The Not Your Usual series

peter macinnis, 500-headshot-5820 (198K) This is a series of books that are partly or fully written, and this is a place-holder for the series.

These may end up in print, but my alternative is to make e-books of them. I may publish some as e-books and some in print, or I may sell them to a print publisher who is willing to offer them also as e-books. My own preference is for e-books to be part of the mix.

If I go to e-books only, then in due course there will be ISBNs, and not too long after that, this page will feature links to where you can find and buy them through the Australian Society of Authors. The books would then eventually all be in three formats: epub, mobi and pdf, and there will be no digital rights management. I would be relying on the honesty of readers.

The ASA also has plans to offer site licences to libraries, and I will add information on that when it is available.


I have been appearing in print for more than 40 years. A natural corollary of that is that I am now approaching what I prefer to regard as advanced middle age. I have a lot of material in my files which deserves exposure to the light of day, but publishers are going all Nervous Nellie on authors, because the bean counters are uncertain of the impact of e-books.

I don't have time to wait for the market to settle down, and I want these books out there before I have to hang up my walking-stick and retire into a comfortable chair. The print publishing industry is in chaos, and nobody is willing to go out on a limb if they can get a carbon copy of last week's best seller. It takes too much energy to urge them to the water's edge and dip their toes in. The significant point: authors can afford to cater to niche markets.

Print is good. I like print, and I have well over forty books that have appeared in print, if you count the translations into Slovak, Russian, German, Polish, Chinese, Korean and American (yes, I call that a translation: my book ended up a palimpsest of its original self). I have also won quite a few awards for print books, as you can see from this link.

So what is an award-winning many-times-published writer doing, thinking about self-publishing his work as e-books? After all, one of the reasons you win awards is because you get the benefit of wise publishers, their editors and designers. Now I need to do all that stuff myself. Self-publication has a bad name, and some of the opprobrium is merited. Nothing gets my goat quite so much as the self-published e-book that has people honing in on something, coaches careening down the street, bodies with rigor mortise, or lawn tennis in the 1820s, or similar hapless blunders and anachronisms, but the face of e-book publishing is changing.

Things are changing as people realise that e-books are different. You can add hotlinks in them, to take readers to the source documents or to clarify other matters, like the link above. I like playing around the bleeding edge.

Unlike bean counters, I have no capital investment, so I don't have to care about sales: I write for fun, and in the hope of ensnaring and maybe enchanting a few like minds. I would like lots of readers, but if I wait for the cumbersome print people to act, I will never see finished product, not in the current climate. On the other hand, e-books will get me some readers now, and half a loaf is better than none.

So that's more or less where I am going, though I have offered two titles to a couple of publishers, and I am really hoping I can get both print and e-book versions out.

The first release list

mick-cover (71K) Not Your Usual Australian Hero; tall tales: Crooked Mick of the Speewah.

Crooked Mick was invented, somewhere in the Australian bush, back in the 1880s, probably in a shearing shed somewhere. The idea was that when somebody "skited", which is Australian for boasting, Crooked Mick of the Speewah would be trotted out as somebody who could beat the skite. In the early 1990s, I started telling the Crooked Mick yarns, but they never went far, so I started embroidering.

These stories are true to the original ethos, but original—though I did borrow a couple of bush jokes. One or two old mates will find themselves immortalised in this collection.

Crooked Mick sample

bushrangers-cover (60K) Not Your Usual Bushrangers; the lesser lights of bushranging.

I wrote this one because some teacher friends pushed me to go outside the safe, well-trodden ground of five or six villainous thugs, to look at the other bushrangers, the ones nobody has ever heard of.

Here, you will meet a bushranger who was sent to steal a bell by a governor and rewarded when he succeeded, a bushranger who was pardoned by another governor for being good at escaping, a bushranger who died after I was born (which makes me feel very old indeed) and a bushranger whose bullet-holed head was reproduced as the bowl of clay pipes for many years—among others. The title is well-merited.

Bushrangers sample

gold-stories-cover (52K) Not Your Usual Gold Stories; a different history of Australian gold.

And I wrote this one because some teacher friends pushed me to go outside the safe, well-trodden ground of the Eureka stockade and Hargraves who didn't do much at all, though he was a good conspirator. As I will be explaining in a moment, I am a science writer, first and foremost, so I provide a rather different view, because I look at the science and the technology of winning gold as well as the social science.

