Sunday, February 21, 2010

Your Chance to Aid All Mankind, One Book at a Time

Irish author Declan Burke can write the ass off an elephant, but he has buzzard's luck. (You can't kill anything, and nothing will die.) A couple of years ago, The Big O was one of my annual recommended reads after Dec drug himself up by his bootstraps, made a partnership deal with a small Irish publisher (Hag's Head), and worked his way into a two-book deal with Harcourt. Unfortunately, Harcourt picked up its petticoats and ran screaming from the building at the first sign of recession, laying off editors (his, of course), and cancelling contracts (his sequel, of course). This left Dec an orphan in the classic literary sense, as there were more books with canceled contracts than there were soft landings, and the music stopped before Crime Always Pays found a chair. (Yes, that's a mixed metaphor; get over it. This isn't about me, and Dec's a better writer, anyway.)

The Big O and Crime Always Pays read like Elmore Leonard-Carl Hiaasen collaborations: great dialog, no one quite as smart as they think they are, and plots that roam all over the place, both unpredictable and plausible. (I was fortunate enough to read an electronic copy of Crime Always Pays.)

Dec has another project ready to go; he can describe it better than I, and does so here. Of course, this is Declan Burke, the Joe Bftsplk of publishing, so there's a catch. Bad for Good/A Gonzo Noir is a little experimental for publishers to get behind, given their craven unwillingness to take a chance unless they think a writer has the next Da Vinci Code no more than one book away. I've seen bits of Gonzo; if it was a movie, Terry Gilliam would direct it. I happen to like Terry Gilliam movies; so do a lot of people. Just not people in a position to sign off on a publishing contract. (Michael Bay is more to their taste.)

Anyway, Squire Burke has decided to take the bull by the balls and try something new and different, which is why he doesn't have a job in publishing. He's going to take Bad for Good directly to the people who'll know what to do with it: readers. He's currently exploring options for raising interest and capital to have the book done himself; details are on his blog. Go on over and take a look; he's posting updates as he gets them. There's no risk; he's only asking for pledges for the cost of a single book, about $10 American. If the book gets published, you get a copy; if not, you'll get your money back. (I tried to talk him into a scheme worthy of The Producers, but he's too much into this whole role model thing for his daughter; any of his characters would have jumped on my idea like Madonna on a troop ship.)

Hop on over to Crime Always Pays and get the details from Dec himself. Drop him a note if you're at all interested; he needs some idea as to the level of interest before he can move forward. That autographed copy will be nice to have when he becomes the Hunter Thompson of Irish fiction.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I signed up but I worry the future of books won't be helped by books not sold in stores or printed by publishers. It's all so horrible.

Dana King said...

I'm generally risk-averse myself, so I'm more comfortable with what I know.

What I like about Dec's idea (and John McFetridge's nascent Writers' Co-op) is their willingness to shake the tree. My fondest hope is that someone in publishing will read the handwriting on the wall and come up with a equitable and sustainable business model that's more or less fair to everyone.