“No One Will Read Your Book”

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Such is the name of an essay by Elle Griffin. The essay appeared a few days ago on The Writing Cooperative, a Medium-based publication where writers write about writing. (Writers do that a lot on the Internet.)

It is basically a Debbie-downer piece that gives the beginning writer a dozen solid reasons why she should give up now, before she even tries. According to Griffin, both traditional and self-publishing are equally hopeless paths.

There is an obvious venting tone to Griffin’s essay; but she isn’t completely off base. In 2019 I described how the volume approach advocated by indie publishing gurus has led to an over-reliance on expensive PPC advertising services. Advertising services for authors, all directed at the hope of selling $3.99 ebooks, have become a cottage industry. This is leading to the reconsolidation of [self-] publishing, as the “pay-to-play” financial reality exceeds the reach of many independent authors.

Last week I reported that Chris Fox spent 38% of his gross revenue on advertising in 2020. Fox, per his video, spent $104K on ads in 2020. And Fox probably has more expertise than most of us.

But this is an old reality. It has always been difficult to make real money from a creative endeavor—whether you’re talking about  paintings, a new rock band, or a series of novels. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it will likely always be.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the myth of “democratic” socialism

Don’t let AOC and her cronies pull the wool over your eyes.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

That’s not my projection. That’s not an epithet. That’s a fact.

There is nothing “Democratic” about the DSA, though. The DSA is new wine in old, confiscatory wineskins.

Consider, for example, this quote from the NYC DSA’s policy page:

“State ownership of businesses and worker control. Large businesses facing closure or mass layoffs should be seized by the state where feasible and run as public goods. In the case of small businesses where this is not feasible, New York should provide a right of first refusal, zero-interest loans, and technical assistance so that workers in smaller scale industries can take over their workplaces from owners that would otherwise have to close or sell. This will allow people to remain in their jobs and help us transition to a more just economy by putting workers in control.”

That all sounds very neat and technocratic. What does that mean, though, in practice?

We’ll keep this simple. Let’s say you and your partner scrimp and save for 10 years so that you can open a coffee shop.

You invest not only your life savings, but also your blood, sweat, and tears, into the business.

Oh, and you hire me to work behind the counter along the way. I’m your employee!

You work at it for 5 years. You’re losing money.

Uh-oh. Eventually, you determine that you need to cut your losses and sell.

AOC: What would her plans really mean?

According to our present laws of free enterprise and ownership, you are free to sell your business, and recoup what you can at the highest market value. After all, it’s your coffee shop. You started it! You own it!

And what about me? Well, I guess I have to get a job at Starbucks. Or maybe I get a job in a non-beverage related field.

That’s free enterprise, and freedom of association. We aren’t joined at the hip, just because I’ve worked for you.

According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA though, your coffee shop is my coffee shop.

Why? Welcome to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, cupcake. I’m a “worker”. I worked behind the counter of your coffee shop, of my own free will, for wages. That makes me a worker.

Under the rule of AOC and the DSA, you would not be free to sell your coffee shop and cut your losses. A team of government bureaucrats would come in and transfer the business you paid for and started to a “worker’s collective”.

In this case, that would be me.

Now, does that sound fair?

No. Of course it isn’t.

But that’s what the DSA and AOC would do, if they ever truly came to power. So would some of the hardcore moonbats who believe in them.

Unfortunately, there are millions of uninformed Americans who think “socialism” sounds really sexy. But they haven’t bothered to think it out. They think “socialism” means “free iPhones”, or something like that.

Socialism means the government taking whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

Democratic socialism? Yeah, right. Every Marxist country that ever existed has paid lip service to “democracy”. The formal name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or the DPRK

Also a “democratic socialist”

Granted, the scenario I described above is not exactly firing squads and gulags. (Give them a few years in power, though.) But it is fundamentally unjust. This is government-backed theft, essentially.

But I don’t want to go all Ayn Rand and hifalutin on you. Let’s be more practical.

The program outlined by the Democratic Socialists of America, and supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would discourage the innovation and risk-taking that drives the American economy. Who in their right mind would ever start a business (including a coffee shop) knowing that the state could arbitrarily transfer it to a “workers collective”?

Who would ever start a business and hire others, knowing that the act of hiring would give the employees effective control over the business, should circumstances require them to cut their losses and sell?

No one in America would ever start a business again, if these misty-eyed lunatics in the DSA (including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) had their way.

Yeah, right…

Which brings us to our next point…which may involve you:

If you support far-left Democrats like AOC, you are grossly uninformed on basic economic principles. Sorry, princess, but that’s just the way it is.

This is correctible, though. Uninformed is not the same as “incorrigibly stupid”. You can learn about economics.

Thomas Sowell

I recommend you start by reading Basic Economics, by the award-winning economist, Thomas Sowell.

The links on this page will take you to Amazon. But you should also be able to find this book in your local library.

I know you: You’re too smart to vote for leftwing Democrats, even if you don’t yet realize it.

Why I finally hired a housecleaner

During her standup comic days, Roseanne Barr once quipped that she would clean up the house when her husband bought her a riding vacuum cleaner.

I can sympathize. Ironically, I don’t mind walking behind a lawnmower or swinging a weed whacker. I’m also fine with mulching, and other basic landscaping tasks.

But when it comes time to dust furniture, or clean the shower door, I turn into a grade-A slacker.

In fact, I will freely admit to being something of a slob by default. This is a blind spot in my nature. I wouldn’t even think about going without a shower, or leaving the house without grooming and brushing my teeth. But I’ll cheerfully allow mountains of dust bunnies to accumulate around the bases of my kitchen counters and appliances.

I’m going to default to reverse sexism here, and blame my straight male genes. Very few heterosexual men are conscientious housekeepers. Allow three straight men to share an apartment, and a few months later you have a toxic waste dump.

(And no, I don’t care if the above paragraph “triggers” anyone, or rings of patriarchal sentiments. Even the über-liberal Slate implied as much, in their 2004 dissection of Felix Unger, Tony Randall’s obsessively tidy character in The Odd Couple.)

Since I pay for relatively few personal services (I mow my own lawn), I decided to start splurging on a housecleaner back in October. She cleans my place every two weeks—every other Monday, to be exact.

Her name is Billie. She’s about my age; and she approaches housecleaning as both an art and a science.The first time she arrived to clean, she brought in five plastic compartment carriers filled with cleaning supplies, two vacuum cleaners, three different kinds of brooms, and an equal assortment of mops. I could tell immediately that she was miles ahead of me on these matters. 

My living environment has been much improved since I hired Billie. The above photo was taken yesterday afternoon, right after she left.

Not too bad, in the big scheme of things. The Felix Ungers out there would still be able to walk in and find some causes for quibbles. But they wouldn’t have recognized this same room three months ago. I certainly wouldn’t have posted a photo of my living room before I hired Billie.