Cheeseburger Gothic

I may have nudged the Beast of Bezos into action

Posted June 10, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

A minion of the Beast emailed me a week or so back to gently point out that I appeared to be selling A Protocol for Monsters cheaper on iBooks (Australia) than I was on Amazon AU. The minion was hurt, confused, upset, and most desirous that what could only be a terrible mistake should be rectified as soon as possibe.

Long story short, drop the price to $2.99 or we pull the book. Everywhere.

I explained to said minion that I'd been trying to do just that since launch, but Amazon's content management system wouldn't let me. A complicated interplay between royalty rates and territories made it impossible to charge less in Australia unless I charged less and dropped my royalty rate everywhere, cutting the money to be made from each copy sold from $2.80 to $1.00.

The minion agreed this was a suboptimal outcome for both the Beast and myself. Surprisingly, he said he would escalate this issue to see if the feature set for KDP (Amazon's publishing system) could be changed to allow authors and publishers to set differing royalty rates in separate territories.

I have no idea whether this will happen, but I was a little bit impressed that the Beast was so willing to even consider such a change.

I will of course take full credit should it ever come to pass.

Dealing with this shit, by the way, is now a daily occurance for me. I have to quarantine it to a couple of hours late in day otherwise it chews up all of my writing time.

17 Responses to ‘I may have nudged the Beast of Bezos into action’

NBlob asserts...

Posted June 10, 2016
In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance rack, an old buckler, a lean hack and a Labrador for company.

Is it possible, just possible, that the behemoth that you call The beast of Bezos is a harmless windmills?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2016
No. Not at all. It is a Beast, with beastly large teeth for the gnashing and chewing and rending of all things.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2016
Every time you mention the 'Beast' i always imagine the Bloodbeast from the cover of Deathtrap Dungeon. Coincidence?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathtrap_Dungeon

A Bloodbeast is large, at least four metres long, and so bloated it can never leave the pool of foul slime that supports its bulk. Its hide is tough and leathery, protected by thin spines and coloured a disgusting grey-green. Its head appears to consist of a myriad all-seeing eyes spread in a wide sweep above an enormous toothy maw, that also contains a long slimy pink prehensile tongue.
The species does not appear to have any limbs which are able to provide or aid locomotion, which indicates that the beast is a sedentary lurker, not an active hunter or migrator, and never leaves its habitat unless it is forced to. Another hint to this is the fact that a Bloodbeast's pool is always filled with acidic slime, quite likely secreted by itself, to aid in digesting its prey

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Therbs mutters...

Posted June 10, 2016
Oh dear. Are you sure this isn't the first step by the Bezoids to lure you into increasingly time consuming distraction, setting up for a killer play?
They might be playing a long game to use you as an example. Be wary of the first parries, Their lower tier flaks may seem genuinely supportive while in the penthouse their controller snorts white powder off Icelandic mermaid virgins then orders hot smoked baby platypus with truffles.
"Dat Boimingham fella. Sets himself up as some sort of self publishing wise guy. Hey Vinnnie, get the boys to play nice with him for a while. I have plans for him. And send up some more of them truffled platykittens."

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Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted June 10, 2016
Minion [on the phone]: Yes Jeff, it's about John Birmingham, he's a player down-under. We fix it for this guy and everyone else falls into line. [pause] I don't think you understand, Jeff, he's the whale. [pause] That's right, Angel of Vengeance, Weapons of Choice, yep, that Birmingham. [pause] Good, good, right, so he can set different royalty rates? Excellent.

[Later, now it's dark and Minion's ashtray is now full]

Minion [phone again]: It's fixed, Mr Birmingham, it took all day but we got there on the royalty rates. [pause] You won't be bothered again about this. [pause] No, no, that's right, no more arse-fuckery on a daily basis. Yep, you can go back to the bunnies and the writey-explodey stuff. Yep, you too, bye.

Minion hangs up, stubs out his last Malboro 25 and stretches back, contented that he has made the world a better place for another author in the Beast's stable.

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted June 10, 2016
FFS, what happened to the para breaks I put into this?

NBlob mutters...

Posted June 10, 2016
Same thing so that happens to mine. Apparently One
Should use (br) but sustitute pointy brackets like these <

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jason would have you know...

