A Publishing Date

Hooray, I have a date for publication. I know this because I checked on Amazon. It’s September 26th 2013.

That’s the last I really want to have to do with Amazon because, as most people probably know, they screw publishers and especially authors into the ground so they can sell books as cheaply as possible, thus in turn screwing other booksellers, especially independents into the ground. They also use offshore tax havens, so also screw taxpayers, or rather people who would otherwise use services that are paid for with the tax that Amazon does not pay.

Like it or not, though, most people are going to buy the book through Amazon, which is a great shame. I suppose the same applies to other online booksellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble, and both of those, with their physical outlets, did a huge amount in killing off the independent bookseller. Basically this (although Black Books isn’t your average independent)…

It’s a fair way off, this publication date, but there’s lots to do, not least all the pre-promotion stuff which will mean speaking to a great many people who don’t get Underminers, nor will condone any suggestion that Industrial Civilization is a Bad Thing. Still, if life is meant to be a challenge then what’s the harm being challenged?


Americanization, yeah!

Well, it was bound to happen, and so it has. Those who have taken the time to pore over my written output – especially those from the northern part of the continental landmass conventionally called America – are bound to notice that I bring more than a little Britishness to the page. Obviously that’s because of the way I speak, but I have also made a little effort to reach out across the Atlantic and take a sprinkling of Americanisms to the text where it seems appropriate, especially if the subject in question is in that (your?) part of the world.

The online version of Underminers, and the Lulu (soon to be unavailable, get it while you can!) book is written in that British-sort-of-American-with-a-touch-of-Scots way, which is perfectly fine for most purposes and which I have no intention of changing. On the other hand, when a book is about to be pushed out to the North American public (and I mean public rather than the people who would normally seek out my work), then a certain amount of translation is called for. It was explained to me, very understandingly by my publisher, that the convention for books to be sold in the USA is to be written in American English.

Here is where I plead ignorance. Until my gracious and tolerant copy-editor pointed out the multitude of words in the book that were rarely if not ever used in the USA, then I had no idea. The spelling – mainly involving “z”s (pronounced “zee” rather than “zed”) – was perfectly fine; hell! I write “civilization” instead of the British convention “civilisation”, all the time. The words, though, were interesting. Here’s a sample, to give an insight into the process:

Caravan. In Britain, a caravan is a thing that you attach to a car (automobile) and take on holiday (vacation) with you so you have a home-from-home. I had to change it to “motor home”, even though it wasn’t – “travel trailer” is unknown in Europe, so that wouldn’t have worked.

Paracetamol. In Britain, it’s a generic painkiller that acts on the central nervous system. In the USA it’s called acetaminophen and usually Tylenol. I have never taken acetaminophen knowingly, but the converse applies in the USA, so an explanation is now in a footnote.

Football in Glasgow. In Scotland there are (at the moment not, but that’s very complicated) traditionally two big football (soccer – I could have gone native and said fitba’) teams, Celtic and Rangers, or rather Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers. They are rivals in terms of football, and in terms of different flavours of the same major branch of the same religious belief system – i.e. one is Protestant, one is Catholic. Fights ensue. There is even a new law in place ostensibly to stop fans of one team using religious slurs against the other. This takes time to explain, so I just took the reference out.

Workmate. This is a type of folding workbench produced by the manufacturer Black and Decker that was all the rage in the 1980s in Britain, and which I still have in almost pristine condition from then – they were very well made. I checked, and they are unknown in the USA, so even though I did use a Workmate, to save confusion I took out the whole reference, and just used a saw.

There were lots more, along with all sorts of stylistic changes including a bizarre round-trip. A friend had seen an early extract and pointed out the proliferation of “that” where the word wasn’t really needed in his opinion, such as “the house that Jill built”, which reads more easily as “the house Jill built”. I agreed and spent ages removing every excessive instance. What I didn’t realise is that in the USA, the word “that” is used much more frequently than in Britain, so back a load went! I did re-remove a few, though – you can have too much of anything.

The final edit is complete, and the manuscript is now with the layout people, who will do all sorts of fancy things over the next few weeks. This is the bit where I don’t really get involved much at all – they know how to sell books; I just write the words.

I Have A Publisher

And it’s not me.

One good thing about being the eternal realist is that when really good and unexpected things happen, they really are good and unexpected bringing with them all of the lovely positive emotions those particular things entail. The blog of April 12 described what I genuinely believed at the time: “When the book is finished then I will begin work on a publishers version, with the aim of selling as an e-book and Print on Demand – assuming no publisher takes this on as a going concern.” Even earlier I used the phrase: “No publisher will touch this”, and really meant it.

