Monthly Archives: February 2015

“Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, By Deduction, the Brig Bazaar”

By Arthur Conan Doyle [?]

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, by Herbert Rose Barraud

“We’ve had enough of old romancists and the men of travel” said the Editor, as he blue-pencilled his copy, and made arrangements for the great Saturday edition of the Bazaar Book. “We want something up-to-date. Why not have a word from ‘Sherlock Holmes?'”

Editors have only to speak and it is done, at least, they think so. “Sherlock Holmes!” As well talk of interviewing the Man in the Moon. But it does not do to tell Editors all that you think. I had no objections whatever, I assured the Editor, to buttonhole “Sherlock Holmes,” but to do so I should have to go to London.

“London!” scornfully sniffed the Great Man. “And you profess to be a journalist? Have you never heard of the telegraph, the telephone, or the phonograh? Go to London! And are you not aware that all journalists are supposed to be qualified members of the Institute of Fiction, and to be qualified to make use of the Faculty of Imagination? By the use of the latter men have been interviewed, who were hundreds of miles away; some have been ‘interviewed’ without either knowledge or consent. See that you have a topical article ready for the press for Saturday. Good day.”

I was dismissed and had to find copy by hook or by crook. Well, the Faculty of Imagination might be worth a trial.

The familiar house in Sloan Street met my bewildered gaze. The door was shut, the blinds drawn. I entered; doors are no barrier to one who uses the Faculty of Imagination. The soft light from an electric bulb flooded the room. “Sherlock Holmes” sits by the side of the table; Dr Watson is on his feet about to leave for the night. Sherlock Holmes, as has lately been shown by a prominent journal, is a pronounced Free Trader. Dr. Watson is a mild Protectionist, who would take his gruelling behind a Martello tower, as Lord Goschen wittily put it, but not “lying down!” The twain had just finished a stiff argument on Fiscal policy. Holmes loq—

“And when shall I see you again, Watson? The inquiry into the ‘Mysteries of the Secret Cabinet’ will be continued in Edinburgh on Saturday. Do you mind a run down to Scotland? You would get some capital data which you might turn to good account later.”

“I am very sorry,” replied Dr Watson, “I should have liked to have gone with you, but a prior engagement prevents me. I will, however, have the pleasure of being in kindly Scottish company that day. I, also, am going to Scotland.”

“Ah! Then you are going to the Border country at that time?”

“How do you know that?”

“My dear Watson, it’s all a matter of deduction.”

“Will you explain?”

“Well, when a man becomes absorbed in a certain theme, the murder will out some day. In many discussions you and I have on the fiscal question from time to time I have not failed to notice that you have taken up an attitude antagonistic to a certain school of thought, and on several occasions you have commented on the passing of “so-called’ reforms, as you describe them, which you say were not the result of a spontaneous movement from or by the people, but solely due to the pressure of the Manchester School of politicians appealing to the mob. One of these allusions you made a peculiar reference to ‘Huz an’ Mainchester’ who had ‘turned the world upside down.’ The word ‘Huz’ stuck to me, but after consulting many authors without learning anything as to the source of the word, I one day in reading a provincial paper noticed the same expression, which the writer said was descriptive of the way Hawick people looked at the progress of Reform. ‘Huz an’ Mainchester’ led the way. So, thought I, Watson has a knowledge of Hawick. I was still further confirmed in this idea by hearing you in several absent moments crooning a weird song of the Norwegian God Thor. Again I made enquires, and writing to a friend in the South country I procured a copy of ‘Teribus.’ So, I reasoned, so — there’s something in the air! What attraction has Hawick for Watson?”

“Wonderful,” Watson said, “and —”

“Yes, and when you characterised the action of the German Government in seeking to hamper Canadian trade by raising her tariff wall against her, as a case of ‘Sour Plums,’ and again in a drawing room asked a mutual lady friend to sing you that fine old song, ‘Braw, braw lads,’ I was curious enough to look up the old ballad, and finding it had reference to a small town near to Hawick, I began to see a ray of daylight. Hawick had a place in your mind; likewise so had Galashiels — so much was apparent. The question to be decided was why?”

