Massive price drop

I’ve slashed the price on amazon. Slashed it! I’m hoping more sales will bring more to the pot, even if the price is low.

(For the benefit of new visitors here’s what’s going on here:

I’m trying out a new way of selling ebooks. One that I hope will be entertaining for everyone and beneficial to myself and one other lucky person.

That person will be whoever first guesses the main literary source for my story about a man losing his will to live in a depressing fenland town: So Long As You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be Fine. Several images and ideas in this short work are taken from an earlier story by a well-known author. The first person to correctly guess which story and author will get a share of my royalties…

I’m going to continue selling So Long As You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be Fine onamazon or smashwords for as long as it takes until someone guesses correctly. And if that person is you, I will split the royalties (earned up until the date you guessed) with you. If enough people have already bought the book by that time, you and I will end up rich. Rich! If they haven’t we still might get a few quid. If you’re the first person to buy and comment, that spoils the game. But you can congratulate yourself for being clever, all the same.

To enter, simply buy and read a copy of the story, then come back here and enter your guess in the comments field below this post.

If you have a question, post that too and I’ll endeavour to answer it.

In the meantime, here are the logistics as I see them:

I’ve already emailed myself with the name of the story and the author. I’ve also taken a date stamped image of that email, which I’ve uploaded as a private photo to flickr. When someone correctly guesses, I’ll make the photo public and post a link to it, as proof that I always had that story in mind. And not whichever other stories from which I may also have sub-consciously borrowed.

In terms of splitting the royalties, make sure you include your email address when you comment below. I’ll send the correct guesser an email to get their details for mailing out a cheque. I’ll split the royalties 50/50 down the middle according to the number of copies sold on the date when the correct guess is made.

I know, I know, there’s a certain amount of trust involved here. But I’m pretty sure that when someone does realise which story I’ve used, it will be so crystal clear that they’ll know I shan’t be able to pretend it’s anything else.

The story is by a well-known author, so I’m fairly sure that someone will get it eventually. (Although it is reasonably obscure.)

There can be only one winner – the first person to guess correctly and comment below.

I’ll try to post updates regularly about how many copies have sold, and the best guesses. This will be far more exciting if the book story sells loads of copies. So tell everyone you know to get one!

Here’s an amazon link from where you can download the book for your kindle for $2.99 (or equivalent.)


Hello new followers

Hello and welcome to all the people who have started following this experiment in the past few days. I’m delighted to have you all on board. And, I must admit, pleasantly surprised. I’ll try to find out where you’ve come from soon – and also do a proper update about sales and progress. And guesses – although there haven’t been many recently, even if lots of people seem to be showing an interest in So Long As You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be FIne. If you are a new follower, do have a punt. It’s not that hard. Honest.

I feel I should write something for my new followers, but can’t really as I’m on holiday in Morocco. I’m otherwise occupied and I also worry that I’ll spend too long talking about how beautiful the country is, and how peaceful I’ve found my time here in Essaouira… And so infuriate everyone battling the Jubilee bunting back in Blighty and suffering at work everywhere else…

But then, since this is a blog, I have a licence to digress. Can’t resist relating one quick holiday experience. This morning I visited a flea market with the family. This market was spread out over a cross roads, and seemingly, a rubbish dump.

If you want to buy old shoes, bits of wire, door nobs, clocks that don’t work, cogs, decades old gas hobs, cassettes with the covers faded monochrome, rusting old ovens, cupboard doors, this is the place for you. If you’re clever, you may be able to use them as creatively people here do:

There were also antique telephones, an entire, beautiful gypsy caravan, lovely old carved doors. And snake charmers:

Their routine was very strange. It involved transferring the snakes from an old sports bag, into a white sack, where they writhed madly for a while, before being transferred into a small box. I don’t know what this signified or what they did in there. The man spent a lot of time striking poses, shouting into a small tape-covered microphone and hitting the box with a stick. Every so often he would play some strange trance-like music. At the end, he shouted at the crowd and berated us until we gave him a dirham each.

Later, we wondered up a road leading through the rubbish dump by the edge of some cliffs. It reminded me of the dump in The Sheltering Sky,  a hill of unidentifiable detritus, bleached white in the sun. In true Paul Bowles style, a dark-eyed man tried to sell me hash and to become my special friend in broken Franglais. He grew infuriated when I turned him down on both counts and I indicated that I was with my family. He cursed me in Arabic interspersed with repeated cries of “fuck you.”

Happily, I am not one of Bowles creations. Instead of ending up with my tongue cut off, strapped to a back of a camel and forced to dance for food, I was soon left alone. The only surprise came when the  path ended beside the sea and we found ourselves beside a small artist’s studio.

Here we bought some very beautiful paintings from this artist:

He was quiet, gentle, very tolerant of my bad French and offered what we thought was a very good price. (Three paintings for about £25).

