Friday, 24 February 2012

A miscellaneous medley of patchwork pot-pourris

The title is merely following the modern political and commercial impulse to generate words which imply but simultaneously evacuate meaning. So …

Four excuses for the gap since the last post:
  • Family visits.
  • I’m doing another ‘Brilliant’ book for Pearson Education. This time it’s Academic Writing, so it’ll simply be borrowings from a couple of the other books and writing new introduction, conclusion and linking materials.
  • Under the usual, generous direction of Anneke Klein, I’m making a new website, partly to use the header above instead of having the current looming head at the top of each page, but also to make it easier for me to add and delete stuff when I want without having to impose on Anneke every time. It'll also mean migrating this blog to the new site and (doubtless), losing both my followers in the process.
  • My perennial laziness (and, speaking of laziness, whatever happened to my brother Ron?).

Of course, there’s also the fact that I have nothing much to say. I’ve just done a highly enjoyable, very interesting interview with Sara Bain. You can see it hereSara is a journalist who gives so much time to others that she doesn’t leave enough for her own writing. She also has a way of framing questions that produces answers which take you into areas you hadn’t anticipated. If you want to learn about your characters (and yourself) a Sara Bain interview is the route to take.

What else? Well, the interview was timed to coincide with the release of the fifth Jack Carston novel, Unsafe Acts, and Sara’s questions about how I ‘met’ Carston and how he’d developed made me focus on something I already knew – he’s changed quite a lot. Or maybe he’s allowed more aspects of his personality to appear. I spoke about this in the interview so I won’t go over the ground again here, but my suspicion is that the next in the series will be the last and I’m toying with the idea of it being narrated by Carston himself.

And one final thing to confirm forever my bafflement at the whole world of publishing (as if such confirmation were needed). This is for those of you who seek value in books. You’ll remember that The Sparrow Conundrum won an award, but maybe there are two versions of it in circulation because I notice that, while the paperback still costs $10.99 on Amazon USA, you can actually buy – from the same site, 12 new copies priced from $9.15 to $39.17.

The same division between cheap crap and quality literature is evident on the Amazon UK site too, where The Figurehead, new from Amazon, will set you back £8.88 but its obviously far superior used doppelganger will cost you £39.92.

Best of all, though, are the two versions of The Darkness. Now I think it’s pretty good – but then I wrote it, so I would, wouldn’t I? But I obviously didn’t realise just how good it was. Amazon seems to have been priced out of the market because, on its site, used copies are available at prices ranging from $98.53 (yes, almost the magic $100) to (and I swear this is true because I checked it again and again) $250.80.

So if anyone reading this was thinking of buying the $250.80 copy, I have few here I’d happily let you have for just $250 each, with free postage.

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  1. Aw Bill, you're too kind. You didn't answer my last question with any semblance of truth, however: you know, the one about the pin number for your bank account!

  2. The website looks great and that's a very nice 'banner'. Tell Anneke 'hi'.

  3. Sara, perhaps I got the numbers the wrong way round, the pin number has four digits, the amount in the account stretches to eight, not including the .17 on the end.

    Thanks Diane. It's just another Aberdeen morning sky.

  4. I've got a copy of The Darkness, The Figurehead and Sparrow - all in original packaging and signed by the author. Only light wear and tear and coffee stains on some of the pages. Anyone want to buy them for £1,000 each should contact me immediately.

  5. When the POD copy of TSC were printed the software was stolen by someone in the chain. This problem is almost universal, don't feel singled out. Those people put up the silly priced options and if anybody bites they print out a copy of your book claiming it is second hand (which means they don't pay anybody royalties.)

    They often print their copies on inferior paper and compressed. Writers can and do get reviews criticising their print quality. Amazon will not remove the adverts unless you can prove that they are not selling second hand copies of your book. (Almost impossible)

    I read a blog by an author highlighting this problem who had only printed 500 numbered copies for friends and family. He had to buy a copy and go through a lawyer before Amazon would act.

  6. Oh Dear, John. And there's me thinking that at last someone had realised my true worth. It's hard to know why anyone would 'bite' at such an absurd price, though, with the correctly priced options listed right alongside it.

    Sara, I only charged you £187.34 for all three. You must curb your excessive entrepreneurial impulses.

  7. Really like the new blog header, Bill. Good idea to be able to update website yourself.

  8. Thanks Rosemary. I've got another just like it but with an evening sky and the crown of King's College chapel in it. Aberdeen has wonderful skies. And yes, what a difference it'll be to be able to update things whenever I want. Anneke was always very accommodating and forgiving but I hated taking up her time, especially for trivial matters - usually to clear up some mess I'd made.

  9. I'll give you lazy, you cheeky bugger. If you could see the scars I've got from family maintenance, car repairs, garden surgery, frog-stifling. OK, I made that one up but, given my age and lifestyle, I get enough done in the day to give me a fair night's sleep. If what you're really after is another Ronblog, you'll need a stronger insult than "lazy".

    And if you and your readers think that this comment proves that all you have to do to get me writing is to prod me in the sensitive bits, you're clearly right.

  10. 'Ronblog'. I like it. I like the chutzpah that drives it, too. You create a brand name, a sub-category of a highly popular communication channel, and yet there's little evidence of any product. A genius to rival that of the early dotcom people. You may yet become the rich relative I've always wanted.