Literary Life Admin

Arguably the hardest part of being a minor-league author in the current market is self-promotion and administration. Writers aren’t by their nature the most gregarious of people and would prefer to spend their time actually writing than adopting the role of media whore. But needs must, and it’s not always a matter of being unable to get an agent or publisher.

To look at Steve Albini’s no-messing take on the music industry, the more people you’ve got working ‘for’ you, the more people you’ve got taking cuts from your already meagre royalty. The best way to go, especially in the Internet age, is to become self-managing. It does of course require immense discipline, and not inconsiderable balls.

Needless to say, I have these (at least on a good day), and have not only been sorting (and continue to sort) platforms to perform segments from my ongoing project The Rage Monologues, but I’ve assembled an A5 pamphlet containing a selection of (but by no means all) the monologues penned so far.

This evening, ahead of performances at The Black Light Engine Room’s night in Middlesbrough (Westgarth SC, Saturday 25th July 2015) and Clinicality Press’ evening of Spoke Word (The Fleeting Arms, York, 19th August 2015), I hand-numbered the 20 copies of The Rage Monologues pamphlets which arrived last week. I’m not vain enough to sign them.

They look pretty great, if I do say so myself. They’re going to cost £3.50 / 1 pint.

My set and performance style is evolving as the project goes on, and I’m hoping to announce more dates in the near future. Meanwhile, if you;re in or around Middlesbrough on July 25th or York on August 19th, do come on down. You know there’s nothing more you want than to have some guy shout in your face.

 

 

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The Rage Monologues: a hand-numbered edition of 20. Buy them so I can eat.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at christophernosnibor.co.uk

The Changing Face of Consumerism XI: Back Down on the Street, or, Going for Bust

So a mere matter of days after my last piece on the struggling high street, I woke up this morning to more news of high street stores experiencing a drop in like-for-like sales in comparison to the same time last year, with HMV delivering particularly disappointing figures marked by sales being down 8.2% in December 2010. It is disappointing, too. Of the bigger chain music stores, I always preferred HMV (although Andy’s records had the edge for a while both in terms of pricing and range). First and foremost, they carried a broader selection with less mainstream releases sitting alongside the chart material. And, while a tad pricey, their range of back-catalogue titles was far superior to Overprice / Virgin.

But rather than work to their strengths and make a virtue of their difference, HMV followed the template of its competitors and having killed off the (albeit limited) vinyl section in favour of calendars and games, continued over a lengthy period of time to reduce the music stock – to make room for more games, DVDs and gadgetry. When the music occupies the smallest portion of a music retailer’s floor space, you have to ask questions. HMV’s struggling is an example of how diversification can be counterproductive, and rather than appealing to a broader customer base, can serve to alienate the one already established. How can a music retailer seriously expect to compete in other markets already dominated by specialists. More often than not, gamers will head to somewhere like Game for games, just as you’d probably go to a clothes shop for clothes, a bookstore for books, an electrical store for electrical goods – unless, of course, they go to the supermarket for the whole lot. After a while, I stopped asking questions and also stopped going in, because each time I did I found myself leaving empty-handed and frustrated because they never had the title I was after in stock. I’d invariably end up purchasing my music on-line because I couldn’t source it anywhere else.

I don’t for a second mean to suggest that I’m responsible for HMV’s declining sales (and I certainly played no part La Senza, the purveyors of slinky lingerie, being called into administration with a loss of 1,300 jobs, prompting headlines such as ‘Lingerie firm goes bust’ etc.), but while my musical tastes may be ‘minority’, there are many other minorities just like me, and collectively, they represent a substantial market.

As mentioned in passing in my previous piece, it’s not just music that I have problems tracking down, and it’s not always obscure items I struggle to find in shops either. As if to prove the point, only this week I decided I wanted to get a desk lamp. As my desk also happens to be the dining table and space is of a premium, I figured a desk lamp that clamps onto the shelves to the side of the table would be the best bet. But could I find one anywhere? Working out of time, my choices on a lunchtime were limited, but there is an Argos superstore and BHS Home Store (yes, British Home Stores Home Store) which specialises in goods for the, er, home, rather than home and clothing. A quarter of the store is given to a lighting department, but unless I wanted a lime-green desk-lamp with a regular base I was out of luck. That is, unless I wanted a ludicrously glitzy lamp shade with dangling glass bits all over it, which I most certainly didn’t. Argos carry a much more substantial range of desk lights, from bendy to angle-poise, but the only clamping ones are LED lamps, which just don’t give off enough light. I’d still need to put on the main ceiling light to see my screen, which defeats the purpose of a desk light I can angle in my corner without illuminating the whole room. Really, how hard can it be to find a simple item like a clamp-fitting desk lamp that takes a proper, regular bulb?

The answer is that it’s not hard at all. Five minutes on-line and I found I was spoiled for choice. Even so, on-line shopping is no substitute for real shopping as it’s often hard to get a sense of the precise dimensions or appearance of an item – you can’t ‘feel the quality’ from a description and photo, however detailed. Thankfully, it transpired that a local independent store I pass on my way through town after work had the best selection of all. Once again, hooray for the independents!

 

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A clip-on desk lamp, earlier today

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk