Computer says no

I have finally loaded Mark Ellot’s ‘Blackjack’ for publication. It’s on Smashwords and Kindle now. Here is the full cover for the print version, which will take a few days more –

Those two eBook versions were easy. A breeze. Right through with no problems. Even though I went for the complex approach with ‘back to contents’ links after every story and the addition of a back cover (at the start, since the back cover has the blurb for advertising the book so I wanted it visible on ‘click to look inside’). Even with that, both the eBook versions went right through. No issues. Easy.

The print version… There were ‘issues’ with the text, Overlapping the gutter (the bit in the middle when you open the book) so some text might be hard to read. What? I used their template, as always, so it must fit! “No,” says computer, “there are errors.”

Computer continues. “I’m not going to tell you where they are. I have marked them in the 220 pages of the book. Find them if you can, sucker!.”

I found them, or thought I had. It was where italic text very very slightly went over the line. It would have made no difference but computer says no.

I found all of them, I thought, moved the italicised text a tiny bit and resent.

The bastard found another one!

So, eventually, I got through sending the text. Next up, the cover. Completed as above and hit ‘submit’. Computer says no.

“You have not completed all tasks. Return to the edit-cover page and finish the cover.”

I returned to the cover page to be greeted with ‘All tasks completed’ at the top of the screen.

By this time I was looking for something really hard to bang my head on.

Resubmit and this time it went through. So the print version isn’t out yet. It has to go through technical checks and hopefully they won’t find any more to moan about. It should be available in a few days.

At least the eBook has a back cover now. I now know how to do it so I’ll go back and do that with the previous books too. It’ll take time but it’s likely to be worth it. All future anthologies will have a ‘back to contents’ link too so readers can flip around rather than read it all in order.

I’ve been a publisher for a little over a year, and published the first one seven months ago.

I think I might be getting the hang of it at last. If the damn computers will let me.


A somewhat cryptic title, I know. It means ‘Public Lending Rights‘ and it refers to royalties payable to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. I didn’t know it existed until a fine fellow by the name of Mhehed Zherting passed me the link on Twitter.

This particular site only refers to libraries in the UK and Ireland but there are likely to be similar things in most countries. Worth checking out. It might be necessary to register with them all, or maybe you can only get royalties from libraries in your own country. I don’t know yet.

They report annually, on the period July 1st to June 30th the following year. So to get anything for this year you have to register now. The author has to register, and allocate a share to the cover artist (most of the books that came through here, the author was also the cover artist). I’m not yet clear whether the cover artist has to register separately.

Anyhow, I doubt any of the Leg Iron Books have been out long enough to have landed in a library yet. My own books have been and I know the local library has copies of them because I donated copies there. At the time I had no idea there was any way to earn money by doing that but well, I think I might donate copies of all the books to at least the local libraries.

The authors will need to register themselves. I can’t do it unless I have Power of Attorney over you and really, that would just be silly.

The deadline for this year is June 30th but as it’s unlikely any libraries have copies yet, there’s no real hurry. Even if I order them all tonight I won’t get them here and then into a library by the 30th. Do get registered in time for next year though. It’s worth a try.

On the subject of cover art – if a Leg Iron Books author doesn’t have a cover they’ve made themselves, I will make one for them. I don’t charge for this and I don’t take any extra cut of royalties for doing it. It’s free. So, if you register and you want to put a few percent into the ‘cover artist’ pot, think of it as a tip. Absolutely no more than 5% though, the author should get the lion’s share for writing it. All I did was take some photos and meddle with them a bit.

Another potential income stream uncovered thanks to Mhehed Zherting. All these income streams are likely to be pennies each but if there are enough of them it’ll soon turn into pounds.

This time next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires.



Blackjack is almost ready

The interior of the book has been ready for a while. I’ve been working on cover images and the back cover text. Having had to redo the cover for ‘Ransom’ I want to get this one right first time.

Mark Ellott, the author, has provided artwork for the back cover. All I have to do is fit in the book description – and that’s not as easy as it sounds. Not many words but space is tight so every word must count. This isn’t a one-story novel, it’s a collection of shorts so summarising it in a way that will get someone to at least open the book isn’t easy.

It’s a really good collection, covering a wide range of genres. So I really want people to at least ‘click to look inside’ and maybe get interested enough to buy it.

