Cheeseburger Gothic

Question for my US readers

Posted April 27, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I was reading a story this morning about a movement in the US to take control of public schools away from the local government authorities and vest it in parents. Interesting enough story, with any number of intriguing political angles, but it suddenly struck me that depsite all of my writing about and research into America over the years, I have NFI what your state governments do.

The Feds? Yep, all over them. And municipal government, yeah, them too. But that's where I suddenly had my eureka moment. A lot of the stuff that your city administrators look after, like cops and schools, are the preserve of the states here. In fact the states probably deliver the bulk of end user government services that aren't stricty related to the functioning of towns and cities. And even then they deliver a whole heap of those services too, like water and electricity. (A lot of which has been privatised, admittedly.)

Still, it left me wondering, WTF do American state governments do, besides keeping the wages of waitresses at $2.15 per hour. Strikes me as something I might need to know so as not to embarass myself in print one day.

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25 Responses to ‘Question for my US readers’

Murphy would have you know...

Posted April 27, 2013

Depends on the State.

More later.

Respects,

Murph

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Mark R. Whittington asserts...

Posted April 27, 2013

I can only speak for the state of Texas which, while a low tax, low spending state, has its fingers in a lot of pies. For example, states like Texas fund a lot of education and welfare programs as well as having their own law enforcement agenies. Texas has both a state police and the iconic Texas Rangers. States also administer the mostly federally funded Medicaid, a health care insurance program for the poor. Texas regulates its oil industry, has its own environmental agency, and does quite a few other things too that the federal government also does. Of course, since the current government in Austin is conservative and the one in Washington is leftist, this has caused conflict which is often settled in the courts.

Just in the way of transparency, my beloved wife works for the Division for Blind Services at the Texas Rehabilitive Commission helping people with visual impairments live independently with state assistance.

One thing you also might want to research is the concept we have of enumerated powers. According to the U.S. Constitution, all powers now spelled out in that document is reserved to the states or the people. However the federal government has often had a broad definition of what that means, setting up more conflict.

This is by necessity a very short version and I'm sure I've left a lot out. But this should give you an idea.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted April 27, 2013

That is a simple question that prompts a very complex and lengthy answer. The deceptively simple answer is that the States are empowered to do whatever is not pre-emptec by Federal law. In California that means regulating and taxing quite a lot, whereas in states like Montana, it means doing very little. More often than not, states act in tandem with federal authorities. For example, the feds pass a law that allows for grants to states for educational purpose, but only if they match the federal funds and comply with federal guidelines pertaining to the spending of that money. States like Texas won't take federal money with those kinds of strings attached, but states like California will. The biggest area of state spending, in partnership with the federal government, is allocations for health and welfare, such as food stamps. If a state wants to give out food stamps, and they want their spending subsidized with federal tax money, then that state must organize and administer their food stamp program so as to compy with federal law and regulation.

Murphy asserts...

Posted April 27, 2013

Paul covered it better than I could.

Respects,

Murph

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Murphy asserts...

Posted April 27, 2013

Public school boards here in the United States are controlled locally in political entities known as school districts. They have their own governing apparatus, usually a School Board, run by a Superintendent. Their funding comes from Federal, State, and local resources. In the case of local resources, it tends to be a property tax or in some cases, bonds.

Parents, particularly helicopter parents, have been degrading and eating away at Instructor Authority for decades now. Whereas once the Teacher/Instructor was a Prince in their own classroom, they are now so devalued in terms of power and authority that even the school janitor has more authority than the teachers do.

Don't believe me? I had an opportunity to bear witness to some of that at a local school district in the area recently. The end result is that the students suffer no consequences for their actions, their failures and everything is laid on the Instructor.

The mantra, often repeated by school administrator is this:

"Students don't fail, teachers do."

As for what a state government does, here is a list of duties:

1. Maintain the state roads and highways.

2. Provide law enforcement for the above.

3. Provide a National Guard (a state level successor to the original militias which can be Federalized out from under the nose of the Governor).

4. Provide some welfare services, though depending on the State that can be a great deal or it can be virtually nothing.

5. Provide a regulatory institution for education within the state which is often responsible for such things as school district accreditation and teacher certification. Additionally, they can be responsible for public school cirriculum and standards of assessment which can be tied to additional state funding.

6. Provide funding to a degree to state colleges, community colleges, technical schools and universities. These days that funding is tied to retention and completion rates, which will invariably lead to pressure from administrators to pass students, one way or the other.

7. Run the State Parks system, which in Missouri's case, is actually extensive.

8. Provide healthcare to the poor, which in Missouri's case means virtually nothing and it also means resistance to Obamacare.

I don't even think that begins to scratch the surface.

Respects,

Murph

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted April 27, 2013
Fascinating. There seems to be a much greater variance between the states there than there is here.

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted April 27, 2013

I believe there are some regional similarities. That said, state politics, state history and state government have always bored me to complete tears. I often wonder if Alexander Hamilton didn't have it right in his notion that states should be reduced to mere administrative provinces with no real power at all. He was right in that the conflict over dual sovereignty (which, among other things, led to the bloodiest war in U.S. History) would be a source of constant trouble.

When I lecture on States Rights vs Federal Power (mainly because I have to) I often use the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as a classic example of the struggle between Federal and State Power.

That said, lest I bad mouth the States too much, it was Thomas Jefferson using the states of Kentucky and Virgnia to effectively nullify the John Adams Administration's Alien and Sedition Acts. When one party completely dominates the Federal Government, as the Federalists did in Jefferson's time, state power can be used to greater and lesser degrees to mitigate that.

You see that play out with regard to a whole host of issues today.

That said, personally, I think the public education system needs a Stalinist style purge (minus the lead) and a greater degree of uniformity than current exists today. I also think the funding model is severely dysfunctional.

Respects,

Murph

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted April 27, 2013

From an Australian perspective, one of the most striking political differences is the number of elected government positions in the USA. Voting for a prosecutor or judge, for example, is a very different way of thinking. In Australia, that would seem like having a vote for the town plumber. Not criticising, it is just different.
I read, and it seemed reliable, that the U.S.A has over 500,000 popularly elected state, county and town officials.

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2013

From the U.S. 1992 Census of Governments; 513,200 elected officials.

Government Units
There were 85,006 government units in the United
States as of January 1992. In addition to the Federal
Government and the 50 State governments, there were
84,955 units of local government. Of these, 38,978 are
general-purpose local governments—3,043 county govern-
ments, and 35,935 subcounty general-purpose govern-
ments (including 19,279 municipal governments and 16,656
town or township governments). The remainder, more than
half the total number, are special-purpose local govern-
ments, including 14,422 school district governments and
31,555 special district governments.


Elected Officials
The 85,006 governments in the United States in 1992 had 513,200 elected officials.

http://www.census.gov/prod/2/gov/gc/gc92_1_2.pdf

NBlob mutters...

Posted April 27, 2013

513,200 that'd be, like, just over half a million elected officials. You'd have to assume that most of those elections would be contested, implying >1 nominees. Many, multiple candidates. So you may have as many as an additional million wannabes. Maybe 1.5 Million total.

Australia, maybe 50k.

I think that right there is your problem. Population has reached a point where a critical mass of half-wits think they have The Answer to what ails y'all And have the moxy, the hutzpah, the cojones to put it out there. Vote 1 Me!

Still, probably a less dysfunctional mechanism than any People's Collective.

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted April 28, 2013

Do you have any idea how much it costs to run for office?

Trust me, it is the province of the wealthy and the insane.

Respects,

Murph

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Matthew ducks in to say...

Posted April 28, 2013

NBlob, don't forget that the USA has 14 times the population of Australia.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted April 27, 2013

Oh, sometimes State Governments take over local institutions. One perfect example here in Missouri is the fact that the Kansas City Missouri Police Department is controlled by a State Board, not by local authorities. Locals do have representation on the Board but it is balanced out by others. This came about as a result of rampant Prohibition and Pendergast Political Machine Era corruption. It still persists to this day.

And sometimes the Federal Government imposes a solution on local institutions. Another example would be the attempted Desegregation of the Kansas City School District. Funds were siphoned/reallocated by Federal court order from every other school district in the State to solve very real infrastructure, salary and funding issues. The KCMOSD promptly used that money to engage in a massive building campaign to create Magnet Schools which would draw suburban kids to their district. It was riddled with corruption and worse, many of the projects constructed were beyond the means of the district to support without that reallocated money.

Eventually the State of Missouri managed to put an end to that sad chapter. Worse, it serves as a perfect example for Conservatives who like to point at KCMOSD and say, "We threw billions at that problem and it only got worse, not better. More money is not the answer."

Anyway.

Let's not even get started on law enforcement.

Respects,

Murph

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Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted April 27, 2013

I am interested in this too JB.

Jekyl Island 1913? vs Ezra Pound. cf Shutter Island (the movie)

Mini Depression 1880's.

TH Castaway and 'WILSON!'

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Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted April 27, 2013

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/box-seat/stop-stealing-game-of-thrones-says-us-ambassador-to-australians-20130427-2ilam.html

What was the question again?

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damian puts forth...

Posted April 27, 2013

It's an interesting one, isn't it. I find the contrast between the USA and Australia in this regard fascinating. I have no view on whether one is better than the other, I think there are strengths either way. Though in a general sense pushing more functions and taxes to local government does tend to favor the wealthier enclaves and disadvantage less well off areas, for obvious reasons. So I suppose that's an argument for our way, though I think in practice it's not really so clear.

I do wonder whether it occurs to Americans that their multiplicity of police forces and agencies is unusual. People here get confused enough by Cooloongatta and Tweed Heads being in different jurisdictions, and Canberra vs Queanbeyan even more so I suppose.

Matthew is gonna tell you...

Posted April 28, 2013

"Though in a general sense pushing more functions and taxes to local government does tend to favor the wealthier enclaves and disadvantage less well off areas, for obvious reasons."

Not really. In Scandinavian countries (Denmark for sure, not 100% about the other ones) most things are run by local governments. I haven't seen them held up as examples of rampant inequality.

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Charles mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2013

Good discussion and details on what's I'd call a "three pint" subject. One thing I'd add is that the complexity/confusion that typifies the U.S. governmental system has been around since the very beginning. That was largely due to divisions between the need to act collectively against the British and the desire to maintain local and/or regional autonomy. This dynamic has played out time and again in everything from the Civil War to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to the Civil Rights movement to abortion rights to gay rights to the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care).

