Category Archives: humour

My book is 5 cents but I’m worried I have priced it too high

All you voracious readers out there, will you pay a fair price for a book? All you professional writers out there, will you accept a fair return on your labour, say $50, 000 and upwards a year?
 Yes from both.  Alright, we have solved the publishing crisis.

Amazon says between $3 and $10 is a fair price for an ebook. It pays authors a generous 70% royalty if their book falls within that price range. Now, what Amazon is not saying, but most of us have guessed, is its fancy algorithms have declared those spots are sweet because they maximise the Big A’s profits. What’s good for Amazon is good for America – er, sorry, that should be good for readers and writers.
Professional writers do not produce ebooks only, but I predict that will soon come to pass for many, with a boutique print run for nostalgia.  To make $50,000 a year, a professional would need to produce one ebook a year and sell about 20,000 copies at a price of $7. That is an estimate, taking into account taxation and costs such as production, design, editing, marketing. 
A student of self-publishing such as Joe Konrath could present less rubbery figures than I have, but I am presenting them to make a point. It ain’t easy to sell 20,000 copies of a book, year in year out. It ain’t easy to produce a pristine book each year, either.
It is up to the reader to pay upwards of $7 for an ebook or condemn their favourite mid-list author to giving up in favour of stacking shelves at Walmart. I am not kidding here. A lot of writers have narrow skill sets, not to mention ingrained unsociable habits, though the latter is often exaggerated. One newspaper editor who tired of the pressure and long hours now drives a cab. Another mows lawns. A third went back to uni to become a teacher.
I priced my humour book 7 Shouts  at 8.06. The explanation which follows is why I put the book graphic at the top of this piece (that and the forlorn hope you might buy a copy and post a generous review).
Smashwords’ Mark Coker has sold a lot more books than I have and he says the sweet spot is between $3-5. But I am pricing for the future when we have solved the publishing crisis and avid readers pay a price which can sustain the livelihood of a mid-lister.

My publishing hut Bent Banana Books priced Jane Sharp’s book of five short stories at $3.22. (The .22 is because I read somewhere double digits are attractive to consumers) Friends of mine, unfamiliar with the ebook price wars, said it was cheap. But plenty of novels are selling cheaper than that.
Tom Keneally, the author of Schindler’s  List, once said he did not regard himself as a great writer. He described himself as a journeyman, cutting a path for the greats to walk on.  Keneally was unduly modest but he was making an analogy pertinent  to the mid-lister, creating the climate for the greats.  In the past, some publishing houses recognised this and gave mid-listers advances which would never be recovered in sales. Those days are gone, all gone: the advances and the mid-listers themselves banished to self-publication or career change.
That is the challenge: whether you will pay $8.06 for my book. (I am thinking of dropping the price – to $8.05 – to see if that increases sales.
Buy My Shout at Amazon or Google.
I’ll introduce today’s video with a quote from Gore Vidal
American writers want to be not good but great; and so are neither.

Trolling for good grammar part 1

 A leisurely stroll with trolls

Trolling for blue fish, a1866 lithograph by Currier and Ives

THE heritage media in Australia is hunting for trolls after a celebrity was hospitalised with a breakdown following Twitter exchanges.
As it turns out, the celeb was not entirely blameless in the internet banter , but, as she admitted, she met more than her match.

Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their own level and, once there, beat you with experience.

I am not much interested in the latest attempt by the heritage media to use print to troll internet discourse.  But I was taken with the notion of finding a little more about the on-line community’s assessment of trolling.
I found this excellent presentation by Californian web developer Nicole Sullivan who is also a gardener and poor car parker. I too am a gardener and poor parker. While I am not entirely sure what  web development is, I am pretty certain it is a cool thing for people, other than myself, to do.
Finding the Sullivan presentation required incredible discipline on my part as it was on the second page of a “trolls” Google. It was not even the top item on page 2, but I found it. (Alright it was #2. but that is not #1)
In response to my superhuman feat, I am asking you to play the presentation all the way through
Have you played it all the way through? You sure? You know I can wait you out until you do. You already know about my boundless discipline.
I have to play it again, anyway , as I need to quote  the bit I am interested in discussing.
Let’s watch it again together, shall we?
The advice in the vid is solid and concisely presented.  Alright, but the piece I want to talk about is where Ms Sullivan trolls “the grammar nazi” and I am sure she is talking about me.
“People think grammar is very, very, very important. I don’t understand them,” she said, looking right at me, through my computer screen.
Let me say, first up, one “very” in a sentence is usually one too many – ha! ha! gratuitous trolling.
No, what I really wish to say, is Ms Sullivan would not think half-assed web development was good enough. So it is with writing. “Mean what you say and say what you mean” applies to personal morality, refusing to troll and writing.
Sloppy writing creates confusion, reduces elegance and anchors the imagination, hampering glorious flight.
These are not just academic or aesthetic considerations. They go to the heart of whether the self-publishing revolution will liberate or debase literature. Heritage book publishers will tell you it is the latter. Conscientious self-publishers with respect for good grammar are assisting in making it the former.
Writers and readers need only to remember their childhood to know lots of good treats are in Grammar’s house.
                           Finally let’s enjoy an anti-trolling classic

