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ISSUE 44

WINTER 20202

CONTENTS

EDITORIAL - Ken Clay

THE HIBS – Aubrey Malone

A PRINCELY INTERVIEW - Alexis Lykiard

THE COMPANY KEPT, OR, PARTY ANIMALS  - Alexis Lykiard

CREATURE COMFORT  - Alexis Lykiard

FIRESIDE FELON Alexis Lykiard

THE STATE AND THE PLEBS - Alexis Lykiard

DISUNITED KINGDOM – Alexis Lykiard

CHANGE AND DECAY - Alexis Lykiard

THRENODY – Alexis Lykiard

COLD WARRIORS – Jim Burns

BORIS REX REDUX – John Lee

FUNKY FUCKERY – Tanner

RATISBON – Keith Howden

THE VERY TRUTH OF THINGS (2) – Jim Greenhalf

EDUCATING RITA – Ken Champion

BACK DATED, POST PRICKED PHOTOGRAPH OF A
PRE-PRICKED WEDDING (2) 
Ivan de Nemeth

BIRTH OF AN ANARCHIST – John Lee

THREE PERSONS OF INTEREST (1) – David Birstwistle

A SORRY END – Mark Ward

A STRANGE LAND – Andrew Lee-Hart

THE REICH STUFF – Tanner

DOING BETTER THAN EXPECTED – David Birstwistle

THE TROUBLE WITH ERNIE (1) – Bob Wild

JARGON WINE – Martin Keaveney


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EDITORIAL

GETTING IT OUT THERE 

You’ve completed your six volumed novel, a five hundred page short story collection and an epic poem the size of Paradise Lost.  The world waits but your chosen publishers (Faber, Random House, Allen Lane et al) seem oddly indifferent. Yes, there are plenty of distinguished precedents - Nabokov, Beckett, Proust. You consider jogging Faber, Random and Allen to warn about the dangers of their short-sighted neglect.  You read biogs of other tardily recognised geniuses and think “Yis Marcel, Vladimir and Sam I know how you must’ve felt.” There’s nowt wrong with the work – you’re obviously better than JK Rowling or David Walliams. You’re convinced, after a night in the boozer with your fellow unknowns, that you could give Martin Amis or Julian Barnes a run for their money. You get to thinking - it must be marketing. It can’t be that difficult, but, as they say in the business: “only fifty percent of our advertising is successful – but we don’t know which fifty percent” and “the only way to make a small fortune in publishing is to start with a large fortune” What cynicism! You too could be rich and famous. What’s the trick?

As the case of Rees-Mogg proves you rarely get celebrated by being published – you’re more likely to get published by being celebrated. The Yorkshire Ripper or Ian Brady could be best sellers. It would help if you were a young, good-looking, female Oxbridge graduate. I doubt the Elephant Man would get taken up even if he wandered in with War and Peace under his arm. Agents, too, may sound a good idea but they do bugger all (our more successful authors report).

My info comes not from personal experience since I reject the whole seedy marketing set-up (or maybe it has rejected me). Penniless Press Publications, founded 2007, has published 6000 books by 27 writers spread over 90 titles. The average, therefore, is around 65 sales per title. Some do better than others but even the three which have been well reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement have not been great sellers. So, if you’re a struggling aspirant, don’t give up your day job (assuming you have one). But before you cut your throat read what Clive James says: “People assume that any book they’ve heard of sells a million. In cold fact, it is a lucky book that sells a thousand and I know of one literary memoire – in my review of it I called it a classic – sold fifteen copies”

Technology has queered the pitch. Mainstream publishers offered an advance (repaid from your royalties) and owned the copyright. They printed a few thousand of which, if they’d guessed wrong, most languished in a warehouse until remaindered for a fraction of cost. Print-on-demand (eg Lulu and Createspace) has changed all that. Now the aspirant can knock up a book for less than a tenner with no obligation to order more. It’ll be ISBNed and listed on Amazon, and in the world-wide distribution system. It’ll be stashed for ever in the British Deposit Library at Boston Spa. So what’s missing? Marketing: it’s expensive, uncertain and difficult. Blake sold his stuff in the street from a tray round his neck. But note the verb – sold. These days you may have to give it away.