The issue of state authority is further complicated by how powers are meted out from the bottom up. For example, in California, law enforcement is divided between incorporated town/city police who conduct investigations/interventions/arrests for infractions of local and state laws from traffic violations to felonies, county sheriffs who oversee unincorporated areas and provide support when more serious crimes are committed, and Highway Patrol officers who focus their attentions on the state/interstate highways and freeways.

Toss in federal agencies (U.S. marshalls, the FBI, TSA, IRS and others) with various jurisdictions and policing/enforcement powers and you end up with a system rife with overlappiing jurisdictions, power plays and pissing contests.

If nothing else, it keeps things interesting.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted April 28, 2013

Local law enforcement. Yeah, about that. Why don't we just list everything in my neck of the woods.

1. KCPD (for KCMO)

2. NKCPD (for Northtown)

3. Gladstone Public Safety, a weird duck of an organization which combines police, fire and ambulance together.

4. Liberty PD.

5. Riverside PD.

6. Parkville PD.

7. Northmoor PD (literally a one cop town).

8. Metropolitan Community Colleges of Kansas City Police, a bona fided, POST certified, no bullshit, we carry guns and have our own Paddy Wagon, police department spread out to the major campuses in the region.

9. UMKC PD, a larger population but they don't have a Paddy Wagon.

10. Clay County Sheriff's Department.

11. Platte County Sheriff's Department.

12. Smithville PD.

All of that is "local" and the bulk of it aside from UMKC and MCC are located just on the NORTH side of the Missouri River. South of the River you have:

13. Independence PD, home of Harry S. Truman, and they will chase you to the ends of hell if you want to see what a real police chase is like.

14. Blue Springs PD, not worth a fuck at all, worse than KCPD.

15. Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

16. Raytown PD.

17. Grandview PD.

Then you cross the State Line over to Kansas for another batch:

18. Wyandotte County Sheriff's Department.

19. Johnson County Sheriff's Department.

20. Overland Park.

21. Lenexa

22. Olathe

At the State Level on both sides you have a Highway Patrol for each state. Then you can start to layer in all of the Federal crap. For instance, the Department of Veteran's Affairs has police officers of their own, there is the FBI and the list goes on.

All of this local control, be it school boards, police departments (remember KCPD is controlled by the state but funded by the city) and the like are designed as a check and balance against potential tyranny. It is also a sign of democracy in action I suppose. The downside is that it is ruinously inefficient in the worst possible way.

Respects,

Murph

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted April 28, 2013
Holy shitballz Murph. Wow.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted April 28, 2013
And I'm sure I didn't name all of them in the area either.

Respects,
Murph
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Murphy mumbles...

Posted April 28, 2013
Here is a partial list from wiki for Missouri and Kansas.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_enforcement_agencies_in_Missouri

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_enforcement_agencies_in_Kansas

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Abe Frellman mutters...

Posted April 28, 2013

Based on the number of questions I get from sausage buyers around the world about federal-state fiscal relations in our country, Iwould say our federal system is quite unique and closest to Germany's. On average our states derive 50%

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Abe Frellman puts forth...

Posted April 28, 2013

...of their revenue from the Feds. In fact the vertical fiscal imbalance is so large here that the reallocation across the states is all you need to deal with the horizontal imbalances across the states...unless WA gets uppity now that it loses most of the GST it collects (although it used to be a net beneficiary not long ago).

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Davosdavos mumbles...

Posted April 29, 2013

State goverments run the licensing boards for professions. If you are a doctor, lawyer, you have to be licensed by the state. Heck, even hairdressers, building contractors, cosmetic consultants and a whole range do other jobs require you to have a state-issued license.

States regulate insurance companies, set premiums, regulate state chartered banks. They license businesses and regulate corporations. Want to set up a company, that's done by state governments. Some have light regulation (Nevada) while others are heavily regulated (California).

State governments do lots of regulation. There are lots of overlaps btwn the Feds and the counties. Lots of jurisdictional battles. States can make laws and require that counties implement and enforce the laws too.

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Respond to 'Question for my US readers'

Literary agents. Licensed to kill. Like a motherfucker

Posted April 26, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

So, you’ve written the final line on your soon to be best-selling novel, perhaps a high octane hyper-accelerated thriller, perhaps a dense and unreadably brilliant inner dialogue-driven character study of three generations of strong-willed women. ‘Whatevs’, as they say on ‘teh interwebz’. (‘Teh interwebz’ is also something they say on the internet, when they are trying for ironic distance).

The first question I’d ask as you hurried through shining black marble foyer of the international publishing house you have personally chosen to receive your heart breaking work of staggering genius, is what the hell are you doing? Where is your agent?

While it’s not unknown for publishers to pluck a diamond from the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts, such happy occasions are exceedingly rare. So rare, that it seems their exceptional, almost singular nature is imbued with the power to blind would-be novelists to the brutal realities of the industry.

Publishers hate unsolicited manuscripts. They do sift through them, because they are no more inured to the magical fantasy of that one, special find than are the army of unpublished authors burying them under a mountain of largely unpublishable books.

I believe Mr Birmingham will reserve his position on retaining the audiobook rights in the European market, unless you have an objection?

If you really think you have something special in your bottom draw, or nowadays in your Dropbox account, do yourself the favour of running it past the jaundiced eyes of one of the industry’s foulest, most nihilistic misanthropes – an agent. With an agent in your corner, you need not even read articles such as this. You would merely concern yourself with banging out five or six hundred pages of top shelf word processing, and they would do the rest; including the all important task of making first contact with whichever publisher you plan on shaking down for an unconscionably large advance. (More on this later.)

Publishers deal with agents all the time, and although they don’t necessarily like them, they do like what do. At least insofar as agents protect them from the shower of offal which pours into the slush pile, day and night. Granted they don’t much like agents when they ratchet up the size of that unconscionably large advance, but there is a price for everything, isn’t there? One caveat. When choosing an agent, avoid any that charge you a fee for their services. The only time an agent should put a hand in your pocket is when they have made a sale and are taking a commission. Reading fees, edit fees, manuscript assessment fees, they are all recognised as the work of charlatans.

There are manuscript assessment agencies around, and some are even worth the money they charge. But they are not agents.

So, lets say you have inexplicably decided to do your own pimping and negotiating. Perhaps you don’t fancy turning over somewhere between ten and twenty per cent of your income to the misanthrope. Perhaps in your day job you eat high priced negotiators for breakfast.

There is another difficult, preliminary question you need to ask yourself. It’s difficult because you’re probably not qualified to answer it, but without an agent with whom you might chew over these things, where would you turn for advice? As you hurry through the black marble foyer, tracked by the invisible lasers and defence turrets of the Pan Macmillan in-house security system, or the slavering attack dogs of Rupert Murdoch’s Harper Collins, perhaps you should first ask yourself, ‘Do I even need this publisher’.

It’s not the sort of question publishers like to encourage, but increasingly authors and the misanthropes who represent them, are asking the very same. Lets illustrate the point with a little experiment. If you have web access handy, pop over to Amazon, the world’s largest online book retailer and festering sink of evil, and do a subject search under Kindle for, say, mystery and thrillers. There you’ll find some familiar names. Lee Child, Janet Evanovich and so on. But who are all these people you’ve never heard of? With titles that seem to cost .99 cents?

Well, they may not be the future of publishing, but they will be part of it. Self published authors who moved swiftly into the e-book space while the slow, lumbering engines of olde worlde publishing were still banking up the coal supplies for their steam engines. There are now any number of options for unsigned authors to say, ‘The hell with Random House, I’ll publish myself’.

Some of them have made a pile of money. Not because they’re good, but because they were fast to market, they were cheap, sometimes even free while they established their name as a micro-brand, and because they could often put half a dozen small electronic books into the channel while the publishing houses were still dunking their Tim Tams into the Earl Grey at acquisitions meetings.

Even established authors are beginning to examine the prospect of going it alone. Or perhaps not entirely alone, but certainly without the help of a publisher who’ll generously let you have a whole 10% royalty on your cover price, as opposed to the 70% you can earn freelance.

Of course, as a freelance, you’d have to organize editing, production, placement, marketing if you intend to do any, and so on. There are emerging into the market, a number of businesses providing these services. Some are reputable. Some are just retooled vanity publishers. You’ll need to do your own research as to whom you’ve fallen in with. Alternately, some agents are beginning to organise their clients as ‘stables’ where they produce copy for Amazon, or iBooks or Barnes and Noble, and the agency takes care of everything else, effectively cutting out the publisher but ensuring the production work is done professionally.

Publishers, as you’d imagine, are not happy with this. Some authors have seen existing contracts cancelled on the basis of entering into such arrangements.

Lets hand-wave all these modern confusions and tergiversations aside, however, and proceed on the assumption that you are an old school writer with an old school proposition. You have a saleable manuscript and you would like to sell it directly to a publisher. What do you need to know?

Firstly, what are you selling? It’s not just your beautiful prose. You are selling rights to commercially exploit that prose in any number of formats and markets. The publisher will want the right to everything, up to and including your DNA. When they rush you with a contract, fountain pen and a hypodermic syringe, just take a moment to say, “Whoa”. You may not want to assign a small Australian publisher the right to market your work in Romania or, possibly more importantly, in the US. You may want to withhold foreign rights, audio rights, video game rights, and so on.

There are many traps for young players in this area. For instance you may ‘invent’ a whole story universe, filled with compelling creatures and characters and worlds. Perhaps you write a series of successful novels within this universe but then move on, only returning to it years later. Suddenly, after announcing you intend to return to your roots, a lawyer’s letter arrives informing you that said roots are owned, root and branch by the original publisher. You didn’t just sell them the words in the manuscript. You sold them everything. The creatures, the characters, the world. The very fruits of your imagination.

This is why I say, you should either have an agent or an IP lawyer in your corner doing the talking. The power, unfortunately, is mostly with the publisher. Negotiations can be brutal. You’re an artist, you don’t do brutal. Unless you’re Tom Kratman. But your misanthropic agent or lawyer was born that way. Let them do their worst so you can be at your best.