If you want to find him, take a horse and cart from the Bab Doukala city gate, up Boulevard De’Industrie to Joutiya. After you jump off take the left track up to the sea. His studio is on the left, just before the sea.

God knows why I’m telling you about my holiday. Apologies. Normal service will resume soon.

A review!

The story has had its first review on Smashwords:

” Dan Gibbons on May 16, 2012 : star star star star star
A funny and bleak story set around the murky and bawdy world of provincial morris dancing. What more do you need to know?”


(Full disclosure. I went to school and am close friends with someone called Dan Gibbons. He may be related to the person writing this review. But I didn’t put him up to it…)


The story so far…

… So, after a few weeks and several hundred (though tantalisingly just short of 1,000) views, I’m happy to say that no one has so far guessed the identity of my source story. There have been a few good guesses (some uncomfortably good) and the pot is growing at a steady, although not yet overwhelming rate. If someone guesses this week, s/he won’t become much richer. In fact, at current rates, it will take a healthy 100,000 years before anyone can start living off the interest on their interest.


But! Nous continuerons… Already, the project has moved into profit. Already, whoever wins will get far more back than they paid for the original book. And the more people that buy it the more exciting it will become. Which is a not so subtle way of asking you to spread the word.

Oh and, pleasingly, no one has yet told me that the story is crap… I’m in no position to comment on whether it’s worth buying in and of itself. But at least it hasn’t stunk the internet out. So far, anyway…

(If you want to know how to take part, click here.)



So far, I’m happy to say that no one has guessed my main source for images and ideas in my story So Long As You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be Fine.

It isn’t The Iceman by Murikami.

It isn’t Money by Martin Amis (in spite of the guesser’s insistence that my subconscious has been misleading me.)

It isn’t The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

This latter provokes me to make a confession. I’ve filled the story with red-herrings. At the time, I thought this was rather a clever thing to do. Now, I am beginning to worry. Could I have gone too far? Could someone quite legitimately claim that I have copied a story other than the one I have in mind? How do I split the proceeds then? How do I argue my way out of it?

I’m reasonably sure that there isn’t a story that I knowingly copied within the terms load out in my original post… But then, what about stories from which I have unknowingly borrowed? What cruel tricks might my subconscious have played. Is So Long As You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be Fine actually a Roald Dahl story I read 15-years-ago and thought I had forgotten? Is it a story told to me at school that I even thought I was ignoring at the time? Who knows? I don’t!

Having gone through the elaborate procedure of ratifying my original choice with flickr photos and emails, I suppose I might be able to wriggle out of any claims relating to different stories. But it seems rather bad luck if someone does spot correspondences that are there, even if I didn’t know about them.

But then again, it does at least demonstrate plenty about the nature of competition. There is little that we can write in the 21st Century that hasn’t been written before in one way or another. Is there?

Even the story I borrowed from turns out to have been a copy. That is a clue. But it may not help you much. It’s quite a difficult competition…

Day Two – Dollar dreams

So those are the stats from the first day. 267 views is pretty good. Especially if you think in terms of the average short story. If an unknown author like me printed a silly thing like If You Don’t Get Run Over You’ll Be Fine and left it lying around in bookshops, s/he couldn’t hope to have that many people glancing at it.

I’m also happy to report that the click through rate to smashwords and amazon has been good and whoever wins this competition is already going to win more than $10! Not exactly the lottery, or not even a day’s work, but a pretty good return if you manage to read the story quickly. And of course, the more people that read, the bigger the fund will be. I already have $$ rolling around in my eyes – and let me tell you now that that’s far more than I have rolling around in my bank account, unless you count negative money… So I’m pinning a lot of hope on this sucker.

What else can I tell you?

Oh yes! I’ve had a couple of questions, which I’ll answer now – and also pin up later today on an FAQ/ Rules page.

The first question came from Prashansa:

Why don’t you give us a hint? (Is it a Cheever story?)

I’m not going to say who did or didn’t write the story, but I quite like the idea of giving a hint. But not yet! Perhaps after two or three months?

The second came from  adambiles:

Do we get second guesses?

I had to think about that one! I’ve decided the answer must be no. One user one vote should be the rule, I think. Otherwise it gets helluva complicated and, I suppose, one user could have thousands of guesses which makes it much less fun for all the rest of us.

Meanwhile, two people have also hazarded guesses about the origin of the story. I can now tell you that is neither Martin Amis’ money, nor The Iceman by Murikami.
Oh yes! I’ve already spotted dozens of typos in the book. Yuck! Yuck! Sorry about that! Self-publishing isn’t everything, after all. Do feel free to inform me of any howlers and I’ll fix them.

And that’s it. Remember, that the more people who buy the story, the more exciting this project will become… Especially for me, and whoever wins…

PS  If you’ve read this far and don’t know what I’m talking about, well done. To find out more, go to the About page