Indie Publishing for Academia – Ten Top Tips

SYPhD_green_SQmarks_noblend_LC2_RGBThree weeks ago I became an indie publisher as well as an indie researcher and writer. In that time, my embryonic publishing company, Know More Publishing (see what I did there?!), has gained a website. Also, my first short affordable e-book, Starting Your PhD: What You Need To Know, has gained three five-star reviews on Amazon UK and a fourth on Amazon US. I didn’t bribe a single reviewer!

It’s around a year since I decided to go down this road, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I think there’s a great deal of potential in indie publishing for academics, altacs, doctoral students and others. Indie publishing doesn’t figure in organisational performance metrics, which creates a barrier for some people, though perhaps one day it will. But it’s a great way to produce work which is too long for academic journals, or doesn’t fit their requirements, but is shorter than a traditionally published book. And it’s open access – you can make your work available for free if you wish, or at a very low cost.

On the down side, there is no quality control. I know there are arguments about whether the peer review system actually enhances quality, but editors certainly do, if they’re doing their jobs properly. With indie publishing, it is possible to plonk any old drivel online for sale. That’s not the kind of indie publishing I advocate. I worked in traditional publishing, I write for traditional publishers, and I have loved books all my life. So I want to see good quality indie publishing from academia and its associates, and to publish good quality books myself. Here are my ten top tips for anyone who shares my aims.

  1. Write something nobody else has written. As an academic or altac, you should be used to spotting gaps in literature. Your work will gain much more interest from others if it’s the only one of its kind.
  1. Get feedback on your writing. Starting Your PhD went through three sets of beta readers, from potential doctoral students to experienced supervisors. It wouldn’t have been worth publishing without their input.
  1. Use a professional editor. It doesn’t matter how experienced a writer you are, you will have blind spots. I know I did. I will always pay to have my books edited by a skilled professional who can bring fresh eyes and a keen brain to improving my text.
  1. Unless you are really good at design yourself, use a professional cover designer. You need someone who knows about book covers, how to make them stand out even at thumbnail size on a mobile device.
  1. Join the Alliance of Independent Authors. This worldwide organisation has approved ‘partner members’ including editors and cover designers which is useful if you don’t have people in your networks with those skills. They also have an active and ALLiEthicalAuthor_Badgesupportive closed group on Facebook where you can get help with all aspects of indie writing and publishing. And they have an Ethical Author code, as well as a publicly accessible searchable blog full of sound advice.
  1. Be prepared to do lots of promotional work. As an indie publisher, you’re not only the author, you’re also the sales and marketing departments for your work. This could involve anything from chatting on Twitter to lugging print copies around with you. You will need to decide what you can do, when, and how. It doesn’t have to be much – but if you don’t do anything to promote your work, it will sink beneath the ocean of available literature.
  1. Buy ISBNs, aka International Standard Book Numbers. These are the 10 or 13 digit numbers used by cataloguing systems to identify each unique book. You can only buy them from one organisation in each country, they’re not cheap (though the more you buy, the cheaper each number becomes), and you can’t transfer them between publishers or even leave them in your will. Also they take ten days to issue, so don’t leave this until the last minute, or you’ll have to postpone your book launch (like I did, ahem). You can get free identifiers such as ASINs from distributors such as Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble (Nook), but these are distribution codes, not unique book identifiers – or if they are actual ISBNs, they are owned and assigned by the distributor, not by you. This effectively means you are giving away part of the control you have over your work, and having control of your own work is a big part of the rationale for publishing independently in the first place. There’s a more detailed explanation of this on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog.
  1. Research the different ways you can publish your work – and expect to spend a considerable amount of time on this, as there are a lot of options. To begin with: e-book only, print only, or both? I’ve gone for e-book only, as I’m writing short books for students who will be comfortable with technology, and e-books are more affordable than print books. So then I decided to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing. This is a no-brainer even if you regard Amazon as the evil empire, because you will sell most of your work from this platform, so if you’re not willing to do business with Amazon at all, don’t publish independently. I also decided to use Draft2Digital, who take a small commission from your income for distributing through most of the other major channels – Kobo, Barnes & Noble (Nook), iBooks, Scribd etc – and they’re very helpful when you get stuck with your uploading, as I did. You could upload your work with each platform individually, and save yourself the commission; it’s your decision whether the hassle is worth the benefit. I decided that, for me, it wasn’t – and my sales figures, so far, bear this out (see below). I might decide to produce print books one day, in which case I’d use CreateSpace on the advice of fellow members of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
  1. Launch your book with some kind of a fanfare – then relax. I had a virtual launch day with a dedicated blog post and a lot of tweeting. Ten days later I went on holiday, which was excellent timing, as the process of preparing and publishing the e-book was much more difficult, stressful, and exhausting than I anticipated. I won’t be able to take a holiday every time, but I’m going to build in at least a weekend off after each one from now on.
  1. Write another book. Full disclosure: in the first three weeks, I’ve made £56.48 from sales on Amazon and $6.30 from sales through Draft2Digital. Not bad for a first e-book priced at £1.99/$2.99. However, given that I’ve shelled out around £500 on editing, cover design, and ISBNs, at this rate it will be six months before I break even. But I have a cunning plan for world domination: the next book in this series, Gathering Data For Your PhD, will be out in November, and I have four more planned for 2016. There is clear evidence that the more you publish and promote, the more readers you will acquire. This applies in the same way to free material.

