Cheeseburger Gothic

Plans for the year

Posted Wednesday into Writing by John Birmingham

Five books, basically.

After a shocker last year I just want to get my head down and write some novels. The long awaited Girl in Time sequel. The even longer awaited WW 3.1. Another space opera. My end of the world thingies. And a couple of conventional thrillers.

It would be a nice retreat from the world.

I suspect nice retreats from the world are going to be in high demand for the next few years.

I've written intro chapters and plot outlines for the two thrillers. I'm thinking about selling them locally, but retaining the overseas rights for myself. One thing I've recently learned, publishers are not keen to split print from ebook rights. They're starting to demand audio rights too, for no extra payment. But they're still locked into the old territorial model. So selling a title here, wouldn't preclude self publishing it overseas.

It'd be a bit of a dog's breakfast though. With retail prices of 14.99 in A/NZ and 4.99 globally.

So I dunno. I'll have to think on that some more.

2 Responses to ‘Plans for the year’

jason has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
I reckon there is a sequel to "How to be a writer" in there somewhere called "How to deal with publishers - without resorting to violence"

jl would have you know...

Posted Thursday
Just thinking about the process and its mechanics makes me want to smash my head onto my desk until I see stars and taste blood.

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The knife

Posted December 8 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm in the final trenches of the space opera I've been writing. (Although the characters seem to spend more time fighting in trenches than space).
As most of you know, I've been a plotter since Weapons of Choice, which taught me a few hard lessons about not working with a plot outline. For THE CRUEL STARS I have a comprehensive scene-by-scene blueprint in Scrivener. I do let the characters walk their own path if they insist, but we always come back to the main narrative arc.
I can see from the outline and the words I currently have in the manuscript bank that this book would run about 30-40% over its contracted word length (90K) if I let it.
I'd like to, but can't. The audiobook people, for one, would freak.
So this morning is all about taking a knife to that outline.

13 Responses to ‘The knife’

jl reckons...

Posted December 8
Sometimes you just have to prune. Audiobook? Awesome. I'm a die-hard reader but nothing beats a good audiobook on a long car ride. Looking forward to Cruel Stars in my Chevy.

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insomniac mutters...

Posted December 8
That's an awful lot of pruning. It will be interesting to see the results.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted December 8
The pruning is to the outline, not the finished chapters. Hopefully it won't be noticed.

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted December 8
Understood, but it feels like you're trimming the bit of the tree your wife can see from the living room window while leaving the rest as is, like when I used to mop the stairs and she thought I'd cleaned the whole house.

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Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted December 8
I imagine this could be challenging....you don't want to be chopping out good bits or essential elements for the sake of shrinking the document - I could imagine agonizing over the 'do I or don't I' questions.

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Oldy has opinions thus...

Posted December 8
Any chance of seeing the outline one of these days, JB?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted December 8
Not before it's published mate. But afterwards, sure.

Oldy would have you know...

Posted December 8
Nice :)

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted December 8
Compress and consolidate. You've done it before.

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Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted December 15
On a different subject, can I say how much I enjoyed your piece in the Murder and Mayhem compilation!! It was seriously up to the brief and left me wanting more. I cannot say the same for maybe 1/2 the others - left me bored and distracted, a couple were like your effort - Eva Destruction and Chlamydia Phlegm? Hilarious! Loved a couple, liked a couple, couldn't read a couple but overall worth it.

Surtac puts forth...

Posted December 15
I must agree. It was a very pleasant surprise to see Savage Henry brought into the modern era and given a more prominent setting.

So, are we going to see the return of Commander Biscuit at some point in the future and hear some of those Duterte stories, I wonder?

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Vovchara ducks in to say...

Posted December 16
Fighting more on the surface than space is a common occurrence in space Opera. I think only Weber and Campbell manage to stick to space. Which makes sense. Hard to fight against enemy controlling orbitals. But in the end it's all in execution and since I wasn't disappointed even once by your work I would reserve judgment until I get my copy. :P

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted December 22
Merry Christmas Birmo and take care.

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Deadline vs dead writer

Posted December 6 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've reached the point in this deadline where I can wrote or I can exercise but I cant do both. So I might be going backswards on my fitness over the next week.

Must stay away from the bakery.

6 Responses to ‘Deadline vs dead writer’

Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 6
No Portuguese custard tarts fo you my friend......
Tell me which bakery it is, aside from the tarts, your poison and I'll take one for the team.

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Thalesian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 6
My FIL has one of these you could borrow if you want...

http://img.medicalexpo.com/images_me/photo-g/74702-9100535.jpg

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jason has opinions thus...

