Blogger Profile: Ex-Expat Author Jack Scott

For insight on expat life mixed with a generous dose of British wit, few bloggers can match Jack Scott, the author whose blog, Perking the Pansies, led to a publishing contract and a busy writing career. His book, Perking the Pansies: Jack and Liam Move to Turkey, was published by Summertime in 2011, and he has since also produced two ebooks, Turkey: The Raw Guide, and Turkey: Surviving the Expats, containing highlights from his blog. 

Jack Scott

We recently chatted with Jack about blogging, publishing, and the thrills and challenges of being an author in the multi-platform era.

How did your blog come into being?

It all happened quite by accident. When my civil partner Liam and I jumped the good ship Blighty and waded ashore to Turkey, we fully intended to put our feet up and watch the pansies grow. We quickly discovered that the real challenge facing able-bodied ‘emigreys’ (as I call wrinkly expats) is finding a meaningful occupation to fill the long, samey days. It doesn’t matter what it is — a hobby, charity work, launching a Kate Bush tribute act, whatever: anything to avoid early onset boredom. Believe me, it can be terminal.

To keep myself on the straight and narrow, I decided to reveal the plot of our emigrey soap opera and chronicle the exploits of the mad, the sad, the bad, and the glad. Initially, it was in the form of an email commentary to the folks back home — I called my dispatches ‘witterings.’ As they gathered pace, Liam suggested I start a blog, and so Perking the Pansies was propelled at an unsuspecting world. To start with, I knew absolutely nothing about this blogging lark, how it worked, or what might follow.

Who did you imagine your audience would be when you started out?

I honestly thought I would be talking to myself. Miraculously, my ramblings struck a chord from the outset, particularly with expats internationally. Perking the Pansies clocked up over 120,000 hits in the first year; not bad for an obscure blog reporting from a minor peninsula on the Aegean coast of Turkey.

Have your assumptions and expectations changed over time?

You could have knocked me over with a feather boa when a publisher asked me to write a book about our lives as reckless lotus-eaters. I set to the task with considerable vigor and Perking the Pansies: Jack and Liam move to Turkey was released at the end of 2011.

Reviews have been remarkable and so have sales. Last year, I was invited to present my work at the Polari Literary Salon at London’s Royal Festival Hall and I’ve even bagged a couple of awards.

How have these exciting developments changed your writing trajectory?

This entirely unforeseen success has opened up a whole new career for me as an author. Partly because of this, Liam and I decided to paddle back to Britain on the evening tide and we eventually washed up in Norwich, a little gem in eastern England. Inevitably, this new direction resulted in a radical change of focus for the blog.

Any thoughts about the homecoming thus far?

To be honest, I was expecting plummeting ratings, a kick to the graveyard slot, and cancellation of the show mid-series. In fact, I’m relieved to report that I have more subscribers than ever. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who pops by to show their support. It’s all been quite a journey.

Has the overarching purpose of the blog changed over the course of its existence?

The blog had always been a labour of love for me, a way to express random (and not so random) thoughts about my life and observations about the world around me. I write in a typically British tongue-in-cheek, sardonic style and I don’t take myself too seriously. Occasionally, I do write longer pieces about things that matter to me, particularly when I’ve got a bee in my bonnet. Otherwise, my posts tend to be short, humorous, and none-too-serious.

By now you’ve published a hard-copy book, two ebooks, and have continued to work on your blog. How do you see these different platforms interact with one another?

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 4.49.36 PMThe blog is an essential tool when it comes to promoting my writing projects. These days, few authors can just sit back and expect someone else do all the marketing. There’s a lot of hard graft involved and a dynamic online presence is vital. A blog or author website is a must, as is cross-fertilization across social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. Of course, the trick is to publicize with a light touch. By now, I reckon most of my regulars have either bought the book or would rather read the back of an envelope — so it doesn’t do to bang on too much about it.

It sounds like the multi-tasking can get quite intense.

Sometimes, it can all feel like a bit of a treadmill. Fortunately, WordPress.com takes the sting out of the tail with their auto-posting feature, an absolute godsend. I’ve also developed my own personal service to help authors get the message out there. If anyone’s interested, pop across to author2author.

What role has the WordPress.com community played in your journey as an author? Are there any features to this platform you’ve found particularly useful?

Blogging is a great auditioning process for writing, and the best way to experiment and grow your fan base. Fundamentally, it provided me with a ready-made audience for my book. Blogging is also an important and democratizing force, giving a real voice to those who might otherwise not have one.

WordPress.com, in particular, is an easy platform to use and I’m not surprised by its popularity. You can hit the ground running in minutes. The wealth of (mostly free) features and themes to suit every taste and genre swung it for me, and then I discovered the top drawer support from loyal and dedicated users. I’ve stuck to WordPress.com rather than switch to WordPress.org because I’m happy to steer clear of the technical aspects of self-hosting a website. I just want to publish and be damned!

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, how did you choose the Sight theme for your blog?

My blog design has changed over time as I’ve tried on different looks for size.

The Sight theme used on Jack Scott's home page

Jack Scott’s home page, using the Sight theme

I grabbed the Sight theme as soon as it was launched. For me, it offers clean, sophisticated lines, a crisp font, and flexible simplicity that is visually appealing without getting in the way of my writing.

Do you have any design or writing tips to offer to aspiring bloggers?

In terms of tips and hints about the blogging game, there are some simple rules of engagement I try to observe:

  • Aim to post at least once a week. It’s good for SEO and will help garner an audience. In the crowded blogosphere, content is king and the best content is new, fresh, and frequently updated.
  • Break up your words with interesting and relevant images. Keep your page clean and uncluttered. Fussy, multicolored scripts and busy designs can hurt the eyes and put the reader off.
  • Fans can be fickle and lazy. Make it easy to follow you by adding your social network links and the chance to subscribe to your pearls of wisdom by email.
  • Engage with your blogging peers as much as possible. It’s good to talk and networking pays big dividends.
  • Cultivate a strong social media presence.

