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!

Book The Author

Reading Between The Wines “BOOK THE AUTHOR” Event

Reading Between The Wines organized the event Book The Author on Saturday 4 May 2019 in Blue Marlin Bar and Restaurant (Hilton Hotel Street). It called all aspiring writers, authors and book lovers to uncover and learn the secrets of successful authors that are in our own “backyard”. Twelve amazing authors from nine countries, representing literary works from genres including: self-help, non-fiction, international relations and humor came together under one roof to tell their stories and discuss topics such as:

–           How to tell a powerful story
–           Tips to get started writing a book
–           Getting past writer’s block
–           Steps to getting your book published

The event was designed to allow authors to showcase their work and inspire the next generation of writers. The featured authors discussed and shared their work as well as answered questions from and mingle with an audience of book lovers and aspiring writers.

About the Organizers

Reading Between the Wines was started on the beautiful Bahamian island of Nassau by five working women who shared a love for both reading and drinking wine. One of those women is Kayla Brown, who is currently a medical student at Peking University and has ambitiously brought her island-style book club to the great city of Beijing.

Since its inception, RBTW-Beijing has hosted eight book club events and has become popular in China’s capital. Having covered books ranging from “Orange is The New Black” to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”, readers select a book beforehand and at each book club event discuss the book.
Web: https://andinetblc.com/listing/reading-between-the-wines/

About Gilbert and his books

Gilbert is from Ghent, Belgium, where he graduated as master in electronic engineering.
Since 1980 he has been working with China, where he spent over thirty-five years, mostly in Beijing but also in Hong Kong and in Shanghai. He is a businessman, blogger and author.
His second book “LAUGH AND GET WISER! Jokes and witty wisdom for adults”  is a collection of Anglo-Saxon humor and jokes, collected over a period of over twenty years. The best ones of the many circulating around the world. Published in 2018.
His first book “TOXIC CAPITALISM The orgy of consumerism and waste: Are we the last generation on earth?” takes a closer look at data and research on environmental issues worldwide but with a focus on China. It explains the influence of labor markets, governments, financial institutions, income inequality; it details pollution in China, and Chinese overseas investment and long-term contracts, in the energy and resources sectors. A section is dedicated to day-to-day examples of waste and quality issues, and how we can all contribute to make our planet a healthier place. Published in 2012.

The event

In “Book The Author” different authors gave their insights on:
“How to Become a Powerful Storyteller”
“The Writing Process” (Tips to getting started, overcoming writer’s block, etc.)
“Steps to getting Published” (Gilbert and others)

I was good to meet my friend and fellow author Enoch Li (http://bearapy.me/enoch-li/) again and t hear the very different stories of the diverse group of writers. See the first picture for the participating writers.
Also present was the Ambassador of The Bahamas.
Thanks go to the organizer and host Kayla and the assistance of Sabrina.
I also donated one of my books for the quiz.

More considerations on writing and Amazon

Focused?

When considering writing books, some more considerations on writing and Amazon.

To be successful, authors should build a “following”. That however requires to focus on and remain in a specific type of literature: e.g. fiction, romance, philosophy, name it. The more focused, the better.

My case is pretty hopeless as all books have nothing in common and I am working in more than one genre. “Toxic Capitalism” is a comprehensive study of environmental issues; “Laugh and Get Wiser” is a collection of (English) jokes; the next book will be a political manifesto. While the third book will use some of the themes of the first one, the three definitely have a different audience. A possible fourth book might be a collection of professional experiences; the other titles are still too far away to put a sticker on it.

dreaming of big sales?

The idea is that  when readers like your book they might want more of the same. So in my case, pretty hopeless…

Amazon can be a bit “complicated”

As mentioned earlier my book “Laugh and Get Wiser” has a mention for me that it does not ship to Beijing. It actually does…

Some of my friends complain that when searching for it on Amazon UK it somehow gives strange feedback, like “Exclusive for UK clients” – it is widely available on all Amazon sites (except China of course).

The comments posted on Amazon sites are disconnected. If a friend posts a comment of my book on Amazon Italy it does only stay there and does not appear on Amazon USA. That is bad for the author as it gives an incomplete picture of what readers said about the book. Also, the author has to register on each Amazon site separately to introduce himself even if the book is available on that site. In my case till now I registered on the USA and UK sites.

The shipping charges vary considerably. I made shipments to Indianapolis, Brussels, Beijing: the cost is pretty different and goes up in that order.
If I sell hard copies myself, taking advantage of the special discount as the author (very reasonable indeed!) those sales do not appear in the Amazon overview. I sell to a bookstore in Beijing and to many friends who insist on a signed hard copy.