Well, I’d better get back to work. I promised myself I could have another visit to Frank Davis’s online smoky-drinky once this book is done, and it’s sooo close now.

Here’s a preview of the front cover. It should be online within a week.

Books update

My own writing has concentrated on ‘Victor’s Will’, a zombie tale with a message of hope for all the Politically Correct – when you die, you come back to life and nobody can tell the difference.

I should have concentrated on ‘Panoptica’ because more of it just came true. It soon won’t be worth writing it, it’ll just be a reality show.

“This tyrannical bill is nothing but social engineering to the nth degree, all in the name of political correctness,” Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of Campaign Life Toronto, a pro-life political group in Canada, told LifeSiteNews.

That’s what political correctness is for, didn’t you know? It’s a control mechanism designed to ultimately control what you are allowed to say or even think. This law was always part of its intention. Expect the first Newspeak dictionary any day now. One more generation and dissent will be impossible because there won’t even be a word for it.

Anyway, on to the other books.

‘Ransom’, by Mark Ellott, has been updated with a new cover and interior, same story but with a few typos taken out. Note that Amazon keeps changing your search to ‘Elliott’. There’s no ‘i’ in the name. You have to be persistent. Trust me, it’s worth it.

‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’, by Justin Sanebridge, has reached the desk of the Belgian ambassador to Indonesia who has read it and has now put it on Facebook. International fame for the author and also, of course, for Leg Iron Books.

‘Blackjack’, a short story collection by Mark Ellott has completed editing and is now at front cover stage. I have just emailed a couple of first-go covers to the author to check they are how he envisaged his description.

‘Cultish’, by Hugo Stone, is a costly book because it’s a big one. I have an idea that might reduce the page count without changing a single word. So hopefully I can soon reduce the price of that one.

‘The Mark’ by Margo Jackson and ‘Han Snel’ by Dirk Vleugels have not required any modifications. I’m getting better at getting it right first time.

I’m also getting better at cover art, and am developing a proper photographic studio for the photos. I already had most of the gear, I’m just getting better at using it. Now I have some good plain backdrops too, for those ‘no weird shit in the background’ photos.

Marketing is the tough one. I started from the level of ‘I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing’ and I’m rapidly finding out why marketers drink so much.

Anyhow, Dirk Vleugels has a book called ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ which is in Dutch, but I’m really hoping he’ll do an English translation of that one. He’s translated one story and it’s a belter – and a true story too! The Dutch version will come out first because it’s ready to go and I can’t do much editing in there anyway.

I have a self-imposed target of publishing a book a month. One more week to get ‘Blackjack’ finalised. Dirk’s book in Dutch should be really quick to deal with because I have to take his word for what’s in it.

So, I am open for submissions. There is still a queue but it’s getting shorter.

I can take short books for eBook-only publication if it’s too short for print. If you have several short ones they can go out as individual eBooks very cheaply and as a combined-volume print book. It has to be around 100 pages to be worth putting into print or the cost per page gets crazy – especially if you want it in colour. ‘Han Snel’ is expensive but it’s a very market-specific art-world book.

Niche market stuff can be expensive, those interested will buy it but it won’t be a best-seller. The same is true of science books. Nobody outside a particular branch of science will be interested so they have to be expensive if the author and publisher are going to make anything at all.

Some time back I floated the idea of a blog-book, using blog posts to make up a real life book. That’s back on the agenda. Not immediately, there’s no rush, but a smoky-book could be on the cards this year or early next year.

Especially now that smoking is blamed for racist hate speech

Entertainment time – The Macbeth Trio

It has been some time since I last posted fiction (excluding all references to the Daily Mail). This one is a first draft. It might change, it might not, it depends whether I still like it tomorrow. One day though it will be in a collection.

It is fiction. Purely made up with no suggestion that it might be even remotely connected to reality. It was written in a few hours tonight and is not intended to be take seriously.

I have to say that part before I admit it was inspired by this, sent to me by   @Raven80504432 on Twitter.

I haven’t mentioned to Raven that I have had a large plastic raven flying in my house since last October. Synchronicity could raise its head here.

Anyway. To the story. Remember, it’s fiction. I just made it up. It’s probably not real.

Keep the tinfoil handy, just in case.


The Macbeth Trio

“Scrofula!” Doc Armitage banged the table. “That’s the next one.”

Doctor West pursed his lips. Turning to Doctor Smythe, he twirled his index finger beside his head.

“I’m serious.” Armitage rested his hands on the table and leaned forward. “It’s a not-so-deadly form of tuberculosis and we did that one a few years back. So we already have a vaccine that will probably work.” He straightened. “We can use the variant, Mycobacterium scrofulaceum, to claim we have to develop a new vaccine and even if we do have to, it’ll be a piece of piss.”

Smythe rubbed his finger alongside his nose. “I like it. We’re running out of diseases to make vaccines for. This one is rare but we can work with it.”

“Okay.” West steepled his fingers. “Let’s, for the moment, assume you both aren’t totally bonkers.” He held up his hand to forestall Armitage’s protests. “It’s a long shot, but let’s assume it anyway. How the hell do we get the population scared of a disease none of them have even heard of?”

“No problem.” Armitage folded his arms. “It’s related to tuberculosis, often caused by the same bacterium. We blame it on the immigrants, as usual, and show pictures of the few immunocompromised patients who have had it fairly recently.”

“Without, of course, mentioning the severely immunocompromised part.” Smythe winked at West.

“Of course.” West rubbed his temples. “It’s starting to sound good, or maybe I’m just going as crazy as you two.” He looked up. “Same procedure?”

“Yes indeed.” Armitage nodded. “We start up with stats showing this long forgotten disease has begun to make a resurgence. We use percentages so nobody catches on that our four cases became six to give us a 50% increase. Like we did with necrotising fasciitis. Then we start talking about the possibility of 100 new cases in the next century and as with mad cow disease, hardly anyone will notice that’s one case a year.”

“There’s one thing though.” West took a deep breath. “People don’t know scrofula. They’ll look it up. They’ll find out how rare it is. We don’t have the control we had with our own inventions – BSE and necrotising fasciitis and AIDS and so on. They’ll see through this one fast.”

“You’re right.” Smythe tapped his pen on his notepad. “We’ll need some ground work first. Edit Wikipedia and lock it with our version, get our own sites written and up to the top of every search. Get the official NHS and other medical sites on board too. We can afford it. We just need to get our versions in before we mention scrofula to the public. Then when they look it up, they’ll see what we want them to see.”

West shook his head. “We can’t edit every medical textbook.”

“Nobody reads the print ones any more anyway.” Armitage grinned. “And you’re wrong, you know. Most of those books are online or available as eBooks and we can edit them easily. They’ll even update the ones already downloaded onto every device out there. Let the print books carry the truth under a layer of dust. We can edit history and nobody will notice.”

West sat in silence for long minutes. He started to speak a few times but lapsed into thought again. The other two watched him, silent too. West was the one with the final say on this idea.

“It can work.” West said.

Smythe and Armitage high-fived each other.

“Okay.” West reached for the coffee pot and refilled his cup. “This one is going to take a lot of setting up. Smythe, get started on those disinformation sites right away. Armitage, start getting your lab ready for the volunteers. We say nothing about this outside this room until all mention of scrofula on the web is ours. Okay?”

Both nodded assent. Smythe scribbled notes on his pad.

“Then we claim scrofula is on the rise and as before, we blame it on immigrants.” West ducked his head to hide his smirk. “Poor buggers. The socialists invite them in and we capitalise on them. If only they knew.”

“The socialists have a narrow view of life.” Armitage raised his eyebrows. “They are easily manipulated, that’s why socialism uses them. Their leaders will never realise that all they’ve done is point out who can be manipulated.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’re not here for politics. This is far more important, it’s about money.” West waved his hand. “Next, Armitage, you call for volunteers as usual. You’re looking for carriers, of course, asymptomatic infectors, as always. The ones who get sick, cure them, send them home with a fat wad of cash. The ones who don’t but who are infectious, you ‘cure’ with a placebo and let them loose. The big payoff means you’ll get volunteers from all over the country so you get the best spread.”

“Works every time.” Smythe looked up from his notes. “It spreads, maybe a dozen or more get infected and then millions come looking for a vaccine.”

“All helped by the hysterical press. What would we do without them?” Armitage clasped his hands.

West laughed before speaking. “The tinfoil hat lot will be on about population reduction and saving the planet from humanity again. Every time. They can’t seem to grasp that we don’t give a shit about any of that. We just want the money.”

“It’s almost too easy. We use the same techniques over and over and nobody notices,” Armitage said. “But then antismokers, antibooze, anti salt, sugar, all of them use the same methods and nobody’s noticed that either.”

