Friday, November 28, 2014

My Publisher is a Git. But I Can See His Point of View

Here's a conversation I had recently with my publisher. He has insisted I remove all numbers from our dialogue on the basis of some dodgy confidentiality clause in our publishing agreement; so you'll just have to use your imagination as to those.

But you'll get the gist of his argument.

Pub: John, it's that time of the year when we need to review our publishing agreement.

Me: I can't wait.

Pub: OK. Here it is. First of all, your responsibilities. You write the books, proofread and edit them, and design a cover. If you want to use editors, proofreaders and designers, that's up to you, but you have to pay for them. I get exclusive worldwide rights over your books in whatever form they are published, and I determine the prices of them.

Me: And what do you do?

Pub: I supply the ISBN number and pay out of my own pocket for lodging the copies with the various libraries.

Me: The total cost of which is less than fifty quid per book, right?

Pub: Right.

Me: And what else?

Pub: I load up your books onto Amazon as soon as they are ready. At the start of each year, I agree with you a budget to spend on marketing and advertising, and I organise that. This year the budget will be X pounds. I will also I spend Y hours every week doing tweeting, retweeting and other social media stuff for you.

Me: And how is the money split once the retailer and printer have had their cuts?

Pub: First, the money will be used to pay for the marketing and advertising costs. Then there is my cut. Since I am spending Y hours every week, and my hourly rate is Z, the cash next goes to pay me. You get whatever is left.

Me: Your hourly rate seems a bit steep!

Pub: It's the opportunity cost of my time. If I wasn't doing this for you, I'd be spending those hours as a management consultant and that's the rate I'd be earning. Sorry, no discount. I have a wife and kids to support. And a dog.

Me: Just a minute. When I look at your sales projections and the average earnings from my books, the marketing and advertising costs plus your cut will account for everything. There'll be nothing left for me.

Pub: True. And your point is?

Me: What the hell do I get out of all this?

Pub: Look, John, it's very simple. You get to enjoy writing the books; and the pleasure of meeting fellow writers and readers on social networks; and of reading all those glowing reviews on Amazon. 

Me: And the lousy ones.

Pub: Well, if you wrote better books, maybe there wouldn't be any lousy ones. Plus, if your books get made into movies or a TV series, you get to keep all the money from that - I don't get ANY.

Me: So I'm basically writing all these books for no financial reward, other than the remote possibility of their getting picked up by a TV company or movie studio?

Pub: You've got it. Without me as your publisher/marketer/advertising guru, your books are worthless. Your books might be the most amazing works of literature ever produced (although I doubt that), but if nobody knows they exist you won't sell a single copy. Well, except maybe the one to your mum. You see, John, you're essentially an amateur writer - in the true sense of the word 'amateur' - and I'm a professional publisher, and this is how I make my money. End of story. Sorry, that last sentence makes me sound like a writer **shudders**

Me: Where do I sign?

Pub: At the bottom of the page, in blood.

Now you may well ask, "Why don't you change your publisher?" And the answer is simple: I am my publisher. And my/his logic is sound. The part of me that writes does it because he loves it, and because he loves the interactions with like-minded folks, and he loves it when people enjoy his books. The part of me that sells books does it for business reasons - and he has to be compensated for his time. So the businessman pockets the cash, and the writer enjoys his art.

And do you know what? My publisher might be a git, but at least he's my git.

Happy writing, starvelings.

If you want to read about someone else who has conversations in his head, you might like to pick up a copy of my latest book, 'Chaos is Come Again'. I am sure my publisher would be suitably grateful.

For click HERE
For click HERE
Also available at all other Amazon sites worldwide
If you don't want it, don't click anywhere. Just go and have a nice cup of tea instead.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Why Be Normal When You Can Be Damaged?

Normal is safe.
Normal is comforting.
Normal is predictable.
And normal is very, very, very boring.

How many of you would want to spend time at a party talking to an actuary?
(Unless of course you are an actuary, in which case, go right ahead. That keeps both of you away from the rest of us.)

Be damaged.
Be interesting.
Be the nutter on the bus.
Make mistakes.
Wear a funny hat.
Flount your flaws.
(And if you are a high-rise building, flount your floors.)

Take a few risks in your life.
Not crazy, unnecessary ones.
Always wash your fruit before sex, and wear condoms before eating. Nobody needs THOSE type of risks.
But live a little.

Which brings me on to today's good news.

One of my favourite damaged writers - well, he writes about damaged characters, but you know that old saying about smoke and fire... - is having a superfasticallydelicious BARGAIN MOMENT!

B.R. Snow's complete 'Damaged Po$$e' series, comprising four full-length novels, is on sale soon for less than four bucks. If you haven't read any of the redoubtable Mr. Snow's work, your entire life to date has been wasted. But there is still time to put that right. Winter is coming, but Snow is HERE 

Now take out those eccentric shoes from the back of the wardrobe, drape something inappropriate around your neck, cry Havoc, and let those puppies swing. Demand the unusual. Venerate the odd.

Have a great day. And have it TODAY. You never know, it might be your last.

PS Go buy all my books too, while you're about it *scary cackle* Now, where did I put my meds?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Everyone Loves an Underdog

Everyone loves an underdog, right? Well, maybe not if you're the favourite. But otherwise, we like to root for the little guy going up against the corporate machine, the rebel sticking up two fingers at the forces of the all-powerful state, the woman raising her metaphorical fists against the chauvinistic establishment. 

