Seriously, I do like other people. Really, I do. But when they’ve goofed mightily and taken me down the drain with them, I start to think about saving my money and buying my own island to get away from the whole bunch.
You may ask, what’s setting you off THIS time, Queen Whines-A-Lot? Well, let me tell you – the long awaited re-issue of my first book, The Willow and the Stone. Oh, how I’ve longed for this day (which is actually still three weeks away). I have chafed in my bonds to its publisher, much like a new pair of panties chafes a first-time thong wearer. This thing has been riding uncomfortably up my butt for three years. Is it any wonder I’m eager to tear free with giddy cries of relief?
Being published was a long-cherished dream. I was so happy when I signed that contract. At last! The book that I’d submitted to one house after another had finally found a home. I danced. I laughed. I made merry. This wasn’t one of my naughty books ... this was the serious book, the mainstream one that I could attach my real name to and not get shocked looks from decent churchgoing ladies (at least not for my writing, anyway – they give me shocked looks for other reasons that I am delighted to own).
The book came out. I got my copy. Bursting with enthusiasm, soaking in euphoria, and not having yet discovering the chafe, I opened it. And just like that, my balloon burst. My butt began to throb.
There is a reason I self-publish now, even though it means more work and less people taking me seriously. It stems from The Willow and the Stone and the other five books I signed contracts for at about the same time. What happened through their publisher turned a laid-back, let-it-ride-because-it-will-all-work-out chick into the Wicked Witch of Total Control.
I don’t know who fell asleep at the wheel. This publisher had released five previous books with no problems whatsoever. My Alt-Tam identity quickly became a known name in erotica circles. Why shouldn’t I have trusted them with more books, including the mainstream titles?
Unfortunately, someone in that organization turned to drugs or alcohol or smoking funny stuff through the hookah pipe and chewing on the Caterpillar’s mushroom. Something happened, and it wasn’t anything deep like asking existential questions like “Who are you?” Nope, it was more along the lines of “Who gives a shit?”
Starting with The Willow and the Stone, the publisher sent out all but unreadable books. The formatting was so messed up, one couldn’t tell where one paragraph started and another ended. In places they were run together. Sometimes a new paragraph was started in the middle of a sentence. Even the ebook versions of some books were in bad shape. Worst of all, my pleas to get the mess straightened out fell on deaf ears. There were assurances of, “We’re working on it, we’re fixing it, just a little longer.” But no, these books were not fixed. It was so bad that some vendors, like Barnes & Noble, stopped carrying the books altogether.
So for the last three years, I have looked at my babies languishing out there, mutilated beyond recognition. I’ve cringed to think of people buying them and trying to read them ... and associating my name with the Frankenstein monsters they were turned into.
A writer pours herself into her creations. Hours and angst fill every page the reader encounters. The Willow and the Stone has earned more angst than I ever dreamed it would. Soon, however, it will be made right. The contract expires the last week of this month, and I am so happy to fix the mess those others made. At that point, all shortcomings are mine, all mistakes to do with that book are on me.
That’s perfectly fine. The Wicked Witch of Total Control would not have it any other way.