I hope my learning over the last year will benefit others. If you decide to go down the indie publishing road, do let me know. At present I only know of two other academic types who are doing this: Dr Nathan Ryder, who has published a couple of very useful short e-books on preparing for your viva, and Dr Jenna Condie, who has a book of blog posts on sustainable urbanisation. If you know of other academic indie publishers, please leave a comment. Let’s start a movement!

Travel Broadens The Mind

view from front door

View from the front door of the villa where we’re staying

I’m on holiday right now in Al Ain, the second city of Abu Dhabi, on the border with Oman. I have travelled in the Middle East before but I’ve never been to the Emirates. It’s a fascinating place, only officially defined as a country in 1971; before that it was populated mainly by nomadic Bedouin tribespeople.

The landscape is desert, arid and very hot – currently around 45 degrees at midday, dropping to 28 or 30 at night. It’s beautiful and deadly: few people could survive for long unaided unless they had learned the necessary skills. But then few people would have to survive unaided, because the people of this country, like most people in the Middle East, have a tremendous ethos of hospitality and care for visitors and strangers.

The culture here is very different from my own. There are three differences which have impressed themselves on my mind as having something to teach me about my professional life. These are they.

First, coffee. Coffee here is enormously symbolic. If you enter someone’s house, they are obliged to offer you coffee; if they don’t, it’s a serious insult. Equally, if you don’t accept the coffee offered by your host, that is a serious insult. However, there is a form of wording you can use to refuse their offer of coffee, which means, ‘We have a problem and we need to talk about it.’ Once that discussion has taken place, you can say you will accept their offer of coffee, which signifies that you regard the problem as resolved.

This made me think about the way coffee has become symbolic in academia. I’ve lost count of the people I’ve “been for a coffee with”, as a euphemism for chatting about anything from our respective projects to a potential or actual collaboration. I love going for coffee with clever, interesting people. And I don’t even drink coffee! Coffee gives me migraines – the antithesis of intelligent thought – but it’s still something I suggest to actual or potential colleagues. ‘Shall we meet for coffee?’ is so much easier to say than ‘Shall we meet for a, er, well, probably peppermint tea in my case, but most people have coffee, and there might be cake, anyway, it would give us time to chat about, er, well, what do you think?’

Second, gender. Abu Dhabi is a thoroughly patriarchal society. I am travelling with my male partner, and staying with our old friend, also male. In restaurants or cafes, they are always served first. In malls, I get funny looks – from women and from men – for walking with two men. I’m not surprised as all adults who are out in public are alone or in same-sex pairs or groups – and they’re mostly male. However, the concept of equality is not completely absent. For example, if a man takes two or more wives, he must treat them all equally, which in practice means building each of them a house that is identical in every respect to his other wives’ houses. So the concept is of equality within, rather than between, the genders. (And yes, I know gender isn’t binary – but they really haven’t caught on to that here, at all.) Part of me minds about this and part of me doesn’t. The first part is the Western feminist, the second part is the part that thinks it’s important to honour and respect different cultures. These two parts argue with each other, the first questioning the merit of honouring and respecting discriminatory cultures, the second standing up for the importance of honouring and respecting other cultures even if their priorities are different from my own. I doubt I will ever reconcile these opposing views within myself. Yet this experience is, I think, useful for my research work because it reflects many of the ethical dilemmas we meet as researchers, where there is more than one way to be ‘right’ and there is no easy answer.

Third, ethnicity. While I am experiencing daily micro-aggressions related to gender, I have not experienced a single one related to my ethnicity. (Yes, I know it’s not always possible to separate the two, so I may be mis-reading this. But I’ve thought about it a lot since I’ve been here, and I’m fairly sure of my ground.) Beyond the gender-related discrimination described above, local people here, and migrant workers, all treat me as a human being who is worthy of respect. Even the men are unfailingly polite and welcoming. I grew up in a society that discriminates on the basis of ethnicity, and I know that affects my interactions with people. UAE society may also discriminate: the migrant workers here from countries such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines, India and Pakistan, might tell those stories. But as a white Westerner, I feel safe here in this country of friendly hospitable people.

The UAE is full of Muslims, so many Brits would regard it as highly dangerous. But it is very peaceful. I have walked in streets, and mosques, and malls, and on beaches, populated mostly by Muslim people, and I have never once felt threatened or in danger. I feel safer here than I feel in London, my own capital city. And the UAE is friendly to migrant workers. Indeed, it needs to be: for example, in Dubai, only 15% of the population is indigenous, and most of the other 85% are migrant workers. There is acceptance, here, that non-indigenous people have a place in the social economy: to do the jobs that locals don’t have the skills for, or don’t wish to take on.

This experience makes me feel ashamed of my own country. The UK is depressingly hostile to people of different ethnicities and to economic migrants. Many of us can’t see how much our society could and does benefit from their input, or how much, in fact, we need their support. I have felt this for a long time, but my experience here in Abu Dhabi has reinforced my belief that it is possible for society to work with a much higher proportion of economic and other migrants than we have at present in the UK. This makes me think about how the research I do is culturally constructed. Growing up with the scientific tradition as a backdrop can lead us to conclude that our methods of investigation are neutral – but they’re not, they spring from our culture. We think findings produced by our favoured methods inform our decisions, while in fact these findings may be created, albeit unconsciously, to reinforce our ways of thinking. We need to bring this new understanding into our consciousness and use it to help us move from policy-based evidence (‘migrants and refugees will swamp us’ etc) towards evidence-based policy (‘migrants and refugees can help us economically, though there may be social costs’).

I have long believed that we need to make good decisions based on evidence rather than hearsay or fear, and my experience here in the Gulf has reinforced that belief.

Anyway, the three of us are off to Oman tomorrow, on a road trip for the next few days. So I won’t be around online much this week. I’ve never been to Oman, either. I look forward to having my mind broadened further.

Learning As An Expert

learningPeople have begun referring to me as an ‘expert’. I feel quite uncomfortable with this for two reasons. First, I’m English, and being called an expert is complimentary, so I am culturally programmed to look at the floor, shuffle my feet, and make harrumphing noises until someone changes the subject. Second, the subject I am allegedly an expert in is research methods. This subject is colossal and I am continually aware of how small an area my expertise covers. I see questions on ResearchGate that I don’t even understand. If I’m an expert in anything, it’s something like, ‘Research methods for the social sciences, might be some use for arts and humanities too, and maybe a few people at the outer reaches of other disciplines, not all research methods though, bit rusty on the serious quant stuff, not much idea about big data, is STEAM a thing?’

I am always learning, regularly dismayed by how little I have learned in the context of how much there is to learn, and sometimes close to despair when I notice how fast the field is expanding. But I hadn’t given much thought to the question of how I learn until last week, when I was invited to participate in a methods diary circle that NCRM are running over the next couple of years to investigate how researchers learn about methods in practice. They’re using delightfully creative methods of gathering data, and welcoming images, notes, voice recordings etc as well as text – anything that can be collated and shared via WordPress.

So I started to think about how I learn, and what I might have to contribute to their research. And it swiftly dawned on me that I constantly learn about research methods as I work, building on my existing knowledge and adding to it all the time. I learn from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn; from email, Skype and hard self conversations; from reading online, on-screen, e-readers and books; from making and doing; and occasionally from more formal learning opportunities such as conferences and courses. I learn as I write, create, speak, and teach. I even learn from my own work. Sometimes I read an article, or a section of a book, that I wrote some time ago, and I learn. Maybe I re-learn something I’d forgotten, or I learn something I couldn’t know when I wrote it in the same way I can know it today with a different context of more understanding and experience.