Posted December 6
Multi task. Apparently men can do it if they try hard. https://treadmilldeskaustralia.com.au/

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted December 6
Those typos are so me right now

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted December 6
One word.

Croissants.

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jl mumbles...

Posted December 8
Totally stay away from the creamsticks.

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An End of the World Project

Posted October 27 into Writing by John Birmingham

Having lain fallow for most of the year, I now find myself ready to do A LOT of work. The white board that hangs by my desk has a bunch of projects on on it, probably three years worth.

One is called EOW.

I think of it as my nod to The Stand, the book that got me into reading and, as it turned out, writing.

I had been thinking about what to do with it. Trade? Indie? One massive volume. Lots of individual serial stories?

Now I've decided. I'll write it naked.

Not just pantsless like all of my other books. But out in the open, where anybody can watch. Well, anybody willing to pony up the admission fee.

Some of you have already signed on, and for that, many thanks.

For anybody who's interested, the link is here.

I wont waste Burger pixels explainging the idea. Just hit the link.

For anyone wondering, shit, when is he gonna do all the other books... Answer: right fucking now.

The Four Horsemen, as I'm thinking of this new project, will take two years. WW 3.1, Smith and Cady, even The Dave, they'll all get their moment in the sun first.

12 Responses to ‘An End of the World Project’

jl asserts...

Posted October 28
This is exciting sh*t.

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insomniac asserts...

Posted October 28
I think the opportunity to see the sausage being made is well worth the small amount of money. Transparency is not something to be afraid of. I happily supply complex, or even simple, search strings to everybody. It gives them the tools to replicate what I do, to be able to bypass me, but it doesn't give them the magic, the dark arts of whatever you excel at. You have the magic buddy.

insomniac reckons...

Posted October 28
Oh, does this mean the Solar Project is dead and buried, or perhaps just long forgotten.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 28
Killed by spam

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Sparty ducks in to say...

Posted October 28
Top tier sold out already!

jl mumbles...

Posted October 28
Guilty as charged.

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Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 28
Done! Although The Dave and Smith and Cady are the ones I look forward to.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 29
They'll be out in January, I reckon.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted October 30
Are you sure you can wait 2 years?

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/30/mystery-of-octopuses-found-walking-on-welsh-beach

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Sparty ducks in to say...

Posted October 30
The post image is typical Aussie Brit bashing , you can tell the Ashes are coming up ;-)
WHY does it ALWAYS have to be London destroyed.....gives me PTSD about an event which has never happened...

Dave W reckons...

Posted October 31
Because destroying Taunton will never bother people in the same way?

"Oh no, Taunton is destroyed, can life ever b... oh, look, we can just move up the road to Monkton Heathfield."

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jason would have you know...

Posted November 22
For anyone who hasn't jumped on board I would highly recommend checking this process out. It is a leap forward in publishing.

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Interview With Jo Penn

Posted August 22 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've been doing a few podcast interviews recently. This one, with Joanna Penn, was a good un.

4 Responses to ‘Interview With Jo Penn’

jl ducks in to say...

Posted August 23
I got a lot out of this. Thanks, JB!

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jason mumbles...

Posted August 23
I can hear my peers laughing already but... Where do I download this podcast?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 23
I reckon you could search up 'The Creative Penn' on iTunes. Or just go here: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/08/21/how-to-be-a-writer-john-birmingham/

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted August 28
I loved that interview, I'll have to go trawl through Jo's back catalogue now, she was great

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The quiet catastrophe

Posted July 17 into Writing by John Birmingham

Wrote a piece for my brother's site about disruption and the publishing industry:

My first year as a working writer I made a hundred and thirty-five dollars and ate a lot of generic poverty noodles. My second, a bumper year, I broke two hundred. It was encouraging, but not enough to upgrade to those fancy Maggi noodles the big, prize-winning authors get. After a decade of freelancing, though, I’d made it. I could mostly pay my rent and buy any damn noodles I wanted, as long as I was happy to sleep under a pile of old hessian bags on a brown couch in a share house. I didn’t go into writing expecting to make money and it turned that my expectations were entirely realistic. Starving artist KPIs? Nailed ‘em.

And then I wrote a book about living on brown couches in share houses—He Died With A Felafel In His Hand—and all of that changed, at least for a while.

The nineties and noughties were a golden age in publishing. Books, newspapers, magazines, they all made the sort of money that paid for long lunches which turned into late dinners with open tables and murderous bar bills, settled with somebody-else’s corporate Amex in the first light of dawn the next day.

