Monthly Archives: December 2011

Burning the pot

The literary community of readers, writers and editors shares occupational hazards.
I will share mine as they occur.
#1 is burning the saucepan.
I was boiling son Kevin’s noodles for when he and  Trish come home for lunch.
Formatting our anthology Can you believe it... in the computer room, the plan was to return to the noodles  in a few minutes.
The acrid smell of a burnt saucepan screamed “fail”.
A sad reflection on me and other literary addicts is the first words I uttered were: “Not again”.
For the sake of sitting by the stove for three minutes, I had to
1. throw out the noodles.
2. scrub the pot unsuccessfully.
3. Soak it in vinegar and try again.
4.  Hope the smell of a burnt saucepan is gone by the time my wife gets home.
5. Buy baking soda and lemons to have ready as reltable cleaners for next time.

The saddest part is I know I have not learned my lesson. I have just earned another merit badge of (dis)honour for the love of books.

How much should you pay for an eBook Pt 1.?

THE answer to the $m question is we are only guessing how much you should pay as a fair price for an eBook.
 I will try to lay out the arguments as simply as I can. Please feel free to express a different perspective.
First I presume you as a reader want to pay as little as possible for eBooks while contributing to a reasonable income for a good author.
As it stands at the moment, most of the world’s good authors live close to the poverty line unless they can attain income supplementary to their books.
If they are under contract to one of the Big Six publishers their eBook royalties of 17 1/2 % is about double their hard copy royalties. But the prices of eBooks are two-thirds or less than hard copy.
These authors along with their publishers would like to see their eBooks as priced as high as possible.
At tghe other end of the scale you have self-published authors such as Joe Kronath making a more than comfortable living selling mystery and horror novels at $3.99.
Joe has sold truckloads of books, approaching a million copies. If you read his blogs as many do, you will finf Joe has worked his butt off to produce and sell these books.
Most of the world’s good authors have not Joe’s personality, stamina  or affinity for marketing. By all means, buy Joe’s books at $3.99 but don’t think you can can keep mist good authors gainfully employed at $3.99 a pop.
Another point about Joe and other successful self-publishers is they are mostly novelist. Novels are the easiest to format for the world’s eReaders. Joe says  takes him an hour.
For my collection of interactive Gonzoid raves 7 Shouts, I cannot do it. I have to produce two versions, one as a PDF with all its cute photos and another, stripped of photos but retaining beaut links which you cannot  access on static PDF.
While we can celebrate NOT ANOTHER BLOODY COOKBOOK dominating eBooks, the geeks need to improve the  eBook technology before we can attain the precious diversity of print books while enhancing the new gift of interactivity. NEXT TIME: Amazons and Authors. What do they think?

Media statement: Occupy Brisbane

Occupy Brisbane Media Statement:

Wednesday December 28

Occupy Brisbane will hold a rally on December 30, 5pm in King George Square.

Occupy Brisbane is part of a global movement for change. We focus on what unites the majority of the world’s people – the 99% – the vision of a democratic society based on human need, not the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are no longer willing to remain silent while governments and their corporate masters take away our rights and destroy the planet.

At this rally we will speak out about the many issues and concerns that are being raised by the Occupy movement, including the need for social and environmental justice; the need for real democracy in our society; the rights of workers and of all those oppressed, exploited and marginalised in our society and we will speak out about the attacks on freedom of speech as governments try to silence the Occupy movement.

Join the Occupy movement.

We are the 99%
You are the 99%
Together we are strong

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Third anniversary of the 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza

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  Christmas in Gaza by Ruqaya Izzidien Al Akhbar English 25 December 2011 This Christmas marks the third anniversary of the 2008-2009 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip; a winter in which 19-year-old Ramy El Jelda saw his home bombed … Continue reading

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‘You cannot buy our soul’ – critique of the Industrial Relations Club

Grace Collier claims in a Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) article that Fair Work is fostering a cash-in mentality. The article states variously that ‘14,897 people put in conventional unfair dismissal applications’ then just a few paragraphs on that ‘37,262 people … Continue reading

Why you won’t be the next Lady Ga Ga, Nicole Kidman, Gerhard Richter, J.K. Rowling. Pt 2

