Traditional publishing? Been there, done that, got the heartache!
I started my book publishing career a dozen years ago at BookLocker.com, which is not a traditional publisher. So successful was Some Sunny Day – an account of family life when my father returned from overseas after the Second World War – that it led to a multi-book contract with a traditional publisher.
And, that’s where the heartache began…
That publisher literally stole away in the dead of night, leaving dozens of authors high and dry. I was luckier than most. Having been tipped off by one of his employees that the company was on shaky ground, I cut a deal to take half of the $20,000 in royalties owed to me in the form of copies of my books. The publisher locked the doors soon after my books left the premises.
In addition to losing the other $10,000, I faced several daunting tasks. First, I had to find a place to store all those cartons. When our closets and garage were stacked to the rafters, I prevailed upon friends and relatives. That’s when you find out who your real friends are!
Then, I had to sell the books to recoup some of my losses. On-line marketing and speaking engagements worked well. It took me years, but I finally sold every copy. The really good news was that, where the publisher had been paying me a pittance per book sold, I got to keep the whole thing when I was the seller.
My streak of luck seemed to be continuing when another traditional publisher picked up the rights to the books, and asked if I had any other work he could look at. I suggested an expanded version of Some Sunny Day under a new title and we cut a deal. More heartache ensued. The publishing company has done zilch to promote the new book and sales are mostly through my own promotional efforts. I started wondering at that point why I needed a traditional publisher when I was doing all the work.
Ever the optimist, I sought out a new company for my next book, and was thrilled when a large and well-respected publishing house agreed to take it on. But, the contract they offered would have made me their indentured slave for the next couple of years, with all the risks on my side of the ledger. If someone had told me a dozen years ago that I would turn down a contract with that particular firm, I would have scoffed. But, turn it down I did.
I am now taking my books back to BookLocker.com.
Angela and Richard, I’m coming home; I’ve done my time. Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree!
In addition to moving his existing book back to BookLocker.com, Tom Douglas and his wife Gail, also a published author, are now working with BookLocker.com on their first collaborative effort – a book about World War One.