They are the ones who will discuss the all-important filthy lucre. Just how much are you expecting to trouser for this deal? I hope it’s not too much. Advances are falling across the industry as it restructures to deal with the advent of electronic publishing (where the industry accepted advance for e-book only deals is one tenth of one per cent of fuck all; which is to say, zero). The virtual collapse of the US economy and subsequent contraction of its publishing industry is also feeding through to the rest of the world, undermining confidence.

There is no reasonable, generally agreed figure you can settle on for an advance. If you are a first time author, don’t be surprised at the insulting, piddlesome amount on offer. It’s an advance. If your work is that brilliant it will sell a million copies and you’ll be rolling in royalties with only the tax office goons to ruin your party. There are some authors who think making a publisher bet the house on a book is good business. Or rather, I should say there are some ex-authors who think making a publisher bet the house on a book is good business.

Having settled on who owns what, and how much dough is changing hands it’s time to think about the nuts and bolts of your agreement. You’ll want to know exactly what happens in the case of failure. Either you, failing to deliver, or the publisher failing to get to the book to market. Ideally, if they make a hash of everything you need to be in a position to recover your rights to everything. Alternately, if you make a cock up of things, how much are you going to have to pay them back? The full amount of the advance? With interest? Best to know. It used to be the case that in the days of gentleman’s agreements, advances were never recovered. Those days are over.

Will there be a marketing budget for your work? Will you tour? It’s a sad reality that the sales of books increase in direct proportion to the amount of effort that goes into pimping them. Be very careful that you’re not expected to organize and run your own publicity efforts. Unless marketing and publicity is your day job, you’ll fail. Get the publisher to spell out exactly what they intend to do in this area, in print.

There may be costs associated with your work. Will there be an index? Under no circumstances agree to pay for it. Professional indexing is hell expensive. So too with permissions for photography. As perverse as it might sound, even public institutions such as libraries will try to charge you for access and publishing rights to material they hold (paid for by the taxes extorted from your good self before you foolishly gave up merchant banking for the composing of epic poems). If there is a production cost involved in bringing your work to print – don’t be the one left holding the bill.

On a related matter, if you are planning to defame anybody, you might wish to secure an indemnity from your publisher. Best not to defame anyone in the first place, of course, but given the antediluvian nature of Australian libel laws, even the best of intentions can go pear-shaped. Ask Bob Ellis. Or better yet, don’t. Just learn from his example.

Once these tedious issue are settled you can get to the very heart of the author-publisher relationship; power. In the end, whose book is this? Do you have final say over its content and form or do they? Again, be wary of coming on as an overweening tool. While you may have very strong ideas about, say, the cover design of your precious tome, it might be the case that in matters of print aesthetics you don’t know your arse from a hole in the ground. So too, with editing. What makes you think that after three or four rewrites you have any capacity to objectively judge what needs to happen to your manuscript before it is released to the paying public, who, believe me, can very quickly morph into the baying public. By all means lobby for final control, but try not to exercise it.

There are two last issues you need to bear in mind. Publishers get very jealous of their authors. When they say they don’t want you releasing ‘competing’ titles they mean it. Sometimes, in the real world, delays and changes of allegiance can mean you have an older title with a previous publisher coming out at or near the same time as your new book. It is should be possible to deal with such instances like grown ups. But publishers are increasingly on the look-out for authors going maverick. Releasing, say, a self published e-book of short stories or magazine columns at the same time as the publisher’s title.

They hate this, in the general and in the particular. Contracts have been voided because of it.

Which brings us at last to final consideration. What happens at the end? Chances are you won’t be with this publisher unto the grave. When the link is sundered what happens to all those rights you gave when things were fresh and the very air itself was humming with mutual love and admiration?

Perhaps you really should get that lawyer and/or agent.

32 Responses to ‘Literary agents. Licensed to kill. Like a motherfucker’

peteb is gonna tell you...

Posted April 26, 2013

Handy advice that, got my ebook number 1 up yesterday .. no surprise who bought copy number 1, @ $2.99 .. Bennison Books did all the work, she's a her, pom, therefore erudite and discerning.

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DrYobbo puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Imma stick to selling crack to schoolies. Seems more reputable and straightforward.

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beeso ducks in to say...

Posted April 26, 2013

Interesting about reading a slush pile. I read a lot of books for a normal person and sometimes i struggle getting into a book and discard it for a time. GRR Martins was a classic example, i struggled for a few weeks to get into it and it wasn't till i sat down for an hour and hooked in that it got going. It was a great book, but if i'd been trying to judge it on first look and didn't know that it was probably worth persisting with i probably wouldn't have come back to it.

Do publishers just understand that sometimes their mood is not right to judge a slower, longer book, or that it might need a longer reading to get into it? Or can they just judge things structurally and understand that it is worth putting more time into judging later?

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pitpat puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Thanks for that, I think I'll stick with the misanthropic nepotistic mining industry. At least we start from the premise that everyone is a greedy bastard and are therefore pleasantly suprised when most turn out ot be reasonable human being.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted April 26, 2013

Excellent piece, I am tempted to copy it and self-publish it as 99cent dreadful. I guess we now know how much a penny has inflated in literatry terms.

I am espcially greatful for the introduction of the word tergiversation, which is a great word but one with which I was unfamiliar. I had thought initialy it was a malapropism of yours untill I checked the dictionary.

It sounds like there is an oportunity for literary agents to take over some of the functions offerred by the publishers. You mention this in the article above. Certainly with the publishing houses trousering up to 70% then the literary agent has some room to manauver and still provide a better return to the writer. I would like to read Superagent Hughies thoughts on this development.

I am always suprised when people who think they have a talent for writing think the must also have a talent for editing, for intellectual property law, marketing and cover design. While I realise we all dream ourselves as Da Vinciesque Renaissance polymaths the cold truth is we are not and you are better off, much better off, finding someone who knows this shit better than you.

I think that is what you said, just more elquently. You know, with allusions and stuff.

DrYobbo has opinions thus...

Posted April 26, 2013

'I am always suprised when people who think they have a talent for writing think the must also have a talent for editing, for intellectual property law, marketing and cover design' - I'm equally surprised (as I expect are you Barnes) when people who have a talent for science think they also have a talent for personnel management, administration and corporate governance.... or at least are driven along that path by their developing career. But that's another argument.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted April 26, 2013

Oh no, Science is totally different. If you are good at science/engineering you are just an all round expert at everything. Well except maybe sports.

pitpat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 26, 2013

As someone who purports to be a scientist I reject the proposition that I am expert at everything or indeed anything including my specialist field. I am however pretty knowlegable with respect to sport.

Scientists at least in my field are a bit like literary agents. Our jobs are to reduce the probablitiy of complete failure. Or if you are an optimist to increase the chances of technical success- whether that translates into financial success is a different question.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted April 26, 2013

No no no, it's only chemists who are experts at everything

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted April 26, 2013

Not too long ago, a colleague spoke to a lonely author doing a book signing at Bookworld in the Brisbane CBD.
She asked the author,
"It must be exciting to see your book on the shelves of bookshops".
"Not really" the author replied, "Do you know how much I get for each book sold?"
"No."
"$1.14."

And when you consider that 5000 books sold would make you a successful Australian author, the hourly rate is poor. There is also the long delay between the work and the payment.
A couple of years ago they did a survey of Australian authors with a 'successful' publishing history. They wanted to work out their average income. The authors generally used the 3 methods of deriving income for authors: book royalties, getting some articles in magazines and teaching creative writing.
They worked out the average reported income was about $33,000 pa.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

$33K is higher than I would have thought. It's why I write for a global english language audience and keep working in media.

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Semi-related, I worked across the road from Bookworld in the Brisbane CBD for a couple of decades and saw many a book signing as I wandered past at lunch. In that time, there were 2 authors who really had them lined up with 100's of people; Judith Durham and Pele.
Michael Connelly had about 8 people in a line. As I walked past, he heard him say, "Stuff this" and he got up from his little table and walked around into the queue and started chatting. Seemed like a nice bloke.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted April 26, 2013

I pretty much refuse to do them and have for years.

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted April 26, 2013

I only mention the Michael Connelly anecdote because his book signing behaviour was so singular.
I saw him stand up, and start to move towards the people.
'Oh no! The author has got loose!' I shouted.
It was scary there for a moment.

RobertL is gonna tell you...

Posted April 26, 2013
I remember seeing that Pele signing. It almost blocked the road.

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tqft puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Saddest thing? I have a mind mapping program open and am dumping that novel that has been running around my head into it and this article has not put me off.

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Rhino reckons...

Posted April 26, 2013

Kratzman? Do you mean Kratman? He does brutal good.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013
Yeah, him. Scuse the typo.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted April 26, 2013

Why did I decide to try and get into this line fo work again?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted April 26, 2013

Interesting read, I received a slightly more brutal, and thats still not the right term, ..forthright and honest divulgence from the large hairy beardy at times angry, cook, cleaners, writer and general all round wrangler in Tasmania some years ago. That then was fkn awesome to read and rather fascinating to boot, like above.

I KNOW I"M FKN MARKETABLE...so long as its abbreviations, bad fkn typing and fkn swearin!...not sure what sorta fkn book that would be!

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted April 26, 2013

Always room for heaps of explosions in abbreviated form.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 26, 2013

Sounds too much like hard work that scribbling for a living caper. I prefer being a deaf poet.

simon bedak mutters...

Posted April 29, 2013

"I am blind. It is Spring. Deaf am I to that lawn-mowin' thing..

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MickH puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Wow JB thanks for that.

I have been thinking along those lines for a while, but it was sometging I ewas going to find out more about once Q7S is closer to being finished.

For those of you that are interested, Queen of the Seven Seas is going to get a 50 shades of Grey job done to it. When I said this to my writers club ladies they got all interested, but by that I mean I'm taking it out of fan fiction by de-copyrighting it, with JBs enthuastic support.

But I was always under the assumption that scoring an agent was even harder than scoring a publisher and that it was essentually a catch 22 situation with them.

So how do you get an agent?

My strategy is to get one of my short stories published if I can, so I can approach one of these demi-gods with at least some street cred.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 27, 2013

I suggest chloroform.

MickH mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2013

You may well be right Barnsy but first I'd have to find one of the fuck'rs.

How do you hunt down a ligit agent who is open to new talent? Is it easier to hunt unicorns?

