A world-shaking idea, yours for 3 mill

Hat tip to my friend Cat Sparks for this one. She pointed me to this Bleeding Cool post on the subject. There’s an offer on ebay at the moment that must have film producers all over the world fighting each other to get the mouse click in first. Or maybe not. Seriously, this is more than hilarious. It’s actually a little bit sad, but it could also be a hoax, so I’m going to roll with it and rip the piss out of this bloke. It could be his internet 15 minutes of fame either way, but I really don’t think it’s going to be his retirement fund. Basically, this dude is offering an idea for sale. The bidding starts at $3 million with a Buy It Now option at $10 million. Yeah, you read that right. He’s trying to sell an idea.

According to him it’s:

a STORY to topple Star Wars, Harry Potter investment

At least, that’s the title of the ebay offer. We can see immediately why he hasn’t written this idea himself. He admits as much:

I am by no means a writer.

That’s right, folks – he’s an ideas man.

I am selling my story that I have been creating for 10+ years. (not constantly writing, but of piecing everything together in a cohesive manner) It can be compared to stories like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Indiana Jones and other titles in those categories. This is a really great story I have. This story needs to be completed by a professional writer or Ghost Writer.

Firstly, what categories exactly? There’s a general genre vibe about it, but he’s clearly just looked up the highest grossing movies to force home his point. He’ll be kicking himself when he realises he left Avatar off the list.

I would rather not sell it at all and just find investors to help hire a celebrity Ghost Writer, which would cost 250,000. The company that hires these writers out, guarantee the book to be a New York best seller.

Apparently there’s a company (just one by the sound of it) that can hire out ghost writers, celebrities no less, and guarantee a best seller. Fuck me, I need to find out who this company is and send them a CV. Sounds like any idea can be ghost written into a best seller if you can just find this company. Maybe their office is on Atlantis or something.

This is a serious auction, I’m not looking to rip anyone off. If you win this auction and decide you don’t like the story, then you don’t have to pay, and you will be refunded fully.

So you basically need to have $10 million to hit the Buy It Now button, hear his idea and then say, “Nah, it’s shit. Don’t want it.” Then you get your 10 mill back. And if it is some world-shattering idea, you can go and write the book or make the movie anyway, given that there’s no copyright on an idea. After all, he’s no writer, hasn’t written anything down. Of course, this would be fairly unethical, but when have ethics ever had much sway in Hollywood?

This story will bring in endless fame and money to anyone who takes it.

Endless money? Guaranteed? But he’s willing to let it go for 3 mill. The man is clearly mad.

If it sounds like too much money then you are not the kind of buyer I’m looking for.

Actually, it sounds like too much stupid. But thanks for the entertainment.

You know, there are a million people out there with great ideas. I get people suggesting ideas to me all the time. They’re usually fairly lame. Or someone hears that I’m a writer and they say, “I have this great idea for a book. I wish I could find the time to write it!”

You know what? That’s what makes someone a writer – finding the time to write it. If you really aren’t a writer, you can learn, or you can collaborate with someone. You can pitch an idea to a film company. You can contact someone that is a writer and ask them if they’d be interested in developing your idea. (They almost certainly won’t be, but you could try.) You know what you don’t do? You don’t try to sell the idea on ebay.

It’s the treatment more than the idea that makes a blockbuster. Even a brilliant idea can be ruined by a crappy novelisation or script. On the other hand, a really lame and weak idea can be a blockbuster with the right treatment. Yes, I’m looking at you James Cameron. When you get the great idea combined with the great treatment, you land one of those rare and awesome gems.

Still, I’ll be watching this one closely. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here. The fact that so many of us online are mocking the poor bastard might backfire – if he gets enough press someone might pay to hear the idea. It might turn out to be the greatest idea anyone ever had. But I’ll bet you three million dollars it isn’t.

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Night-Mantled: The Best of Wily Writers (Volume 1) available now

Night MantledMy short story, Stand Off, was published in text and podcast by Wily Writers back in 2009. I was honoured when Wily Writers then contacted me and bought the story again to reprint in their first Best Of anthology. This is my first inclusion in a Best Of book, hopefully the first of many.

Night-Mantled: The Best of Wily Writers (Volume 1) is now available from Amazon. Here’s the blurb:

This anthology of speculative fiction short stories from exceptionally wily writers will take you from looking over your shoulder to pondering the wonders of the universe and back again. The WilyWriters.com podcast chooses only the best two stories per month from its submissions and records them for your listening pleasure. This volume collects Year #1’s best of the best.

Here’s the ToC:

* Alan Baxter: “Stand Off”
* Jennifer Brozek: “Honoring the Dead”
* SatyrPhil Brucato: “I Feel Lucky”
* Nathan Crowder: “Ink Calls to Ink”
* Richard E. Dansky: “Small Cold Thing”
* Seanan McGuire: “Julie Broise and the Devil”
* Lisa Morton:“Sane Reaction”
* Ripley Patton: “A Speck in the Universe”
* Grant Stone: “The Salt Line”
* Joel A. Sutherland: “The Death of Captain Eugene Bloodcake and the Fall of the Horrid Whore”
* Bruce Taylor: “The Prey”
* Mark W. Worthen: “The Minimart, the Ruger, and the Girl”

It’s a great list of authors in which I’m very proud to be included. Get your copy here.

