Monday, October 12, 2009 by Paul Grech
It is fair to say that Paul Tomkins is one of the leading Liverpool writers out there (Brian Reade, Oliver Kay, Tony Barrett and Tony Evans are the others), a reputation built over the years initially on various forums and then on the club's official website. He is also probably the most prolific author of books about Liverpool FC having published some eight books in the space of four years.
Yet, as many other writers have found out before him, it is difficult to earn a living purely from writing even if you produce one bestseller after the other as he has. It is a difficulty about which he spoke in detail on his blog a couple of months ago, which was quite surprising given how downbeat the writer known for his positive outlook on matters was.
Those difficulties have, however, led to the development of a new venture: the Tomkins Times. This is quite an interesting experiment as Tomkins will now be charging for his articles even if the fees are minimal - £2 monthly for a regular subscription and £3.50 for a premium one - which are what you would normally pay for a magazine. There have been such experiments in the past most notably on Koptalk although that was a completely different beast as it was based exclusively on pushing out as many news stories (true or otherwise) as possible.
News and gossip are, you would think, the last thing that Tomkins would resort to. His strength has always been an ability to look at matters as objectively as possible and in analysing aspects of Liverpool's play where others simply go with the flow. It is what has attracted so many people to his writing and why he has sold so many books.
There is, however, something of a shift in his writing style for the Tomkins Times. Given the audience and the medium, he was never going to say what he really wanted to say whilst writing for the official site. All that changes here as his recent article about Tony Cascarino's misguided opinions on Liverpool illustrates.
This is a very interesting project as it gives the fans of his writing access to many more articles than they were used to. For Tomkins this is an opportunity to keep on writing on a subject which he enjoys whilst ensuring a fairly stable source of revenue. In reality, that is the key: it is fairly easy to get people to subscribe in the first month but much less so to ensure that they keep on paying month after month. Given the quality of his writing, I would think that it is a safe bet that many will be doing so.