Thursday, September 14, 2006

McCrumble in print?

Dear all

I was contacted recently by a Dr Mark Booth from the University of Cambridge (a well known higher education establishement in the UK). He co-ordinates a charitable venture called the Matangini Project from within his research group. He asked me whether I would like to contribute. Now, I'm all for giving money to charity but I'm not too happy about unsolicited approaches.

'No Joseph, ' he said when he phoned me at the Institute this morning. 'I'm not asking you for your money.'

'I'm glad to hear that, ' I countered, 'as I'm facing the possibility of losing everything. On top of that I've got a new child en route.'

'I know' he said, 'I've been reading your blog'

'Oh yes,' I replied. I sometimes forget that my life story is now in the public domain. 'So what do you want?'

'You've been writing for about 9 months now, yes?'

'Indeed. I started last January. It's been a bit sporadic but I'm still going...'

'How would you feel about publishing what you've done so far?'

'Publish? Who would publish this stuff? It has no literary merit whatsoever!'

'It may not be literature Joseph, but it makes me laugh. And if it makes me laugh, it might amuse others.'

'You find my misadventures funny?'

'Not all of them of course. I thought your story on how you reached your celebrity status was particularly saddening.'

'A tragic tale indeed. So, anyway, why should I publish, and how would it be possible?'

Mark then told me all about something called Print on Demand. It turns out that for a modest outlay one can publish ones book oneself. Copies are made only when someone places and order. It is a relatively risk-free enterprise.

'Well, thanks for telling me about that Mark. Forgive me for asking, but what's in it for you?'

There was a long pause.

'Er, well, I thought I would basically take the profits....'


'Sorry - I thought I made it clear. In my email....'

'Oh yes....I did mention something about fundraising....So, basically speaking, you want the Matangini Project to take the profits from my life-story.'

'Essentially, yes. Sorry if you thought...'

'Not at all. My mistake entirely. Don't read things properly these days. I...can see how that might just work. I'd never actually thought of publishing, and it's very unlikely anyone will actually buy the book....unless......'

'Unless what....?'

'Well, I've written something that is pure fiction that I was going to serialise on the blog. It's actually a humorous novella about scientists behaving badly at an international conference. I could, I suppose, include it as, say, a bonus section. Would you consider splitting the profits if I added value to the product?'

'Sure Joseph, whatever. So you like the idea then?'

'Yes, I think I do. It will do wonders for my PR with Dolores and may just go someway to restoring my reputation within the village. You know she wants to leave because of all the trouble?'

'I read that somewhere, yes. It's not been a good year for you really, has it?'

'I can't disagree with you on that one Mark'

We continued chatting about work related items for a while then said our goodbyes. I then spent some time pondering the implications of what I have agreed to do. I need to re-arrange everything in the blog, format it, edit for clarity and continuity, check for any copyright infringements.... the list goes on.

Never mind though, at the end of the day, it's all for charity. I'll keep you informed as to progress.


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