And so it goes . . . I'm channeling Vonnegut this morning. The preorder period for my poetry collection Birds Like Me is in its second week and the postcards from Finishing Line Press have been delivered after a tumultuous process with the cover art. We have not received too many preorders which was due to my failure to promote the book for the first full week--headless as it was without a cover. Ugh.
Earlier this week, the purchase of Taylor Swift's early songbook made the news. People were shocked that she did not control her own creative works. Few artists do. This morning on Twitter, a fan berated Neil Gaiman (mentally genuflecting here to @neilhimself) for plans afoot for a Netflix version of Sandman which DC Comics owns. Once a contract is signed, control over a creative work is limited. That's the deal--the chance you take.
I vacillate between promoting the collection and growing embarrassed about asking (begging) people I know to preorder it. I did work, hone, polish, and grow the book. Friends read and offered suggestions. Birds Like Me is personal and universal. It's some of the best work I've done.
But here's the grand mess of publication--I want to see my writing in print. I would like it to represent my slim time on earth, but I do not want anyone to think I'm making any money at all from this process. The contract with Finishing Line Press is clear--I supply the book, the artwork (which Stephanie from Salt Water designed after the first in-house design horrified me), the book blurbs and any reviews I can beg. Finishing Line will only print if we sell 75-100 copies of the book and I get no royalties on the preorders. I do get free books (sell-75 and get 30 copies out of a 300 copy press run or sell 100 copies and get 50 copies out of a 500 copy press run). You think it through.
I self-published three books set in fictitious Lambertville, WV through Salt Water Media of Berlin, MD from 2014-2016--the Lilac Hill series. Stephanie and Patty from Salt Water were wonderful to work with through this gut-wrenching process. I love the books even though my writing is naive and rawboned.
But the books cost something to print. In fact, I deduced that any books sold from a signing I'm doing on Saturday at the incredibly generous Greyhound Books of Berlin, will cost me 50 cents each. If Greyhound orders them from Ingram, I earn $2.
But. . . my novels and poetry are in print. In this world of impermanence, they might become my little monument--my crumbling statue in the desert like Kubla Khan.
If you'd like to preorder Birds Like Me, go to
J D Cooper
Author of the Lilac Hill series, The Portia Journal, other novels and countless short stories