“People are dim.” West leaned back in his chair. “Most just want an easy life, no challenges, no hard parts. Offer to take the hard parts away and they’ll come running.” He stood. “Well, I think we have a new project. Let’s get moving and call this meeting closed.”

Smythe looked up from his notes. “When’s the next one?”

Armitage laughed aloud. “I think you mean, ‘when shall we three meet again?’ eh?”



If you don’t get the reference in the last line, I have to say ‘Macbeth’ to you


Mark Ellot Month

I’ve been trying to learn Danish and CStM has been learning Welsh. The common ground we have is the frequent exclamations of ‘What the hell is wrong with this insane language?’

Welsh, of course, is a sensible and logical language . Danish makes no sense at all.

When I was growing up, 3:30 was ‘half past three’. Easy. There was a momentary hiccup when I came to Scotland where they don’t have time to say it all so they just call it ‘half three’. I soon got the hang of this because leaving out the extra word saves whisky drinking time.

In Danish, 3:30  is ‘half four’. Not half past. Halfway to. This has caused a little confusion.

Worse, when you want to say 3:25 you’d say either ‘three twenty-five’ or ‘twenty-five past three’, right? Not the bloody Vikings. They say ‘five minutes to half four’. No wonder they all buggered off in ships all over the world. They weren’t raiding, they were looking for a sensible language.

If I am asked the time in Denmark I’ll just show them my watch.

The number system… Oh I’ll leave that for another time. My head hurts.

It’s Mark Ellot’s turn for publication again this month. His collection of short stories, ‘Blackjack’, is now in format for print and awaiting cover images and final checking. Two weeks tops before this one is finished – and it’s mostly thanks to Roobeedoo giving it a first pass while I was working on Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’.

It’ll be a touch over 200 pages so around the £5 mark for print again. Cheaper for the eBook, naturally. I was going to say ‘about half that price’ but the Danish stuff in my head says ‘No, they’ll think you’re planning to charge a tenner!’ It’ll be around £2.50-ish.

The cover image will be constructed by me, and this one should be a good one. I have proper photographic background sheets now, and all the bits needed to put the cover together. I’m gradually becoming a cover art star – I’m on the first Underdog Anthology and on Margo’s cover too. One day my face will appear, probably on a Halloween one.

Meanwhile, Mark Ellot’s  ‘Ransom‘ has had a makeover. New front cover and interior typos fixed. Amazon have, at last, updated their sales copy so if you have one with the old cover it’s now officially a rare book. If you have a signed one with the old cover, then when he gets famous you’ll be rich. If he keeps this up he will be, so encourage him!

Here’s the new cover, much the same as the old cover but with the mundanity extracted and a bit of drama added :

Monochrome apart from the computer screen. I like it, at least I like it a lot more than the old straight office shot. The cover for ‘Blackjack’ will be in full colour, not least because I’m using my fancy inlaid table for this one. I have to do a lot of work to shine up this table but I think the worn look will be best for the cover. It’s meant to be a well used card table.

I’ll have more books in Dutch coming up and more in English, maybe even one in Danish if I ever get the hang of the language that Satan still chuckles about inventing.

Don’t forget the Halloween Anthology. Number ‘Tree’ 😉

I’m scouting for stories for that one now. Treeskull is definitely a go and I want to be ready ahead of time so I’m looking to close submissions on October 1st at the latest. Send them in around August/September to be in it. Halloween based, no need to force in trees or skulls. I’ll take care of that.

Number Four could be a Christmas one, if I get enough in. There are some already, from the failed one last Christmas. I could probably fill it myself with re-used stories but I don’t want to be the main event in these anthologies. The whole point of Leg Iron Books is to publish new authors, make them famous, and hope they remember me when they are lounging in their infinity pools in Barbados.

I don’t want to be famous but I’d quite like to be rich. Please help this man become a capitalist.


Treeskull Tales – the next Underdog Anthology

The third Underdog Anthology will be for Halloween. Its title (currently fluid) will play on tree/three and the cover will carry a picture of something that was already in this garden when I arrived.

It won’t be that particular picture. I’ve taken a few from different angles and I’ll get some more before finalising. It will of course be fiddled with before it’s done.

The holly tree is significant in pre-Christian beliefs, along with the oak. I don’t yet know exactly when this skull was placed in the tree but the tree had grown around it to a considerable degree. You can see the thickness of the branches that were cut to reveal it.