Bernie Dowling. September 3, 2012

Available at AMAZON

Shoot off the mouth for gold

Olympic Rant #5 Barkingly mad start to the games
IT was a weird start to Games e competition with American super-swimmer Michael Phelps missing a medal in the 400m men’s individual medley won by teammate Ryan Lochte.
Lochte one, Phelps nil
Phelps described it as a “crappy race’’, presumably reflecting on his own performance rather than the collective effort of the finalists. Still, Phelps missed a medal in eloquence as well as in the pool.
It was hard to know what to make of the performance of senior sports scribe Barney Ronay after the first gold medal of the Games went to China’s Siling  Yi in the sport of shooting-at-things.  The sub-category was the 10m air rifle. Thank Mao; the 10m was not the calibre of the rifle but the distance from which you shoot at things.
On behalf of the guardian, journo Ronay wrote, ‘China’s parpingly jaunty anthem was the first to be heard in triumph at London 2012.’ Parpingly? Really, Barney.
The obscure word “parping” seems to mean the sound made by a car horn.
Whether parpingly can be used successfully to modify “jaunty”, I just do not know. What I do know is the word appeared in the online guardian in Andrew Sparrow’s blog on June 16, 2012.
Boris Johnson has arrived in Cape Town to fly the flag for England’s 2018 World Cup bid (and) did give his views on the controversial vuvuzela, the horn blasted deafeningly by fans during every game of the South African World Cup.
Johnson said: ’Certainly the vuvuzela is a very very interesting device…..It’s a great way of expressing yourself in a loud, vehement, parping kind of way. … I think maybe that’s not the effect we’re going to want to see in 2012 [at the London Olympics].’
Was it coincidence that Barney Ronay revived the word parping(ly) or was it some sort of tribute to the barkingly mad Boris Johnson?  BTW, Johnson brought little to the lingual table in stating a horn had the sound of a horn and that sound is rarely jaunty.
Enough of this nonsense bring on that jaunty sound.

That anthem could have been written for a Chinese victory in the international sport of shooting at things. The lyric about China facing its greatest danger is a bit dodgy though.  This anthem is likely to be around for centuries so the message for the generations is be on a constant war footing. Grab your air rifle and be prepared.
 I am not sure tourists will flock to that new Great Wall if it is made of flesh and blood; could be a bit slippery. Perhaps I am being too literal.
It is heartening to see the Chinese lyrics pay homage to the French anthem La Marseillaise. The Chinese version has the good taste to ditch that French stuff about fearsome soldiers coming into our midst to cut the throats of your sons and consorts. It is something of a surprise France does not do better in shooting-at-things. I believe the reason is the French athletes try to sell their arms during the competition, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage during the shoot-offs for medals.
During shooting-at-things, athletes are encouraged to only fire at inert objects. Live pigeon shooting had its only appearance at the 1900 Paris Games. It did not take off.
Neither did the 21 pigeons Belgian Leon de Linden shot to win the gold. They do not call them pigeons for nothing, but even the IOC could see the ineffable killing the unflappable was a trifle off.
Crap is the word
CRAP is quick off the blocks in the competition for the golden word of the 2012 London Olympics.
Swim champ Michael Phelps missed a medal in the 400m men’s individual medley and described his performance as a crappy race. Tory MP Aidan Burley took to Twitter to describe the Opening ceremony as “leftie multicultural crap”.
You would have thought that phrase has few shades of meaning, far fewer than 50, but Burley said he was misunderstood. Unfortunately for public figures, the nature of Twitter makes it difficult to bleat the old stand-by of being taken out of context.  The MP then went on to make the bizarre claim the rappers did his head in.
‘We had all these rappers – that is what got me to the point about multiculturalism.’
Burley received little support from his Conservative colleagues. The Mad Mayor of London said it was nonsense, a subject on which Boris Johnson is an authority.
‘People say it was all leftie stuff. That is nonsense. I’m a Conservative and I had hot tears of patriotic pride from the beginning. I was blubbing like Andy Murray,’ Johnson said. Why he had to tie-in Murray’s tears after losing the Wimbledon tennis final was anybody’s guess, if anybody wants to bother interpreting thoughts from the addled Mayoral mind.
Seems my tweet has been misunderstood. I was talking about the way it was handled in the show, not multiculturalism itself
Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap. Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!
The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?
It was left up to online readers to stick up for Burley.
This is from a reader of the Independent
Burley was right.
This was not an opening ceremony but an excuse by the liberal elite to pour more of their absurd and defeatist multi-cultural propaganda into the Olympics. Why Danny Boyle, for crying out loud.
Look, next time, why not just have an opening ceremony full of addicts and ravers at a disco and cut the attempts to present the distorted history lessons. Why bother with the athletes at all? This country has lost it.
Most Independent readers took the opposite view: 
Hilarious! An opening ceremony for an event featuring athletes from more than 200 nations, hosted by one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities on the planet branded “leftie multicultural crap”! Where does the Tory party get such prize turnips from? I know they don’t like their MPs to be too clever, but he really takes the gold for ignorance and boorish stupidity. Cameron should promote him to the Cabinet immediately- at least he’s honest about his racism, xenophobia and fascistic tendencies!
Bernie Dowling July 29, 2912
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Gonzoid rants on the London Olympics 2012

