Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lost & Found

Last week, during a break in the Writer's Workshop I was conducting, a young woman commented:  "I always see your books in used bookstores."

Of course, I didn't have the heart to tell her that this is never a good sign for writers.  Seeing one's books in a used store means that a writer's inventory has been "remaindered" by the publisher.  In other words, no more royalties.  I've seen my books in Goodwill, too . . . but I don't get excited about this development.  Rather, I know that someone has likely read my book, didn't feel it was worthy of keeping, and discarded it.

A couple of weeks ago I did receive word from yet another publisher that one of my titles was soon to slip into the "out of print" status.  Publishers usually offer the writer a huge discount at this time (which is a nicety), and the invitation usually reads something like:

Dear Mr. Alleycat:
Due to the complete lack of interest in anything you have written, or perhaps owing to the collapse of western civilization as we know it, your book is soon to go out of print.  In order to soften the blow and make you feel that you have something to live for (other than a jelly-filled donut), we'd like to offer you a superb offer on your own merchandise. 

If you call our toll-free number before midnight tomorrow we will ship our entire inventory of your title to you (provided that you are willing to pay the shipping costs and also buy lunch for Jimmy, our summer intern, who will have to pack these boxes by hand).  All you have to pay is $1.95 per book, which is about all we have invested in printing your book some years ago when we felt good about you as a writer. 

Now that we are parting ways, we hope you will enjoy your copies and find some use for them.  We do have suggestions:  many writers enjoy bonfires, while others distribute their titles to homeless shelters, where the paper can come in handy if placed near the toilet. 

Anyway, let us know how many of your books you'd like for us to ship to your home.  Won't they look impressive on your shelves? 

Umbilical cordially yours,
Your Publishing Friends 

No comments: