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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

More Book Ideas

   Due to a change in office I've had to downsize my personal book collection. Before doing so I am summing up the writing ideas that each book has given me..........

   Next up is "Adventure Capitalists" (Kogan Page, 1998). This is a compendium of the thoughts on various management and people issues by some of Britain's top managers. People such as Greg Dyke and Ron Dennis bare their souls, admit their mistakes and explain their backgrounds.

   This book looked so dated by the time that I picked it up that I never actually read it. I don't really picture myself as the head of a multinational organisation, I feel more suited to the digital nomad gig, or even just running small businesses from my shed.

   The book did get my brain going with ideas though. What would I like to read?

   Well, whenever I switch on Youtube I search out the latest videos from, for want of a better word, "lifestyle designers". This would probably include a section on each of these guys:

* Tim Ferriss
* James Altucher
* Kevin Rose
* Neil Strauss
* Robert Greene
* Gary Vaynerchuk
* Chris Guillebeau

   The basic outline of the book would consist of bios of these guys plus a few more. What is their outlook in life? what are their habits and routines? When they have time on TV, what do they choose to talk about? What books have they written and what was the World view put forward in them? How have they interacted with the other guys (and they are all guys) in the book.

   I think just answering those questions alone would result in a c 50 page book, which I'm sure would garner interest from the loyal fans of each of these.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Knocking out books ten to the dozen.......

   I recently moved office from a spare bedroom in my house into a caravan in my garden. As I was going to be reducing available space I needed to decide which books I was going to keep and which ones I was going to forward on to Amazon for FBA.

   At the same time I was thinking a lot about Amazon publishing, and specifically how e-books can be produced quickly (by the way have a listen to the recent interview between James Altucher and Steve Scott, the top Kindle author).

   In light of that I decided to keep back books which I thought could be relatively easily replicated. Here are some examples:

Life's Little Instruction Book - this book is simply a list of little titbits along the lines of "669: Be as friendly to the Security Guard as you are to the Chairman of the Company". In order to replicate this all you'd need to do is keep a notepad and write down things which you come across in life. For example, "1: Always keep a roll of Black Insulating Tape in a drawer. It comes in handy and can sometimes be hard to purchase".

Now You Know About Rangers - this is a 156 page paperback from 1994 by Bob Crampsey. I think Bob Crampsey has since passed on but he was a well known name in Scottish Football for many years. In general the book takes the form of questions sent in to Crampsey in his role at the Glasgow Evening Times and answers back from the man himself. For example: "D.D.D Stepps: What was Davie White's Junior Club before he signed for Clyde? He went to Shawfield in 1957 from the Lanarkshire Junior Club Royal Albert". I would start off replicating a book of this ilk by taking a subject you like and turning across to Quora. Write down all the questions you can (there are probably about 500 in the Crampsey book) and then answer them in your own words.

World Famous True Ghost Stories - this a 120 page paperback published by Parragon back in 1994. The imprint is "Magpie" and I can understand why - I don't think there is anything original in here. It is supposedly written by Colin Wilson, and to be fair it does have that quick, snippy Wilson style. I like Colin Wilson's stuff. It often reads like a news report rather than a story. I would put this forward as being the style you should try to copy if you were to do your own ghost story book. If I was to do this I would do a "Ghost Stories of 2014" book and simply spend a day going through Google gathering stories from around the world. You will be surprised how many spooky stories make the papers. There sensational nature means that papers love to carry them as nice easy copy.

Habit Stacking - this one wasn't actually a physical book, but rather an Ebook by Mr. Steve Scott himself. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it although it wasn't exactly what I expected. The first section spelt out why building up a new behaviour pattern through tiny little changes is the best way to go. The second section was basically a list of little things you can do, and the reasons why you should do them. For example, "Take a brisk walk every morning: Walking briskly in the morning gets your circulation going and speeds up your metabolism". I feel that a book like this could be knocked out extremely easily. Once again, just follow the simple formula put forward by Steve Scott - write a few pages around the theory of Mini Habits (read this to get the idea: and then simply list out all the stupid little things that can be done to improve ones life. To construct this list, once again just turn to your trusty pen and paper. As time goes by just write down anything pertinent which comes into your mind, or something you hear on the TV, radio or in conversation.

Quiz Books - I have One Million and One quiz books in my house and I would say they are the most easy to replicate. Take a subject of interest, let's say Football. Start off with a footballing stat, for example you know that Gareth Bale is the World Record transfer fee. Search for that stat being referred to on Wikipedia. Construct a question around it. Then read the Wikipedia page and click through to anything which catches your eye. You might click on "Tottenham Hotspur". Read that page and construct a relevant question around that. For example, "Who were the first British club to win a European competition?" Click through again and construct another question. Within a couple of hours you will have a pretty beefy Football quiz book and it just needs to be edited into shape. On Quiz Books, as with all my suggestions here, I'd say you should go niche, niche, niche.

Crosswords and Sudoku Books - For Crosswords, I'd start by taking your quiz questions and searching online for a Crossword creator (even the first hit on Google is an adequate start: Sudoku is even easier. If you think about it, a company can't really copyright a Sudoku puzzle, therefore to create your book just take another one and then turn them 90 degrees. Bang - your own Sudoku book in minutes. The same applies to Wordsearch books etc.