Let’s take yesterday: not your ‘yesterday’ as you read, but mine as I write. I checked my emails first thing as usual, and there was a new blog post from Pat Thomson on insider and outsider research identity. I was interested to see that she argued, as I did in my first research methods book, that this is a spectrum rather than a dichotomy. However, I’m not at all sure I’ve learned enough about this to explain or write about it clearly or teach it well, so I was pleased to see Pat has written a paper on it with Helen Gunter, and I bookmarked the paper for future reading.

Then I logged on to Twitter to let others know about Pat’s post and paper, and picked up a link from the #acwri hashtag to another post on the Savage Minds blog. I was interested in this because it’s about impostor syndrome, something I experience regularly and have written about myself. It led me to another post by Galen Strawson which offers some very interesting ideas about the relationship between narrative and identity. Broadly, the ‘narrativists’ (humanities people, person-centred psychology types, etc) think that narration is part of the self, while the opposing view is that people are ‘anti-narrative’, partly because we can’t remember our lives in a narrative-friendly coherent and linear way, and partly because life in general isn’t shaped like a story but is chaotic and shambolic. Strawson’s conclusion is that some people are inclined to narrative but most are not, though narrative can be useful in some circumstances even for those who are not natural narrativists. I am certainly a narrativist and have not given enough thought to those who are not. Yet this has implications for interviewing. Are other narrativists more likely to agree to take part in research interviews? How might this skew our data? Should we amend the method to make it more non-narrative friendly? Is that even possible? Does enhanced interviewing help?

This was timely as I was about to embark on a new set of interviews for a commissioned research project. My mind was buzzing with these questions and ideas as I drove off to do my first interview in the series. At the planning meeting, staff of the service had asked whether I could email a photo of myself so they could print it out and give it to participants whose homes I would be visiting. Yes, I said, of course I can, what a great idea. (I am now incredulous that I didn’t think of this for myself long ago.) Today’s participant is undergoing medical treatment with various side-effects including confusion and memory problems. When I arrived at his home, he showed me the printed-out photo of myself and told me how useful it had been for him. So I learned, in a different way, from a different angle, that this really is a good idea, and resolved to embed it in my research practice from now on.

Then I came back to my office to do some work on the slides for a keynote speech on creative research methods that I’ll be giving in Calgary next month. I am not a very visual person and have struggled with PowerPoint, but recently I had an excellent tutorial from a young friend which has increased my confidence. She showed me how to remove the backgrounds of images so that they stand out by themselves without being framed. I hadn’t tried that yet, so I had a go, and learned that although it’s fiddly, I can do it. Hurrah!

Then I did some background reading for my next full-length book which will be on research ethics. I have never been able to separate ethics from method; for me, ethics is not about filling in a form and ticking boxes, it’s about treating people with respect and care throughout the process, and using research for social justice. I read the first edition of Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith in 2000, and am enjoying the second edition, with its new foreword and two new chapters. On page 203, I find: ‘…if they are to work, to be effective, political projects must also touch on, appeal to, make space for, and release forces that are creative and imaginative.’ This resonates with me. I have long argued that all research is a political act – even choosing not to do research is a political decision – and I’ve written a whole book arguing for creativity in research, which also demonstrated the importance of imagination. But Smith’s statement is strong and differently angled. Perhaps I didn’t go far enough. What would be the implications for research methods, if we didn’t only make space for, but actually privileged, the creative and the imaginative? How could we release the forces that Smith refers to? What would happen if we not only valued creativity within research, but also used research to help fulfil our creative and imaginative potential?

I’m glad it’s lunchtime, so I can spend time thinking this over while I make and eat some food…

Do you remember the diary circle I mentioned? I have said ‘no’ to participating (although if you’d like to say ‘yes’, I bet they’d love to have you). I would like to help with the research but I simply can’t commit to recording everything I learn for two whole years. The morning described above is fairly typical. Of course there are days where I don’t learn anything – but they really are quite rare. Independent workers either quickly learn to make fairly accurate estimates of how long work will take them, or go out of business. I estimated that it would take me an average 15-30 minutes per day to record my learning, which would equate to around a working month over the two years. That’s unpaid work I can’t afford to take on. I already knew that recruitment and retention of participants is a problem in longitudinal research, where there is almost inevitably more to be gained by researchers than participants. It is interesting to have the opportunity to think this through as a potential participant. As a result, I’m learning about it from a different angle, which is useful as I’m preparing to work on a longitudinal project myself. As I may have mentioned, the learning never stops!