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Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted April 26, 2013

Thanks JB,

But I am confused.

One post about the literary world is all about beer and skittles and the next is all Alice in Wonderland.

Is writing worth it? Money be nice. I find writing therapeutic, honing the words a challenge but as you and others mention it is very hard to edit your own work.

In this way most books are probably a collaborative effort.

I've done four chapters now of my previously mentioned coincidental 'Magic vs Science' themed novel. Not a chance of 50 shading it like MickH, good luck MickH.

Self Publish? Maybe.

I am getting into After America too. It is starting to roll and has a 'good Rhythym'.

MickH mumbles...

Posted April 27, 2013

Thanks Dino, you too.

Self publishing or ePublishing seems the way forward given the apparent collapsing of the standard publishing houses. But Its still evolving I think, The key will be getting your work noticed and I see some things happening in that direction already. I think the future will be your agent/publisher will primarly handle marketing, while the traditional editing of the work will still be there.

I will repeat though that Q7S will have no sex scenes in it :) 50 shades of grey started out as fan fiction as did Q7S. Apparently the 50SQ author approached the publishers and worked out what needed to be removed to make it legal. Thats what I meant lol

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Len has opinions thus...

Posted April 27, 2013

Of course, the key here is to actually get an agent interested in your work so they'll want to represent you. Not as easy as one thinks with all the queries they get. Got any advice there?

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Tom Kratman mutters...

Posted April 27, 2013

Okay, that was funny.

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Simon Bedak would have you know...

Posted April 29, 2013

Hey Len, got an idea.

The big question is this: will I get Mr 10% Simon Bedak to try and not fuck up the stage adaptation or will I get one of Birmo's troup of type-writing monkeys who is not only cheaper, but more talented?

Strategy wise, saying the unpublished manuscript's been turned into an inexplicably popular stage play might be worth a crouton in the Caesar salad of sell-out in hawking yourself.

Never know. I imagine literary agents are like the rest of us and enjoy a nice drunken handjob at the theatre

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damian mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2014
Okay, so double plus good to this still-tasty morsel too. And I hardly evah pay attention to the twitterz

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Respond to 'Literary agents. Licensed to kill. Like a motherfucker'

Festivus interruptus

Posted April 24, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

I was a bit surprised to see a report from the Sydney Writers Festival the other day. I didnt even know it was on. It's one of the older, more serious festivals and I don't get invited nearly as much since I started writin' the splodey.

It's cool. I'm not bitter.

Still, that report did jog my memory about a piece I wrote for someone, somewhere, possibly The Spectator, about bad behaviour at literary festivals. I dont think it's ever been available online so for all those people who wondered what they're missing out on if, like me, they didn't score an invite to this year's SWF, enjoy:

I’ve never understood writers who complain about the festival circuit. Fuck me, what’s not to love? You get flown in like James Bond, put up in some plush hotel, fed like a fucking potentate, and over the course of a week you might have to do about fourteen minutes ‘work’, which mostly involves gobbing on about the fascinating fellow who is you to a room full of adoring groupies. Other than that, it’s all hookers and blow.

Plenty of blow, if you’re the visiting international super author who swept through Sydney a couple of years ago like a tornado through a trailer park. Plenty of blowjobs if you’re the handsome, visiting, young literary lion who cut a swathe through the ranks of doe-eyed publishing grrrls at festival after festival, leaving it to his grizzled old agent to explain that the knee trembler out the back of the wharf restaurant was just ‘festival sex’ and, really, the duly ravished editor, publicist or marketing maven shouldn’t plan on a Mills and Boon ending.

In fact, the standard of behaviour amongst overseas authors is so uniformly and despicably lower than the local scribblers, that you could only put it down to being a long way from home and surrounded by strangers, none of whom you plan on ever seeing again.

While there have been a few embarrassing incidents of Australian writers getting caught out in the wrong room, or the hotel foyer wearing only a short white bathrobe and an unsightly bulge, for world class roistering and rogering you almost always have to turn to the international talent; the hugely successful overseas crime writer who, having wowed the audience though a two hour session, then wowed one of the lovely young ladies selling his tomes at the festival bookshop, through a six hour sesh back at the hotel; the cheeky Kiwi author whose surprisingly successful pick up routine involved wandering into the ladies toilet as if lost, and chatting up whoever he found, trapped in there; the French philosopher who managed to paw, grope and fondle every single woman who crossed his path during his brief, action packed visit. And, having learned the ways of the foreign johnnies, the ex-pat Australian scribe who methodically propositioned a vast number of women over the course of a night, all to no avail. His essayed his final attempt to get laid in a taxi going home with three distinguished lady publishers. After being turned down by two he turned to the last one and said 'Surely you'll fuck me?'

Surely, she didn’t.

Not that it’s always the writers who are on the tool. A dashing young British agent – no not Bond, the literary sort of agent – ran his pork sword through a brace of local industry loverlies a couple of years back. While some of the loverlies themselves fell into a screeching cat fight over who was going to bag a visiting super poet, which ended only when the limerick legend tossed them all out of his hotel room at omigod-thirty in the morning.

There must be something about poets. Another one, a local lad this time, once took all of twenty minutes after his arrival at the festival to find himself in a shower with a sixteen year old admirer.

It’s not all about the sex though. There’s also the drunkenness. I chose my agent Annette Hughes, many years ago because she’d passed out and fallen under the tables at the casino, a vantage point from which I was certain she would understand things from my perspective. In fact, I’m somewhat proud of the fact that of all the drunken, rambling, pointless and offensive performances I’ve seen on stage at writer’s festivals, nobody can top mine and Hughesy’s after a whole day of throwing back the complimentary fizzy drink before staggering out in front of a couple of hundred strangers to disgrace ourselves on a panel with the late great Grant McLennan and actor-turned-writer William McInnes. Neither of the Macs had ever been to a festival before, and were completely blindsided by our foul mouthed, drunken hysterics, but neither of them were as unbalanced as the chair of the session, poor Andrew Stafford, who looked like all he wanted in the world was for the earth to open up and swallow him.

Preparations for the panel 'Whither the Novel' were proceeding in the green room.

Anyone who spends any time at a festival will eventually see, or trip over, some God of Letters, crawling around on the floor, covered in their own vomit, and possibly taking up skirt photos with their mobile phone cam. A Brisneyland-based author recalls stumbling across one legless Brit Lit genius, being unexpectedly and unwantedly pashed by another, before getting ‘belly-butted’ outside the dunny by a Nobel prize-winning Irish poet and novelist, all in short order.

While it’s all good fun for we 'umble scribblers, the burden of these piss poor shenanigans has to fall somewhere, and for the most part it’s the heads of our publicists and agents; again, another reason I chose the hard-bitten, two-fisted take-no-prisoners Hughesy as my personal consigliore. Ever ready with a fresh drink or a strong arm, she’s steered many a gullible newbie through the shoals of their first festival. She once had to frog march a tired and emotional author away from a group of internationals, whom he’d decided to lay into with grog-addled gusto. By the time the world famous, prize winning Indian writer had been told that he was a slimebag and a talentless lowlife, Hughesy came over all Maori bouncer and took it upon herself to muscle the provocateur off the premises.

Ironically, she herself was later ejected for delivering a fearsome rant against street performers from a wobbling table top in the hotel foyer. A bit harsh really, given that the security goons hadn’t done anything about the senior editor who decided it was just too hot for humans, staggered to her feet, and lay down, fully clothed, in the decorative pond in the foyer.

Less forceful agents and publicist however, have long memories and lots of scar tissue. There is always one monster among the visiting literati, one writer so irredeemably vile that nobody wants to wrangle them. And for some reason they often seem to be crazy American crime writing ladies. One such best selling creature, put out that nobody would carry her bags for her, spent her entire visit complaining about the wretched food, and pissy coffee and the horror of being dragged to this shit hole at the end of the world. She even alienated her fellow best selling Americans, with whom she had to share a platform, asking, in front of them, ‘What I am doing on stage with these fucking nobodies?’

Another author of massively popular pot boilers used to insist that a peeled Mars Bar be readied for him in the Green Room, before he went on stage, while a morbidly obese female novelist, now dead, simply couldn’t leave her room until some long suffering publicist had given her swollen, blue veined feet a good rub down. One poor publicist was forced to follow yet another Indian writer with a bottle of wine, ever ready to top him up should his glass drop too low. A colleague was forced by an American ‘cult’ author, to act as her valet, packing her stinky underclothes into a suitcase while the literary genius stoked the fires of her personality cult on breakfast radio. And a hugely credentialed writer once insisted a festival director bring him some bed pillows from the directors own home, because, having sampled the entire ‘pillow menu’ at the hotel, he couldn’t find anything remotely appropriate upon which to wrest his noble noggin. Perhaps he should have done as a colleague did, and stripped naked in the foyer until his demands we met.

None of this should put you attending of course, unless you fancy a career at the bottom of the food chain in the publishing industry. For you, as for us, the drunken, drug addled dilettantes, the Festival is all about the good times. And the foot rubs.

34 Responses to ‘Festivus interruptus’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

"Potentate?" I haven't heard that word used in over 30 years, especially by a young person such as yourself.

I've attended only one literary festival - held in Edinburgh - where I met a rather well-known British author who offered to perform a sex act upon me in exchange for 20 Pounds Sterling, or its equivalent in "American cash money." I found the experience, at the time, unsettling, but now realize, after reading your post, that I shouldn't have been surprised.

sibeen mumbles...

Posted April 24, 2013

I refuse to judge you, Paul; you're a lawyer, and probably needed the money.

Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013

Ooh I really want to know who now.

Ever thought of going into the blackmail business PNB?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted April 25, 2013

Sibeen: She offered to pay me. She certainly didn't need the money. I have long suspected that the entire encounter was merely smoke from another fire. Just because you're rich and famous doesn't mean you're happy, and doesn't mean you aren't psychotically obsessed with that guy who rejected you in that bar in Islington before you were rich and famous.

Matthew: I never kiss and tell - unless I've kissed Scarlett Johansson; if and when that happens I intend on telling everybody.

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DrYobbo asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

Get nominated for 'words and writing' blog thing, post something to do with words and writing, ??? , profit. I see what you did there

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John is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013

God, and to think I thought the antics of the engineering students at Uni were bad...