At some point along the way I threw a few emails to publishers asking if they might be interested, ignoring those that had onerous application demands which essentially boil down to: “How much money will the book make us?” (Only one of the publishers got back to me, and that was just to apologise they didn’t have the funds to take on anything new.) In the main, publishing is a business – a very big business indeed, which makes this kind of question obvious. For me, it’s a barrier; the key question should be: “Why is your book worth publishing?” I think it is worth publishing, so I went off and did it myself.

Part of that process was engaging in the, now successful, Kickstarter project, which has led to me being able to send copies to various people involved in the publication of the book, and which was also intended to fund an eBook version of Underminers. What also happened was that a representative of New Society Publishers got in touch saying they were interested in the book and would like a chat. That was back in late November. As of now I am an author with one of the few publishers I would have really liked to have published Underminers.

The upshot of this is:

1) The Kickstarter project money will be used to fund the sending of the “big” version of Underminers to a variety of groups and individuals who could benefit from having it to hand.

2) A honed-down version of Underminers, which I have edited specially to be more digestible but no less radical, will be produced by New Society in paper and eBook (EPUB, Kindle, Nook etc.)

3) The online version will remain available on this website in perpetuity under a Creative Commons license in HTML and PDF format.

4) The self-published Lulu version (see sidebar) will be available only until the New Society marketing campaign starts this spring, upon which I will take it off sale out of respect to the publishers.

This all sounds very formal, but in a nutshell it means the text will be available to the widest possible audience in the largest variety of formats available, which has to be a good thing…unless you are a big fan of industrial civilization.

Free Copies For Special People

Lulu are kind enough to apply a bulk discount of 7.5% to orders of 30 or more books (not a hint, that would be silly) and the postage is remarkably cheap, so with the Kickstarter money finally in the bank – only £791.70 once Kickstarter had taken all their fees – I have just been able to make the first bulk order of books to send out to various people. This is how it’s going to break down:

6 books for people who gave £50 or more to the Kickstarter project, and wanted a copy.
11 books to people who made a considerable contribution to the production of the book.
13 books to send out to organisations / groups / libraries that would like a copy available to their members / users.

I expect a big box to be arriving in about a week.

Once things are a bit clearer with regards to the exciting news alluded to in my last post then I will know whether I can use the remaining money to order more books, produce eBooks or start building the Underminers Network (hmm, where did that one spring from?) If I do the latter then I’ll have to get permission from my funders, but we’ll see in due course.

For the time being, if anyone is in an organisation that could really use a copy of Underminers for free, or is an individual who promises to do something good with the book, then please contact me at keith[at]theearthblog.org and let me know. I’ll put a big advert up soon, so you might like to get in there quick before they all go…

Kickstarter Fully Funded: More To Go…

A huge thank you to everyone who has pledged money to the Underminers Kickstarter project so far; the £900 has been made which guarantees Kickstarter’s support, and an exciting time in the new year getting the book out into the big world…

But we’re not done yet. There is no theoretical limit to the amount that can be used for this project. The more money raised, the more copies of the book can be printed and distributed – I will donate copies of the book to libraries and general interest groups, keeping a small stockpile aside to respond to demand from those who cannot afford the book. I will also produce a Kindle version of the book (different to ePub), again with free download available from the website.

So if you haven’t pledged yet then your money is just as important as that already pledged – we need more Underminers to give us a future. Click on THIS LINK to go to the Kickstarter page.

Many thanks, Keith.

Kickstarter Project is Now Live!

I am delighted to say that the project to fund the printing of Underminers in physical and eBook form has gone live.

If you click on the link below (which is http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/861859782/publishing-of-underminers-in-physical-and-ebook-fo for those who like texty links) then you will go to my Kickstarter page, which lays out the basic premise for needing a bit of money. Sadly Lulu doesn’t barter, nor does any PoD publisher, so in order to get some important stuff done then I need at least £900 (about $1440) to get things moving.

I have created an FAQ below the main text on the Kickstarter page and will be adding to this as people ask questions – if you have any questions then please comment below this blog, or do it via the project page. Basically, by funding the distribution and publicity of the book you are helping make a wave of undermining get just that bit closer. And remember, I won’t be making a bean out of this – I never have done.

Many, many thanks, and please pass on the link x

Exciting, Paper-Related Things

It’s arrived. Or rather, the first “It” has arrived.

Lulu have delivered and the first draft of Underminers was handed over by my friendly postie yesterday just as I was walking to the village soup lunch (posties here do things like that). A slab of paper dound in a shiny bit of card with pictures and words shouldn’t get people that excited, should it? But books are enormously powerful – their tangible, tactile nature trumps anything online in its fuzzy electromagnetic form. Riffling through the pages was a thrill, but straight away I new a few things had to be changed – little things like the colour of the cover text, image formatting, thickness of spacer lines, that kind of thing. It’ll take me a few days to work through the list I’ve made, and then I’ll order another copy which, if it’s ok, will then be available to buy.

Then the fundraising begins…watch this space.

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