Amazon listing sounds promising; it’s certainly better than nothing, but there are about 3 million titles on there and Jeff Bezos may lose interest in your book and tag it: “Currently unavailable. We will let you know when it is restocked” or, even more alarmingly “Currently unavailable. We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.” >gulp< Has Jeff actually read it you wonder? Then there’s the strange Amazon Bestsellers Rank covering all books. You could be scored 9 million (it’s an inverse scale) but if we restrict it to Contemporary Fiction you could get it down to a mere five hundred thousand.  Elton John’s new blockbusting autobiog scores 10. These scores are generated by a complicated algorithm (not explained) so I guess it’s just a bunch of geeks horsing around in Seattle.  Finally it could be remaindered when the price might drop from £10 to £1. I’ve even bought mate’s books for 1P (plus postage).  There won’t be many at this price and clicking on the quantity box will offer perhaps three at most. These are just a few of the arcane quirks of marketing. Does anyone outside Amazon take any notice?

Then there’s the bookshop (remember them?). Most punters don’t know what they want or where they can get it. Most punters, feeling like a read, while waiting for their TV to be fixed, wander into Waterstones and browse the stock. If your great work is on a table or a shelf they might well go for it. Covers are important – a half naked floosie draped in a Nazi flag seems to work best. Of course Waterstones won’t order a pile even on sale of return so you’ll have to go in there and stick it on a table or shelf yourself – yes, some PPP authors do just this. Another marketing ruse is to give a few to a charity shop – hardly marketing, more like distribution. The donated book at £0 rises to £10.99 + postage for a “pre loved copy” followed by another dealer offering it at £200. Of course it’s all for charity. You’ll feel better if you pay more.

Yep it’s anarchy out there and books are just another commodity. What are they worth? Whatever some dumb sap will pay. But at least you’re available in the marketplace if not an active salesman. A fan in Japan, plonking on the internet, can order your book and get it delivered in next to no time. It’s all you need.

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BIRTH OF AN ANARCHIST
John Lee

 

I’ve had time to reflect upon Remy my gypsy friend who it turns out was an Arab. This he learned from Bin Fooked the Muslim gentleman with whom he shared a cell this past 6 months and who initiated a change in his philosophical outlook. The slough, mine that is, was or is occasioned by resettlement hopefully temporally in Maldon, a town represented by and representative of its MP John Whittingdale, the corrupt middle class Nazi of the ERG, just as Essex itself is host to most of the rest of the Gestapo gang. I would like to say that the southern working class unlike their northern counterparts are distinctive in their lumpenproletarian nationalistic reactionary views but alas I fear that it’s not true. Rather than class solidarity what we have is class solidity but from the neck up. Not having a car I’m forced on to the buses and thereby am treated daily to opinions. A little man with white hair dressed in multi-coloured shorts and sporting a British Legion badge. He tells all of Johnny Foreigners lack of backbone and of how parliament is full of them and that it is a disgrace-“everything is a disgrace.” This last point I agree with.

   On the other hand my brother-in-law Bill, the ex TT rider, formerly a strong union Labour man, is beginning to enjoy the situation. He attends every possible public meeting and disagrees with everybody’s opinions, writes to the papers and goes to the pub not to drink but to make the argument that the people he meets are wrong. A former Labour man he is firmly an anti-Brexiter though because he is so much enjoying his new found conversational anarchism I suspect that were he to find a majority of “antis” he would become a Brexiter-just for the crack. When you have to retire from the danger of motorcycle racing you have to find something equally dangerous but more suited to sedentary old age. Spain’s famous bullfighter Higgins from Bolton on his retirement turned to hang-gliding and was killed near Holme Moss in Derbyshire. As for myself I gave up Socialistic illusions long ago but have preserved that streak of anarchism that also motivated my marching days and the wet weekly early morning visits to the gates of AEI with the object of selling or giving away Labour Workers the then flag ship weekly of International Socialism the remains of which I stacked under my bed until it rose like Lazarus in to the air. There was one day when I sold out (papers not ideology-that came later) and it was when a rather dapper, well dressed character approached me and accused me of treason and told me to “get back to Russia where you belong.” Even though I put on my best university lecturer’s voice and tried to explain that Russia was also a State Capitalist enemy of mine  he was not mollified and continued to rail against my “damned impudence. “ This attracted a large crowd of workers seeking to clock on, they paused however to explain that he was “a jumped up junior manager and a right bastard” and that if I’d upset him with what I said and represented then I must be all right.” You’ll do for us son!” They bought all my papers – the only time that ever happened-and wished me all the best for Christmas and the New Year. But giving up the Socialistic illusions that led me into the Labour Party, the Trots and the gates of AEI does not mean that I no longer care but that I am now a whole-hearted convert to the  Ideological Anarcho-Cynicism Party. It grows rapidly and membership has the advantage that you can sneer self-righteously at anyone’s opinions, you don’t have to do anything and can stay in bed in the morning but you can continue to bowl with the bias on the left.

  

 


Redundant - George Grosz