French minister Elisabeth Borne

TV5 and Le Monde

Saw this interview on TV5 with French minister Elisabeth Borne talking about environmental issues, overconsumption and the need to have after-sales repair in place for our consumer goods, among other striking opinions. It sounded like reading straight from my book Toxic Capitalism

 

Pity I did not watch the complete interview on 27 January (in my Beijing home) but it was striking as she was exactly talking the same language as me. I am happy a minister has the same philosophy.
I wish people would listen to her.
In my third book I am working on, those ideas will be again occupy a central role.

Minister of ?

She is Minister of the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lisabeth_Borne

Her title in French: Ministre française de la Transition écologique et solidaire. You have to admit, a weird title… They could not find anything more elegant?

 

Promoting my books

Writing is the easiest part

Like I said, there are 3 steps for your book: 1. writing 2. publishing 3. selling. The hardest is indeed SELLING and promoting the books. I am still battling with the issue. My weak point is the diversity of the subjects… not a single genre.

RIP The Bookworm

In Beijing I am also the victim as many others by the closing of The Bookworm where my books were being sold. As a result, I am now the only source for the printed version, here in Beijing.

Reports the SCMP:
The Bookworm, a center of literary life in Beijing, to close, unable to renew its lease amid crackdown on ‘illegal structures’. A cafe, a community center, a place for lively discussion and for authors to meet their readers, The Bookworm has survived for 17 years in the Chinese capital. Co-founder says it is a victim of clean-up by city planners, and won’t speculate on a political motive; patrons take to social media to voice their sadness,
Read: https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/article/3036439/bookworm-centre-literary-life-beijing-close-unable-renew-its

Friends and media don’t help

One disappointment is that people ask for help about many things but none help out for the promotion of the books. That is a fact.
Being on the media like Twitter, Facebook, name it: seems pretty useless. I don’t think I sold ANY book thanks to those media. Harsh reality.
Interviews in newspapers and TV also seem to be pretty useless. Actually David Caughran also brings this up in his books on publishing.
Of course I get mails about people who promise “to promote you book to become a bestseller”. Yeah, nice try, and they are not cheap (but mostly useless).
I found that personal contact and book talks help most.

Giving free copies

I often give free copies to “important people”, some actually insist on paying, being a nice gesture (e.g. our very Belgian ambassador).
Also at times frustrating as there is little or no feedback and some ambassadors even don’t invite me for any activity in their embassy despite my efforts.

Of course it looks nice to be able to officially hand over a copy. Some examples:

– former U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, on 6 November 2012, see https://www.damulu.com/2012/11/14/polish-national-day-and-u-s-ambassador-gary-locke/

– former Israeli Ambassador Matan Vilnai, on 17 December 2012, see https://www.damulu.com/2012/12/20/book-presentation-to-ischam-beijing/

– former Canadian Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques, on 18 March 2015, see https://blog.strategy4china.com/2015/03/embassy-of-canada-a-view-on-the-arctic/

– Jan Jambon, then former deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Security (Belgium), see: https://www.beijing1980.com/2019/12/14/meeting-jan-jambon/

– Belgian Ambassador Marc Vinck on 13 March 2019

– Luxembourg Ambassador Dr. Marc Hübsch, on 4 July 2019

– Irish Ambassador Eoin O’Leary, on 20 June 2018; later he also got a copy of my book Laugh and Get Wiser

– Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union, Nicolas Chapuis, on 4 March 2019

See the pictures:

Wish Lanterns and China Underground

Alec Ash in Rotary

I bought Alec’s book during his talk in our Rotary Club of Beijing. The books Wish Lanterns and China Underground have a lot in common.
On 17 October 2017 we had the pleasure to have Alec Ash in our club to introduce his book Wish Lanterns. See the pictures of that lunch and of the copy I bought.

This is how he was introduced:
Alec Ash, author of Wish Lanterns, a nonfiction book that follows six young Chinese from childhood to late twenties, shares some of his insights about the generational trends shaping young China today, and how it connects to China’s historical legacy of youth and change.

Alec Ash is a writer in Beijing, author of Wish Lanterns, published by Picador in 2016 and a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He studied English literature at Oxford University, and first moved to Beijing in 2008. His articles have appeared in The Economist, Dissent, The Sunday Times, Foreign Policy and elsewhere. He is managing editor of the China Channel at the Los Angeles Review of Books, contributing author to the book of reportage Chinese Characters and co-editor of the anthology While We’re Here. You can follow him on Twitter: @alecash
See: https://alecash.net/wish-lanterns.html

He leaves me frustrated

Indeed, I started writing about contemporary Chinese society time ago, a project I abandoned, see: https://www.damulu.com/modern-chinese-society/

I am in the process of writing my next book (a political manifesto) but also gathering data for a book about “China today”, or something like that. But reading Alec’s book I feel, how can I “compete” against that?
I admire the way he could make it sound like a novel, but filled with so many contemporary issues that Chinese society is facing. Many of the details he mentions are too familiar to me. And believe me, he is accurate. I wonder how he managed to get and remember so many details from the young people he met, followed and interviewed.
The only criticism I could have is that the different stories are “all mixed up” in the sequence. But I guess that comes from the fact I took a too long time to finish the book… I actually I had to restart from the beginning…

So, a book I strongly recommend if one wants to understand where China stands today. Yes, life is not easy for the young generation

Zachary Mexico

Wish Lanterns and China Underground basically follow a similar approach, telling the stories of real people, the stories of the “real China”, but more focused on the fringes of society – reason for the title “China Underground”. I sadly forgot how and when I met the author.

Also here I can confirm the stories sound pretty genuine to me as I do go around a bit and go where other foreigners seldom appear (usually I keep my mouth shut about all that).

 

To be honest reading the books like Wish Lanterns and China Underground will teach you more about the real China than those ramblings from “sinologists” and “Old China Hands” (Zhongguo Tongs like they are being called). Reason why I refuse those titles…
In China you never stop learning.
So now my challenge is clear: what can I still write about?

Grandfather Sun Bingwen

New article about Sun Bingwen

On 9 December Sun Bin published the first of a series of articles (in Chinese) related to her grandfather Sun Bingwen.
Title in Chinese: 百年潮丨孙冰:爷爷孙炳文的壮怀一生
Link: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/hgiN-zM1uzgaVUEvwl6deA

“The life of my grandfather Sun Bingwen” by Sun Bin.
See attached the PDF, for those who cannot open the link:

191209 SunBin_SunBingwen

About Sun Bin

Here a free translation of the introduction in the article

Sun Bin, formerly known as Sun Pan, is Sun Bingwen’s granddaughter. Born in Beijing in 1954. When she was a teenager, her father died and his family broke down. At the age of 13, she was detained for “anti-Jiangqing speech.” At the age of 14, she went to the “May 7 Cadre School.” At the age of 15, she went to the countryside. After leaving the country in 1981, she was married to a Belgian who works in China, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, and returned to China to settle down, engaged in public relations and consulting work for Fortune 500 foreign companies, and also established business consulting company. Her husband, Gilbert Van Kerckhove, has been a senior executive of foreign companies in China for a long time. He has won China’s highest award for foreigners, China National Friendship Award, Beijing Great Wall Friendship Award, Knight Medal from the King of Belgium, Shanghai Magnolia Award, Shanghai Red Cross Awards.

Note: the birth year mentioned is 1954 but it is officially 1955. One of those incomprehensible Chinese confusions. Don’t ask… And her official English name is SUN Bin, not Bing.

More to come

Sun Bin already co-authored a book about her grandfather Sun Bingwen:

The book about Sun Bingwen

She was however not too happy with the editing done and decided to rewrite a lot. This is just the first segment, more to come about her family.
And do know, I have no idea what she wrote.

Trafford Publishing

Going through old articles

I am in the difficult process of cleaning up mountains of old newspaper clippings and more. I discovered an advertisement for Trafford Publishing, see https://www.trafford.com/.

Trafford Publishing

Out of curiosity I did some research.

Member of the Author Solutions mafia

I soon discovered Trafford Publishing was purchased by Author Solutions, the biggest scammer in the publishing business as I commented earlier.

The story (and flood of complaints):
https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2009/04/victoria-strauss-author-solutions-buys.html

See here one of the sites where victims of their scam posted their story.

The choice is getting smaller

For new authors the choice to find a reliable publishing company is getting smaller as the monster of Author Solutions is buying up more and more similar companies, expanding their tentacles to catch naive authors.
I was a victim too. Then I went for the better option, see here the story of self-publishing my second book.