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013
Indeed.
When does this competition end?
We can only contain ourselves for so long before we get back to the serious business of throwing cat turds at slouch bikers.

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tqft reckons...

Posted April 24, 2013

Your twitter stream will be fun today JB. Hope you didn't plan on getting any work done.

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Johnny B Gone ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

‘What I am doing on stage with these fucking nobodies?’

I'm already thinking about the times and places I can drop this little doozy.

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Peter Bradley would have you know...

Posted April 24, 2013

I don't think literary festivals have a mortgage on bad behavior.

I have been going to scientific conferences for roughly 30 years and the behavior described fits with a majority of visiting "scientific luminaries". I remember on particular New York based guru who ran up a $10,000 phone bill at the hotel he was being hosted at and thought nothing of it.

Did Lord Acton have the right idea all those years ago? "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

<!--EndFragment-->

Quokka asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

PB: a professor of psychiatry at Cornell University coined the term 'acquired situational narcissism' for the self-importance that arises from being a celebrity. It does go a long way to explaining WTF goes on in hollywood.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted April 25, 2013

I'm not sure how "acquired situational narcissism' could prompt someone into confusing an overweight, short, bald, middle-aged attorney with a prostitute. Davos Seaworth, perhaps, but not a prostitute. I suspect being drunk had more to do with it. And, for the record, I have encountered some rather famous Hollywood folk and none of them have ever offered to pay me in exchange for sex. Hell, they don't want to pay me for legitimate work. Take my word for it: the more famous a person is, the more likely it is that they don't want to pay for legal work.

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HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted April 24, 2013

well, thats a fkn cracking morning laugh if I ever had one, an in the middle of the fkn office no less. Talk about fkn muppets and the arrogant fkn unwashed at times, i've never behaved like that!

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TC would have you know...

Posted April 24, 2013

Heh heh heh. Good times.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

Totally going in my chaps.

Only

My

Chaps

Paul, I use potentate at least once a week in class. It is easier to deal with than antidisestablishmentarianism.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

JG has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

Chaps? Is this a Texan term? Like cowboy chaps?

Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24, 2013

Yes we've got lots of chaps here in England. Also geezers, blokes, fellers, lads and mates.

I wonder how many Englishmen have been surprised when visiting the US at the result when asking for a pack of fags?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted April 25, 2013

Depends on where you ask. If you ask in Billings Montana they will point guns at you and direct you out of town. If you ask in San Fransisco California they will smile warmly direct you to the Castro District - and warn you that the term is highly offensive and that "gay" is more polite.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

Onya Hughesy! No wonder you went to raise chooks and grow stuff. Last time I went to the SWF I ended up being bored shitless within 20 minutes, went to the Fortune of War for a few sharpies then off to see the then recently released Star Trek, Afterwards caught up with a fave barmaid. Wasn't all that literary but by fuck it was a good afternoon and evening. Don't blame you for not worrying about the SWF. One look at the crowd and speakers tells a tale of extreme ononism.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

Listen you, what happens on a festival stays on festival.

Nothing wrong with ranting at street performers, espcially mime artists. Lord Havelock Vetinari of Terry Pratchett's Discword series had the 'write' idea, has them hanging upside down in his scorpion pit while reading a sign saying "learn the words".

Might I also suggest Mortification:Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame edited by Robin Robertson if you seek more stories, though Iwas suprised to see nothing for Birmo. Like the time insisted on calling a group of ardent feminists "ladies" through out his talk. Most of us waiting in a near by coffee shop were expecting to see him fleeing up the street pursued by militant lesbians with murder in their eyes,.... again.

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

I wanna become a writer.

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted April 24, 2013

I've only been to one WF before, at Byron Bay a couple of years ago - I wanted to hear Bret Easton Ellis, John "Roy Slaven" Doyle and Tony Martin. Gotta say, the crowd, and indeed the writers, didn't strike me as your rampaging blowjob types. I'm sure Tony Martin, for example, would rather spend his down time going through the Bargain Bin outside the local Video Ezy than snorting cocaine off a groupie's tits.

Mind you, after reading this, I'm certainly seeing George RR Martin and Bill Bryson in a new light.

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24, 2013

Goddamn, the best years of my life have been wasted on not behaving badly.

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Shifty Tourist ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

Completely wasted my life.... should have been a writer... well, I always considered it a fall back profession... you know..... in case the white collar drudgery doesn't pan out.

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

I coulda given you my gold pass JB.

I think it's here somewhere under the local papers.

I woulda gone but I am reading 'After America'.

It's not the splody it's the dialogue, too much dialogue.

Dialogue is so GaY now.

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted April 24, 2013

It's just like a footy trip.

Dave W reckons...

Posted April 24, 2013

I think you get a higher class of hookers and blow at a writers' festival.

w from brisbane mutters...

Posted April 24, 2013

It depends on the footy team.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted April 24, 2013

and the writers festival

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damian would have you know...

Posted April 24, 2013

The thing about poets, is that it's all work for them. There is, after all, the famous and highly regarded bloke who tried to write an ode to his own arsehole, but the shaving mirror kept fogging up.

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Shell has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

LOL. Insightful, hilarious and relevant. Make it a book. Please! Title: "it's Only Words"

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JG mutters...

Posted April 24, 2013

Writers are a shifty bunch.

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sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24, 2013

BTW, JB, love the photos from "Black Books".

What a fucking brilliant show.

Oohh, hold on, are we still allowed to say 'fuck", or have the cleaners been through already. I do hope they've cleaned up Havok's room before the inspectors get here.

JG mumbles...

Posted April 26, 2013

I think it's too late for that, sibeen. The 'fuck' word is part of the CBG vernacular. Quakka duck, most unfortunate.

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Respond to 'Festivus interruptus'

The Burger is in the finals of the Best Australian Blogs Competition

Posted April 23, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

So you lot better not fuck this up for me. If I win this comp I can afford to get a better class of reader around here and finally run the lot of you off.

All the good writers will come to visit and I can afford a velvet rope to channel the riff raff into the darkened alley around the corner.

So I'm warning you lot.

((Shakes fist))

You'd better be on your best fucking behaviour or else. People are watching. Important people.

Grrr.

104 Responses to ‘The Burger is in the finals of the Best Australian Blogs Competition’

Quokka reckons...

Posted April 23, 2013

Well that explains the stench of Glen 20 and why you've bothered hosing the vomit off the tiles.

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pi puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

I just put a pair of clean undies on. You know... just in case.

Quokka reckons...

Posted April 23, 2013

You slip on the freshly hosed tiles and require a trip to the horsepiddle?

Bunyip is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

We have to wear undies now?

JG asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

Why? I don't want to wear any.

Bunyip ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

Well, it's either that or pants.

Murphy puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

I'm wearing my chaps.

Only

my

chaps.

While I scratch myself. ;)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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DrYobbo mumbles...

Posted April 23, 2013

You might want to tidy this fucking sty up. Look, you Karcher the worst of the effluvium off the deck and I'll hide the goat electrode porn archive. Unless Havock's still booked it out on extended loan.

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BigWillieStyle swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

Eh? A cursory glance at the finalists reveals no Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt or Piers Akerman. This little award you're up for has about as much credibility as Josh Dugan at the minute. Good luck though, I look forward to lining up to get into the VIP section up the back. Plush carpet?

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

of course it is, I am suprised it isn't on the Best in the World Blog list, if for nothing else than Havseys musings..

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BobGrrl asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

And here I am without access to my collection of ASCII pictures. Shame. A little bit of goatse would class this place right up.

BobGrrl

( . y . )

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Brian would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013

So the Bluntynyou did on the CWA, and Havocks lobbying has brought you to this?

Seems a pittance for all the non hard Hakka you've put in.

Y'know you've made us all self concious now.

Fuck me.

JG swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

Don't blush, Brian. It will pass. Bare all. Be shameless. I just hope JB now runs for GG.

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Lulu puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

Will you be making like an Olympic city in a leap year, and hosing the homeless off the blog streets to impress the visitors? Let us know when we can crawl back under our cardboard box blankets again.

Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

Someone took my vino.

Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted April 23, 2013

TQFT, Morgana has a pre-pubescent boy who bullseyed Khan Greybeard right in the forehead the first time he picked up a bow and and arrow. He can be bought for a packet of sour gummy worms and a sylvanian families action figurine.

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

How much will you pay me to nobble Greybeard before he can return?

Bunyip has opinions thus...

Posted April 23, 2013

You'll have to be quick. He's somewhere between the Warrunbungles and the QLD border. And I think he's taking the backroads, the crafty bugger...

JG asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

I think GB's off playing with hobbits.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

Too late, Mr so-called "tqft" or, as we now know you to be, Heinrich von Winklevoss, the third, most reclusive and twisted of the Winklevoss Bitcoin twins! The gloves are off Mr von Winklevoss, the masks are discarded. Did you imagine we wouldn't see through your efforts to enmesh the poor, pathetic, drug and alcohol addled habitues of this blog in your Bitcoin Empire? You see Mr vW, we've been bugging you!

And the Bunyip is right. I crossed the border hours ago, approaching from NSW disguised as a Bulldogs player accompanied by three 17 year old female pharmacy students. Shedding that identity I entered Goodiwindi through the back streets as an itinerant Romanian Horse-Poisoner, dragging a grey stallion behind my Lada convertible. This attracted unwanted attention so I stole the keys to a semi-trailer loaded with recreational opioids and made the Brisbane run in only three hours. Thanks to my maniacal grin, disdain for speed limits and steering with my bare feet, no one noticed me amongst all the other semi drivers.

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

Woohoo! I'll hide the evidence. Don't tell them about the Cyber Bunnies.

JG, CB. :P

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted April 23, 2013

Wow there are some really good blogs nominated.

mmmmm methinks I may be spending so time away from Cheeseburger, 'researching' these other blogs.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

Be sure to leave a mess

Respond to this thread

Murphy mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

Yeah, who did he have to bribe to get on that list in the first place?

Still wearing my chaps.

Only

My

Chaps

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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MickH mumbles...

Posted April 23, 2013

You got that man trap ready for Havoc then?

Bunyip puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

Why would Hav want to trap men?

Respond to this thread

Therbs asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

Whodja have to root for this nugget? Farken. Now I have to sweep up the broken glass. These fancy shmancy visitors of yours probably like wine out of a glass and not to see the locals munching on worms.

