30 May 2012

Landfill Tax destroys construction jobs by mistake!

Most of my posts are about writing. Every now and then, I get personally involved in something hidden from public view that demonstrates that even a well-meaning piece of legislation can be so badly botched as to destroy whole industries.

Take this week's landfill tax fiasco.

Her Majesties Revenue and Customs have almost unlimited power to write their own legislation and guidance. Last year, they produced a Statutory Instrument that amended the rules about what types of waste paid standard rate landfill tax (64 pounds per tonne) and what paid lower rate (2.50 pounds per tonne)

Obviously, there's quite a difference.

When they introduced the new rules HMRC told Parliament that there would be no economic effect to them.

One year later, HMRC have informed industry that construction industry soils have to pay standard rate tax.

They also say that they will be looking to collect the difference retrospectively.

About 1.4 billion pounds, if they go back one year.

1.4 billion pounds that the house builders and other parts of the construction industry will have to find every year from now on.

The claw back, if allowed to happen, will put most companies out of business. The forward tax will price homes further from the reach of first time buyers.

I spoke to HMRC, asked them to clarify their policy then told them of the consequences. They said they didn't realise. They said that someone from the industry should have told them last year.

They almost said oops! but not quite.

So change it back, I said.

Can't they said.

Who is responsible for ruining all these lives? I asked.

We all are. They replied. But it's mostly a man called Darren Greedy who works in the policy department in Salford.

Naturally, I have started to inform interested parties, including MP's who should take the blame for letting HMRC do what they like.

There's going to be a few stormy meetings in Westminster before I've seen the back of this one.

We live in interesting times.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

7 May 2012

Desireable Traits

I received an email informing me that I now have a follower.  For my Wordpress blog.  I had forgotten I had a Wordpress blog and so this served as a timely reminder to submit another post.

For those of you reading the google blog, don't worry, the two are exactly the same.  You might ask the point of this but I would rather you didn't.

Where have I been? I hear you wondering.  What have I been doing? Why have I been so lackadaisical blogwise? 

Actually none of you would use the expression blogwise, so please count the above as an internal monologue rather than a series of rhetorical questions.

The answer is: Writing

The best excuse in the world.  Normally I write this blog as a sort of distraction from the real job of getting on with my novel.  Recently, the novel has sprung into life and demands to be written.

Writing a novel is a lot like reading one.  The first twenty thousand words or so are relatively hard going.  New characters have to be learned about, new situations have to be adjusted to.  Then, when enough time and effort has been invested, the whole process becomes much less effort.  There is a point where the story takes over, we care what happens to the characters and we have to keep turning the page.

I'm 30,000 words into Proceeds of Crime, about a third of the way through if I measure it with Due Diligence.  Believe it or not, the end is now in sight and I am accelerating towards it.  Great fun.

The debate still rages about what to do with Due Diligence.  One major publisher is reading it, one small publisher has asked to see it and I have sent it to an agent.
Even if one of the publishers wants it, that will probably mean 18 months before I get published.  Time, as I keep on remarking, is not on my side.

There is also money to be considered.

Take a conventional publisher.  They would pay me about 10% royalties.  On a £5 book, that would be 50 pence.  If I sell 10,000 books I get £5000.

If I self publish, I would typically get £1 per book based on the profit on a paperback print-on-demand cost.  Electronic sales would earn about £2 for every £2.99 copy sold on Amazon.  To earn £5000 with an e-book I would have to sell 2,500 copies.

You will appreciate that the big number in all this is the copies sold estimate.  Will a conventional publisher sell four time the copies that I could myself?

The answer is yes, probably, and more besides.  As my primary aim is to be read, rather than maximise income, the conventional route seems best.
So, this is my plan.  I'm going to finish Proceeds of Crime then publish Due Diligence myself if no credible publisher grabs it first.  This way, if I manage to create a readership I have another book for them while they're still receptive.  So DD will be out one way or another before the end of 2012.  Just in time for Christmas!
Let me know what you think about this.

 Another thing:

 Theres a website called I Write Like where you paste in some text and it analyses who you write like.  I suppose the name of the site gave that one away.

 I put in the first chapter of Due Diligence and it came up with: David Foster Wallace. 

I put in the second chapter and : Margaret Atwood
Third chapter: James Joyce

I rest my case.