Ever complete an awesome project and can’t wait to get it out in the world so you make bad decisions because you just want it so badly?
Yeah. That’s me. There was a small press interested in my book. And by small I mean (though I didn’t know it at first) some middle-aged dude in his parents’ house who calls himself an editor and publisher. He had some good points. He wanted to put out my book. Who wouldn’t be excited about someone wanting to put out your book?
Someone like me who never wants to self-publish but also is too busy and too lazy to doggedly chase agents and publishers to the level needed for such a game. So I said, yeah. Fuck yeah you can publish my book. Especially because they gave me creative control over the cover–because I hate bad art work.
But then I started noticing things. For starters, who gets on FB and announces what meds they’re taking, their nap schedule, and that they’re trying to get a job and are unemployed and the press isn’t an actual business. Turns out he was using Createspace.com and Amazon. If you’re book only exists in those places is it really a book?
I knew from the get-go that I was more media savvy so I volunteered to help out in marketing. I wrote the press release. I started contacting book stores. Reading venues. I lined up people who wanted to print excerpts. I did these things to YOU KNOW, SELL THE BOOK.
The closer we got to the agreed upon date for release, the more I stalked him on social media to keep tabs of his progress. He didn’t seem to mention my book much anymore. He talked about the future books his press would release. He tried to put out an anthology on clown horror and didn’t get bios from the writers until two days before he loaded on to Amazon I suppose. Any outfit I ever worked with before? When they accepted your story, they ask you for the bio, you send. Bam. Done. I started to worry. This guy just doesn’t have the basic skills together. To top it off he had a paranoia persecution complex. Apparently another ‘press’ was tarnishing his non-existent reputation. I don’t know. I tried not to get involved. He seemed to spend a good deal of time worrying about Amazon reviews for books no one was buying because they weren’t marketed or reviewed. My first book only has five reviews, but they’re good ones and I don’t go checking it every day to see if there’s a new one. I mean that’s crazy stuff to be doing that. He kept having fights with real and imaginary friends. Shit. What had I gotten myself into?
Then I felt like an idiot for trusting someone on the basis that they believed in my book and said they were a new press with a new vision and I was part of that vision. BECAUSE I’M GULLIBLE.
I knew I had to get out of there. Thankfully he was so messed up in the head that he couldn’t sign the contract because I guess no one had ever shown him one before. I realized I could walk since nothing was signed.
My book is amazingly good. I couldn’t let some manchild desecrate it. I saw the cover art of other books on the press and then he tried to put together the back of mine and it looked like a colorblind toddler did it. I got a designer friend to help fix it. Thank goodness. But damn. What had been a happy idea was turning into a nightmare.
I texted him that we needed to talk. I told him the truth that I’d been doing leg work and setting things up and people needed to know when they could have an advanced copy to review. When would the review copy be ready? And in the back of my head I kept thinking he’ll pull through. He wants his small press to work. So um, when?
Ever call someone on their shit and they start whining and complaining? I have a hard time with that. I have a ton of part time jobs , two kids, husband, household, moms to check in on. I’m usually in some sort of theatrical madness and /or project. I just don’t have respect for a whiny middle aged man living with his mama who can’t do more than one thing in a week. Being a parent really ups your creative game.
To him I was pushy and demanding. But I’ve worked in real world publishing and he hasn’t –I was competing with his fantasy version of publishing and his life. To me, I just wasted 8 months time when I could have been searching for a real publisher.
I realize now that everyone has a right to dream and pretend they are doing something with their lives. I’m not here to take away anyone’s dream. But publishing is hard work. It takes tenacity and verve and guts. It takes a certain amount of extrovertness even if you’re an introvert. But don’t say you’re a publisher when you’re just a scribbler with an aging PC.
So my beautiful book is on hold. Searching for a publisher. A real one. A better one. Hopefully one who doesn’t live with his mommy and has pretend fights with pretend people. Hopefully one who wants to sell books as much as I do.