BISAC codes

One miscalculation: before uploading “Laugh and Get Wiser” I studied in detail the BISAC codes – the codes for the book genre, e.g.:

HUM018000   HUMOR / Form / Puns & Wordplay
HUM008000   HUMOR / Topic / Adult
HUM019000   HUMOR / Topic / Language

I thought defining focused BISAC codes was essential to the Kindle listing. I even registered as a member on their website, so I could have access to all details:
“The BISAC Subject Headings List, also known as the BISAC Subject Codes List, is a standard used by many companies throughout the supply chain to categorize books based on topical content. The Subject Heading applied to a book can determine where the work is shelved in a brick and mortar store or the genre(s) under which it can be searched for in an internal database.”
See the website:
BOOK INDUSTRY STUDY GROUP https://bisg.org/page/BISACSubjectCodes

Well, disappointed when I entered all my data for my book “Laugh and Get Wiser”. Nowhere to be found were the BISAC codes and the choice offered by Amazon was way too general. I still need to understand this…

Publishing in Chinese

As said in an earlier post Amazon does not accept books in Chinese. Guidelines are not always obvious. See the languages accepted for Kindle:
https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200673300

However an English book that contains Chinese characters seems to work… But one can’t publish a Chinese book.
An alternative: Smashwords ignores (Amazon) limitations by allowing all authors from around the world and who have never heard of Steve Jobs to have the same reach. Another alternative to Smashwords would be the Draft2Digital platform.
As my wife is ready to publish her Chinese book, it is a challenge right now.

Yes we are a family of writers, each in a different world. Those are our first books. In both cases, not the best of experiences. See: http://www.damulu.com/2017/04/17/the-book-about-sun-bingwen/

How I wrote my books

Everybody and every book is different

How I wrote my books is a personal experience; everybody is different. Here is my approach.

See also: http://www.damulu.com/2017/04/18/writing-requires-never-giving-up/

My first book “Toxic Capitalism” was written using MS Word. The file was sent to AuthorHouse who did the rest, except for the design of the cover page that we (read: my daughter) did ourselves. As that book involved tons of data, sitting in my computer or in piled-up cutouts from newspapers and magazines, there was little choice other than working at my home office. It was a crazy and frantic experience. Nobody can believe the book was finished in less than six months, all while I was still involved in doing business, and having Christmas, New Year and Spring Festival making a mess of my time schedule.

I guess I emptied quite a number of whisky bottles working until very late at night in a frantic way.

late nights…

Difficult to believe when one reads the book that has far over 500 endnotes with the references to the tons of data. Somehow the whole process on how to process and organize the data had been spinning in my head for some time. Processing the pile of paper clippings and data in my digital database was labor-intensive but also systematic. OK, I swear I will never do anything alike again. I hope.

Running away from Beijing

For the second book, the jokes one, I figured out I would never get anywhere staying in Beijing where I have a rather hectic life full of diversions. Basically I had 3 issues to deal with: learning Scrivener – entering all my written notes for book no. 3 into a Word document – cleaning up and organizing the collection of jokes.

the notes

So, I ran away to Phuket, Patong Beach (Thailand). It was a good decision. During the day I did not leave my room, just a quick snack for lunch while working. By the end of the day, a dip in the swimming pool or then gym. And a dinner outside and drinks in the famous bar street, to relax. Often it rained heavily during the day, even better to keep me working in my room.

I stayed in a nice hotel to have a quiet and comfortable environment.
In 2017 I was there twice for two weeks each time. In March this year, three weeks, all mostly in Baanlaimai Hotel.

It allowed me to basically reach my three goals. More about that in next post.

Internations Book Club discussed Toxic Capitalism

Internations Book Club

In the afternoon of Sunday 26 February 2017 the Internations Book Club discussed Toxic Capitalism, in the Tree Gallery and Café, a nice coffeeshop near Capital Mansion and Liangma River – now closed as many other venues.

It was a lively discussion I enjoyed personally, always well hosted by Kevin.
More about Internations: https://www.internations.org/

Intro by Kevin Paul Gouldmann, Activity Host

At our next activity, Gilbert has kindly agreed to give a brief talk and join our discussion about his book.

Short bio

Gilbert Van Kerckhove, is from Belgium and graduated as master in electronic engineering.
Since 1980 he has been working with China, where he spent over 30 years, mostly in Beijing but also in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
He is the president of a Beijing-based management consulting that provides strategy guidance to foreign and Chinese companies.
Since 2000 he has been assisting the Beijing Municipality in the areas of economic studies and foreign investment promotion. He has received the highest Chinese awards for his role in the 2008 Olympics, including the Chinese Green Card. He considers Beijing his home.
He is an avid reader of regional and international news and has built a large database on issues related to the environment, economy, public services, trade, labor markets, and more.

The book

Toxic Capitalism criticizes the overconsumption and wastage caused by questionable companies, financial institutions and governments, and leading to depletion of natural resources and to environmental destruction.
Living in China, Gilbert became alarmed by the dramatic pollution levels and the impact of Toxic Capitalism – an unwelcome strain of capitalism that thrives on overconsumption and indiscriminate wastage, promoted by the West with the help of questionable companies, financial institutions and governments.
China, as Factory of the World, is facing depletion of resources and roams the world to satisfy its voracious appetite for energy, raw materials, and food.
How serious is the environmental destruction? Is capitalism fundamentally wrong? How did we come to this madness?
What can we do to preserve the future of our children?