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

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,

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

– former Israeli Ambassador Matan Vilnai, on 17 December 2012, see

– former Canadian Ambassador Guy Saint-Jacques, on 18 March 2015, see

– Jan Jambon, then former deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Security (Belgium), see:

– 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:

ABC of self-publishing

Overview and introduction

Here is my ABC of self-publishing.
It is my story on why and how I became an author, publishing two books: “Toxic Capitalism” and “Laugh And Get Wiser”.

ABC of self-publishing

late nights… trying hard…

The first book was done through a “Vanity Press Company”, a bad experience that led me to go “indie” and do self-publishing totally myself. That required mastering a software “SCRIVENER” and enrolling as an author with Amazon.
See the challenges I encountered and how I succeeded to publish on Kindle and in print. It took me three extended stays in a nice hotel in Phuket to find the right and motivating environment.

There are three very different roads to publishing: the traditional publishing companies, the vanity press and self-publishing (such as through Amazon, the giant in that field).
Read all details in these posts, as a guide to publish YOUR book. And learn the jargon of this business. Consider it your ABC of self-publishing.

Why self-publishing

Topics covered:
– Why I write;
– Why choose self-publishing;
– The 3 challenges when publishing your book;
– Some good books and websites to learn the details.

How to self-publish

Topics covered:
– Why to become an “indie” and how;
– The three choices explained: traditional publishing houses; the vanity press; do it yourself (read: go the indie road).

The giant of self-publishing

Topics covered:
– Why Amazon?
– The first step to publish on Amazon: you need to register as an author.
– The challenges I met to register as an author, being in China.
– Can you publish a book in Chinese on Amazon? Supported languages.
– Why not use Amazon China?
– Uploading my Kindle e-book on Amazon: challenges I met.
– My books are on Amazon!
– Does Amazon ship to China?

Using Scrivener

Topics covered:
– What is Scrivener software?
– How to learn it, the way I did.
– Why a print version is the first step.
– Amazon Kindle: you need a Table of Content.
– How to get your book in print?

How I wrote my books

Topics covered:
– Everybody and every book is different
– My first book “Toxic Capitalism”: using MS Word and deliver the file to a “vanity press”.
– Running away from my normal environment.

Using external help when going indie

Topics covered:
– Using external help when going indie is mandatory for two tasks: the cover design and professional editing.
– Why you need to finish first the format of the print version.
– How I did the cover page in two outsourcing steps.
– For my second book I did exceptionally not use an external editor: why?
– How much did my book cost to get it published in e-book and print?

More considerations on writing and Amazon

Topics covered:
– Are you focused in your genre? Building a following.
– Amazon and shipping.
– Amazon world-wide shops are not connected.
– BISAC codes: what they are and why it did not help me with Amazon.
– Publishing in Chinese.

Frank Gallo received my book

Meeting an old friend

On 12 December 2018 Frank Gallo received my book Laugh and Get Wiser, over a dinner in Legend Beer.
Frank moved from Beijing to Guangzhou but when visiting Beijing we try to catch up on gossip and books. Frank is also a well-known author.
Frank wrote the back page of my first book Toxic Capitalism, see:
Frank Gallo and my book

Dinner is served

We had a number of beers and several nice dishes, the duck head obviously ordered by my friend who also tried some snooker to run away from our chitchat.

Come back again soon Frank!

My book in China Daily article

My book in China Daily

Finally: my book in China Daily article, published on 28 March 2019:
Yes, “Laugh and get wiser! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults” got featured with an introduction as supplied by me.

A guidebook for our Chinese friends

I quote:

While at a first sight the book may not be interesting to Chinese readers, due to the cultural differences, it is a nice tool for our friends to learn about typical Western humor, as well as to learn a different vocabulary. Also, for those who deal with Westerners, here in China or when abroad, they might surprise their foreign friends by serving them some jokes they can appreciate.
Most Chinese are totally unfamiliar with the Western world of jokes, they are puzzled or even shocked. They wonder why there are so many about the (“dumb”) blondes, the Irish, the Scottish, as well as the many references to domestic situations, such as between married couples, the hilarious comments from kids, and of course the many references to the human anatomy and intimacy. As it turns out, exactly those are highly rated by the readers of my book.
It is an efficient tool to get acquainted with Western society and the way people entertain each other in a relaxed atmosphere. It also helps to understand some of the American stand-up comedians who deliver jokes I did not dare to include in my book!

Choosing some sample jokes

China Daily had requested some sample jokes. Sigh. Auto-censorship has no limits these days. So this one was a “NO NO” for our prudish friends:

Lady visits the doctor
The doctor examines a lady. He tells her, “Your blood pressure, heart beat, lungs are all fine. Now let me see that cute little thing that gets you ladies into trouble more than often.”
The lady starts taking off her dress and panties.
“No no, says the doctor, I meant your tongue!”

So I had to supply the most watered-down ones. The following ones were not published:

In the bathroom
One blonde asks her friend to give her a shampoo.
Says her friend, “There is a bottle right in front of you!”
“Yes but it’s for dry hair and I just made mine wet!”

The billionaire and his wife
A sixty-years-old billionaire walks into the bar with his attractive twenty-five-years old wife.
The friend asks him, how he got her.
The billionaire: “I lied about my age.”
Friend: “You told her you were forty?”
Billionaire: “No, I said I was ninety.”

Don’t ask
Just before sleeping, a just-married asks his wife,
“Darling, did you have other lovers before me?”
No reply and a long silence. The husband whispers,
“Darling, are you sleeping?”
“No, I am still counting.”

Back from school
Johnny comes back from school and tells his mom it was a great day. They learned to make explosives.
Mom says “Schools do interesting stuff these days. So, what’s up in school tomorrow?”
Johnny: “What school?”

Wanna read the other jokes? Buy the book!
One link: