Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Travels in Xanadu-du: News

I know you're all agog to know what's happening with my book, Travels in Xanadu-du, which I suggested might be hitting the market at the end of January (2 days from now). Guess what. Slight delay. We now have an ISBN for it (978-0-9558318-0-5), which means it exists as far as the cataloguing people are concerned. But you'll have a hard time buying it yet.

The files for the cover and interior are just about to go off to the printer for proofing. Once I've received and approved the proof, we'll be ready to rock. Or roll. Or whatever. We are told to expect a ten-day wait for the proof.

We'll be flogging the book from our website, with a pound off the cover price. In a few days you'll be able to pre-order it from the site - I'll let you know when. In a month or two it will be available from Amazon and orderable through any bookstore. We don't expect it to be stocked in bookshops because the economics would only work if you were prepared to pay about eighteen pounds for a paperback novel - retail booksellers like to have a 55% discount - if we gave them that we would be selling the book at below production cost! We're not gonna do that on account of needing to eat and stuff.

One interesting thing we've had to deal with is shipping costs. Couriers (FedEx, DHL etc) are outrageously expensive - they want 50 or 60 Euros to deliver a package. That's the fast service. They don't seem to offer a slowish service. I think it would be ok if they would take it end-to-end and get it to wherever in about a week for ten Euros or less. But no, they don't do that, what they do is rush around like blue-arsed flies and get it there in two days. Or three if you live in Alaska or Antarctica. So we are using the British Royal Mail for delivery. This is very fine for our primary market: next day or the day after in the UK. About three days in Europe (including all of Russia!). From five days for the rest of the world. The 'from' is interesting. What it means is they will dump the stuff with the postal authority of the concerned country. What happens to it and how long it takes after that is entirely down to your local postal service (sorry UAE!). But none of it costs you, the adored customer, more than 7 Euros.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rent a Flat in Madrid, Spain

If you ever find yourself visiting Madrid (the one in Spain, not any of the impostors), you could do worse than visiting this website: rent a flat in Madrid, Spain. My buddy Mike can sort you out with a flat or apartment, a piso (unimaginably small flat) or a room in a shared flat. They are all in the City Centre, and he has a huge selection of places available as short-term or long-term lets. Mike is a very nice guy, speaks English and Spanish fluently, and will help you out with any dealings with your landlord, utilities companies and the dreaded Telefonica.

So now you know.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Sympathies

I followed the Bush visits Dubai fiasco with great interest. And not a little relief that I wasn't tangled up in it - I'd have probably blown a gasket if I had been!

Major roads were closed without warning, a Public holiday was declared at six hours notice, people were stranded all over the place, and for what? For the security of the one man who poses the greatest threat to Middle East peace today. Unbelievable.

And there's Dubya in his limo.

'Pretty quiet around here, Abdullah.'
'Whatever. There's no traffic, the buildings are all empty, what's all the fuss about?'

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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Great Publishing Adventure

Avid readers of this blog may be aware that I wrote a novel last summer and have been trying to get the damn thing published ever since. Translation: I've been sending it off to literary agents, because traditional publishers in the UK don't dirty their hands by dealing directly with newbies any more. Furthermore, it seems the publishers don't take risks on newbies at all, and prefer to throw their money at ghost-written 'books by celebrities'. It's a tough market if you're not a celebrity who can't write. Especially for fiction.

So far I've only sent my sample stuff to literary agents who have heard of this thing called email: I've had a couple of genteel refusals, and a bunch of silence. A few weeks before Christmas I fired up the laser printer and sent printed-on-paper versions to three agents. These dudes are the first ones to get the actual final version of the book, but they all say it takes them one or two months to respond. We can probably add a fortnight to that for the Christmas holiday. Whatever, I'm not holding my breath, I could be dead before I get any response!

The important thing is to get the book out there, and then we'll see if anybody can be persuaded to buy it. So we are going to self-publish it. 'We' in this case means my very good buddy in Liverpool, and me.

Is this vanity publishing, Keefie? Absolutely not. With vanity publishing you pay a shitload of money to a company who will sort out your scribbles, print a few hundred or a few thousand copies and deliver them to you. They will then rot in your garage. Our venture means that we become the publishers: we have our own ISBNs, we have designed the cover and the book interior, and we own all of the rights to the material. We won't have a shedful of unshiftable stock, but if you order a copy you'll have it in 2-4 days. And we'll be doing some serious marketing to get the thing moving.

How is this possible? Through the magic of Print-On-Demand. What happens is that we lodge the digital artwork for the cover and the interior with our printer. In theory, if we have an order for one book, they will print one book on their digital printers - they produce around one million books per year, but their average print run is 1.8 books - and ship it to us. In reality, we will always maintain a small stock for immediate despatch. The book will be available from our website, and trade distributors. POD is somewhat more expensive than offset (about 4x), but we think the advantages outweigh the cost: it means we can get the product out there in the market for a minimal outlay and see if we can generate the demand for it.

I think the book will be available around the end of January, so get saving your dirhams: I expect all of you to buy at least one copy, and I'll know if you don't.

Watch this space!


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Probably Madrid

Hi fans. Happy New Year!

I've just noticed that the link to my new blog in my blogroll had a speeling mastik in the URL. Which possibly explains why hardly any of you have linked to the new blog. Here's the correct address: