Liverpool fan and author Paul Tomkins has received rave reviews for all four of his books about Liverpool FC, and deservedly so. A true Liverpool supporter, Paul has written every word from the heart, as he has done in his many articles for sites like the official Liverpool FC website.
It's no secret that Paul has been writing these books against a background of ill health. Paul suffers from a very much misunderstood condition called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME for short. This isn't the place to get into a detailed discussion of how bad an illness it is, or the controversy surrounding the belief by some that it's "all in the mind". ME is a debilitating illness which takes away people's lives without actually killing them, and it is not "all in the mind".
Paul has worked hard to write the books, to keep the articles coming and of course to get to the games so that he can write about the club we all love. Unfortunately this has started to become more and more difficult, as he explained on his website recently. Paul has taken the decision to take a long break from "full-scale" football writing. He's selling off the remaining stocks he has of his four books – "Golden Past, Red Future", "Red Revival", "The Red Review" and "An Anfield Anthology" – at cut prices. All books are priced at £6.99, plus £2 worldwide P&P.
This only applies if you buy directly from his site – www.paultomkins.com. Paul makes virtually no money from sales of his books from Amazon and other outlets, so you'll be helping him out much more if you buy directly from him.
The message on his site explains in his own words why he's decided to scale things down. I'm sure many of you will join me in wishing Paul the best of luck with the illness, and will share the hope that it soon relapses and gives him his life back. Here's what Paul says on his site:
News: "Closing Down" Sale
This is a note to inform people that due to ill-health I am taking an extended break from full-scale football writing. While I hope to not disappear completely (up my own arse or otherwise), I have cancelled plans to write any more books, and will not be selling any of my books online after the end of March 2007, or sooner if the stock runs out.
The aim is to sell off, at sale prices, the remaining copies of all four books, and then shut everything down at the end of the financial year. So all books are now priced at £6.99 at www.paultomkins.com, plus just £2 packing and postage to anywhere in the world.
I've been reluctant to slow/scale down, having worked hard to build up a reputation and a niche, but at present I'm finding even walking fairly difficult, and that's starting to really concern me, obviously. Research into M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years, with key discoveries as to how it affects the body, but it's still a difficult and unpredictable condition, with a cure a fair few years away. My own condition has got gradually worse over a number of years, but in the last two months it's been dramatically worse than ever before. When I have good days/weeks I commit to things that I then later struggle with when suffering with a bad patch. It's a vicious circle as the more I do the worse I feel, but the more I do the more commitments I then have to make to follow through with to make them pay off. But it's time to break that cycle.
As selling the books has been my only form of income (none of the website writing I undertake is paid), writing articles has been about raising awareness of the books. If people don't buy my books, I can't pay the bills. A lot of people seem to resent what they see as self-promotion, and it's not something I feel entirely comfortable with, either; but there have been no alternatives open to me. Ideally selling lots of books would be a bonus, rather than something I have to rely on. It also doesn't help that when Liverpool are struggling people aren't in the mood for buying books relating to the current team. It's a crazy pressure, needing the team to do well in order to make a living. It's bad enough just wanting the Reds to win as a fan, without the worry additional that defeat makes the bills harder to pay.
Sales have remained very good through retail outlets, but as these are through a third party (wholesaler), by the time they've taken their cut, and the shops/online stores theirs, it leaves virtually no profit once I've paid the printers for producing the book. As soon as any book of mine has an ISBN number, Amazon list the price as around 30-40% cheaper, which drives sales away from www.paultomkins.com. It's a weird situation, but is of course their right to sell at any price.
Hopefully I will return to writing books at some stage, but it is highly unlikely that this will happen unless there is a cure for the condition, or, against the odds, I make a significant improvement. In the meantime I've dropped down from writing a weekly column for liverpoolfc.tv – I will now be doing so on an as-and-when basis, to fit in around how I'm feeling. I will look to continue with this, health permitting, and hopefully chronicle some good times. But it's unlikely the frequency will be anywhere like it was in the previous 18 months. I also hope to write the occasional piece for squarefootball.com.
All that remains is to thank everyone for the support I've had since 2000, and for buying my books in the last couple of years. I get a lot of stick for what I do, but I also have a loyal readership that I have always felt a lot of obligation and responsibility towards. I'd also like to thank all of the independent LFC websites for publishing my work over the years.