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Australian Shadows Awards shortlist announced

Dark PagesThe 2010 shortlists for Australia’s premier dark fiction awards, The Australian Shadows Awards, have been announced. First off, I’m incredibly proud to have the Dark Pages anthology among those finalists. While the book is really the baby of editor Brenton Tomlinson and the contributing authors, it was published by my small outfit, Blade Red Press, and the original concept was my own. I also had a fair hand all the way along the process, including the nuts and bolts of typesetting, cover design and production, as well as a vote in the final selection of stories after Brenton had created a shortlist from over 250 submissions. For Blade Red’s first anthology to be nominated for an Australian Shadows Award is just fantastic.

I’m also very pleased to see some good friends and fantastic works shortlisted in the three categories. Here’s the full list of finalists:

LONG FICTION

* Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
* The Girl With No Hands by Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy (Allen & Unwin)
* Under Stones by Bob Franklin (Affirm Press)
* Bleed by Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)

EDITED PUBLICATION

* Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
* Scenes From The Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
* Dark Pages 1, edited by Brenton Tomlinson (Blade Red Press)
* Scary Kisses, edited by Liz Gryzb (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Midnight Echo #4, edited by Lee Battersby (AHWA)

SHORT FICTION

* “Bread and Circuses” by Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses)
* “Brisneyland by Night” by Angela Slatter (Sprawl)
* “She Said” by Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes from the Second Storey)
* “All The Clowns In Clowntown” by Andrew J. McKiernan (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
* “Dream Machine” by David Conyers (Scenes from the Second Storey)

I don’t envy the judges selecting winners from that lot. Massive congratulations to everyone involved. The winners will be announced on April 15th.

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The Borders and A&R collapse

Everyone is blogging about the collapse of REDgroup, the company that owns the bookshop chains of Borders and Angus & Robertson (and Whitcoulls in New Zealand). I was going to write a big long ranty post all about it, but the truth is it’s all been done. A quick web search will yield more opinions than you can fit on a ballot sheet. But I will add, very briefly, my perception of the whole thing. (Which probably means I’m about to write a big long ranty post!)

Lots of people are trying to establish exactly what this collapse is and what caused it. I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not the great ebook revolution; it’s not shitty management by REDgroup; it’s not the global financial crisis; it’s not the rising cost of physical shop rents; it’s not the massive surge in online shopping and stores like Amazon stealing business. At least, it’s not any one of these things. It’s all of these things.

It’s the progress of industry. Sure, the management of the whole group was blindly stupid and greedy, but without the other factors they’d probably have survived. Sure, Amazon, Book Depository and stores like them are having a massive impact on brick and mortar bookstores, but without the other factors they’d probably have survived. When you combine all the factors at once, this stuff is inevitable. Pretty much every major bookstore chain will suffer. The nature of the industry is changing. It’s a terrible shame for all those people that are going to lose their jobs, but that’s a part of life. It’s like the shipbuilders on the Tyne, the coalminers in the Welsh hills, the dudes that used to run photo processing shops specialising in dark room development. The world moves on, things change, technology develops and old methods and jobs slowly disappear. But new ones also emerge. The smart and the rich are the ones that stay ahead of the curve.

Putting shitty American coffee chains in shitty American book store chains wasn’t going to suddenly make Borders a going business concern. Turning Angus & Robertson into cheap remainder bins with plate glass windows was never going to ensure their survival. High street and mall book stores, just like paper books, are going to be disappearing. There will still be paper books (I’ve talked about this a lot before) but they’ll be specialty books, or Print On Demand books from online stores. Just the same, there will still be book shops, but they’ll be specialty stores, catering to a particular niche of collectors or genre and they’ll have to diversify – comic books, trading cards, games, collectibles – all the stuff that fits the niche.

Whether we like it or not, the world is constantly changing. With change comes death and rebirth. Some things crumble to dust while others are born from the ashes of their predecessor’s demise. There were once people that were skilled at many things that no longer have a place in the world. You can’t blame any one thing except progress. The same is true of the recent book store collapse. There are many mitigating factors that contributed to the stores going under at this particular time, but that’s the small stuff. The changing face of publishing, reading and book selling is going to keep changing.

Within the next decade, I predict, we’ll see very few, if any, big chain book stores. Mass market stuff will be in all the department stores and K-Marts and places like that, but mainly online. Eventually you’ll only get your mass market release in hard copy at a POD booth or ordered that way online. There’ll be specialist stores dealing with specialist buyers and collectible books, while pretty much everyone else buys their stuff online. And the vast majority of it will be ebooks, with a small chunk held by POD releases. There’ll be a rise in collectible, beautiful, probably limited edition hardback releases. Kids starting school now will look at print books the same way we look at vinyl and tape cassettes. If you compare books to albums, you can look at the ebook as the CD and the print book as the vinyl release. The ratios will be pretty similar soon enough, I expect. And before long the CD and will disappear unless you order one, POD style. There’ll be a rise in small press releases with short print runs, and more small press will utilise online bookstores and ebooks for their distribution. Eventually the small press print run will be a thing of the past.

It’s all going to happen, so trying to find a particular reason for the demise of Borders is like trying to look for a particular reason for the demise of the Victorian era. It didn’t die because Victoria did – it ended because we all moved on, in a slow and incremental way with all kinds of contributing factors. That’s life.

Told you I wasn’t going to write a big long ranty post.

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