Vent-ti (vent-tee) noun. A large venting. A rant. A self-indulgent expression of spleen.
You have been warned.
Life has done an even worse job than usual in entertaining me of late. Work is a prime culprit. Politics. The weather. Definitely the writing business. A few things have popped up recently to remind me of some others that have been burrs under my saddle for a while, and I’m about fed up. I move a little more all the time in the direction of believing that, while I love to write, I do not enjoy being a writer. I have my reasons:
Agents. Every time I hear from my agent, he’s encouraging. He likes the book, that’s a good self-release plan, it’s a tough market for selling “guy books.” (No definition of “guy books” has been forthcoming.) The problem is, I don’t hear much from him. I sent the recently completed novel to him a few weeks ago, and asked for a list of who’d received its predecessor, which he’s had for a year. I wanted to see their comments, in part to help me to decide whether I should keep pushing this, or go back to self-publishing, maybe look for a small press that paid less than an agent’s time would be worth. He replied a couple of days later, said he would read the book over the weekend and get that list to me. That was three weeks ago. I know he’s busy and I’m not making him any money, but, damn.
Publishers. The e-book release of Grind Joint was scheduled to occur a year after the print version, so as not to inhibit print sales. I wasn’t crazy about the idea. As a new writer, I wanted to get the book into as many hands as we could, as quickly as possible. E-mails were traded and an agreement reached that the e-book would come out about three months after the print release. Three months passed, and I asked where the e-book was. Turned out the publisher had decided three months was too short, pushed it back to six, and didn’t see any reason to tell me.
Lawyers. I didn’t have an agent when Grind Joint was published, but I did get interest from a TV producer. Wanting to take my time to find a literary agent, I hired a lawyer to handle the short-term negotiations. He charged me over a thousand dollars to have drinks with the producer, where it was discovered my deal was contingent on the producer receiving funding; nothing was imminent. By this time I had an agent, and told the lawyer I’d let him handle it, thanks for your time, and he got pissy, like he had a divine right to negotiate a deal—or not—over drinks at $500/hour. Oh, and it wasn’t him who told me of the delay in financing; it was the producer himself. My lawyer left that part out.
Booksellers. My experience with booksellers for events has been excellent. I’ve been treated well and had a great time. Beyond that, not so much. I understand and agree with the need for local booksellers, and do not want to see them pushed out of business, but they have told me to my face they have no place for me, whether my book comes from a small publisher, or from the Antichrist, CreateSpace. I understand their business position, and I sympathize. I have a business position, too, and they’re not helping.
Amazon. Yes, they’ll sell whatever I write, but they’ve found new and creative ways to break my balls about it. They’re running low on paper copies of Grind Joint, and I contacted them to ask how I can sell the inventory I have here through them before self-publishing via CreateSpoace. (I bought back the rights, which meant I now own just about every unsold copy in the world.) A couple of phone calls and several emails bumped me from Amazon to CreateSpace to Amazon and back to CreateSpace. Never mind. When they’re completely sold out I’ll re-format and self-publish. I can try to sell the inventory at conferences, or use it as wall insulation.
To add insult to injury, Amazon told me twice one of my 1099 forms would be late. When one finally came a couple of weeks ago, I went ahead and did my taxes. The day after I submitted them, yet another “corrected” 1099 showed up. On February 23, no less. Remember before computer automation, when all your tax forms showed up by the end of January?
Yeah, I know. Boo-fucking-hoo. Quoth Hyman Roth, “This is the life we’ve chosen.” I mentioned to The Beloved Spouse I half felt like working a book to my usual level of detail, typing THE END at the end of the final draft (I never add THE END until I’m done done), and then deleting the folder; the fun’s over. She asked “what about those who like to read your stuff?” I don’t know. Mail them individual files? Maybe that’s the way to go. Not have to fuck with covers, taxes, or any of the above 800-pound gorillas. Write the book, post a link on the blog, web site, and Facebook to download it, and be done with it. There’s a definite appeal in that.
Of course, I will have to find a way to budget around the $400 I grossed last year. Maybe if I told any lawyers not to go for more than hour of drinks…