Some jobs just do not receive the remuneration they deserve.
Child care and caring for the disabled are two of the poorest paid careers. Almost as bad as performing, visual arts and writing.
Talented people in these areas are in short supply yet they do not attain the rewards market theory says they should.
People continue to work in these fields because rewards are available other than money. Artists and child care workers are working for the public good and altruism is rewarding.
Creativity has rewards which is why people in well paid day jobs pursue the arts in their leisure time.
It is useless complaining about poor monetary rewards  in the arts.
We should just work hard to improve our art because that is the best way to attract that luck which explodes a career.
It is always sad to see an artist forced to take a job outside their profession but that is life.
Only if you allow yourself to become too tired or two uninspired  will you have to sacrifice the work you truly love.
If you have reached a level of talent in the field of performance, arts or literature, don’t give up your night job.

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Dave, Eden (“Lovers Electric”) Auburn & Shazza Celebrate Bradley Manning’s Birthday in Adelaide :) – YOUTUBE (1 min 41 secs

YOUTUBE (1min 41 secs) “Lovers Electric” and friends in hometown Adelaide, South Australia celebrate Bradley Manning’ 24th. birthday & his nonviolent resistance to the war and spread the word! F5 2011 YOUTUBE by Radfax (3 mins 48 secs) – “Lovers … Continue reading

Kooii and Band of Frequencies at the Soundlounge this Fri

Hello Folks,

Kooii is supporting the Band of Frequencies for the release of their new EP at the Soundlounge on the Gold Coast this Friday, Dec 23. The Band of Frequencies features members of Afro-dizzi-act, a group of musos we have collaborated with in the past in various projects and are a source of inspiration for us. The Soundlounge is at the Currumbin RSL, Currumbin Ck Rd, Currumbin (just off the Gold Coast highway).

For further details, follow this link. Kooii plays at 9pm.

http://thesoundlounge.com.au/event/17881/band-of-frequencies-all-ive-found-ep-launch/

Come if you please and please let friends down that way know.

thanks

Peter

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Invasion day 2012 is the big one

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Rally at Parliament (George Street, Brisbane) 10am, and March to Jagara Hall 11 am. (*) The rally is at 10am on Thursday morning at Parliament House. (*) The rally should go from 10am to 11am and then the group should … Continue reading

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Freeport Indonesia Workers Struggle

Sympathisers of Freeport Indonesia Workers Struggle Around the World Dear comrades, On behalf of Freeport Indonesia workers, especially those who still fighting for our rights and better welfare who to date there are 7 thousand of them request you to … Continue reading

Women writers men must read

We interrupt this regular log for a special public service announcement……
In May this year Esquire published a list of 75 Books Every Man Should Read. I went through the list in a hurry but I am pretty sure only one was written by a woman, Flannery O’Çonnor and that had “man” in the title, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. I think we should send Esquire an alternative list with one male author. We need to get to 75 and I know some of you will send in your favourite Jane Austen, so I will leave them alone. We are only numbering these so we know when we hit 75. There is no particular order. We may have to call a vote if a suggestion is suspect. Anyway my two for starters are  1. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte 2. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Anita Loos. We have 73 to go so send them in.
Jane Sauffs  has supplied ‎3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell and 4. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. I have 5. Seven Little Australians Ethel Turner and 6. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee.
Press the comment button to supply more.

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Man on Roof to Challenge Bank Sale of Community Centre

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Friends of Ahimsa House Press Release At 10am on the morning of Wednesday 14th December 2011 Friend of Ahimsa House activist, Bernie Neville, will climb onto the roof of AHIMSA (Peace) House, 26 Horan Street, West End and hang a … Continue reading

Why you won’t be the next Lady Ga Ga, Nicole Kidman, Gerhard Richter, J.K. Rowling. Pt 1

