Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

Archive for January, 2012

From A to Z: the monetization of Facebook at your own expense

Posted by E on January 23, 2012

I’ll probably end up writing a more cohesive post on this tomorrow, but even if I don’t get around to it, I simply couldn’t resist depriving you guys of this cheeky image. It’s just one of those cases where the picture tells the entire story, all the way from Assange to Zuckerberg 😉

But seriously. With the latest Facebook changes that enforce Timeline and further losses of privacy, I am stepping back from Facebook. If I don’t know you personally, please don’t feel offended if I don’t accept your friend invite. However, you can follow my Author Page instead, and I’ll do the same for you if you have a page, etc. But I am otherwise done with Zuckerberg trying to improve his stock options on my information. There will be no more photos and information uploaded to my account(s) other than absolutely critical stuff that I need to share asap.

It’s time to rejoin the real world again.

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The Costa Concordia, Carnival, and why I will always hate cruises

Posted by E on January 19, 2012

Two days ago I came back from my first-ever – and only – cruise on a Carnival cruiseship, a sister ship in fact to the now-infamous Costa Concordia. Looking at news photos of the staterooms and general surroundings of the now belly-up cruise liner, I was uncomfortably reminded of the identical view on my own trip — obviously Carnival contracts out their architectural plans and ship furnishings to the same gaudy, Las Vegas-wannabe people.

And let me tell you — in terms of unique experiences, few can beat that of being adrift in the open ocean and hearing your captain come on the airways with the sad news that a sister ship has sunk and we should have a moment of silence. I’d already turned on CNN from our stateroom and observed the horrific images we all have seen by now — of a maritime disaster that was caused by the indefensable actions of a small number of people who brought the ship close to land (and strayed from the course of navigation by more than 5 miles) because they frivolously wanted to wave to family members residing on a small lagoon island.

But I’m not surprised to hear survivors tell of the utter chaos, and the every-man-for-himself mentality that broke out near the lifeboats. Anybody who’s ever been on a cruiseship this large, as I unfortunately had the experience of embarking, knows that the other half of the whole eat-and-drink-till-you-puke-funship-experience is being herded like cattle onto lines….and more lines.

When you debark on a shore excursion. When you return on board. When you wait for tenders. When you wait to embark and disembark again. All you see are elbows and assholes cutting ahead in line. Assholes who cough and sneeze all over the place without consideration of infecting their fellow passengers with all sorts of nasty viruses. In fact, the thing I have come to deduct from this one and ONLY cruise experience I will ever have, is that cruise ships are made up of huge lines crammed with inconsiderate people, and form one huge cesspool of bacterial infection. In more than ten years of travelling all over the world, I’ve never become this sick on vacation. Until now.

If you don’t know it already, cruise lines create those charming little villages that form their ports and the fake beaches that line neatly a hundred meters from where the ship is docked, and work out deals with the corporations who own the luxury goods lines that saturate the shops which dot every single bloody corner of their fake “islands” – stores like Diamond International, or Effy, or a shitload of other tanzanite and crappy interchangeable ugly jewelry lines that do their darndest – even by hounding you on ship by slipping envelopes through your stateroom door inviting you to “special buying opportunities” – to part you from your money.

Everything is always about the bottom line — Carnival’s policy, as I heard it on board, is to never sail until the ship is full. 3500 guests plus another, I don’t know, 1500 staff? It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Yeah, of course the likelyhood of Titanic-proportion disasters is exceedingly low, and lower than even air crash disaspers, but when it happens, you can count on the fact that it WILL be every man and woman for themselves. Without exceptions. And you’d better be prepared to fight – and have luck on your side.

I cannot imagine what would have happened on our own ship if something were to go wrong. Among the sweaty fratboys, bikini-clad drunken bimbos, the austere-looking Germans towering over everyone else with their ethnically-cleansed Aryan genes, the cranky geriatric patients who feel entitled to push ahead solely on account of their advanced age, and yeah, even the white trash bitch who almost ran me over with her wheelchair who felt similarly entitled to cut ahead of a one-hour-long line, who would survive? Certainly not civility, and certainly not the humanity in people.