Its all Havsy's fkn fault.

Respond to this comment

Respond to this comment

Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

Crap. There goes the neighbourhood, slummy but not at all intimidating. Alternatively, a change is as good as a holiday..

Respond to this comment

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

Who farted?

Respond to this comment

Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

Sorry, corn dog and cabbage for lunch.

Respond to this comment

TC ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

Excellent - awards! I've never won a prestigious award but I've been known to host the occasional low-key awards night. I don't know whether we can all behave but at least we're a fun bunch.

I hope you win, this is by far my favourite blog.

TC mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

And... voted.

Respond to this thread

Quokka mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

Oh so all we have to do is vote.

In that case there's no need to alert you to the carrot chunks between the sofa cushions. I thought you'd trained Hav to heave those up in the neighbour's parsley patch.

Tsk, tsk.

Respond to this comment

Lobes asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

Better hope theres no fatties on the selection panel JB

Respond to this comment

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

No, no, no. This won't do at all. Winning contests is the first step into the bottomless pit of politeness! Mark my words - if we win this, there will be an almost imperceptible dark energy that will coax us into saying "please" and "thank you" and "oh no, I totally misconstrued your comment about my sister as some sort of insult both towards my sister’s moral character and my family’s genetic endowment.” Stuff like that! You watch and see! Instead of the CBG time tested pejorative “fuck you and the horse you rode in on” we will say, instead, “I respectfully disagree with your stated opinion.” Havock, I’m looking at you. Right straight at you. You will be THE FIRST to succumb!! Just you watch.

I am very uneasy about talk of winning this contest.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

Please, for Frak sake.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

See? That's what I'm going on about. Frak is clearly a polite euphemism for fuck. Or it is a term used to describe a dramatic and environmentally unsafe method of extracting oil and natural gas from previously thought to be depleted oil and gas fields. But more likely it is a euphemism.

The dark energy that is the tendency towards politeness has begun to seep into this place - and all because we are now being invisibly judged for excellence.

Respond to this thread

Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

To be honest its a pretty good chance CBG will win. Just look* at the other blog finalists

Alpha Reader by Danielle Binks - Looks shit, and boring.

Lives of the Poets by Daniel Bifeld - Fuckin gay who cares about poems

Read in a Single Sitting by Stephanie Campisi - AKA Stories for the Shitter

Book to the Future by Michelle Mclaren - Actually JB if this is a blog about Time Travel you're fucked

All in all I'd say Cheeseburger Gothic is a safer bet than Black Caviar to win this fucker. Jsut as long as you cunts remember I WAS HERE BEFORE IT WAS COOL

*Disclaimer: I did not actually look

TC asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

The Burg is cool?

Mum! I've forced my way into a cool group! Mum!!!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

"Fuckin gay who cares about poems."

I happen to care deeply about poems - and not just dirty limericks. Although I must say I do enjoy the occasional off-color limerick. For example:

Ethnologists out with the Souix

wired home for "Two punts, one canoe."

Message next day said "Girls on the way

but what the hell's a 'panoe?'"

Is my heterosexuality in question because I enjoy that bit of rhyme? Sonnets are different. I’ll give you that. Sonnets are totally gay. Iambic pentameter is ipso facto swish. But not limericks. Come to think of it, I cannot recall any of my gay acquaintances ever reciting a limerick.

Mere coincidence? I think not.

Lobes asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

lol faget

If you really want to lose this contest shut up and be homophobic

In fact its almost time for a thread defending marriage

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted April 23, 2013

I defend my marriage with money. So far it has been a winning tactic.

Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

I do quite nicely as a deaf poet so yez can all get fucked.

Respond to this thread

Spanner mumbles...

Posted April 23, 2013

Cool what do we win?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

A CHANCE TO DO AS YOU'RE FUCKING TOLD AND NOT FUCK THIS UP FOR ME NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP AND DO AS YOU'RE FUCKING TOLD!!!!

Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

Ifn your not careful we'll call a meeting of the Bounders Club Tribal Council and vote you off the island.

Spanner mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

Well being shouted at and doing as I'm told was less fun that I thought it would be. Still it's better than MKR.

Respond to this thread

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

This is a words and writing blog? That changes my whole view on shit.

Respond to this comment

BigWillieStyle would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013

Today is actually the first time I've had a look at this blog. You can say shit and fuck and shitfuck? Why had nobody told me of this shit before? Fuck! So, is sweary what qualifies a blog for thinky awards these days? Motherfucking unbelievable.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

No saying Shit qualifies it at a wordy blog, to be a thinky blog you would have to say 'effluent' instead of shit and perhaps make a reference to Brechtian theatre, use the word 'epic' a lot but in an ironic sense.

BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

I envelop you with my gratitude, Barnesm. Pray tell, what is the general quality of discourse at this locale? As one knows, over at the Instrument, there is too great a quantity of bad spelling, detestable grammar and lamentable punctuation, not to mention mouth-breathing fucktards.

Bunyip ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

Epic vectored fornicating effluent.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

Politely said, Bunyip. Well done.

Respond to this thread

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

Is that a possum on the rotisserie?

Lulu reckons...

Posted April 23, 2013

No, it's the dead K-Mart rat.

JG mumbles...

Posted April 23, 2013

I thought the rat was eaten by Hacock. No?!

Respond to this thread

JG puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

We're a literate bunch here. So wordy some of you don't know when to stop. Shut the fuck up and stop ruining JB's chances.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted April 23, 2013

are you the boss of me? I can never remember I should write this frelling stuff down.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013

I believe that, in our particular situation, the term "boss" doesn't really have any relevance. We, and those with us, can best be described as a self governing coalition.

JG ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

A bit like Lord of the Flies.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted April 24, 2013

Exactly like Lord of the Flies - and loving it.

TC reckons...

Posted April 24, 2013

Shut the fuck up, Piggies. I have a rock and I'm not afraid to use it.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

I have the conch.

Respond to this thread

Peter Bradley would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013

OK I just voted, where do I pick up the payola?

Respond to this comment

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

As much as we might like to kick the ball around amongst our commenting selves, actually, looking at the history of nominations and winners, I think that comments count for pretty close to nought in this competition.

And quite right too. I hope JB does well. His blog continues to has give me considerable entertainment. Quality, intelligence, humour and so mANYNY an almost unique phenomenal dligence in producing content.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted April 23, 2013

I didn't hit submit, really. That last sentence was supposed to be:
Quality, intelligence, humour and so many blogs.

Respond to this thread

Quokka asserts...

Posted April 23, 2013

http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/kellyville-ridge/other-pets/two-6-month-old-ferret-for-sale/1018317454

You wanted help with the possums in the rafters, right?

Respond to this comment

damian ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

So what you're trying to say is that you'd rather casual wanderers-in be left un-Burgered for the time being. Or at least we have to give them lube?

Quokka mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

If the visitors require lubricants, the Vicks is in the bathroom cupboard, between the plunger and those leg irons we used to use to restrain Sweet Jane Says.

Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

Oh yeah.

Better keep the judges out of that closet. In fact, if they need to use the bathroom make them go on the footpath like the rest of you boys do.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted April 24, 2013

Indoor plumbing is over rated. You haven't lived until you've walked outside in sub zero weather to vacate your bowels. Take my word for it: the experience is quite transformational.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted April 24, 2013

I haven't lived then.

damian puts forth...

Posted April 24, 2013

For "living" does it need to be intentional, or might one simply have encountered a bear?

Respond to this thread

Cintamani mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

ok ok, I get the picture, you will UNFOLLOW AND UNLIKE everyone who doesnt vote for you (shivers i fear).

Well, rest easy, I have braved the ENDLESS list of lesser offerings and voted for you :)

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 23, 2013

You're my new favorite.

Respond to this thread

Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted April 23, 2013

So should we have party? I'm sure I can find some booze ;)

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted April 23, 2013

No! No party until the ballot boxes have been stuffed.

Therbs would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013

Improved water please Mr Bangarrrrrrr!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted April 24, 2013

If there is a party, and Brother Banger is providing libation, I will find a way to be there.

Bangar swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24, 2013

Well Somebody better be stuffing, about time we had a part the Bunnies have nearly got the pool back to perfection, it's begging for another jello treatmeant.

Respond to this thread

Therbs mutters...

Posted April 23, 2013

Fuck it, I'm gonna vote for Pobjie.

DrYobbo mutters...

Posted April 24, 2013

Meh, Pobjie's a precious little gobshite. I tried to downvote Dragonista but it wouldn't let me, so fuck it and Black Caviar, whether it rode in on it or not

damian asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

Presumably one could downvote Dragonista by voting for everyone else once. But that's a lot of trouble for a relatively minor indulgence

Respond to this thread

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted April 23, 2013

are you the boss of me? I forget, I really should right this stuff down.

Frelling competions.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013

Once Paul Boylan gets his app on the market all of you are toast.

NBlob mutters...

Posted April 24, 2013

Toast, antithesis of raw foodists.

Respond to this thread

NBlob would have you know...

Posted April 23, 2013
In case anyone might be keeping tally:
Witty rejoinder.
Bon mot.
Thought provoking analogy (x2)
Double entendre, with a PoMo reference to MASH.
Signed off with clever use of HTML

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

That's quite a collection NBlob. That'll keep me on my toes. My warm, furry toes . . .

Quokka asserts...

Posted April 24, 2013

It's the jam in between them that scares us, you know.

damian mumbles...

Posted April 24, 2013

Which song did the Jam do on their gig on the Young Ones again?

Respond to this thread

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted April 24, 2013

This should get us over the line.
That and the average hookers & excellent blow JB laid on the judges.

http://t.co/NEuVcIc0zn

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Jacques Stahl mumbles...

Posted April 24, 2013

Geez, voting on that site was harder than voting below the line in the Senate ballot - you know, when you want to get rid of your least favourite Senator, but not let your second least favourite over the line on preferences?

Can I borrow the ferrets next please? Also the Vaseline, it's autumn and we have some burning off to do in the back paddocks.

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 25, 2013

JB's possum infestation is such that he is unlikely to give up his ferrets. If you're lucky he'll loan you the lab.

Respond to this thread

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013

I'M FKN HERE!!!!

There, no its done, stay frosty ya fkn muppets!