Posted June 10, 2016
I am a glass half full kind of guy. This on the surface appears to be a problem but it is an opportunity:
How to be a writer Part 2: Dealing with the Beast.

Bangar has opinions thus...

Posted June 10, 2016
An optmist says the glass is half full, a pessimist says it's half empty, an engineer says they made the glass twice the size the needed to.

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted June 10, 2016
ROFL.

No An engineer would be still be trying to determine if the risk is worth making a decision based on the risk!


Any engineers around here?

If memory serves me correct!

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HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted June 10, 2016
Its a slow fkn day when I write rhyming shit thats for fkn sure!!

This Beast you cry the modern behemoth, man’s Juggernaut of journalistic scripted endeavors, their devour er. The taker and maker of men, both mighty and meek, it’s sullen, fast but of bile it reeks.

The meek, minor partner whilst happy at times seeks solace in knowledge that time might provide. For the Beast, whilst Fast and of a reeking design, teeth gnashing, jaw crashing is slow to align, to any new construct or threat born of time.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted June 10, 2016
Hopefully the feature set in the KDP will be identified as the Birmingham Protocol.

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Dirk is gonna tell you...

Posted June 10, 2016
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill

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Peter in the bleachers asserts...

Posted June 10, 2016
Stay the course oh fearless one. The beast may not be slain, it may however be tamed, perhaps, maybe, we can but hope.

Nocturnalist reckons...

Posted June 13, 2016
I have it on good authority that even stabbing it with one's steely knives will not be sufficient.

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted June 10, 2016
Faced with the ravenous obduracy of the Beast, our hero JB cleverly suggested there might actually be money in it for you, you Monster. This irresistibly seductive statement immediately sent the Beast slithering back into his cavern, back onto his massive pile of gold, where he is frantically doing the numbers.

HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted June 10, 2016
well a king slayer he certainly fkn aint!

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Writing update

Posted June 9, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I've finally been making some progress on Paris after a month of distraction by publishing commitments – some of them mine, some occasioned by the launch of How to Be a Writer. I would say the manuscript will be ready in two weeks, but in one week I'll hit the wall of school holidays, and hit it hard. So probably not.

However, I'm in a pretty good space at the moment. I've learned a lot from the launch of Cairo and both of the Hooper ebooks. I continue to study the industry, the market and increasingly the craft. I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about writing the last 10 or 15 years. I've mostly just been doing it and paying the bills. But having to rebuild the business has forced me to rethink it.

As part of that, I've been reading a book recommended by Ms Girlclumsy, Save the Cat, (Amazon link) by Blake Snyder, a screenwriter. (Sadly, he passed away in 2009. This makes me very sad).

I'm not about to turn my pen to screenwriting. That's not a skill I have or plan to acquire. But structure, character, and the revealing of character through action, these are the superpowers of the screenwriter, and well worth studying for their own sake. So I have been.

I have also been studying the e-book industry, of course. One of the arcane magics which most intrigued me is the idea of building a story to sell to particular readers. Some call it writing to market, some call it pre-optimisation, some call it selling out. I think the last is bullshit. Every storyteller wants to be heard. Every band wants to play to a full house.

I've had a couple of ideas for books floating around for years, but because they didn't align with the interests of my trade publishers I was never able to do anything about them. Revisiting some of these ideas, having learned the lessons of the last 12 months, I find myself more excited by the prospect of writing than I have been in a long, long time. In the last month or so, as I hurried from one commitment to another I've worked up ideas for half a dozen novels, none of which I would have been able to sell in the past. They weren’t the Axis of Time. They didn't revisit The Disappearance. The Dave was not involved.

Some of them were ideas for quite conventional thrillers, and I don't sell conventional. Others were closer to my original genre work, but not close enough for the business plans of risk averse trade publishers.

None of that matters any more. If I want to write these things, I'm going to write these things. Put them out there with my name on, with another name on, in any form I want. And the hell of it is, I'm pretty sure I'll sell a lot of them, because they're good stories that people will want to read.