But what exactly is an 'underdog'? The dictionary will tell us that he or she is a person who is expected to lose in a conflict or contest; or a victim of social or political injustice. Someone, in other words, against whom the cards are stacked.

The classic 'top dog' vs. 'underdog' contest from antiquity is David vs. Goliath. The shepherd boy vs. the gigantic armoured warrior. David was the underdog, yes? Well, no.

In Malcolm Gladwell's fascinating treatise on underdogs and misfits, 'David & Goliath', the ever-intriguing Mr. Gladwell challenges some common assumptions - and in so doing, produces a provocative and inspirational piece of work.

But first, that famous duel in the valley of Elah. To understand why actually Goliath was the underdog, we have to know a little about ancient armies. They contained three types of combatants: cavalry, infantry, and projectile warriors - artillery, in modern parlance. The projectile warriors included 'slingers', who had a leather pouch attached on two sides by a strand of rope. The slinger would put a lead ball or rock into the pouch, swing it, then release with devastating force. The Romans even had a special set of tongs to remove rocks and balls that had become embedded in some poor soldier's body by a sling.

So there is Goliath, a heavy infantryman, weighed down by over a hundred pounds of armour, expecting a battle at close quarters (which he must surely win). Enter David who, sans armour, can run rings around the giant from a safe distance until one of his slingshots hits his opponent's vulnerable head. And so it proves. David has changed the rules of single combat.

"Goliath had as much chance against David," writes the historian Robert Dohrenwend, "as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have against an opponent armed with a .45 automatic pistol." FYI, a typical-size stone hurled by an expert slinger at a distance of thirty-five metres would have the stopping power equivalent to a fair-size modern handgun - a velocity of around thirty-four metres per second.

So... underdogs. Want to rethink your definitions?

Gladwell's book is packed with interesting examples of how strengths can beget weaknesses, and vice versa - and some canny observations on the limits of power.

It is well worth an afternoon of anyone's time.

Anyone for single combat?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Chaos, of One Sort or Another

It's out! Oh, yes!

'Chaos Is Come Again' is a rather loony experiment of mine.

Nothing new there, I hear you mutter.

About eighteen months ago, I tripped over a fellow writer by the name of Fiona Quinn while I was working in Dubai. Of course, I didn't literally trip over her. She wasn't lying on the street like a Sleeping Policeman or a discarded prophylactic. No, I found her purely by chance one evening while I was looking on the Internet for some half-decent pornography to download.

OK, 'half-decent pornography' is a contradiction in terms.

Are you going to shut up and let me get on with this story?

(Voices in your head can be so annoying, don't you think? Oh. You don't have them. Ah.)


Fiona and I got chatting and somehow agreed to co-author a novel, despite the fact that we had never met in person and were never likely to before the book was published. (She claims to have evidence this nutty idea was mine, but I have my doubts.)

So, eighteen months later, here we are. The start of writing of 'Chaos' was delayed until May this year due to other commitments on both our parts, but once we divided up the workload and knuckled down, there was no stopping us.

Now the book's out and we still haven't met. Maybe that's a good thing. If we did, we might irritate the crap out of each other. As it is we can each still entertain whimsical literary fantasies about our writing partner.


Go take a look at this monstrous collaboration, a psychological suspense like no other, in my humble opinion. Laced with irreverent humour (most of which is VERY un-PC and some of it is rather blasphemous), stuffed to the gills with weird and wacky characters, 'Chaos' is quite unlike anything that either Fiona or I have written before.

Make up your own mind about this writing experiment. Blurb and buy links are set out below. And don't forget, on Amazon you can 'Look Inside' for a taster of the book before you part with your hard-earned (or possibly embezzled) cash.

Sean hears voices in his head.
Travis snorts cocaine.
Teagan thinks she's the next Lady Gaga.
Avery has the boss from Hell, and a mother with dementia.
And Goose thinks he can catch a serial killer.

'Chaos Is Come Again' is a psychological suspense, a mystery, and a love story - laced with irreverent humour and viewed through the lens of obsession.

WARNING: Contains references to Judas Iscariot, a dwarf, and a performing monkey.

To buy or read an extract on Amazon click HERE for USA or HERE for UK. It's also available on all other Amazon sites worldwide.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why You Don't Need to Worry About the End of the World

I got a bit depressed last week after reading an article in a science magazine. Apparently, our galaxy - the Milky Way - is just about to get swallowed up by Andromeda. Of course, 'just about to' in cosmic terms means in another 5 billion years. A scientist friend of mine then reassured me that our own sun would already have gone super nova by then anyway. So unless we've found a way to transfer human consciousness into a body more suited for interstellar travel by then, we'll already be cinders.

I decided to undertake a straw poll of Armageddon countdown scenarios for our species.

A philosopher says civilisation will have disintegrated by the end of this century, and cannibalism will be rife among the animalistic survivors.

The environmentalists say global warming will screw us by 2050.

Some medical folks believe antibiotics will prove ineffective against a worldwide super bug within 20 years.

My wife tells me I don't need to worry about any of these things because if I don't get the outside wall painted in the next few days, she is going to kill me. 

Strangely enough, the brand label on the paint tin is 'Andromeda'.

Funny how things connect, isn't it?