Have I Got News for You - published by BBC Books in 1994. My first reaction when reading this was how difficult it can sometimes be to transfer comedy from the screen to the page. I actually wrote about this for my Higher English exam way back in 1996! The book takes the form of the rounds played in HIGNFY, like the Odd one out round and the caption round. I'm finding it hard to think of ways of replicating this sort of thing without using copyrighted photos. In light of this I'd probably recommend you look beyond HIGNFY to its forerunner - The News Quiz on Radio 4. Have a listen to a few episodes, there is bound to be a few kicking about on the net somewhere. It is basically jokes about the week's news all built around the format of a quiz. Write down some of the funnier jokes you hear. After a while you will realise that the jokes are very interchangeable. Has a politician been caught with their pants down? The same will happen again within a year, and you will hear the same jokes trod out with just the butt of the joke changed. By building up a database you will be able to churn out a book very quickly on the back of events OR save your jokes up for an annual review. For example you may do "National Ribbing - 2014 in the News" or "A Comedy Review of the 2016 US Presidential Election". Once again it is simply a case of building up a backlog of material with your trusty pen and paper.

The Revenge Encyclopedia - Published by Paladin Press 1995. Reprinted and recreated many times since. I love books like this. Fundamentally I must have something in me which craves that delicious moment when you wreak revenge on an enemy. I've written previously regarding how I think books such as this (and spin off services) will increase in future years as the emasculation of the Male populace continues seemingly without end. The book takes the form of bullet-points with little ideas for revenge under various headings such as "Superglue", "Careers", "Pets". If you were to study these books you could probably pair all the different methods of revenge down to about 10 or 12 actions. Let me give you a few:

* Write or call a mark's boss/wife/priest/mum with a malicious allegation.
* Vandalise the mark's property in some way.
* Childish things like whoopee cushions, dog dirt in shoes etc.

To tell you the truth, that's basically it! One way you could reproduce a book such as this would be (i) Bring the old fashioned tips up to date. No-one has a CB radio anymore, but most young people will have a Facebook or Twitter account; (ii) Carry out a bit of research. Go onto news websites and try to find articles about revenge. Here are some examples, lifted in 2 minutes from the Daily Mail website:

Once you've been through your favourite news site (making sure you use synonyms for "revenge") then my next step would be Twitter. Before you know it, you'll soon have 250 titbits or ideas and I feel this would be enough to flesh out an Ebook. Just add a section at the beginning discussing revenge and then list out your ideas from there.


Lot's more to come here.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Continuing battle with Kwik Fit - the tide turns.........


Interesting. It was actually a Kwik Fit I had this problem at. I complained to via the website but was called from the branch to say that having an odd sized tyre would NOT cause undue wear and tear on the juxtaposed tyres.

Could I therefore please be reimbursed for my expense?

Please do not call.

Kind regards,

Ross Taylor.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Proposal to Colin Cloud



I really enjoyed Colin Cloud’s show at the Edinburgh Festival on Thursday Evening. I have been to see Derren Brown 3 times. Once in London, once in Northampton and once in Edinburgh, and I can honestly say that Colin was equally impressive.


I work as a Business Analyst for an English Publishing Company, however I am based in Alva, Clacks. I work Part Time so generally have free time available if required. Given my relative localness to Colin I was wondering if I could offer my help if he ever needed it. Perhaps as a practice person or something along those lines?


Kind regards,


Ross Taylor.

Interesting post from Amazon to all Kindle Authors today............

Dear KDP Author,
Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.
With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.
Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.
Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.
The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.
Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.
Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.
But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.
And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.
We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.
We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.
Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:
Copy us at:
Please consider including these points:
- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
Thanks for your support.
The Amazon Books Team

Monday, 4 August 2014

Complaint to Kwik Fit

Good Afternoon,

I visited your Alloa store on the 8th July to have a burst tyre fixed. I paid a total of £73.50 for the work. I wasn't until I was at the National Tyre Centre in Stirling almost a month later that I was informed that the wrong sized tyre was fitted. I had an R55 instead of an R50.

I took the car back to Alloa where they changed the tyre.

This obviously means that I was driving illegally for over one month. My car would have been working inefficiently and the other 3 tyres would've endure more wear and tear than normal.

In light of this I would like to be reimbursed for my £73.50 by cheque. I have included the reference number in the subject line of this email.

Kind regards,

Ross Taylor.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Posh Dog Kennels Business Idea

I'd probably go "big" dog only. Newf, St Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog sort of thing.

You can get a Pet Sitter certificate (whatever that means) on Groupon for £19 at the moment. That gives you credibility.

I'd probably start off by giving out freebies so I could get some testimonials. I'd write specifically to Crufts champions (of any level) so you could describe youself as "as selected by Crufts Winners".

£30 per night per dog.

I reckon you're looking at an initial layout of £2000 to do it right and ongoing costs of c £300 per year for advertising and website fees. If your rig is going to last 10 years you'd need 17 "dog nights" per year to break even, 34 to make it worthwhile.