I'd love to lay them out here for you to see, but that would be foolish. So I'm just going to get back to my keyboard, finish Paris, restart the main sequence of Axis, and very quietly keep pushing forward of these new books. They could be in the world of real things very soon.

22 Responses to ‘Writing update’

insomniac would have you know...

Posted June 9, 2016
Writing to market is more like a loss leader than selling out. You'd use those books to drive people to your other worlds. Not that it would necessarily run at a loss; more the idea.
Maybe people would buy Axis etc before realising they didn't really want to buy them. It was funny looking at Ben Pobjie's other books on Amazon, one being The Guide to Handy Latin Phrases, where people bought it solely on the name hoping to learn conversational Latin. Boy were they upset.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted June 9, 2016
I cannot but help ROFLing at that story about Handy Latin Phrases.

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Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2016
Scribble madly, mad man. Scribble.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2016
Do you have dibs on Leviathan or does it belong to publishers? In a few years after Barangaroo is finished, public housing in The Rocks sold off and new tram tracks built there'd be strong material for an updated edition. Competing monied interests, public opposition and the big money winners. I'd like to see some of those winners don the old 18th Century Marines uniform to show things don't change that much in the Emerald City.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted June 9, 2016
The rights are still with Random House. I'd happily look at an update, but I'd have to be living in Sydney to do it.

Halwes asserts...

Posted June 9, 2016
I loved Leviathan and think that an update would be great fun however I'm not sure how commercially viable it would be. Hopefully very, especially with the rise of the historical crime tv series. The changing face of crime in Sydney would also be of great interest to me. I've been reading a lot lately. I got to 55 and decided that there were a lot of books that I needed to read before it was too late. And then my mad girlfriend gave me Ozzy Osbournes autobiography to read and that was the end of any intelligent reading agenda that I may have had! I think that writers need constant experience, some of the best bits of Leviathan are when you lived on the street at the cross, which is hard to get when there are bills to be paid and deadlines to meet. So come to the Territory and immerse yourself in squalor, government waste and corruption for a while ! Ozzys autobiography is hilarious by the way.

KreepyKrawly puts forth...

Posted June 9, 2016
How about one on Brisbane (not just the sharehousing scene)... that should be good one.... Plus, you don't have to move. ß-D

Halwes mutters...

Posted June 9, 2016
Off topic but our PM finally admitted the seas are rising ( happening in the north of Australia very quickly now ) and that big storms are imminent. This is a big deal. Maybe it paves the way for new thinking. Tempting to dismiss it cynically I know, and for sure the deniers are in full control of everything for at least the next 6 years, but maybe this time we can get it right. Most of getting it right I suspect will be generating enough greenhouse gasses to sink a planet producing enough concrete to make dams and sea walls. Does anyone here remember the old Bronte baths / change rooms and the storm that took that away? I only saw the aftermath.

Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted June 14, 2016
I think every Australian should have watched Four Corners this week. Re refugees from Syria

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Rhino asserts...

Posted June 9, 2016
This is the kind of thing I love about The Burger ... a look under the hood of how it all works. Devoured "How to be a Writer" in one sitting the other day.

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted June 9, 2016
internet = narrowcasting

love the interweb.

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Rick is gonna tell you...

Posted June 9, 2016
Any free copies available for struggling writers ?

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ShaneAlpha mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2016
Don't forget editing the Dave fan-fic too!

Those voracious bloody readers must be fed and some tasty morsels written by suckers, I mean budding authors, can just hit the spot when your authoring finger things get a bit too sore and you feel like curling up with a largish rum and something to edit/throw out the window.

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jl mumbles...

Posted June 9, 2016
That's what drew me to indie publishing- damn the publishers, you can publish your own story in the way you want to do it. Write, John, write!

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted June 9, 2016
This makes me happy.

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McKinneyTexas swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted June 10, 2016
"restart the main sequence of Axis"

Como? Que paso'? Did I miss something? What are you doing with Axis? Of all of your work, AoT stands out for the canvass on which the story was told, the research, the fine details, etc.

I still remember grabbing WoC in an airport somewhere, starting it and not stopping until I finished it. And then rereading it. And then stalking your ass on the internet until I landed at the Burger. I agree with Rhino, those were some mighty fine times.

