A Book Club Puzzle

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away (in a different incarnation), I sold a book to one of the big six NY publishers.  My advance was not large, but not bad.  It took a year to come out (groan), and then sold about 4700 copies from a 5000 print run—mostly to libraries.  At that point one of the TV networks bought a movie option (never exercised), but still, the extra money was nice.  As most novels do, the book died on the vine, and the NY publisher was irritated that I didn’t want to buy the 300 remainders at a highly discounted price.  I’m vain, but not that vain.  300 copies of my own book in my car trunk or on my shelves didn’t do a thing for me. OK, now the reason for this blog.  I then got a letter from my publisher telling me that a book club (now defunct) had bought my story for one of their editions.  Terrific.  The payment was not great, but every little bit helps—except I never received the money.  In the meantime, my new book had been rejected by my publisher, and my relationship with the firm continued to spiral downward.  (It’s amazing how fast you fall out of favor when your publisher has 300 remainders on their hands.)  Anyway, I forgot all about the book club deal—assuming, I think, that since I hadn’t heard anything, the deal had fallen through, or the club had backed out. Over the years the whole experience became a distant memory.  Imagine my surprise the other day when I found a copy of the book club edition for sale in a used bookstore. Somebody owes me money—or maybe not. Maybe they counted it against my original advance which was never fully covered, or maybe my agent kept the money (which would be ok with me because I loved her and if she needed the dough, she was welcomed to it).  She’s gone now, so that door’s closed.  But even if she were still around, I wouldn’t open the door.  She loved my writing and encouraged me with every bone in her body.  That’s enough.  I suppose I could write to the publisher and tell them what I discovered; but why bother?  Indie publishing's more fun, and no one's trying to get you to buy your own remainders.
I’ll just let the book club mystery remain.

1 comment:

  1. How unfortunate, Pete... Wow, I'd be a bit miffed, myself. But like you said: who would you even turn to? I'm afraid things like this happen all the time, because the author has no control over any of the cashflow for their work, which I find quite baffling... (I've often thought about this and how easy it would be, through the trickle down of royalties, for the author to NOT get paid properly). Despite all of this, I'm glad you're still writing and that you've found indie publishing so much more rewarding!