Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Great Wall of Publishing

My book, Candles in the Dark, was slated for publication in September of 2001.  But, of course, like many other New York-based books, it wasn't published that year.

Candles in the Dark was published in 2002, with a Chinese edition (Traditional/Mandarin) out in 2003.  Last week I came across this Chinese edition and the transliteration of my name into Chinese, which I found rather intriguing.  My name is basically rendered "Toddy"--which is okay--I guess my mother would approve.  My name is transliterated:  TaDe AoKeTe (Todd Outcalt) Zhe (author).  Or, for all I know, this could mean:  American author who can't sell books

I have no idea how well this edition sold in China--that's one of the mysteries of the publishing industry, as this book was purchased inside my English contract by John Wiley & Sons, meaning they sold the foreign rights for a lump sum and I received a percentage of the lump.  The book could have sold a few hundred copies (likely), a few thousand copies (but achievable), or even sold into the millions (wouldn't my publisher have told me this?).   

I do like this book . . . rendered into Chinese as "Point a Lamp" instead of Candles in the Dark.  I suppose the English doesn't translate well into that culture and "point a lamp" is as near as the publishers could get to the idea/translation.

I worked hard on the book, as I recall.  I had to secure rights from other publishers in Germany, Spain, and England . . . to name a few.  Lots of phone calls overseas. Lots of time.  Lots of money.  Language barriers and time zone difficulties galore.  But I never did call China.  Which makes me wonder . . . . 

One of these days I'll travel to China.  And when I do, I'll see if I'm still in print there.  A billion-plus people--many of them potential book-buyers.  Maybe I'll sign books on top of the Great Wall, nod my head, and say, "Yes, Toddy pleased to be here.  Thanks you for buying copy of Point a Lamp!"

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