So what is up with AoT? And why haven't I been asked to plot the story arc? Shit, I've had that one ready to go since forever.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted June 10, 2016
As soon as Stalin's Hammer is wrapped, I'm going back to do the Invasion of Hawaii as a standalone novel. Full length.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted June 20, 2016
Didn't the Japanese try that once?

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Surtac reckons...

Posted June 10, 2016
Interesting to note the relative freedom I'm 'hearing' in your posts recently. To mix a couple of metaphors it sounds like you're feeling both unshackled and now largely free of the log-jam of traditional publishing.

Just an obversation.

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted June 10, 2016
I remember reading an article that analyzed a number of recent scripts and they all fell into the "Save the Cat" paradigm - the problem being that because everyone was using it, studios were starting to look at it as problematic.

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rick stieg is gonna tell you...

Posted June 14, 2016
Having just read the she/seawolf Smith girls sagas again, How 'bout a Left Coast/pacifica set of stories to continue the glow?

Harry Turtl***** did an "Invasion of Hawaii" gig a few years ago-betcha you can come up with 'better'.

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Steve O ducks in to say...

Posted June 18, 2016
Any plans on fleshing out A Captain of The Gate?

I really enjoyed!

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Phillip Marlowe and Han Solo as character archetypes

Posted June 6, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Introduced Thomas to Raymond Chandler this morning. Or rather to Chandler’s famous essay about the private detective as archetype. We were discussing favourite characters over breakfast at Brown Dog and I was trying to explain how all characters, in the end, are the same but different. They match certain archetypes.

I googled up Chandler’s famous ‘Mean Streets’ quote:

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

“He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.

“The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”

He read it, grudgingly, and then I asked whether that description of an archetypal 1940s detective could apply to, say, Han Solo. (Spoiler, of course it can). The only point of departure is the matter of honesty. Solo would of course take a dishonest dollar from another rogue, but I don’t think he’d take one off an innocent. His need might tempt him, but his pride would not let him.

Character archetypes are much on my thoughts at the moment as I plot out not just The Cruel Stars but a couple of other projects. Chandler’s knight errant of the mean streets is not the only character type, of course. There are others. But I’ve always thought that short description captures one very particular type of hero very well.

15 Responses to ‘Phillip Marlowe and Han Solo as character archetypes’

Jim mumbles...

Posted June 6, 2016
Jack Reacher (obviously not the Cruise version) fits in with this

Dick has opinions thus...

Posted June 6, 2016
My thoughts exactly.

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Lulu puts forth...

Posted June 6, 2016
I've always loved Chandler & Marlowe.

And despite the (ahem!) plot tangles, I think the classic film of The Big Sleep captured that same heroic scrappiness. It helped that Marlowe was played by Bogart.

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GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted June 6, 2016

The similarities between the American archetype heroes of Marlowe, Reacher and Solo are manifest ... such as, when in doubt have the Millennium Falcon burst through a Sun flare all guns blazing to end the conflict with the bad guys pronto so Han Solo can get back home to a drink.

GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted June 6, 2016

Of course when I say 'home for a drink' ... its code for 'nail the Princess!'

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted June 6, 2016
I am always amazed when I reread Chandler that one of the few items that jar me out of thinking it is contemporary story is when the prices for things are quoted.

It is only this that shakes me free, not the characters/or archetypes, or the betrayals or the self serving villains or noble heroes or the indifferent cruelty of the dominate businessmen.

of course Captain Malcolm Reynolds is even more a Chanldleresque hero.

"he read it, grudgingly' yeah, I hear you with that challenge.

of course the whole cyberpunk genre is full of these heroes. Though for a while the seem to be called anti-heroes. Io9 had a piece on this trend. Can't insert the hyperlink but it can be found here http://io9.gizmodo.com/383876/why-do-anti-heroes-rule-science-fiction.

Funnily enough I am re-reading Altered Carbon in preparation for the upcoming adaptation.

jl has opinions thus...

Posted June 6, 2016
Altered Carbon is a great book/concept. I hadn't realized there was an adaptation pending- cool that you mentioned that, I'll have to see it.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted June 6, 2016
Would Lucas' characters be classified as archetypes or cliches? The cynical in me would say the latter, pooping on his legacy because . . . . well, i'm a petulant consumer dognabbit!