Midsummer is coming. In the old beliefs, that is when the Holly King kills the Oak King and takes dominion. The days get shorter and the nights longer and colder until the Oak King kills the Holly King on the winter solstice.The equinoxes are where these kings get reborn.

Halloween has nothing to do with all this, of course. It’s an entirely separate event, centred on dispelling demons with the aid of bonfires. Early Christian oppressors banned bonfires on Halloween, we now have them back for a different reason on November 5th. I’m not going into a lot of detail here, don’t panic, it’s not a lecture.

I’ll very likely burn stuff on Halloween. That’s not really news, I burn stuff often. I like burning stuff and I still have an enormous amount of cardboard to dispose of.

Anyway, back to the point of the post.

This year there will be no delays. I’ll close the anthology to submissions at the start of October because I want it ready in plenty of time. It’ll be loaded up and available well before Halloween. Also, I plan something special for this one.

I intend to have a ‘cover’ for each author section, if possible for each story. These will be monochrome because colour print books are damn expensive to make. The print on demand model does not allow the insertion of ‘plates’ so if you need the top quality paper for colour images, they use that posh paper throughout. Monochrome images show up fine on standard paper.

I don’t yet know if I can get them into the eBook versions but the print one will be easy. I will experiment with an eBook version of Dirk Vleugels’ ‘Han Snel’ which is full of pictures. Colour ones too – so it’s a costly print book.

If you want to provide your own illustrations, okay with me but I really can’t guarantee to be able to pay extra for them over paying for the stories. It depends how the money goes, nearer the time. I’ll provide illustrations – now that I know how to make images like the back cover of Margo Jackson’s ‘The Mark’ there won’t be a problem. It will however take a bit of time to think up suitable images and produce them.

A quick tip – if you want to produce your own image for the book, the page size is 6×9 inches and the image quality has to be at least 300 dpi (pixels per inch). Yes, I know, inches. What can I say? I’m a Luddite who still lives in the dark ages and have already commented to the Ancient One in Local Shop today that I was happier when we still had shillings.

I go for 320 dpi for images because I once had a book cover rejected and had to readjust and resubmit. It was 300 dpi but when they made it fit the page it dropped to 298 dpi. Nobody on this planet could possibly see the difference but… computer says no.

So if you have your own ‘cover’ for your story make it 320 dpi and probably 5×8 inches to make sure it doesn’t hit the page edges. That’s 5 inches wide and 8 high, just so there are no misunderstandings. You can do it in colour if you want, I can greyscale it here. I’d rather you greyscaled it of course, it would make the file size much smaller for emailing, but if not, I’ll deal with it. It’s not a problem.

Also if I get the eBook images to work, they could be in colour. There’s no fancy paper involved so it doesn’t ramp up the price.

This post is an early warning for anyone who wants to get a Halloween story into the anthology. There were so many delays on the Easter one that it drove me nuts – I was on time but hadn’t factored in that the people receiving it for printing/distribution were mostly on holiday. Then there was the Smashwords debacle which meant their version was seriously delayed.

Not this time. I’ll close the anthology in the first week of October and have it online by mid October. It should be available well before Halloween even if there are more delays.

It’s still summer here in the North. The sky is a lighter grey, the birds are bedraggled, the grass and weeds are filled with the vigour of life and the rain is warm. It’s hard to think of horror right now. The nettles though, they will face the horror of my new battery powered strimmer at the first dry spell we get. I’ll be a herbicidal maniac among those trees!

Get those nasty ideas stirring. I’m not looking for submissions right now, I have Mark Ellot’s ‘Blackjack’ to finalise and there are more to do as well as my own stuff. You have plenty of time. Four months of time. You only have to come up with a short story, a few pages, as many as the story takes. Make it big enough and I’ll publish it as a stand-alone.

Don’t worry about fitting the ‘treeskull’ idea. Your story does not have to involve trees or skulls, that’s just the title of the anthology. I have an idea for a treeskull story that might well be based on real and local life and if you have one too, great. It’s not a condition though. Any scary campfire story will fit.

Just be ready to be edited. I won’t change your style but might change a few words. Roo B. Doo will, I hope, co-edit once again (I must find a way to pay her for this in some way!) and I really do want to have those in-book images to spice it up.

All the old ghost story books had illustrations. I’d like to bring that back.