“So far so good. And—”

“Later still the plot deepened. Why, when I was retailing to you the steps that led up to the arrest of the Norwood builder by the impression of his thumb, I found a very great surprise that you were not listening at all to my reasoning, but were lilting a very sweet – a very sweet tune, Watson – ‘The Flowers of the Forest;’ then I in turn consulted an authority on the subject, and found that that lovely if tragic song had a special reference to Selkirk. And you remember, Watson, how very enthusiastic you grew all of a sudden on the subject of Common-Ridings, and how much you studied the history of James IV., with special reference to Flodden Field. All these things speak, Watson, to the orderly brain of a thinker. Hawick, Galashiels, and Selkirk. What did the combination mean? I felt I must solve the problem, Watson; so that night when you left me, after we had discussed the “Tragedy of a Divided House,” I ordered in a ton of tobacco, wrapped my cloak about me, and spent the night in thought. When you came round in the morning the problem was solved. I could not on the accumulative evidence but come to the conclusion that you contemplated another Parliamentary contest. Watson, you have the Border Burghs in your eye!”

“In my heart, Holmes,” said Watson.

“And where do you travel to on Saturday, Watson?”

“I am going to Selkirk; I have an engagement there to open a Bazaar.”

“Is it in aide of a Bridge, Watson?”

“Yes,’ replied Watson in surprise; “but how do you know? I have never mentioned the matter to you.”

“By word, no; but by your action you have revealed the bent of your mind.”

“Impossible!”

“Let me explain. A week ago you came round to my rooms and asked for a look at ‘Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome.’ (You know I admire Macaulay’s works, and have a full set.) That volume, after a casual look at, you took with you. When you returned it a day or two later I noticed it was marked with a slip of paper at the ‘Lay of Horatius,’ and I detected a faint pencil mark on the slip noting that the closing stanza was very appropriate. As you know, Watson, the lay is all descriptive of the keeping of a bridge. Let me remind you how nicely you would perorate —
When the goodman mends his armour
And trims his helmet’s plume,
When the goodwife’s shuttle merrily
Goes flashing through the loom,
With weeping and with laughter.
Still the story told —
How well Horatius kept the bridge,
In the brave days of old.
Could I, being mortal, help thinking you were bent on some such exploit yourself?”

“Very true!”

“Well, goodbye, Watson; shall be glad of your company after Saturday. Remember Horatius’ words when you go to Border Burghs: ‘How can man die better than facing fearful odds.’ But there, these words are only illustrations. Safe journey, and success to the Brig!”

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“How to Guerrilla Publish: or, The Basic Gist of It All”

By David Reynolds

Being an independent publisher means working with little-to-no budget, so exploring how to optimize low cost publishing options is par for the course. While Problematic Press is financially unable to publish everything that’s awesome, we’re not too concerned about creating competition, and so we’d like to encourage and enable other upstart literati to embrace guerrilla publishing. This brief guide will introduce the uninitiated to a basic publishing strategy to potentially reach a global audience, while emphasizing a Canadian context.

Welcome to guerrilla publishing in the digital age of globalization!

STEP 1 – Learn Your Rights and Responsibilities

Before you begin this guerrilla publishing journey, you should brush up on the rights and responsibilities of content creators. (And, acknowledge my disclaimer: I am no legal expert, nor am I a tax expert; you’ll be responsible for your own actions.) In general, be upfront and respectful with your collaborators. They have rights, too. And, consider the Canadian context of publishing. For instance, in Canada, copyrights are assumed upon creation of a work, meaning you needn’t register your copyright anywhere. However, it is up to the copyright holder to protect their own works, because no one else is looking out for it. Another Canadian consideration is that publishers are required to submit copies of their books to Library and Archives Canada, in what’s known as the legal deposit. These are a few things you should look into before you begin publishing. Remember, self-publishing your work usually means many more hands-on, D.I.Y tasks are in your future.

