Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So, you wrote a book. Part 2. Electric Boogaloo

So, our story left off with the writer finally seeing his dream come true...a contract to finally see the book, his blood, sweat and tears in print. Yeah....should've been that easy, right?

At this point, I had figured I'd stopped fooling myself. Big ideas of seeing "One Team, One Dream" on the big screen, at least this way, were gone. I wasn't expecting to be on Oprah or Good Morning America as the next great American writer. I just was happy that someone had said "yes, we want your book." Had I known what I had known, my answer would have been "I'm sorry, you can not have it."

When you get to, essentially, the scrapings of the barrel (yes, past the bottom) in the book world, you don't know what you're gonna find. At this point, I was just happy they didn't ask me for any money (a big big no no if you're trying to be genuinely published, unless of course you are independently wealthy, then you can do whatever the hell you want) and they paid for everything from cover design, all the way to distribution, the way it is supposed to be done. The only snag for me, is that they were "print on demand" however still to this day, I do not see that as a problem, the "old timers" in the book world do, but I can order my book, or any book by my publisher from and it will be to me within 2-4 days. You can order War and Peace or any other book that is stocked in Amazon's warehouse and it will be to you within.....2-4 days. Also, at my very first book signing, Barnes and Noble ordered 250 of my books....and within a week, they had 250 of my books. Anyway, I digress.

This publisher was run by a lawyer out of Louisiana. It was essentially a one man operation, with the exception of a revolving door of "marketing directors" all of whom were people that thought they knew more than they did and ended up making a fool out of the company and many of the authors by making empty promises they couldn't keep. I'm not going to get too much into this lawyer's background, but let's just say there were some red flags that came out, AFTER I signed the contract. Also, to be honest, he didn't present himself as a great lawyer or to have a great command of the english language or legal terminoligy, for that matter. Within my first couple of conversations with this guy I was feeling like Tony the Tiger...GRRRRRRREAT. (I hope the sarcasm came through there.)

At this point, I took the bad with the good and kept my eyes on what was important, getting that damn book finally in my hands. I was given a release date of early April, which was a reasonable six months away. I was happy, well at least as happy as I could be, given my lowered goal expectations. A couple of months later I was sent an electronic copy of my "edited" book. First go around, I was expecting to see some mistakes still there, but there were very few turned in on the finished copy as I had an editor friend of mine go through the finished product with a fine toothed comb so I wouldn't make a fool of myself. Well, the few mistakes I had seen while waiting were still there, along with about a dozen others that had been added in. Ah, no big deal, I thought, so I just sent back the corrections and assumed all would be good.

A few days later I was contacted by a cover designer asking me what my ideas were for my cover. To be honest, I didn't have any. I was the writer, she was the designer....but I came up with some off the top of my head and sent some pictures to go along. Within a month, I had her vision back and to be honest, I'm still happy when I look at it.  I think she nailed it and its the one thing I think was done correctly and professionally throughout the entire process.

Then I got an email saying the April release date was pushed back to June. Considering I was on somewhere around month 27 in this process from start to finish, I wasn't very happy. The book is done, the cover is done, what is the holdup?  M.O.N.E.Y. Ah, shit. The guy didn't have enough money in the company to even release the books he was planning on releasing. Are you kidding me?

Long story short, my book was finally released in September. I was, based on things I was told, expecting some marketing, some help setting up events.....something from this company to help him make money from this book that he thought highly enough to purchase. Every time I sent something to find out, I got "yeah it's in the plans, I'll get back to you."

Fuck this. So once again, I set my expectations even lower. I wasn't worried about my book being nationally or even regionally know, I just wanted the people in the Roanoke Valley to know about it. So I did my own marketing. From September through November, I was on two TV stations, in four newspapers, two magazines and two radio stations. I did seven book signings (which, yes, seems a little pompous for an unknown author to do, but I sold more book at signings than I did anywhere else) and I sucked every bit of publicity out of my contacts that I could.

Final tally....well, I'll never know, I estimated that I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of two to four thousand books. My "publisher" essentially became MIA when he saw that I and a couple other authors that followed my lead, were able to get our books circulated without any help from him and we weren't waiting on him. I've asked many many times for an amount, never got it. At one point there was a number I could call where one of the distributors would give me the amount that had been sold, but it was the smaller of the two distributors and the shut the number down in 2009.

The only correspondance I've received from the publisher since 2009 was a royalty check in the amount of $126.32. (I've been paid more to write a 500 word article)With no explanation of where he got his figures or where they came from, just simply the check. It was that point that I gave up. There was nowhere left to promote the book within my reach. I had actually, through a mutual friend, had a brief discussion with a legitimate movie producer who had produced real movies, with real actors and real directors, but at that point, the wind was out of my sails in regards to this book and to be honest, any possible deal fell apart because of me and my lack of effort in regards to it.

I figure the "publisher" owes me some money. Not a fortune, but probably a couple thousand dollars. I'm not going after it, because I doubt I'd ever get it. I'd spend more trying to get it than I'd actually get. I'm actually not even proud of the book anymore. I tried, very very hard, to make something great. It was a great story. The book should have been better. If you haven't read it....don't.  There are plenty out there that are better. Unless you have a huge interest in high school baseball anyway...then it might be ok. Ha Ha.

Bottom line is, if you break it all down, my story in the book publishing world should be considered a horror story....but it isn't....its pretty common. It is a world that isn't meant for the thin skinned and my skin was way too thin to have even tried it. Finally, whether it was perserverence, stubborness or just plain stupidity, I fought my way through and it nearly killed me. At least emotionally when it comes to writing. But I look back at it now as a learning experience....a five fucking year learning experience, but a learning, nontheless.

So, yeah I wrote a book. Dare you to.

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