Starting Your PhD – New Book Launch!

SYPhD_green_SQmarks_noblend_LC2_RGBI’m launching my Top Secret Project today. It is a short e-book (11,000 words) called Starting Your PhD: What You Need To Know. I published this e-book myself, under the Know More Publishing imprint (see what I did there?!), which I set up for the purpose. The book is available via Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Scribd, and Inktera. So as well as being an indie researcher and writer, I’m now an indie publisher too!

I wrote three drafts of the e-book, each of which received feedback from a small group of different beta readers, including people who might do a PhD one day, current doctoral students, and experienced supervisors. The final version was professionally edited. I am very grateful to my beta readers and to my editor, each of whom provided input which improved the book’s quality. And you can buy the fruits of all this labour and experience for the price of a coffee: approx £1.99/$2.99/E3.29 or equivalent (actual prices may vary slightly due to circumstances beyond my control).

So why did I take up indie publishing, you may ask? There are times I’ve been wondering that myself over the last year or so, as it’s been a massive learning curve. I think if I’d known how much work was involved, I probably wouldn’t have started the process. But now that the curve is beginning to flatten out, I’m very glad I did. There are a number of reasons I decided to publish independently. In no particular order, the main ones are:

  • I spotted a gap in the market that a short e-book would fill
  • I’m intrigued by indie publishing; it seems to fit with being an indie researcher and writer
  • Short e-books are increasing in popularity
  • I wanted to offer good quality and affordable help for doctoral students

I expect you’re wondering whether I’ve done all this work just to produce one short e-book. No, I haven’t. ‘Starting Your PhD’ is the first in the ‘PhD Knowledge’ series, with other volumes of similar length to include:

  • Gathering Data for your PhD: An Introduction
  • Analysing Data for your PhD: An Introduction
  • Writing Your PhD: An Introduction
  • Research Ethics for your PhD: An Introduction
  • Finishing Your PhD: What You Need To Know

The second volume is scheduled for publication in November, and I aim to publish the others in the course of 2016.

ALLiEthicalAuthor_BadgeThis is an exciting new venture for me. I’ve had loads of help already: from friends, colleagues, people I’ve met online, and the Alliance of Independent Authors. I’m proud to be a member, and would recommend them to anyone; their closed Facebook group is an invaluable source of support. Also, I’m particularly pleased that they have a code of ethics for indie authors, with the guiding principle of putting the reader first – a principle that guides all my writing.

With that in mind, I need your help too, because there are some things you can do for potential readers that I can’t: tell them about the book, and write honest reviews to help people decide whether the book would be useful for them. Of course I can tell some people, but with my traditionally published books, I’ve had access to an established publishing firm which employed a range of professionals to help spread the word. As an indie publisher I am my own marketing, distribution, and sales departments. So it would be enormously helpful if you could talk about this e-book to people who might find it useful: people considering doctoral study, people embarking on doctoral study, or people supporting someone else through their doctoral study. When I say ‘talk’ I mean the virtual kind too, i.e. tweeting, blogging, Facebook etc. And I absolutely can’t, and wouldn’t, review the book I’ve written; that would be most unethical, so I’m completely reliant on others to give their honest opinion in a way that will help prospective readers decide whether it’s worth investing a few of their hard-earned coins.

Doing a PhD – or a professional doctorate; the e-book is applicable to either – is an enormous undertaking. It can be really difficult even to start on this long, complex process, much of which is incomprehensible at the start. I began mine, back in the early 2000s, with a complete false start which cost me a year and a lot of wasted time and effort; I ended up at a different university with a completely different topic, supervisor, and discipline than I’d originally planned. I guess that is another reason I wrote the e-book: to help others make a more sure-footed start, and to save them timchampagne launche and effort.

If this works for you, please do let me know, either in the comments or on Twitter where I always love to hear from my readers. But for now: I declare my indie publishing career in general, and the Starting a PhD e-book in particular, open!