Olympic Rant  #1 The Patron
THESE Olympic reports are written from the edge of the city and the jaws of hell.
The city in question is Brisbane where, as in all fair cities of Australia, good drug and  alcohol-fuelled citizens are regularly bashing one another senseless, and occasionally lifeless.  Friday and Saturday nights are the preferred times for  such mayhem but any warm or cool enchanted evening will do.
I am confident the industrious denizens of the western world’s capital cities are similar indulging in random violence to share the terror of life in war zones.
This is why these reports on the noble Olympic games are writ from the jaws of hell. Our patron for the Capital-G Games  is Thomas Hobbes.
London Games Patron

Before we introduce our patron to the enthusiastic international audience we should satisfy ourselves that we indeed live in violent times. Over a long period in journalism I have seen the reality of falling crime rates go hand-in-hand with public perceptions of their increase . Some politicians and sections of the media love to play the crime card: a fearful population are an impressionable lot.
I believe  the perception of violent crime today matches the reality. For a long time, I have toyed with the notion that times of war and lauded militarism create parallel violence in civilian populations.  My days of meandering through the halls of higher learning are long gone but I would like a phD student test my  theory in a thesis.  What the civilian ‘Libyan “liberators”, of the  National Transitional Council, the Gonzoid rants on the London Olympics 2012.

WARNING: This video has been identified as potentially offensive or inappropriate by some viewers.

Most of the assailants appear to be unarmed civilians watched by gun toters in military-style dress.

This was an inauspicious start for Libyan democracy.
Meet our patron
Thomas  Hobbes  is a 17th century English philosopher. I say “is’’ as Tough Tom  is alive in many people’s heads.
Hobbes wrote that you should bash people long and hard before they have a chance to fuck you over. Hobbes went on that, in a sophisticated society, the State could do  the pre-emptive bashing on your behalf. He wrote these things  in my version of his book Leviathan. My version only exists in my head but you can download  another edition here
The Religious Right owe a great debt to Hobbes. This is why they like to shooy at things while they spread the a-Hobbesian gospel of the free market.
You can see why Thomas Hobbes is an excellent patron for the London Olympics 2012. 
In rant #2, we introduce the Games national anthems of England, the United States and Australia.

Olympic shorts
GREATER London 16-year-old Mahamed Awale recently tweeted: USAIN BOLT IZ A V GD FRIEND OF MINE HIM BCOMIN A RUNNA WOZ MA IDEA.
I don’t know that time line and geographic distance pans out to validate Awale’s contention.
But Mahamed was kicked off one of those reality TV shows in the first round. Being booted first-up from the BBC Series2 of  Young Apprentice gives the lad a lot of cred in my book.
THIS reminds me of when I covered the final Goodwill Games in Brisbane in 2001.
American Ted Turner began the Goodwill Games in Moscow  in 1986 in response to the politicisation of the Olympics after the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
The games were bought from Ted Turner by Time Warner when Turner’s company merged with TW in 1986. TW promised to keep the Goodwill Games alive
The corporation descended from Warner Bros which brought the world, hungry for justice, John Wayne movies. That lineage was interested in namby-pamby sports détente and they canned the games when ratings tanked in America.
At the final Brisbane Games I interviewed reigning  Olympic 100m champion American Maurice Greene who broke down in Goodwill Games preparation and did not compete.
It was at the Goodwill Games that I suggested Greene become a runner. No, wait, that cannot be right. I suggested, as he wasn’t competing at the Games, we go to Brisbane’s best Chinese restaurant and do a runner before the bill came. Maurice declined.
THE Olympic Gold medals and memorabilia of  Australia’s first ever double Olympic Medal winner Bobby Pearce (1905-1976), will be auctioned at Bonhams Olympic Games Sale on 25 July 2012. The Olympic Games sale will be held at Bonhams Knightsbridge, London, saleroom in case you  wish to pop down. that way.
Rower Pearce went to the Amsterdam 1928 Games and won the Gold from American entrant Kenneth Myers who was said to be so disgusted that he smashed his boat.
 Pearce won skulls gold again at the Los Angeles Olympiad in 1932.
Pearce’s Olympic Gold stuff is expected to fetch  £30,000 – 50,000 ($44,000 – $73,000 AUD and much the same in US dollars). I have Maurice Greene’s autograph on an Goodwill Games cap if the under-bidder is interested.
If you enjoyed the first of this Gonzoid Games coverage please re-blog or a share a link to this blog.
7 Shouts at Google eBooks 
7 Shouts at Amazon 
Bernie Dowling, July 23, 2012.