What’s next for you? Any exciting upcoming projects you’d like to share with us?

The second and final installment of my memoir from the Turkey years is almost done and dusted. It ties up the fraying loose ends and brings our escapade to its crashing conclusion. It’s got a working title of ‘the Sisterhood,’ which gives those readers familiar with the first episode a bit of a clue about the storyline. I’m presenting my publisher with a bit of a corker and more than a few surprises. For more information about me and my work, please check out my author website at Jack Scott Books and, of course, the WordPress.com blog that started it all, Perking the Pansies.

Good luck with your future projects, Jack, and thanks for the chat!

You might also enjoy other posts from our Blogger Profile series:


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Ben Huberman

30 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. mollygreye

    What a great story! It’s very inspiring for an amateur blogger like me.

  2. Jack Scott

    Thank you WordPress for the chance to plug my work. Cheers!

  3. auntyuta

    This is a very inspiring post indeed about Jack Scott. Thank you WordPress!

  4. awax1217

    I enjoyed your blog which is unusual to say the least. I find most blogs droll like a troll and smelly like an old deli. The originality is short and sweet. Keep it up.

  5. AdonaiShekhinah

    I enjoyed this a great deal, lots of good pointers, and I appreciate the intellectual validation I got out of reading what I thought was true about blogging. I am going to skip over to Pansies though, I’m intrigued as a 45 year old on the adventures of writing from around the globe. :)

  6. chowanyau

    I echo that. Inspiring and uplifting. I hope to follow in his footsteps one day. Just honing my craft now.

  7. jpburtongroup

    Fun message, great tips! Thanks Jack!

  8. Sabah Ahmed

    Thank you a lot for that Blog at WordPress.com

  9. ipanase

    cool, but awaiting moderation :D

  10. Andra Watkins

    Inspiring post, Jack and the WordPress team. Thanks!

  11. Vishal Saxsena

    Motivating post, Proud to be part of WordPress team.

  12. 1annecasey

    Very inspiring story!

  13. alienorajt

    I am inspired, heartened and amused by your story, Jack. Thrilled for you as well. Like you, I started a blog a year or so ago, on Blogger, and have transferred over here within the past four days!

    I wish you continued success and happiness – and will take your useful tips on board!

    Alienora

  14. angelajardine

    Loved this interview … and it gave me hope for my WordPress blog. Turkey to Norwich … now that’s not an obvious transition, Jack.

  15. shanuwater

    Thank you for sharing this interview, it gives me hope.

  16. Kathryn Mapes ithacalansing tales past and present

    You give me hope. I have tried to focus on the two communities where I live in Ithaca and our cottage in Canada, but I think there are more similarities between Ithaca and a small community in Canada than there are between Turkey and Norwich.

  17. Linda Fryer

    Thanks. I ordered this book. Can’t wait to read it. Going to start my own blog as a result. Cheers!

    Sent from my iPhone

  18. cyleodonnell

    I wish I had this kind of success on my blog. Unfortunately, instead of traveling and collecting my content before blogging, I have been blogging since my first trip, a three-year bicycling trip through 12 countries. That started in 2005. So obviously my interests, experience and style of writing have changed. And I now have a blog that is representative of that change over the last nine years. But I think I’m smoothing out the edges now. So I’ll be sure to take a page out of Jack’s book (if you’ll excuse the pun).

    Looking forward to the new book. And maybe I can even do a podcast for my blog with the pioneer of blogging on the wings of book writing, LGBT issues, water bound travel and the experiences that have made his advice so succinct and indicative of his success.

    Thanks for posting the interview and introducing me to an insightful blogger and fellow traveler!


    The Travel Geek Blog, cyleodonnell.wordpress.com

  19. Alister D

    Inspiring.. Nice one about the author Jack Scott..

    Check my blog at – alisterblabbers.wordpress.com

  20. awusco

    This interview has given me a ray of hope of becoming a writer from the slums of Nigeria with an ordinary C1 Nokia not the luxury of a laptop.

  21. Other Side of the Trees

    Outstanding! Looking forward to following your blog and to read more of your adventures! Thrilled for your success.

    Wilder Man

  22. Jack Scott

    Lovely comments and words of encouragement. Thank you.

  23. awax1217

    Reading your work has been inspirational to me. I started blogging three months ago and find it mind expanding. I also found that my fellow bloggers for the most part are quite interesting with different perspectives and ideas. Some of those ideas are out there and on the fringe but that is okay. The older I get the more tolerant I have become. I do not have to be write all the time (just most of the time). I also am into history and I generally write about things that are slices of life and have a relevance to what has happened. I hope that maybe it will make a slight difference. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

  24. kevinwares

    Interesting story.

  25. affascinailtuocuore

    Thanks Jack ! I love the way you play with words. Emigreys and sameydays are a piece of literature! I’m reblogging the rich interview.

  26. Caroline

    What a great profile and very interesting. I myself have just returned to the UK after working in Istanbul for 12 years. I am definitely going to check out the book Perking the Pansies: Jack and Liam move to Turkey. Let me wish you much luck in all that you do…

  27. tonz94

    very good…interested

  28. smitseo123

    Nice post , I really enjoy your post, It is helpful for increase my blog visibility.

  29. tuvan74

    Being from Turkish descent, I found this blog enjoyable. Thanks for the information.

  30. mykombiandi

    Great interview. Ill have to check out the Blog. Turkey is one of my favorite countries. I can not wait till I get the chance to get back there.

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