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted June 6, 2016
Clictype or Arches?

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted June 7, 2016
Clictype: This lovable rogue won't kill baddies due to a high sense of self worth. You won't believe what happens next

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted June 6, 2016
I think "Force Awakens" repaints Solo in a very different light. He's basically a schmuck. In the original trilogy you may get the impression he's a badass. But he's in hoc to a gangster for dumping cargo. His ship really doesn't work all that well. He completely fluffs the raid on the shield generator. By TFA Leia even says that he's no help whatsoever except once when he helped Luke out with the Death Star. The rest of the movie has one character saying that there was no one left in the galaxy for him to successfully con because he was so rubbish at it. He even completely bollocksed up being a parent to the point where his kid massacred all the other kids at the Jedi academy and, even then, when he tries to get his kid to come back, completely misreads the situation and ends up with a lightsaber through the chest.

Han Solo is like Fonzie. Seems cool until you think about it. Then you realize that Fonzie is a guy in his 20's whose office is a toilet used by teenagers at a fast food joint.

Therbs asserts...

Posted June 7, 2016
Usually the Marlowe archetype has to be good at his job, or 'calling' and fairly smart. Solo ain't too bright and as you point out his efforts are generally half arsed. I'm surprised Leis's scooby gang didn't secretly conspire to not rescue him from the carbonite. "Yeah, leave the idiot there. They can use him as a life size popsicle version of himself." It was probably that stupid howling brown flocati rug which made them do it.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted June 6, 2016
and the Pile O'Shame grows ever higher

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Blake asserts...

Posted June 6, 2016
Working my way through 'Rouges' and anthology of shorts put together by George RR Martin & Gardner Dozois. Mr Martin makes a pretty strong case for the general love of the Rogue archetype in the intro. (he very articulatately voices the audible intro, i'm not sure why it suprises me that he would be so articulate...i might have to read those books at some point).

Its interesting in the way so many authors and genre's take on the archetype. Not everyones Rougue is a variation on Han Solo.
Joe R. Lansdale's Hap is very much the Marlowe archetype albeit less of a loner... the concept of western noir has blown my mind.... I'm going to have to go do some follow up reading on a pile of these authors.

Conversely Gillian Flynn's rougue is far from that model, but she revels in the shorter story, a lot less drag on the turnings of the mind fuck than in Gone Girl.

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damian mumbles...

Posted June 7, 2016

I think I have mentioned James Crumley here before when we were talking about book club nights (whatever happened to that anyway?). I can't recommend his novels highly enough, especially to this crowd. Suggest The Mexican Tree Duck as a starting place (the older ones are more rambling). The others have some great, great lines though.



On Chandler, I'd like to think one would do better to read The Big Sleep before Chandler's writing about himself (or if you want that, make it The Long Goodbye). The reason is that when you come across a sequence like the following for the very first time, you should have the opportunity to have your own thoughts about it:



"I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights.”


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The importance of adjectives

Posted May 5, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

This Call of Duty ad copy just isn't as good without them. In fact, it makes almost no fucking sense at all.

13 Responses to ‘The importance of adjectives’

Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted May 5, 2016
What about the dakka? Is there moar dakka?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted May 5, 2016
Nothing like a franchise moment

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dweeze asserts...

Posted May 5, 2016
I fixed it for ya:

Call of Duty: Infinite FKN Warfare puts uninspired storytelling in a turgindly strained narrative. Infinity Ward (sic) breaks no new ground by exploring dead weight and its myriad responsibilities. In a time of little adversity, the unfortunate player, as listless Captain of their broken warship, must take command against an indifferent enemy. Dumb ass soldiers are thrust into hilarious circumstances that will test their crossfit training and reveal their alphanumeric character as they learn to lead and make stupid decisions necessary to valiantly achieve pointless victory. The dull and repetitive game also introduces bland environments, craptacular weaponry and worthless abilities to Call of Duty. The tedious campaign -from soporific combat to insipid fighters - occurs as an unstimulating experience with epic loading times and delivers 7-11 franchise moments that
imbecilic, naive and simpleminded fans love.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2016
Hmm, this does read a lot better.