Respond to this comment

Dick is gonna tell you...

Posted April 24, 2013

OK, so I voted. Do I get an invite to the next Bounders Club meeting? Quite willing to volunteer for the Treasurers position. You can trust me.

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DrYobbo puts forth...

Posted April 24, 2013

Hey if you win this JB guess what you get! "A one-hour mentoring session with Brandon Van Over, managing editor of Random House, to discuss publishing a book based on their blog and any other writing projects they wish to discuss." Totes awsm! This might finally be your big break!

I understand he's the bloke judging this segment, possibly we can get a word in the guy's ear ahead of time. Yep, that's what I'm suggesting alright: maybe we can tip Van Over.

[runs away having borked any chance of victory for JB]

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted April 24, 2013

Come on only one more comment for the ton.

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Bunyip reckons...

Posted April 24, 2013
Exactly for how long do I have to continue to wear pants? I get rather nasty chaffing. Pictures can be supplied upon demand.

Respond to this comment

Mayhem's Mum swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 24, 2013

One has crocheted some rather adorable new doilies to freshen up the place. Where would you like them, Mr Birmingham, sir? Over the vomit stains, I presume. Or would you prefer them draped over the shining pates of your less hirsute Burgers? Oh, my lord. One has just realised; that is no shining pate. Mr Bunyip, sir, put your pants back on this instant!

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 26, 2013

Crap, can you imagine how abstruse the discusions are going to get at bookclub next month to live up to the wordy, thinky blog catagory? I will need to read up on whats the hot new literary theory, (Cognitive Rhetoric is so 2005).

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Respond to 'The Burger is in the finals of the Best Australian Blogs Competition'

Some self-publishing advice from Chuck Wendig

Posted April 15, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

Hugh Howey (Wool) is touring down under soon and I'm thinking of dropping into his Brisbane event at Dymocks, lunchtime this Thursday. If I was a complete dick it'd be interesting to ask him about a set to he had with Chuck Wendig over the issue of putting out your own books.

Wendig has a piece I'd be hard pressed to find fault with over at his Terrible Minds blog, and if you're thinking of going down the self published route, it's worth a look.

He doesn't make the mistake of assuming whatever worked for him has to work for anyone else. And his various caveats make a lot of sense. A longer piece, but worth pondering.

Some of it picks up the threads of the fight he had over at Salon.com, which ran a story that was basically an Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Heere, warning for would be selfies. Wendig characterised the article's author, a self proclaimed failure, as 'a guy who basically tip-toed into a dark and empty room, left his book on the mantlepiece like some kind of Author Elf, and then wandered back out wondering why he didn’t become a millionaire.'

Fair cop.

He warns about genres, agents, self delusion, risk, all the good stuff.

All up, for a guy with a rep for being, er, difficult when in contention, it's a very positive and useful bit. Sometime this week, I'm going to redo a piece I wrote for the Spectator about using an agent, but I thought this'd be nice to link to Wendig's first.

We’re possibly on the cusp of a golden age for writers. We have so many paths up the mountain. Let’s celebrate that. Let’s cheerlead not one option but all the options — and let’s embrace the fact that each path has strengths and weaknesses that’ll suit some authors and repel others. We don’t need to shut down or shout down options. We don’t need to suggest one way is superior. Or that others should feel inferior for their choices.

7 Responses to ‘Some self-publishing advice from Chuck Wendig’

damian mumbles...

Posted April 15, 2013

"Genres, agents, self delusion, risk...". Sounds like these are things that go together? I suppose this leads me to think of Eco again...

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted April 15, 2013

Obviously, there is nothing wrong in putting out your own books. The issue is expecting people to buy them in a very competitive market.

You could argue, if you can't create an internet presence (a blog etc) and publicise and generate significant reader interest (lots of repeat hits), then the idea that you can produce a self-published book that <u>will make an income</u> is unlikely. You need a publisher.

Most novelists are shy people. That doesn't help. You don't meet successful salespeople who are shy.

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JG puts forth...

Posted April 15, 2013

The trouble with self-publishing is that many of these books don't deserve to be published. They're often poorly written and/ or edited, are a design disaster, and are completely boring, as in 'So what? Where's the story?'

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TC would have you know...

Posted April 16, 2013

It's the question I ask any selft starter - "Do you want to do this because it's something you're passionate about, or because you want to make money?". If it's honestly the former and someone thinks they'll make money out of it because they're passionate and enthusiastic, I advise them to let it go. Or at least look into similiar endeavours that both failed and succeeded and reasons for both. If I can tell that they simply don't give a shit about the pineapples then I wish them well. If they're hoping to earn good money, have a well thought out plan and have a realistic view of how difficult it's going to be, then I'll happily endorse their decison.

Most people simply don't realise that so few people going out on their own actually make a decent (ie: not hand-to-mouth) living out of it.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted April 16, 2013

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandartsdaily/is-this-the-end-of-the-novel3f-hugh-howey-and-self-publishing/4623856

I just caught a few minutes of HH on the Radio Nat book show.

No doubt it will resurface on podcast later.

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Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted April 16, 2013

Chuck has a lot of very smart things to say about publishing, as someone who's had pretty successful trajectories through both traditional and self-publishing and who uses them to amplify each other in ways that are worth studying.

He's going to be a guest at GenreCon in Brisbane later this year and I'm looking forward to hearing him talk.

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Len puts forth...

Posted April 17, 2013

This is timely. I am reading Wool right now, and find it a rip-roaring entertaining read. Well plotted, great characters (and character development) and worth putting aside a few hours to drive through and feel totally satiated by the end.

The fact that is was self-published, and then picked up by a major publisher, is an interesting story in itself and one that people should examine a little more closely. The fact that this other path to publishing exists at all is great news, given that the majors are all consolidating like the Borg into a few massive Cubes of publishing indifference.

Thanks for the Chuck reference as well. I will read with interest.

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Respond to 'Some self-publishing advice from Chuck Wendig'

When someone is wrong on the internet.

Posted April 12, 2013 into Writing by John Birmingham

This is a tale of two blog posts. Well, three really. There's been a spot of bother over at Fairfax this week because a senior finance journalist was sacked for writing a piece in Crikey critical of the company. On the one hand, I guess being journalists, we should just man up and take our beatings as they come. On the other hand, there aren't many companies which tolerate employees pissing on them in public.
But that's not what's been exercising my thoughts the last couple of days. I've been thinking about what the audience wants, and what we give them, which is in a tangential fashion the very issue canvassed in that Crikey piece.
There has been a lot of traffic through the Instrument this week. A couple of metric shitload's, actually. It all started with that first piracy blog, which I tossed off full of piss and bad manners after a boozy dinner in Hanoi. It was a short piece, without nuance, calculated to offend, which it duly did. Bottom line: ching ching ching, we hit the traffic jackpot.
Of course we also hit the sweet spot for moronic derpery, and I must admit I didn't even bother reading the comments.
I paid attention to the spinoff debate over here, however. And as you know I was irritated enough by Lord Bob of Nowhere's stolen goods analogy to sit down and pen a long reply. Much longer than intended. So long, in fact, that I couldn't justify putting it up at the Burger. Having spent five hours writing and rewriting it, plus three quarters of an hour on the phone to Orin, nutting out some of the finer points, I'd effectively wasted a whole workday. I published it at Blunty simply to get some compensation for my time.
It too was a very successful blog entry in terms of traffic and retweets and Facebook shares. But not nearly as successful as the shorter, dumber much less considered piece that started off the whole bingle. (It did however have an unexpected real-world effect. For all of the freetard nerd rage, more than a dozen people contacted me via Twitter and Facebook to say I had convinced them to buy the series and stop torrenting. A drop in the ocean of illegal downloads certainly, but still a sweet drop of clean water in a vast, poisoned sea.)
And then we come to Thursday. And The Onion-style fake news blog about the coalition's NBN policy launch. I didn't want to spend a lot of time thinking and writing the second Blunty of the week, because I'd invested so much time in the piracy issue, not just on Fairfax, but across all of the social media channels into which the debate quickly spilled. I was also a bit groggy and out of shape from a couple of hours in the dentist's chair, where I'd seen the launch of the Coaltion's policy on the television affixed to the ceiling. I didn't follow it very closely, preferring to listen to my audiobook of Shelby Foote's The Civil War. Even so, it was still obvious, lying there with a head full of drugs and a mouthful of sharp steel, listening to the battle of Manassas, that Malcolm Turnbull was being torn apart by his own internal conflict.
I thought about writing a reasonably straight, if snarky NBN piece for Blunty, but realized that would approximate something like hard work. At about 5.30 in the afternoon a thought occurred to me; I'll just take the piss. About seven minutes later, the first draft was complete. I returned to it a couple of times to give it a polish both before and after publication. Maybe another five or six minutes in total.
It totally fucking buried the traffic and share stats of the previous blog. Not the comment stats of the first piracy blog, which was calculated to get people all het up. But while a healthy comment thread, at least in terms of sheer numbers, looks good, what really counts in online media is volume through the page and republication via readers personal networks. In those terms the funny little NBN joke utterly destroyed the long, considered essay which took a whole day to write and another day to wrangle.
I wonder what possible lesson I might draw from this.

42 Responses to ‘When someone is wrong on the internet.’

Lobes puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2013

People are shallow.

Here endeth the lesson.

Respond to this comment

Noely puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2013

I get what you are saying with sensationalism being a winner online. Though I think you sell yourself short to a certain degree with the fact that often, taking the piss out of something, highlights the ludicrous nature in a more glaringly obvious manner than a well thought out factually laden piece?

Taking the piss out of someone just for one can become boring. Taking the piss out of something to highlight an issue, I personally think is an excellent use of your cynical powers, using them for good ;)

Respond to this comment

SweetSisterMorphine mumbles...

Posted April 12, 2013

<blockquote>"In those terms the funny little NBN joke utterly destroyed the long, considered essay which took a whole day to write and another day to wrangle.
I wonder what possible lesson I might draw from this."</blockquote>

If nothing else, it pretty much confirms everything I suspected about modern journalism.

I suppose just as we get the government we deserve, we also get the news media we deserve.

SweetSisterMorphine ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

And apparently the side doesn't do html tags. Not sure why I thought it would.