Some of you will stop reading this early, thinking this is a downer but if you stick with it, it could offer positive encouragement for your career in music, performing or visual arts or literature.
I will start with examples from when I was pretty much writing only entertainment  journalism  and dabbling in music promotion.  
Every chance I had I took to quote the Dire Straits lyric: ‘You’re getting your money for nuffin and your chicks for free.’  (I don’t know if you’re allowed to quote song lyrics any more but let’s go with it and mark it down to the nostalgia defence.)
I even had a column with the title Money for Nuffin’which ran for a few years.
My obsession with that satirical verse grew from the sadness of seeing  a swag of teenage rock bands sure they were going to conquer the world, only to crumble 18 months later.
I remember one ernest teenage muso approached me at a gig to say: ‘Thank you for your advice in your latest review. I had to read it a few times to understand  it. But I think it could help our career.’
I did not have the heart to tell the young  bloke I was just writing crazy stuff to make readers  laugh.
Sure I was trying to encourage local musos to make their live music a little better and to show them some of us out there were really listening to them.
But I knew nothing  about a career in rock music for a Brisbane band and, in a decade, you could count  on one hand local bands who made serious money.
Things today are probably as good as they have ever been for Greater Brisbane musicians, but the reality for most  is don’t give up your day job if you are a performer, artist or writer.
What I am saying is embrace the reality and your place in it; find your voice and develop  it –the metaphor stands for visual artists as well. That could be your best shot at the Big Time, if you really want to go there.
In my novel Iraqi Icicle, I write one of the endearing qualities of Brisbane band The Go-Betweens (1978-91, sometimes re-born today) is their ambivalent attitude to world domination – the 1983 album is called Before Hollywood.
Ironically, the band is more famous now 20 years after they broke up than at any time in their career.
Hell, they almost had a Brisbane bridge named after them but for the marketeers’ refusing to stick an ‘s’  in the Go-Between Bridge.
NEXT: Why your talent does not receive the rewards it deserves.
Afterword. I know this is a minimalist blog compared to others but all you have to do is add a comment and start a dialogue or trialogue and so forth. Click the comments button and don’t be put off by the 0 in front of comments; it need not be that way.

Billionaires bewail the eBook

I HAVE been pondering the real agenda behind the big publishers’ constant whingeing about eBooks eroding the literary standard.
The Big Publishers – there is only a half-dozen throughout the world – go by other names such as legacy publishers or heritage publishers which makes you think they belong in a museum.
I’ve decided the BPs have a short-term objective of retaining reader loyalty to their brands as the literary world goes digital.
The BPs are making a killing from the very eBooks they are raising hysteria over. They receive more than 52% of  eBook cover price and their authors receive less than 18%.
(Speaking to one author, I found there is confusion out there because some writers think their cut is 25% of eBook cover price. It is actually 25% of the 70% publishers receive from eBook retailers such as Google and Amazon.)
If the BPs can convince readers to pay $15 to $25 for an eBook to reward literary talent (which receives less than $3-5 of the purchase price) the money will keep rolling in during the short term before Amazon develops a winning strategy to drive down prices.
I believe the median-term strategy is for the BPs to retain their best-selling A-List writers.
The A-listers could be getting the full 70% royalty from Amazon.
Sure they would have to pay for their own editing, layout, cover design and promotions. But 52% of a best-seller can buy top quality in those services.
The authors would then broker a print-only deal with a mid-range publishers to ensure book-shop distribution..
All of this is a bad scenario for the BPs.
Rumours abound the BPs are cutting loose or are about to cut loose their mid-list authors.
No doubt they will tell their A-listers it will allow the publishers to devote more resources to them.
But what if they A-listers bail anyway? Where are the mid-listers to take their place?
Such interesting times ahead while the humble self-publishers go about their toil.

When technology is not your friend

I DERIVED  this column from a blog by Irish self-publisher, Catherine Ryan Howard.  here
Catherine – my journalism training tells me I should call the author Howard as I do not know her from a bar of soap but I will let that rule slide – was bemoaning what happened when she dropped the price of her travelogue Mousetrapped from $2.99 to 99c.
She had previewed her second book at the end of Mousetrapped and hence the 99c positioning for publicity through increased sales. It is a common strategy for 99c books, in fact, probably the main reason for their existence.
Catherine only wanted the campaign to run a couple of weeks but because of a technical glitch involving communication one small retailer, she could not have the price changed back (prices for eBooks are set at the lowest price any one on-line retailer carries.)
Catherine’s blog is essentially about what can go wrong when on-line retailers rely so heavily on automated technology to maximise profits.
Catherine explains her plight.
“On a very bad month, I’d sell 500 copies of Mousetrapped at $2.99. Presuming that all of those come in at the 70% rate (which most of them normally do), that’s an income of approximately $1,045.’’
That explains how Amazon sets self-publishing author’s royalties at 70% for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99 and tells you that Amazon thinks it will maximise its profits if eBooks are sold at a median price of $6 (not great news for mainstream publishers who certainly cannot go near to maximising their profits at such prices).
 The next bit from Catherine gets interesting.
“At 99c, Mousetrapped sells around 1,100 copies a month which at the 35% royalty rate – which is all it gets priced at 99c – that’s an income of approximately $381.’’
What Catherine is essentially doing is spending $664 ($1045-$381)  a month on a marketing campaign for her next book.
But she only wanted the campaign to run for two weeks and she explains why:
“I make my living mostly from selling these books, so being down $664 a month is not something that goes unnoticed by my wallet.”
When she posted her blog, her book had still not been updated to her $2.99 price.
She is more understanding than most of us would be.
“I don’t think that Smashwords are doing anything unreasonable here – presumably updating their third party retailers takes time. I get that.’’
I would have thought a real living breathing person with the appropriate authority could have updated it in no time, if the computer interchanges between retailers work. I guess it is a question of priorities and maybe the livelihood of authors and self-publishers could be shoved a little higher in the priority hierarchy. Even if, Heaven forbid, profit had to take a hit.