STEP 2 – Develop Your Content

The next thing you’ll need is material (it’s also really the first thing you need, but we won’t debate the semantics here). If your plan is to publish a book, then that means you need a manuscript. Whatever genre you’re working in, your manuscript should be thoroughly edited, as every error present is the bane of your credibility. Beyond your flawless manuscript, you’ll need front matter, a bio, ad copy, a table of contents, and so on. Be sure to get on top of that, too. You’ll also need a book cover, which likely means artwork. Handle whatever you’re competent at on your own to save costs, or you could recruit assistance from your friends or professionals. Once you’ve got all the bits and pieces together to make a finished product, then you can begin formatting it all to fit the criteria of our online printers.

STEP 3 – Formatting Content for Online Printers

There is a whole, humongous plethora of self-publishing and e-publishing services available online, and you can explore as many options as you like, but we’ll suggest the following because they offer international distribution for zero cost. That’s nigh unbeatable.

Three services that cover most of the bases are CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Smashwords. CreateSpace provides you with a trade paperback print copy of your manuscript, and they offer streamlined distribution through Amazon’s many online sites. You can upload and distribute your book with them for potentially zero cost. Kindle Direct Publishing is great for linking the ebook to the print edition, but they only produce ebooks in Kindle format. Nevertheless, they, too, provide this distribution at no immediate cost to the publisher. Besides those two Amazon companies, it’s also a good idea to use Smashwords to reach readers on different devices and through different online retailers. Again, Smashwords allows publishers to upload and distribute content at no immediate cost. The companies earn their portion of the revenue as sales accrue, which is why they don’t charge fees upfront like some vanity publishers do.

So, you’ll have to review the content and format guidelines for CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Smashwords. This means going back to format your files to meet their requirements. This part can be a bit tedious, but the work is worth it once your book is on that virtual shelf! The good news is if you can create a .doc and a .pdf of your book, then you can get it out there using these online companies.

As for the Canadian context, there are a few things to consider. For one, Canadians can utilize these American printing and distribution services, but unless you file all the proper tax documents then they’ll withhold 30% of your royalties. This means you’ll need to apply for a tax number with the IRS before you can take advantage of trade treaties between our countries which remove that withholding. It may be easier to work with a Canadian company, like Blurb, because they can distribute through Amazon as well, but this tax situation shouldn’t arise since they’re based within Canada. Secondly, Canadians can acquire ISBNs for free from the government by registering titles through the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS).

Once the files are finalized, complete the submission process with each distributor, inputting your ISBN, setting price points, distribution channels, and so on. Then, with just a few clicks, your book will be available online for all of your eager readers!

STEP 4 – The Publishing End Game: Promoting Your Book

Once your book has been published, you’ve entered the end game. Now, you need to spread the word about your new book. There are many ways you could do that, ranging from paid advertisements to blog posts and social media. Maybe consider having a book launch, doing public readings, giving interviews, or creating a video log. If you have some promotional copies, you might send some to reviewers or hold a giveaway. If your finances are limited or non-existent, then consider devoting some time to blogging and social media, which only cost your time and effort. At this stage of the guerrilla publishing experience, putting in so much of your time and effort should be a given.

STEP 5 – Repeat, and Enjoy

Repeat, and enjoy!

Otherwise, if this all seems like too much of a mess, then you should recall I founded this publishing house called Problematic Press. This is exactly what the name implies.

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David Reynolds studied at Memorial University where he completed his BA in Philosophy and English Language and Literature in 2006 in addition to completing his MPhil in Humanities in 2008. His graduate research focused on the cultural significance of superhero narratives and culminated in his dissertation Superheroes: An Analysis of Popular Culture’s Modern Myths. Presently, he enjoys teaching English at Memorial University while fumbling about as a publisher with Problematic Press.

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