Rob mutters...

Posted May 5, 2016
Craptacular!

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Lulu would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2016
This is what happens when accountants use Google translate.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted May 5, 2016
I've never played Call of Duty, this is the first time I've been tempted because it has spaceships.

Am I the kind of gamer that is the reason they are doing this?

Hope not, I'm hanging out for some No Man's Sky action.

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Rob would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2016
OMG OMG OMG, jumps up and down in an over excited stupid way. COD:MW is being upgraded to HD and remastered! I don't give a flying fuck about grammar rules, wordage, spoilage, Rogue One and Disney Princesses. I'm going to go 3 grenade crazy perk followed up with suicide bombs, when you step over my lifeless digitised corpse. My PC is glowing red , waiting for November to come around.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted May 5, 2016
and of course they pull this crap for people who want the remastered game.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/05/you-cant-play-the-remastered-modern-warfare-without-buying-the-new-call-of-duty/

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2016
They're good fun and as a parent now they appeal more than they used too because you can get straight into the action as opposed to say civilisation which requires many many glorious hours of world dominating goodness. Sigh...

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2016
Off topic but Stalin's Hammer:Cairo is up on Amazon.

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2016
That is weird. Even the first sentence, 'puts storytelling into a narrative. that's like saying, 'Our bakery puts cakemaking into a cake'.

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Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted May 6, 2016
Reads like a failed history student's sad attempt at an essay.

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Cairo to production

Posted April 13, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Just sent off the manuscript and artwork to the guy who does my formatting. Don't know when I'll get the files back, but he is pretty quick. For him it's just process work.

It'll take me a day to read and do a final check, another day to get any changes taken in. On this schedule I doubt I'll have a book to send out before Friday, but it might drop over the weekend.

I plan to give this one away for at least a week, simply to drive subscriptions to the mailing list. When I've squeezed it dry for that purpose it'll go into the online bookstores for sale. Probably at US $3.99.

After that, the rubber meets the road. Both Hooper novellas drop in May. Paris in June/July. The full length Dave book, Stronghold, in Aug/September.

It'll be a damned close thing, I tell you. I'm running on vapour here. I've had to take apart my business (and I've had it taken apart for me) and now I see whether the new machine I've built can replace the old one.

I'm pretty sure it can, but I got some dark and scary fucking paths to walk before I'm done.

19 Responses to ‘Cairo to production’

Surtac puts forth...

Posted April 13, 2016

Huzzah. Very much looking forward to it.


ntwinter swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 15, 2016
Huzzah indeed! Pleased to hear that cry elsewhere. My work mates think me slightly odd when I suddenly shout out HUZZAH!! when something finally goes right for me at the office :)Very much looking forward to more of JB's worlds to get lost in.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted April 13, 2016
It seems you are loading everything on to the front end. Is that an attempt to test it to see if it breaks, or do you want it to become self-sustaining asap? so you can focus on longer term things like The Cruel Stars.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted April 13, 2016
There's a bunch of reasons, Insomniac. Partly it's just necessity. I got pretty badly butt-fucked by one of my publishers last year. It left me in a hole financially, a big one, and I need to dig myself out. But there's also a first-mover element. What I'm doing by building a hybrid indie/trade publishing business is the unavoidable future, and I want to get out ahead of the change. But first, I got wolves at the door and they're hungry.

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Gutz has opinions thus...

Posted April 13, 2016
Curse them wolves!! By the sounds of it curse said publisher! I hope they are no longer enjoying the fruits of your relentless toiling. Unknown legal proceedings aside (that may or may not prevent you from naming this publisher) so i can avoid spending a zac with them, count me the boycotting type!
My fav author screwed over maketh not happy come quick for this black duck.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted April 13, 2016
Much appreciated, guv.

JG is gonna tell you...

Posted April 13, 2016
Well said, Gutz. Howdare said publisher shaft you, JB. May they sit on nettles and other assorted thorns.
Speaking of sharks, am moving back to Bris. Rents at GC increasing too much. Thanks, upcoming Comm Games.
Anyway, shall also boycott that publisher, should you make them public, JB.
Your martial arts have stood you in good stead because, instead of sitting, sulking, you fight on, and better, have established your own independent publishing empire. Huzzah, squire!