Save the Book: We Are Bent Together

Save the Book: We Are Bent Together: It is about time Bent Banana Books explained itself as we prepare to publish our first eBook titles in January 2012. The ultimate aim is …

We Are Bent Together

It is about time Bent Banana Books explained itself as we prepare to publish our first eBook titles in January 2012.
The ultimate aim is for Bent Banana Books to promote as eBooks some of the best self-published titles from around the globe.
The baby steps in January set us on the path by ePublishing three quality titles from out home-town district of Pine Rivers. Australia.
Self-published authors now have the opportunity to attain world-wide distribution through Google or Amazon and Apple will be a player shortly.
The problem for self-published authors without a marketing team behind them is how to present their book to the eyes of potential readers when there are a million books between their masterpiece and those eyeballs.
Bent Banana Books thinks self-publishers marketing their books under one brand could be one way to go.
We will find out soon enough if the idea has legs.
If your eyes glaze over when it comes to maths, just try to absorb the following figures. Of you thinks my maths Or the assumptions behind it when it comes to book royalties are dud, let me know.
If a writer under contract with one of the Big Six international publishers receives a 25% royalty, that is a quarter of the PUBLISHER’S  RETURN from book sales.
Let us say the publisher has a generous 70% deal with retailers – Google, Amazon, Borders and so on.
The author’s royality is now 17-5% of the eBook cover price less any taxes or duty payable on the book’s sale. That is still a lot better author’s royalty than on a paperback version of that eBook.
Let’s say a self-published writer is on a less generous deal from the retailer, say 50%. (There are a lot higher deals out there but as the percentages rise so too do the restrictive publication clauses and/ or additional charges.
The self-published author receives 50% of the cover-price less any taxes or duties.
Sounds like heaven compared to the paperback author receiving as little as 5% of the cover price and an average of probably 8%.
But of course you as a self-published author have to sell the book, the hard part, handled by a team of experts in the case of the paperback writer.
That is where we think Bent Banana Books fits in.
The self-published author receives 70% of the 50% of the eBook cover price (35%) and BBB does the selling and product uploading for you. There is a bit more to it than that, but that is the bare bones of it.
How’s that sound? If you are interested in this deal froma any perspective – writer, self-publisher, ethical book buyer – visit www.bentbananabooks.com.au
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STOP THE DEPORTATIONS!

STOP THE DEPORTATIONS! *REFUGEE RIGHTS ACTION NETWORK EMERGENCY ACTION STARTING 5PM SUNDAY 11 DECEMBER AT PERTH DETENTION CENTRE (PERTH DOMESTIC AIRPORT)* Two Sri Lankan men are to be forcibly deported with the first person to be deported on December 12 … Continue reading

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Pictures speak louder than words and empty political promises

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As the Australian government talks of sending Hazaras back- the massacres and bloodshed of Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan continues. These from the most recent attack this week. Would any decent fair minded Australian send people back to this? Would … Continue reading

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Solidarity with West Papuan Workers — Grasberg mine Freeport

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Tembagapura, 25 February 2012 . West Papua –  Grasberg mine Freeport operational again disturbed, was not a result of his finished cases of post-strike. Grasberg mine worker spontaneity of action took place on February 23, 2012 where all the workers … Continue reading

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Occupy Brisbane Correction of Media Reports (Musgrave Park Clean Up)