Being My Own Patron

love writingYou’ve probably worked out by now that I love to write. I still remember the joy of winning a class story competition when I was 7 or 8 years old. I filled most of an exercise book with the story of four children who had adventures in a flying car. It was an incredibly derivative Chitty Chitty Bang Bang/Swallows and Amazons mash-up, but I didn’t know, then, that you’re not supposed to nick other people’s ideas. I did know that writing, for me, was enormously satisfying.

It was a habit I never lost. As a young adult I found that I couldn’t not write: I wrote on buses, in bed, on holiday and at work, and when I wasn’t writing I was often thinking about writing. There’s a game I still play with myself when I have a bit of spare brain: which words would I use to describe the way sunlight shimmers on that wheat field, the taste of this flavoursome curry, how I feel when my partner is unexpectedly late home and I don’t know why. I’m looking for precision. I don’t want to conjure up any old wheat field, curry, or emotion, I want to describe the quality of light on that wheat field, the joy of this spice mix making my taste buds sing, the bittersweet combination of love and anxiety I’m experiencing right now.

I love to rewrite, too. In the previous paragraph, I originally wrote of the spice mix ‘exploding on my tongue’. That was a bit too cliched even for a disposable blog post. Then I tried ‘colonising my taste buds’, which pleased me because of the reverse colonisation implication for this UK resident, but then I began to doubt that phrase in case, even though I had associated it with joy, it could be read in the opposite way by someone with racist tendencies. So I went for ‘sing’ which has pleasing links with joy and mouth. As this is a blog post, which I am writing when I should be doing client work, I plumped for the third idea. If I was writing a book, I might have run through many more possibilities before making my choice.

If I didn’t love to write, I wouldn’t write. I certainly don’t do it for the money. When people find out that I’m a writer, they sometimes assume I’m rich, JK Rowling-style. Nope. It’s particularly dumb being an academic writer, whose average annual earnings are the lowest of all the categories at an average of £3,826 per year in the UK. I’m not sure of my own exact average, but in the 12 years since my first book was published, I know it is somewhere around £350 per year. I don’t earn anything for book chapters or, usually, academic journal articles, though I did get paid £1,500 for writing one in 2014. If I count my average earnings from writing over the three years since my first research methods book came out in 2012, that one single payment pushes it up to somewhere around £850 per year.

However, the calculation of direct earnings is not the whole story. In academic circles, my writing confers credibility and, quite literally, authority. I know I have obtained paid work, from academic and non-academic institutions (including, ironically given recent events, HM Government), as a direct result of my writing. But writing takes a lot of time and, when you’re self-employed, time is money. One of the really, really annoying things about being an indie researcher is that you can’t get funding from anywhere. Research councils will only fund institutions, I’m not arty enough for the Arts Council, not literary enough for a Royal Literary Fellowship, and even the Independent Social Research Foundation doesn’t do what I thought it did. I got all excited when I saw the name, but it seems to be the Foundation which is independent, not the researchers it funds who are all employed by academic institutions.

I have wondered whether to try using the web for its potential rather than its usefulness and go for some kind of crowdfunding. I’ve thought about Kickstarter, or Unbound, or Patreon. They all have slightly different models. With Kickstarter, you propose a project, set a funding limit, and offer ‘rewards’ which can be as nominal as funders getting their name in the acknowledgements/credits or as tangible as you like: a copy of the book, dinner with the author, feedback on a draft of your own work – whatever you want to offer for varying levels of contribution. Unbound is a bit like Kickstarter but specifically for books. And Patreon is a way in which fans of artists can pay a set amount per week, per month, or per output, again in return for rewards chosen by the artist to suit the size of the contribution.

cliffhangerI think these are interesting, useful platforms for creative people. I don’t think they’ll work for me. For a start, I don’t have millions of fans. Some projects get funded even though their generators don’t have millions of fans, because they have an idea that captures enough people’s imaginations. I don’t think my current project, a multi-disciplinary research ethics book, is going to capture many people’s imaginations. My ideas aren’t earth-shaking, though they may cause a small bounce in a few odd corners of academia. But they matter to me. And that’s why I am my own patron.

I am lucky that I can use my income to fund my writing habit – and that writing is the habit I want to fund; far more destructive habits are available. I am also lucky that I’m not materialistic. But I’m also not completely stupid when it comes to running a business. So I’ve decided that, where my writing is concerned, it’s time to diversify. I alluded to my Top Secret Project back in April, and now it’s almost ready to… ooh, is that the time? I’ll have to tell you the rest next week!