Tuesday, 26 November 2013

When A Challenge Gets Out of Hand #AllUsers - Ruby Barnes

          A few weeks ago I was giving a two hour talk in a local library on the wonders of e-publishing.
          'So, there's no quality control?' one of the still-conscious attendees asked.
          'That's right. Some restrictions on cover and content, but even those might not prevent initial publishing,' I said.
          Another person woke, caught the thread of conversation and asked, 'How about title and author name? Any copyright or that sort of thing?'
          'No. You can't copyright a title and you can call yourself whatever you want, within reason. If you use J.K. Rowling you might get into trouble. Let's take a look.'
          I opened the Kindle Direct Publishing web page and proceeded to create a new kindle book with the title Nonsense Novel. Then I entered an author name - Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel. (For those whose TV memories are more recent or less obscure than mine, Tarquin was a character in a brief Monty Python sketch, lampooning the Monster Raving Loony Party.) Then I uploaded a Word document containing last year's letter to Santa. To complete the ensemble I browsed for a picture of me half-naked with a Hitler moustache and saved it as the e-book cover.
          'If I press Publish, this e-book will be live on Amazon within forty-eight hours.'
           The insomniac attendee gasped and the others snored more loudly. But the experience gave me an idea.

          A couple of days later, in a facebook group, someone (who shall remain unnamed unless it's that Tim Stevens who hangs the toilet roll incorrectly) mentioned that independent author icon J.A. Konrath had said anyone could write an e-book in an hour. The nameless Tim (he won't mind me keeping him nameless) said he had written and published something - a skit on how to market an e-book. It was tongue in cheek but one or two people had taken it seriously and written a dodgy review. The whole thing sounded like a really bad idea. So I decided to do it. Surely I could afford an hour of my life to come up with a rant and immortalise it for Kindle?

          So I spent about a week thinking it over. I decided to follow a methodical structure for the few pages (which turned into a structure for each chapter), to break a few literary rules e.g. use a dream sequence (which became a dream sequence at the start of each chapter) and to use real life events for inspiration.
         The setting - a former lunatic asylum.
         The narrator - a health service employee who has two jobs, one as solemniser of marriages and the other as dispenser of healthcare aids and appliances.
         The humour - from mispronunciation of Solemniser and various tasteless healthcare appliance puns.
          The odd bits - dreams of death and destruction, compulsive behavioural habits and strange tastes in out-of-date food. And re-use of some very strange emails that are circulated from the former lunatic asylum on the campus where I spend my daylight hours.
          The plot - large scale fraud. I would write it in diary form with dialogue where helpful.

          Six weeks later, 23,000 words, 88 pages of beta-read, line-edited nonsense. But Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel didn't sound Irish enough for the author of this tome. So I added Murphy to the end. The book title came from the prefix of those #AllUsers emails. Uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing, cover created with an image I purchased a couple of years ago. I clicked the Publish button and finally exorcised the demon.

          The moral of the story? If your personality is in any way compulsive then be careful about rising to a challenge. It can take over your life.

          The result? I'll let you be the judge of #AllUsers, but here's the opinion of someone who knows:

          "#AllUsers is a satirical novella of earth-shattering literary inconsequence." Mrs Murphy

Cover of #AllUsers by Tarquin Murphy

12 comments:

Chris Longmuir said...

I love it. Please keep us posted with your sales figures!

Dennis Hamley said...

Ruby, I'm afraid I've given it a 1-star review. It poses an existential problem which I find to come to terms with. Quite apart from that though, what a BRILLIANT thing to do. I hope it makes your fortune. Sadly, however, I haven't bought it, not yet anyway, though I did study the Look Inside very carefully.

Dennis Hamley said...

'find HARD to come to terms with.' Always proof-read before you publish. I bet Tarquin knows that.

Susan Price said...

Loved this Tarquin! Thanks for giving me a laugh this morning.

Bill Kirton said...

What Susan said. Thanks Ruby.
I've saved up and deposited the necessary 77p and look forward to tackling the existential problem of the roll myself. The solution is much-needed since a friend gave us a present of such a roll with a different Sudoku puzzle printed on each sheet.

Dennis Hamley said...

Now I really have bought it and might re-review it.

@Ruby_Barnes said...

Thanks, folks. Dennis, your mistake is studying the Look Inside too closely ;-) It doesn't bear existential scrutiny.
I stand by to refund everybody's money. Well, I would if it was me. It's really Tarquin, you see...

Lydia Bennet said...

hahaha great post Ruby, it sounds fab actually! I'll be looking it up on amazon. are you also sock-puppeting yourself to leave breathless 5* reviews? (oddly enough I have a feeling the Monster Raving Loony party officially came into being after the Monty Python sketch... and several of their policies have come to pass in the UK. so Tarquin, you are a pioneer!)

@Ruby_Barnes said...

Thanks, Lydia. No I'm not sock-puppeting myself but it might not be a bad idea in this cold weather.
One of those came before the other, for sure. I think Ireland probably has the edge on loonies. After all it was only recently made law that learner drivers have to be accompanied when behind the wheel!

Tim Stevens said...

It sounds appalling. I'll read it with extreme distaste, given that it was typed by the fingers of someone who hasn't learned how to use toilet paper correctly.

Chris Longmuir said...

Dennis, did you say in your 1 star review - I haven't read this but I'm sure it's rubbish so I'm only giving 1 star'. I have one review for one of my books, can't remember which one and it says 'I haven't read this book yet but I'm sure it's good' and it got 5 stars. Maybe we should all start reviewing books this way it would save time having to read them.

How are the sales going Ruby, have they gone through the roof yet?

Pam Howes said...

Great blog, Rubes! Nearly finished the book, given me a lot of giggles and I've swapped all the loo rolls around in family bathrooms and folded the ends to a point like hotels do. Tried a fanned edge in mother's but it didn't look right! Also started doing it in the clubs on gig nights. Is this normal? Getting worried now!