Subject: Press Release: Occupy Brisbane Correction of Media Reports (Musgrave Park Clean Up) Press Release: Occupy Brisbane Correction of Media Reports (Musgrave Park Clean Up): Reported yesterday in the media (MX, Wednesday 7 2011) are claims by the Deputy Mayor … Continue reading

Copyright is your friend just like Joe Orton’s

The emerging author will grapple with a copyright issue early in their writing career.
If they do not, chances are they have breached copyright without knowing it and that is absolutely no defence at law.
If you think copyright is there to protect your creativity – I unlike the phrase “intellectual property” – you are partially right.
If you think copyright is there to allow big companies to stifle your creativity, you are partially right.
Copyright, throughout its history, has had these contradictory purposes.
I am indebted to John Lanchester for his explanation of early copyright laws. (Memo to John’s lawyers: don’t take that word indebted literally) Here
I quote from the above: “With the creation of the Stationers’ Company in 1556, printers had to register their books, in order to make it easier for the monarchy to censor their “heresy, sedition and treason….”
If you take books to be a form of media, as I do, copyright came into existence as a form of media licensing, still practised around the world by dictatorships and advertisers. (Advertisers effectively withdrew the licence to print of the News of the World after the phone hacking scandal)
The legal bunfight between Apple and Samsung also centres on media licensing.
While the stoush is over copyright of smartphone and tablet technology, the real value for Samsung and Apple is in their royalties from the media content they are able to convey.
The outcomes of the Apple V. Samsung barney – 20 cases in 10 countries and counting – will have ramifications for content producers, including eBook self-publishers. (Amazon has announced it wants to play at the lawyers’ picnic, too.)  But the copyright cases are no direct threat to the livelihood of self-publishers.
Such is not the case if an eBook self-publisher is sued or criminally charged for copyright violation. Many countries have providers of free legal advice on copyright. In my experience, the advice errs on the side of caution and avoids being too specific about your query – probably concerned with being sued if specific advice goes pear-shaped. But authors should use such services if they feel the need. Also check internally on the copyright of an article or photograph. Check externally as well. Creative Emptor: let the author beware.
As a reward for getting this far, you receive an explanation of the cryptic headline: Copyright is your friend just like Joe Orton’s.
Playwright Joe Orton’s friend (partner) Kenneth Halliwell murdered the successful Orton out of jealousy. Here
It’s a somewhat dodgy analogy with this blog’s content but I thought I would grab your attention if not that of search engines.
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Bradley Manning on trial in 2 weeks…

Save the Book: Getting to know eBooks

Save the Book: Getting to know eBooks: The biggest problem facing eBook authors and to a lesser extent, eBook consumers is matching a book with a potentially enthusiastic consumer…

Getting to know eBooks

The biggest problem facing eBook authors and to a lesser extent, eBook consumers is matching a book with a potentially enthusiastic consumer.
It was always a task for  hard-copy literature to stand out on bookshop shelves. Publishers honed a set of skills to solve the problem – title selection, cover design, attracting newspaper, radio and television reviews and publicity – the latter never really developing into an exact science.
All of these skills are still relevant for eBooks but in different ways. Raised and embossed graphics and print on covers will not cut it for eBooks.
Titles will not have to be as memorable when a recommendation will often be accompanied by a link to the book itself.
It is problematic whether newspapers, radio and television will be enthusiastic about reviewing eBooks, especially if they have passed on a review of its hard-copy ancestor. You would think eBook authors and consumers should be concentrating on e-marketing and e-reviews.
At a conference the other day, I heard major publishers are one to two years away from developing a comprehensive eBook strategy. This question of marketing could be the biggest bug-bear to developing that strategy.
An obvious answer for eBook publishers, small or big, is the website. But most eBooks are being sold by e-retailers such as Google and Amazon.
Reader websites such as Shelfari seem to have many members with an aversion to authors promoting their books on such sites.
Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-newsletters are other avenues of arranging that happy nexus between book and reader.
I have left for last the most effective method, word of mouth, often equating, these days. to strike of keyboard.
We over-rate word of mouth in the sense that, while it is most effective, its genesis is often by people who have discovered a book by other means.
 I would like to know how you, the eBook consumer, found out about books you bought. Are you happy with this method/ these methods or can you envisage a better way for you to go on an e-date with an eBook?