Book review: ‘Unearthing’ by Charlie-Helen Robinson

by Lee Hopkins on October 9, 2011

in Uncategorized


‘UNEARTHING’ IS THE story of a social media journey through the history of the DeadReds WineGroup.

I’m a huge fan of self-publishing, primarily because you end up with books that are precisely the right size.

The traditional publisher business model dictates that books have to comprise a certain number of pages because of economies of scale; hence you get books of 60,000 words that are filled with repetitions, boring filler, and over-elaborate descriptions when a few carefully chosen words would suffice.

But self-publishing frees up the author to produce a book that is of the exact length required to tell the story. No filler required.

This is what has happened with ‘Unearthed: A social media journey through the history of the deadreds winegroup’.

Instead of a long, laborious treatise/filler on wine, mine host Charlie-Helen Robinson has written a gem of a book about the DeadReds group she helped start, a group that now crosses the globe.

What started as a question before a dinner party rapidly grew into a loose collection of wine lovers congregating to dig out old, forgotten reds from the bottom of the wine rack. As interest grew, so did social media seem a natural platform to host online discussions before and after the real-world meetups.

As I type this there is a blog and a Facebook community page with 554 likes. As Charlie says, Facebook became the home very early on in the group’s development.

Through the book we see some of the trials and tribulations of the group, as shared via social media. Included in the journey are times when the group was compered via Skype, and when Facebook shut them down in error.

Interspersed throughout the book are reflections on how social media has added to or aided the group. For example, in discussing what happened when Facebook closed the group down, Charlie adds this important tip:

While Facebook is a uniquely powerful platform, people who operate businesses from it need to take steps to secure their information just as they would any other CRM platform.

At the end of this book Charlie leaves me wanting more, which is a good thing. For example, a couple of times she mentions that the fates were not kind in the lead up to events, but she doesn’t elaborate. It would have been nice to know what those ill-tempered fates were, as much for the ‘what to watch out for’ factor as wanting to share in her pain because we care about her and her group. She no doubt displays good manners in choosing not to share.

As happens with some other self-published books, this book would have benefitted from a very light, deft touch of editing. But what you get without it is Charlie’s true ‘voice’, complete with the abbreviated sentences that those of us who have lived online for a few years speak without realising. We truncate our sentences, leave off openings and pass closings by because we assume our audience will do the same when they speak.

All in all, ‘Unearthed’ is a fabulous snapshot of the growth of a group and how social media has been an underpinning platform in its development.

The book is only available by direct order with Charlie herself, but here’s a page you can leave a message on. I suggest you do.

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