Mr Jam, Can you tell us more about this dispute you are having with one of your publishers? I don't really need to know for any particular reason. Except that I am really nosy! (Don't you appreciate my honesty?) Also, to be serious for a minute, I think budding writers learn more from a dispute than they do from a straight forward publishing deal, where the books just seem to appear in the shop by magic. Also, I was surprised that you had to pay for the book. Doesn't that make it a vanity press?
I DO appreciate your honesty, Sal! And you are quite right about learning more from a deal gone wrong than a deal which works.
Sal is referring to the dispute mentioned in a previous posting .
Just to put things into context, I have maybe a dozen publishers around the world that work the traditional way -- I write the books, they publish them. I don't pay anything; they pay me. If I paid to be published, yes, I could be accused of putting out vanity press books.
But poetry books, as I have probably said before a few times, nearly always follow a different business model. Other than a few honourable exceptions, they are inherently unprofitable, so they are usually financed by a grant from an Arts Council or by the author or whatever.
The amazing thing is that because I wanted a large print run, the unit cost was low, so this book has a high likelihood of being profitable anyway!
WHY IT FELL APART
To be honest, I don't really know why this deal fell apart so badly. The problem wasn't money. After all, I supplied the text, and the illustrations and was the financier for the deal. And the problem wasn't the structure of the deal. Once it became obvious there was a misunderstanding, I offered to let him re-structure it any way he wanted.
I think it was a personalities thing. There was a trivial, fixable misunderstanding about terms of distribution. Instead of discussing it like big boys, one party blew his top and accused the other of all sorts of heinous crimes, of lying and cheating. (He'd probably just eaten something that disagreed with him, or slept badly the previous night.)
Anyway, I have made a million and one moves to rebuild the relationship. He has made zero. So I guess that's the end of it.
The books are being sent to an independent book distribution company, so they'll hit the stores later this year.
LESSONS TO LEARN
What should one learn from this? Get a clear contract. A friendly deal conducted verbally won't do. That's the "business lesson" from this blow.
The personal thing I have learned from this is very different: it's about the value of having the ability to drop things and move on. Although I am the person wronged in this situation -- he made serious accusations against me and has not withdrawn them or apologized -- I have dropped it, apologized for my part in the dispute, and moved on.
On his part, he seems locked in a self-made, stony prison of self-righteousness. I feel really sorry for him. It must be so hard to be unable to examine oneself and to apologize and move on.