Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Next Chapter of My Career

     Being an independent author these days is a frightening scenario. It's like being homeless. You can look at it philosophically and crow about the freedom that homelessness brings. But at the end of the day, you're still shivering under a tarp, if that. You can stand on the street corners of social media and busker your music or your message to the masses but, despite your talent, at best you'll likely get a few semi-interested pedestrians to stop long enough to gawk at you and maybe record you on their cell phones, whereupon in minutes you'll go viral in a Youtube or Facebook Live video under the title, "Check out this f*cking wacko on Main and Elm!"
     Make no mistake about it. Any author with even an iota of self respect who tells you they're happy without a book contract from even a legitimate indie press is either a sucker or a liar. Every author worth their weight in pencil shavings yearns for that ritualization in print, that stamp of legitimacy. Tell those slowing down long enough to hear you on that social media street corner that you've self-published another book, you'll get, at best, a few who'll tepidly tap their fingertips together and move on. Tell them you have an actual contract involving actual professional editorial gate-keeping and actual responsibilities such as deadlines, their reaction is a whole lot more enthusiastic. Every writer wants a publishing deal, however modest, just as surely as every musician wants a record label.
     Rogers Hornsby once famously said, "Any ballplayer content to remain in the minors is a sucker." The same applies to authors.
     I was offered a book contract last night by Next Chapter, an indie publisher of paperbacks, hard covers, ebooks and audiobooks out of Tokyo and London. After reviewing the contract that covered the rights to all four formats, it resulted in this:
     I'm now a contracted author. And this time, it's going to stick.

     Since getting back on Facebook over four years ago and making inroads in the writing community on both sides of the desk, I've had some near misses. The first one was the outfit out of the UK in which the chief editor turned out to be a creep who was creepily auditing my every Facebook post. When I swatted a troll, he demanded I take the post down, which I didn't. Then I told him to take his five book contract and to shove it where the English sun doesn't shine.

     Then there was the hybrid outfit out of Minnesota. After an hour-long, chatty exchange between its editor and me, she mentioned just a half second before hanging up their "services". The next day, I was presented with an invoice for $11,450 to publish my novel. (A word to the wise: When you hear the phrase "hybrid publisher", always associate it with "vanity press" and never stop running.)

     Then there was the right wing outfit out of Arizona led by a 21 year-old Trumper who couldn't even keep her own website from getting hacked and whose staffers were "identified" by an avatar and a pseudonym. I should've bolted when I learned the girl with whom I'd been initially dealing, another 21 year-old kid, was killed in a hit and run. When I realized she was a Trump fanatic, we parted ways very quickly.

     And then there were the bloodsuckers out of London who thought they were going to make a killing by selling apps that would enable one to use their smartphones as ereaders. Things started going south when the launch date for the app kept getting pushed back every couple of months because the idiot contractors they'd seen fit to hire in India apparently didn't know what the fuck they were doing. When I learned that they hadn't signed JK Rowling, George RR Martin and Stephen King as I'd been led to believe, I already had one foot out the door. The contract that demanded the rights to Tatterdemalion for five full years for not a penny, murkily-explained payments and demanding I terminate all its formats on Amazon even when it didn't directly compete with its platform and my other foot joined it.

     There may be one or two other false starts lost in the mists of time and my increasingly problematic memory.

     But this one is going to stick. I've not only signed what appears to be an equitable contract, I've already submitted my dedication, acknowledgements and what passes for a biography in third person. I'd also submitted my requirements for the voice talent that will narrate this massive 186,200 word book, Hollywoodland. The head honcho, Miika Hannila, welcomed me into their Facebook group and Miika's even using my original cover art (seen above).

     In short, all auguries are of good fortune. To further set my mind at ease, many of my Facebook friends have already been published by Next Chapter, including my current Author of the Month, Malcolm Archibald.

     None of them are idiots, either.

     So, no more self-publishing books and self-inflicted crises of confidence and no more fruitless bickering with Indians posing as actual Amazon Customer Service reps whose sole purpose in life is to give one the illusion of conflict resolution without really providing it when your galley proof's back cover is completely black (Yes, that happened to my next-to-last two covers prior to Hollywoodland).

     Real authors get real contracts, no matter what it takes and never indefinitely remain in the cruel homeless shelters of Jeff fucking Bezos and his Kindle abomination. Self-publication and being eternally content with it is for suckers like this poor, suffering incel bastard.


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