click to see if it makes you chuckle.


Does it make you chuckle?