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Happy New Year to fellow writers everywhere

Posted by E on January 3, 2012

I wish all of you peace and much happiness in the new year, despite the Mayan calendar and New Age predictions of destruction, polar shifts, switching equators, alien landings and other such craziness. The world is changing at such a fast speed that who knows what the year ahead has in store for us? Whether we end up evaporated, digitalized or turned into higher-frequency beings, or stay much as we are, reality is, change will take place whether we like it or not. So, in the words of now-deceased Jack Layton, let’s be kind to one another, and we can change the world.

2011 for me was a year of changes, and not necessarily all for the positive. There were a lot of ups and downs and formed one of the biggest rollercoaster moments of recent years. In 2011 I finished my first novel, Race Traitor, and submitted it to my agent, who in turn submitted it to editors. That painful process – the part from the time when I completed the manuscript onwards – was permeated with countless frustrations with my agent (whom I’ve fired since then),  as well as negative experiences piling one atop another.

Two months into submissions, my agent decided – against my permission –  to withdraw the manuscript from editorial desks, despite the fact that half of the editors still had not gotten back to us.  This ugly incident, along with various other unprofessional behaviours, led me to fire him, but not before I was left with an ugly taste in my mouth about agenting in general, and the publishing industry in particular. More on this later.

Finally, dejection led to depression, which led me to feel hopeless about the entire industry. So – like everybody else these days – I self-published Race Traitor. I’ll never regret going this route, because of the freedom I’ve gained in the last few months. But it wasn’t easy. Getting people to buy it was like pulling teeth. So more dejection and depression set in. And then I understood that in the world of Amazon, where circa 45,000 people publish monthly, you have a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming noticed.

And then, gradually, things started to happen. I started selling books. I climbed the ranks. I finally earned enough to receive my first-ever royalty cheque for $500! I could enjoy my success and not give an unprofessional, self-described “rock star” agent 15% of my income. And I was happy, finally, because even though nobody believed in me – nobody, least of all my ex-agent – that I had done it all with my own hands. Myself, alone. And incidentally, while my “ex” still hasn’t sold anything since I fired him, I’ve done mainstream interviews and had my book stocked in a couple of bookstores already.

Even though I still have a long way to go, I’m determined never to let other people’s lack of faith in me determine how I percieve my own value, and that of my work. And I urge you to not do so either. Whether some jaded asshole believes he can sell your book or not does not matter. YOU know yourself and your work better than anybody else. If you can’t get an agent, or you’re forced to fire an agent, remember — they are NOBODY without you. Whether you can get an editor to take a look at your manuscript is not intrinsically tied in with your value as an artist.

This whole fucking industry is built on the backs of writers — who are for the most part, ripped off in terms of lowball advances and crappy royalty rates. You think I’m joking? I walked away from a potential deal with Penguin last year because it wasn’t going to give me enough money to cover my security concerns over publishing the non-fiction version of Race Traitor. So…yeah. Not even a name like Penguin is worth selling my hard work for nothing. I know it’s hard to understand, even for my writer friends, who were part of the entire heartwrenching process, but I had to walk away from Penguin, and I will walk away from future publisher offers, unless they’re willing to meet me at least half-way. You’ve got to earn respect to get respect. Especially when you expect writers to incur potential danger for doing public speaking tours and arranging their own security (which you won’t pay for).

Sadly, when it comes to how they treat writers, the publishing industry has forgotten all that. But you’ve got to stay strong, and not let them get to you. Don’t ever let yourself be at their mercy. Stay firm in your resolutions, and soon you will find that depression can turn to empowerment, and then to freedom. Remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

YOU are the talent. YOU are the commodity. If you’re to take anything with you from this post into the new year ahead, remember that.

If you really believe in the value of what you are creating, you will succeed. It’s only a matter of time.

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