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted April 13, 2016
One imagines bunnies around the big table with SWOT analyses, grant charts & pivot tables. Others poring over 3D schematics of the spooky blue glowing AI.
Is it a captains call ? Or a collaborative and collegiate decision.
I'm pretty confident the AI can handle the load you made a good choice going up-spec there. But have you considered the mineral water coolant-pool (grotto) may not have sufficient thermal-mass to soak up the additional heat. It wouldn't do to have your bunnies pile engineers or the pile over-heating.

HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted April 14, 2016
where the fkn sand table and string grid lines??? ffsakes!

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David S. mutters...

Posted April 13, 2016
No worries JB, we, your loyal followers, will be right there behind you in this time of danger, saying "Thank Christ on a stick it's not me!"

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 13, 2016
Man, I pretty much live on that planet where the wolves are at the door.

This will work, John. You've done the research, you know the market and your readers. You've got a solid following, and best of all, a steady track record. I think the readers, Old Guard and New, will rise like a flood.

Soon that gold plated hovercraft will be in action again.

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DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted April 13, 2016
Yeah, I reckon it will work too. Good call re the first mover advantage. Yeah, I'm the boycotting type too. So you know, hint hint.
Bon chance. You'll always be able to rely on me parting with my folding stuff for words you string together. Keep "writing for food" sir!


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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 14, 2016

Happy to support a boycott as well.

Also, I think there has been enough info dropped in recent thread discussions to suggest who the guilty party is <nod> <wink> etc. A little bit of data mining around here should lead others to the conclusion I've reached.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted April 14, 2016
for the first time in my memory there is No Birmo to be had @ Bne international airport. I usually entertain myself for half an hour putting JB's latest at eye level in 4 or 5 different categories. Wymmns Ishoos always cracks me up, covering 'All Pete are Eevil' with some 'splodey. But there is no stock with which to do so. This business plan better be giving me something to work with soon

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Don Bagert is gonna tell you...

Posted April 15, 2016
Is it Friday in Australia yet? LOL j/k

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Turlogh Dubh O'Brien reckons...

Posted April 15, 2016
Remember that scene in "A Bronx Tale" when the kid gets ripped off and Sonny tells him to look at it as costing him $20 to get rid of a scumbag from his life? That's basically what happened to you on a larger scale, but think of it just the same. Lesson learned and you are wiser and stronger for it. Can't wait for Cairo and the rest!

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted April 15, 2016
I find your argument compelling. I may just subscribe to your pamphlet.

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Halwes reckons...

Posted April 15, 2016
A suggestion for a book title may be " Down and Out in Brisbane and Toowoomba". I'm sure Eric wont mind. "We of the sinking middle class may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose."

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Don Bagert asserts...

Posted April 17, 2016
Just downloaded it - thank you!!!

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After Action Report. Stalin's Hammer: Rome

Posted April 8, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Just had a rather brilliant idea. It has been bugging the shit out of me that I don't control the IP for Stalin's Hammer: Rome. It makes a lot of cool things impossible. For instance, I would make the book permanently free if I could, and include a link to the signup page for the mailing list. I would certainly make it free to channel readers towards the later books in the series when they come out. And of course if I controlled the IP I could release the entire series as a box set or even a paperback.

But I don't control it. Pan Macmillan has the rights locally and have already made it clear they will not give them up. Del Rey/Random House control the US market and although they might be talked into reverting the rights to me, I don't want to distract them from The Cruel Stars.
How then to deal with the fact I don't control the first book in the series?

Partly, I've addressed it by writing the first couple of chapters of Cairo as a recap. But that's not enough. It's still bugging me that some readers will come to this series without having read Rome. And I don't want to have them spend more money buying the first book, especially since I get no real benefit from it. (Writing e-books for trade publishers is a mug's game).

But I just had a Eureka moment. If and when I do a box set or a paperback I can do it without Rome by including an After Action Report, formatted as an intelligence file, at the start of the bundled collection. I could even call the file name 'Stalin's Hammer' and the station source 'Rome'. In the form of an AAR by the Section 6 station chief in Rome, or his CIA counterpart, it would be a summary of everything that happened in the first book.

