As with many things to do with writing – and with life, I guess – impatience tends to grip tight. I don’t mean the actual process of writing a novel, because to be effective, you have to be patient. The tension – if writing a thriller – has to be developed, sustained, then brought dramatically to a mind-blowing conclusion…Well,like I said, life can be like that too!
The point is, my book was written. I felt good about it, and I wanted it published. This was the impatient part. I’d found a publisher who seemed interested and everything seemed to be going well. He seemed in a rush, but so what. That suited me fine. I’d read somewhere that authors worked with editors to refine and improve their work. An editor will pick up things you’d missed, or hadn’t even seen. But this publisher said everything was fine. He’d sent me the book block and I went through it, highlighted some mistakes, suggested one or two corrections to the typesetting mainly. I sent it back, he emailed me to say it was all systems go. It was going off to the printers. Okay, I trusted his judgement. Why shouldn’t I? I’d seen the website, read the blurbs of his other books, been on Amazon…That was a little dispiriting, because I couldn’t find any of the titles on there, except one. But he did say he was relatively new, so…
Well, the thing was, I could buy some books from him at a discount, sell them on if I wanted to. Distribute them to bookshops, pass them on for reviews, that sort of thing. I wasn’t really geared up for any of that. This was my first time, don’t forget. I was a babe in arms, trusting of those around me.
What an idiot.
Well, the books arrived from the States and they looked great. I scooped up the first one and began to flick through it. I seem to have the ability to randomly choose a page, any page, and find a mistake. This one seemed to have a few. And the typesetting errors were still there. But what could I do now? Here it was, in my hot little hands…
Friends bought them, and soon I only had my own copy left. I asked him if I could buy some more because I’d gone to a local bookshop who seemed very keen. The owner wanted about ten copies to put on the shelves. Wow. The publisher wrote back to tell me it would probably be more financially viable to make a larger order. So I did. Fifty books.
Now, I know in the real world of publishing, the Viking, Harper-Collins world, it is they who supply the books. They distribute. But in the world of the small independents, so much is down to the author. I had business cards, flyers, posters, postcards, adverts in magazines. I’d been writing a monthly column for one of the ex-apt magazines, and they were going to run an ad for me free of charge (more about this in a later blog).
So I sent off a cheque for 500 dollars. I say ‘cheque’, but it was actually a bank transfer. I don’t many people use cheques now.
Anyway, I then sat back and waited for them to arrive.
I waited. And waited. And waited.
The weeks went by, no sign of any books. I emailed him, and he told me they were on the way. Often the US Postal Service gets over-loaded. Well, okay, so I waited some more.
In the end, after a few more weeks, I was becoming deeply concerned. I wrote back and told him again that the books had not arrived. I got no answer.
I then wrote to another author he had signed. A really nice guy from Canada. We got friendly, exchanged some stories, then I asked him if he had bought any books. He had.
And you can guess what I’m going to say next, can’t you?
That’s right. His books hadn’t arrived either.
Okay, now I was getting seriously worried. More emails, and then a reply, at long last. But not from him. From his brother, to tell me that this guy had gone into hospital with a suspected stroke. I felt awful. Here I was calling him every name under the sun, and all the time he was laid up, close to death. What an unfeeling idiot I am! So, to pass time, I went onto Amazon, but my book had still not appeared, even thought the publisher had promised me it would.
Then I got an email from another friend who said they liked the look of my book on Amazon, but why had I changed my name. Well, authors often do, I explained. I was somewhat intrigued. How come she had found it, but not me? So, this name, why was it so surprising? My name is STUART GLENN Yates. I’d changed it to GLENN STUART. See? Clever, eh? Mmm…Well, the name she told me about had absolutely no relation to my own.
Intrigued, I put in a search. For the book title this time, not my pseudonym. And there it was, under the name of some mysterious guy I didn’t know, had never met. I realised that I had seen him on the publisher’s website, it was one of many pseudonyms for the publisher himself, and now here he was, as large as life, claiming to be the author of MY BOOK!
You can imagine how I felt. Or maybe you can’t. Sick, frustrated, angry, frightened. All of those emotions and more. The guy had ripped me off. My book was there, with another person’s name on the cover. His name. How bare-faced can you get?
I had no idea what to do, where to go, who to ask for advice. This was awful. All of my dreams, all those years of hoping, wishing, praying…to be published, and then to have it all torn away. What was I to do?
How this all developed into something not very nice, I’ll tell you next time. Suffice to say, in the end, he did me a great favour. I networked with a lot of people and found another publisher who was honest and hard working. But all of that was in the future. Right now, I had to do something about a guy plagiarising my work.
For more information about my books, visit my website at www.stuartgyates.com.