And then… it was over. Not for me, not straight away, but both industries in which I worked—publishing and media—were disrupted with extreme prejudice. The Great Recession starting in 2008 accelerated a structural collapse which had been underway since Mosaic rendered its first webpage nearly fifteen years earlier. The sorrows of media have all been well traversed; the closing of venerable mastheads, the hundreds of thousands of laid-off journalists, the indignities of clickbait, the desperate raising of paywalls, the erosion of standards, the triumph of advertising over editorial, the shit-eating grins of the surviving management cadre as they tried to pretend everything was still totally golden.

But publishing was ok, right? Bookshelves are still full. Stephen King and J.K. Rowling could still fund their own small war in the Middle East if they wanted. And after a decade of chaos and collapse, independent bookstores are even coming back. What’s up with that?

Did the book industry pivot?

Did big publishers get smart?

Can we for God’s sake please get back to the business of long, bacchanalian lunches again?

No, no and not just no, but hell no.

The rest is here.

10 Responses to ‘The quiet catastrophe’

jl has opinions thus...

Posted July 17
I read this with great interest. My fingers itch with the thought of sending another book into the howling internet wasteland, to be judged by readers in random, isolated locations worldwide.

It's a bit like what many of our ancestors did when they stepped onto ships headed somewhere else. They didn't know what would happen when they got to their destination, but they did know it would be something new. And they would have to adapt or starve.

The frontier of our time is digital, and it looks like the big publishers have received a tomahawk to the face.

Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted July 21
yes it must have been shocking when they got here & 40% of the indigenous population promptly sickened & died with smallpox.
A friend told me that her child just learned in high school that the English insist it wasn't them that brought the smallpox - it was the French.
I thought better of Catholic ed up until that point but rinse lather repeat seems to be the order of the day.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted July 17
Show noodles. Mmmm.

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Jeats ducks in to say...

Posted July 18
More posts in CBG please John. This site has gone fairly dark recently.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted July 20
Jeats Birmo has many demands on his time. If you need a fix subscribe to the Alien Side Boob. It elevates spittle flecked ranting to an art form that reminds me of Henry Moore the flowing forms, the mass with grace and the Fkn great big rocks.

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damian mumbles...

Posted July 18
Very interesting. Indeed the last paragraphs suggests there isn't just hope, but real concrete hope for new writers too. You mentioned the other week that a certain organisation (rhymes with wood louse) had screwed you (so badly that your arse was still bleeding), but didn't really go into the details. What you're saying here suggests that the right place to start for someone still silly enough to try non-genre fiction is still writers groups and local agents taking on such things. I guess I'm not clear where the leap into the unknown would begin... Doesn't one need some external validation that the product is reasonable? Not in question for a successful juggerauthor, or course. But the starting question remains.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted July 18
Very interesting. Indeed the last paragraphs suggests there isn't just hope, but real concrete hope for new writers too. You mentioned the other week that a certain organisation had burned you pretty badly, but didn't really go into the details. What you're saying here suggests that the right place to start for someone still silly enough to try non-genre fiction is still writers groups and local agents taking on such things. I guess I'm not clear where the leap into the self-publishing unknown would begin... Doesn't one need some external validation that the product is reasonable? Not in question for a successful juggerauthor, or course. But the starting question remains.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted July 18
Yeah, I dunno that I'd want to try self publishing literary fiction. It doesn't sell when trade published, unless they pour buckets of money into promotion. It probably wouldn't sell with indie either.

damian reckons...

Posted July 22
Yes, it's one of those branch points where several subsequent steps are different depending on the path taken. It seems like local agents are still most interested in non-fiction and Australian literary fiction, while genre is supported better overseas (the location depending slightly on the genre). There doesn't seem to be a specialist entry point for Australian crime fiction, or sf or urban fantasy. I could just be looking in the wrong places of course. And obviously the making-up-my-mind-and-trying-something bit is probably the more important bit at this stage.

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Abe Frellman reckons...

Posted August 7
Having followed this slow moving train wreck over the last decade or so through picking up on what you have (or sometimes haven't) written here on CBG imagine my horror when my first born announced she wanted to do a writing degree with a view to going in to editing or publishing. Anyway after much debate and discussion I came around to the view that (i) it's her life (and HECS bill), but that aside (ii) while publishing might be cactus, all of those self-publishers are going to need editing skills. So I figure the delivery mechanism will change. Is there a market emerging for freelancing editors JB or are there any co-ops springing up? Any thoughts appreciated.

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