I am disgracefully pleased with this idea.

18 Responses to ‘After Action Report. Stalin's Hammer: Rome’

HAVOCK21 reckons...

Posted April 8, 2016
you do have your moments, not many, but yes, this just might well be one such event. In fact, I'll now tag it as such!

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jason swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 8, 2016
Who would have thought, someone who works in a creative industry for a living having an idea how to creatively change a situation. Where is my sarcasm emoji.

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted April 8, 2016
Now all you have to do is keep it under your hat so your publishers have no idea.

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Surtac mutters...

Posted April 8, 2016

Oh, you have to do this.

Especially after describing the Emergence release fiasco in the kickstarter thread. I thought books intended for a Xmas release dropped in early December at the latest.

Anyway, I'm sure that you don't need reminding that revenge is a dish best served cold.

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted April 8, 2016
Sounds devious enough that it might just work. But at the risk of being The Black Hat in this discussion - you'd get legal advice first, right? I mean, if YOU owned the IP, and I wrote a book and included said AAR, I'd totally be ripping off your work, and your IP. And JB would sue me.
I suspect the Robber Barons that currently own it might take the same view about you, notwithstanding that the difference between you and I is you created it. But creation isn't the issue here is it? It's ownership. And I own it just as much as you do...

But I'm a lawyer, not an economist. Which is why I suggest maybe we crowdfund BUYING back the IP.

Marc asserts...

Posted April 13, 2016
now, this is an idea that could not only keep you in a safe, possibly even cuddly, space but it could be pitched in a way that would surely align all those folks who probably would prefer lots of creche's instead of submarines into actively supporting you in your fight against the oppressive corporate monsters....I'm not laying it on too thick here am I? Nah.

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted April 8, 2016
This would be one of those disruptive technology thingies I've heard so much about, right? If so, I'm keen.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted April 9, 2016
A fine solution to an annoying problem. Chalk it up as world building fodder and move on.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted April 9, 2016
John, you would have made a great attorney.

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Marzuk reckons...

Posted April 9, 2016
I think this is a fantastic idea, the story is small enough it can be broken down into a small recap easily and we still get to kill a tree in the process aswell for a nice book we can put on a shelf

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ubersejanus ducks in to say...

Posted April 9, 2016
It'll be done in one of those cool typewriter-looking fonts, right?

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David S. mutters...

Posted April 10, 2016
Far be it from me to stop you giving stuff away JB, but I bought Stalin's Hammer: Rome quite happily, and I definitely feel I got my money's worth. I would not give buying the subsequent volumes a second thought. But hey, if one gold-plated hovercraft is enough for you that's fine with me.

Marccarno asserts...

Posted April 13, 2016
Hand on David S, let's not be hasty - perhaps we could persuade JB to keep asking for money, buy the second hovercraft then loan it to us to take turns playing with? After all, I recall that we all (happily!) gave up a small portion of our soul for the pleasure of posting/engaging.
Just a thought....

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pi would have you know...

Posted April 10, 2016
It would be neat if the report-writer were in some way linked to the story. That way humor and insight could also be added to the report.

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MattE would have you know...

Posted April 11, 2016
<font face="Times New Roman">

</font>

There are far too many bad writers with good friends (my
take away from trying to pick books from Amazon book reviews). Excellent work
around BTW, but I am more than happy to pay JB – bought most of your books more than once. </font>



</font>

McKinneyTexas would have you know...

Posted April 12, 2016
I tried to comment from my IPHONE and failed, apparently. This looks
too easy to me. I'd get a bought and paid for legal opinion from
someone with E&O insurance. A lot of E&O insurance with a
policy that pays for defense without a limit and without eroding the
liability limit. Or, I wouldn't do what you appear to be planning.

Litigation is no fun at all.

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McKinneyTexas ducks in to say...

Posted April 12, 2016
I tried to comment from my IPHONE and failed, apparently. This looks too easy to me. I'd get a bought and paid for legal opinion from someone with E&O insurance.

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McKinneyTexas puts forth...

Posted April 12, 2016
sorry about the double post

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