Isn’t it amazing how much we still have so much to learn from life? Just when you think you’ve seen it all, done it all, made all the mistakes that you could possibly make, we learn more stuff and we make more mistakes. Every day there is something new right in front of my nose and I’m usually ignoring it hoping that trust will carry the day. Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. Trust should be used judiciously, with care and mindfulness. To trust everyone and everything smacks of fantasy, and, as we all know, fantasy ain’t reality.
Okay, I’m re-publishing my memoir, 60, Sex & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. The book has been out for about two years. It was published by iUniverse, a subsidiary of Author’s Solutions under whose banner are other vanity presses like Xlibris. I’m also familiar with Vantage Press and Harvest Publishers. My first book, Women Obsessed, was initially published by Vantage Press and then I reedited it and re-released it with Xlibirs. While attending my first Tucson Book Festival, I ran across a lady by the name of Penny Callmeyer – I’ve mentioned her before – over a year ago and she gave me the straight story on vanity presses. “They’re rip offs,” she said like the straight shooter she is.
Before she even spoke those words to me, I knew in my heart that she was right. Just after my book was published, iUniverse I was hounded by reps to accept their fake marketing services. Pay this, pay that (usually between $600- $1500) and you will be a star across the U.S. Not that I believed that, but I did believe that some marketing covering my book would get my name out to the the name out to the 6 states that I selected to send out press notices. Surprise, surprise. There was no accountability when I called and asked weeks later what was the upshot. No one knew what I was talking about. They sent them out. Deed done.
I became rather philosophical about it and did no more business with iUniverse until I asked to get my files back so I could pull my book off of their webpage (and with that I was off Amazon, Barns&Noble and the rest of the websites that carry books). It was going to cost me $700 before 18 months was up to get my files back so I endured another 12 months of no accountability on how many books were sold, what percentage to iUniverse was amassed, what Amazon was collecting. I saw my royalty checks dwindle from a max of $56 to $11. It looks as if I sold less than 15 books in 2 years. How sad. I know more than 15 people who bought my book, way more.
I lost count confidence in their iUniverse’s accounting, and after 18 months I asked for my files and a cancellation statement from iUniverse. It took forever to wade through their inefficient organization, the change of people I had to deal with, the repetition of my request, and their lack of response. Finally, I was told that it would cost me $150 to get my interior files back. I didn’t want the cover (another $150) because I have a new and better cover – and not the crappy one they made for me.
But wait!! I already paid them to create the files I asked for. I owned them. That’s what they told me at the beginning. All files were mine. Not so. I thought I had to get them back to get my book re-published. I paid iUniverse the $150, and when the came to me via email, the file was a pdf file and it was locked. I couldn’t edit or do anything with it. I called frantically. “Give me my money back!” I demanded.
“You should have known that you cannot work on a pdf file,” the kind man said to me. “No, dude,” I said rather loudly. “You should have told me it would be useless to me to even ask for since I couldn’t edit on it.” “Oh,” he said smugly,”most people know that.” No they don’t, dude.
The experience was all so disappointing to me – the lack of information in full, the almost lies but not quite the kind that send you to jail for fraud. Life’s lessons are a bitch. But now, a month out of that cease pool called iUniverse I am rather a happy camper. The life’s lessons continued with the learning curse of a college student. That’s when we all know the most we will ever know in our lifetime. I have conquered filling out forms, many forms from printers, e-book publishers, and book distributors and it was all worth it. I’ll be back on Amazon and B&N and Ingram Books and all the rest in another week. I feel light as a feather and have deep gratitude to all who assisted me from Penny, from Heather at Color House Graphs, from Kimberly (Hitch) at Booknook Biz, to Josh and Sam Rebecca at Lightning Source.
Life’s lessons are a bitch but if we are consistent and tenacious and have just a little bit of trust from like-minded people, it all works out i the end.