[updates field notes]

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Chris Kennett ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

I dunno John. I realise it's a fuck tonne of work to produce a long piece like that, and that the freetards in question will read maybe an eighth of it before rolling their eyes and tweeting 'whatever, gramps'. But there's a lot of us out here that appreciate the ammunition. Thanks.

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted April 12, 2013

They were good jokes.
And, even better, they were at someone else's expense.
As I say, if you can't laugh at other people, what can you laugh at.

And, irrespective of political persuasion, like a monkey riding a bicycle, there is something inherently funny about Tony Abbott explaining policy.

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2013

Well said, w from brisbane!

When Saudi Arabia's top religious cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh, slammed Twitter as "a council for jokesters";
I thought to myself, is that a bad thing?

damian mutters...

Posted April 12, 2013

Well said indeed

Respond to this thread

Mordwa has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2013

Bread and circuses more popular than tl:dr?

...I'm shocked-!

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

No good deed goes unpunished.

And apologies as I can't remember the name of the guy that said it.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted April 12, 2013

It was me. As far as you know.

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Dianasaur would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2013

I reckon it's because:

1. The piracy debate isn't new, although of course you added a new reflection on it. The (Coaltion) NBN stuff is fresh out of the box. Sort of.

2. People want a bit of light relief. I've noticed Fairfax sites in particular seem to have forgotten the lost art of satire in exposing some truths. It's an endless Lazy Susan of weighty debates about immigration, feminism (every &^%ing day in every conceivable way...and I'm a chick heartily sick of it) and whether some Gen Y in North Korea is having us all on. There's no light and shade anymore. I don't think it's about one piece being more 'worthy' than the other based on time spent on it, nor does the endless fixation on stats reflect the true impact of a piece. "If it makes just one person think before torrenting, etc etc'.

Respond to this comment

tqft ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

A lot of people did find funny the nbn slapdown. I laughed. But also accurate.

Why the traffic - maybe that's what people care about?

We know what the response is to Qld state politics. And federal or thinky stuff doesn't generally a whole lot better. Maybe a lot of people are over the rest of the world and anything outside their small world of caress.

I know I am pretty fed up with the crap that is political reporting by and large. I get annoyed when shortened url's lead me to Dennis Sheehan and a few others like him (Amanda, Peter Reith for example).

Abe Frellman is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

Hey I owe you a Tenner and a t shirt. Are you on twitter so I can DM you to get your address pls?

tqft ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

Owe me for what? yes on twitter @tqft9999

Abe Frellman swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2013

Helping me get short bitcoins.

tqft is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

No worries.

I thought it might have been a bet I forgot about.

I only have 1 active one i know of:

Julia better win in Sep I have 3 pints riding on it.

NBlob asserts...

Posted April 13, 2013

Can I have some of that action? IEI'ill bet you a pint the ALP losesthe next Fed election.

I love bets that I'd be happy to lose.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

both articles were excellent in their own way, and both styles are required depending on the situation. maybe it's the juxtaposition that's getting to you. how would you have felt about the traffic if the satirical NBN article had been published before the long and serious piracy article?

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Matthew has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2013

I still liked your Onan the Barbarian joke better than either of those two.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted April 12, 2013

Yeah, but the subs didnt get it.

Timmo is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

I saw shop the other day called "Onan's" and found it hilarious... pretty sure the owner wasn't in on the joke...

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YB has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2013

I think the reason for the explosion of commentary is that this issue is the one of the first where the coalition have actually released any policy that was related to actual, checkable, scientific, indisputable facts. The savings are easily proven to be a complete load of bollocks as maintainence blowout means that the coalition plan is shown to be more expensive than Labor's plan within three years once maintainence is included in the costings, for a deeply inferior product. People jumped on this as it was one of the first times the coalition has released anything of substance, and it was shown to be provable crap. There are people who suspected the coalition was clueless, without facts to back the argument. The coalition just delivered the facts.

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Peter Bradley mutters...

Posted April 12, 2013

Yeh what Lobes said.

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schlepstar has opinions thus...

Posted April 12, 2013

I think the disparity in traffic is also the nature of the online audience. Telling internetters they're pirates and stealing when they torrent Game of Thrones would be a much less popular premise than the Coalition 'Nearly National Broadband Network' debacle. thus the NNBN piece is more popular based on the audience predelictions than being told they are breaking the law.

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2013

Yeah, what YB said. I almost felt sorry for Big Mal, having to stand there while mr Rabbit was spouting rubbish, probably thinking 'anyone with a half a brain and an ounce of business experience able to do a proper costing will realise what a crock of sh!t this 'policy' is, so please please please can I go home now?'

Watching the whole thing unfold on twitter as tweeps woke up to the facts implicit in the numbers was quite delicious.

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Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

Hmm I think of it this way. This week's comment spike was sort of 'empty calories' of a sugar hit or maybe I'd even go so far as the columnist's equivalent of what Pierre Cardin did with his brand, if you'll indulge me.

It's all good fun and quite witty, but there wasn't much nuance or complexity to the arguments. Personally I think you'd lose some people - dare I say it - some of the thinker types from whom we can learn, we're you to take this route every week.

But a smarter person than me once said "You'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the Australian population." So I guess it comes down to this, do you want to be the Allan Jones of the centre/left?

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted April 13, 2013

"The Alan Jones of the center left"

oooh, and Uncle Abe lands a body blow.

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pi would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2013

Here's a hint : Write a blog about sex some time, and see what the traffic looks like.

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Andre ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2013

Ahh John, The takeaway from this piece is something News Ltd and Fairfax journalists and pundits have taken from their clickbait. It is that it's all about the stats they can show to their online advertisers and bosses up the line. You keep up the stats and you keep your job. A simple metric that of course forgets about nuance in both the piece and what those clicks really mean. I can bet a more nuanced and less "aggro" piece would not have elicited as many clicks as something that would be at home on some rant blog. Not saying I didn't enjoy the piece. Are those the "readers' you really want? Are those the consumers advertisers really want? In the long run it's a drip drip lowering of the esteem to which the MSM are held till eventually they will be no more believable as anything spewed upon the internet without any facts to back them up. Therein lies the rub.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted April 12, 2013

Two points:

1. It takes less time, thought and effort to respond to a simple, opinionated post with a simple, opinionated answer (which is important, particularly if you're doing it on work time).

2. Never underestimate the power of the need to be right or be seen to be right (and to make other people wrong) - if you have an opposing view it seems much more important to respond than if you agree or partially agree.

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Johnny B Gone swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2013

I'm a little late to the party with this JB, but I do want to say thank you for the considered post on piracy. It needed to be written so it is simply there to be read. It is a great piece.

I have only once pirated one series (watched someone elses pirated TV series of GoT season 2), but most certainly did buy own copy when it was released some 12 months later. My own simple ethos is - I like great television, I want more great television, I will support great television.

This is a more considered stand I take today in my almost-mid-life. But I am often surprised by the response it brings from my friends which vary through the gamut of "I completely agree" to "I agree but I pirate anyway" to "you fool, it's the internet and it's free!".

My biggest piracy days probably go back to making tapes (of my own CDs for others and of others' CDs for myself) and taping crap pop songs off the radio. I wager there are very few of us in the first world who can say they haven't indulged in this form of piracy. Now we can argue the toss about the harm this piracy causes compared to today's piracy on the high seas of the internet, but it is still piracy, albeit we look upon it with the same glowy nostalgia as we do with "talk like a pirate day" arrgh. Borrowing books is similar but I'm sure you've had that discussion elsewhere.

Anyway, my long-winded point is that right and wrong on the internet, particularly piracy debates, seem to be much less about moral superiority vs inferiority as it is about claiming territory in the wild west (any wild west, take your pick). It doesn't matter who actually owns/belongs to the land in first place, what matters is who can claim to own now and into the future.

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Dropbear reckons...

Posted April 12, 2013

Sometimes, both sides of the argument can be right ..

Yes, content creators deserve to be paid for their IP

Yes, content deserves to be easilly accessible in an affordable, and most imporantly, TIMELY fashion.

Both equally important truths.. If you provide the second, the first will flow.

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damian puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2013

Yes, the blogs (especially newspaper blogs) are the trees on the walking paths through the parks, and we are all the dogs, even (or especially) Derpy McDerp.

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Mordwa would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2013

JB's use of multiple 'someone is wrong' pics in this post without crediting the original xkcd version is a hilariously sly self-parody.

...I think.

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TC is gonna tell you...

Posted April 12, 2013

You should learn nothing, John, absolutley nothing. If reality TV, Lady Gaga, talkback radio and the Twitterverse haven't yet taught you everything you need to know about how to capture the interest and a moment of time from the unwashed masses, then you should just go back into your cave at the bottom of the stairs and keep writing books in isolation from the world.

But one would perhaps take note of your ability to accurately comment on the nature of people both generally and specifically and infer that you may have indeed learnt most of those lessons, and learnt them well.

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HAVOCK21 would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2013

THINK FKN CRICKET ya MUPPET

SHIT GETS WICKETS!

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ubersejanus would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2013

I'm pretty sure that whatever the lesson is, it leads to the dark side.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 12, 2013

Both pieces were worthy in their own right. One was thought out and well essayed, attracting derp and indignant justification of ripping stuff, the other was a sweet little piss take. Humour rates higher than thinky. But we need both. Could be a model; one thinky, one funny each week.

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted April 13, 2013

JB,

I offer,with some trepidation since you be an Adjunct and all, "Tension and release".

First 2 Blunties polarised readers into camps and possibly purgotorial guilt or self reflection. Or simply dunno's forced to be thinky.

This large population of GoT Viewers gave the numbers for the third Blunty.Domestic and International.

Internet savvy folk are interested in NBN etc. Also nation building and tech stuff.

This final piece didn't require comment.It was self contained yet generated a multitude of images some of the ólder commenters of the previous 2 pieces could understand and agree with hence strengthening that çamp view whilst also breaking the tension of the '' ýounger'' position.

A case of look at what he's written now.

C+ or C- as long as I get a C. (C's make degrees)

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted April 13, 2013

Yeah, I've had a few double shots that I couldnt account for either, Dino.

As to the post itself, yes, when I decide to write a simple joke piece I do it knowing that the comment count might well be comparatively low because it doesn't require a response from the audience. In this case, there was a healthy comment count, I think bcause the coalitions policy was almost infinitely mockable.

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