Gold sample and Another gold sample

science-vol1 (52K) Not Your Usual Science, volume 1; background to the story of science.

Please note: while many people (at least one of my publishers included) mistake me for an historian, I am no historian. I am a science writer who is interested in the whyness of things, and I have been writing professionally about science for many, many years.

This is the first of a multi-volume series that provide a careful historical background to science, and why it has gone where it has, including its quirks and excesses. There are three more volumes in first draft, and there will be at least two other volumes beyond that.

Originally, I planned to write one HUGE book, but when it got to 330,000 words, the size of Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy and 60% of War and Peace, I decided to rejig it and do smaller volumes. Volume 2 will be close behind, volumes 3 and 4 won't be far behind, but there is work still to be done.

Unusual science sample

words-cover (60K) Not Your Usual Quotations; my commonplace book, 30 years in the making.

As a working writer, I have always gathered odd and quirky quotes that I might want to use as epigraphs.

Here, you will find gathered the curiosities that have fallen under my eye over much of a life-time.

Quotations sample

australian poetry-cover (67K) Not Your Usual Australian Verse; beyond C. J. Dennis, Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson.

Because I write a lot of Australian history, I have, over the years, drawn together a file of all the Australian verse that I was likely to want to quote, in almost any context. The title isn't quite accurate, because I have a lot of the old standards there as well. This is just a handy all-purpose collection: think of it as my commonplace book, volume 2.

Australian poetry sample

war-poems-cover (74K) Not Your Usual War Poems; beyond Rupert Brooke, McCrae and Kipling.

From time to time, I have been persuaded to write military history, and I have even won awards for it, but I loathe doing military history because it is too much about the bully-boys, the liars, the oafs like Sir Thomas Blamey, and I don't like celebrating scum. One book, in which Blamey featured prominently, had an unusable first draft which was no more than a brief for the prosecution of Blamey: I had to throw it out and start again.

Still, one needs, from time to time, to write about it, and one owes a debt of gratitude to those who gave their lives, believing they were doing so in a good cause. At least when I write the history, I record the fact that "Dugout Doug" (the US soldiers' own name for MacArthur was a thug who said the Australians weren't fighting hard enough, because not enough of them were dying!

So this collection occasionally reflects the anthologist's Bolshie tendencies. That said, the old favourites are there as well.

A war poems sample

Samples of coming attractions

  • Not Your Usual Treatments
  • Not Your Usual Colonists

    Planned titles include those named above and also:

    (But note that some of them will fall by the wayside, and others may be combined.)

    Almost ready

  • Not Your Usual Science, volume 2; background to the story of science.
  • Not Your Usual Science, volume 3; background to the story of science.
  • Not Your Usual Colonists; how some interesting early Australians lived.
  • Not Your Usual Travels; curious and crazy transport devices.
  • Not Your Usual Treatments; quack cures, patent medicines and oddities.
  • Not Your Usual Inventions; other curious and crazy inventions.

    Under Way

    • Not Your Usual Science, volume 4; background to the story of science.
    • Not Your Usual Crimes; frauds, tricksters and oddities.
    • Not Your Usual Explorers; the explorers we rarely hear about.
    • Not Your Usual Manufacturing; 19th century materials and methods.
    • Not Your Usual Measures; weighing the Earth, timing a whale and more.
    • Not Your Usual New Arrivals; multicultural Australia is older than we think.
    • Not Your Usual Power Sources; steam engines, ox-powered sawmills and more.
    • Not Your Usual Rocks; rocks that bend, float, dissolve, melt and more.
    • Not Your Usual Wee Beasties; the hidden stuff in your garden.
    • Not Your Usual Words; descants on interesting words.

    Maybe, unready or barely defined

    • Not Your Usual Science, volume 5;
    • Not Your Usual Science, volume 6;
    • Not Your Usual Beach Things;
    • Not Your Usual Changes;
    • Not Your Usual Coasts;
    • Not Your Usual Consequences;
    • Not Your Usual Foods;
    • Not Your Usual Place Names;
    • Not Your Usual Plants;
    • Not Your Usual Predictions;
    • Not Your Usual Sporting Tales;
    • Not Your Usual Theories.
    To get the latest news on the series, look at which takes you to

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    It was created on August 23, 2013 and last revised on December 7, 2013.

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