When I'd been in radio for a few years, I had a job that I was increasingly desperate to get out of. I'd loved it at first, but we had had some staff turnover and I had begun to see things in a different light. Then, too, a promising romance had turned sour. And I was tired of the town I was living in, too. In short, it was getting to the point where I wanted to go back home. So I applied for a job at a radio station in a bigger city much closer to where I grew up. The news director called and asked me to come for an interview, which I did. I liked her, and the station seemed okay. And so I was thrilled when she called me, not long after the interview, and said I was her first choice. In a flash, I wrote up my resignation letter and turned it in. I was also asked to fill out a separation form that asked, among other things, why I was leaving. Not only did I tell them, but I was kind of blunt about it.
A few days went by. Maybe a week. And I didn't hear anything from my new employer. So I called and asked the news director when she wanted me to start. And she said, "They said no."
"What do you mean, they said no?" I cried, confused about who "they" were. "I've already quit my job!"
It turned out that the news director who loved me didn't have final say on staffing. That was up to station management, and they'd told her to keep looking. So I had to go back to my current employer and tell them that the job had fallen through and I hoped I could stay on -- at which point I was informed that they had already advertised my position, and while I was welcome to re-apply....
As luck would have it, our crosstown rival had an opening, and they hired me shortly thereafter (and I learned very quickly just how good I'd had it at my original gig, which is another story). But the whole thing was certainly A Learning Experience.
I was reminded of this episode a few days ago, when one of my Indies Unlimited compadres mentioned in the minions' lounge that she'd received an e-mail from a woman in Europe, asking IU for publicity for her book. We do author interviews and book features and the like, so the request made sense. But it devolved that English was not the author's first language, or her second, and it showed, in both her blurb and in the book itself. She was contacted and informed, and that's when the story turned interesting. It turned out that the author had found an editorial service on the Internet and paid them several hundred dollars to edit her book. Clearly, they hadn't done a damn thing.
The IU troops rallied and gave her tons of advice on what to do next. But the capper was when she admitted that she didn't have the money to hire a new editor because in order to promote her book, she had quit her job.
You can see how that resonated with me. So the story of the Dude and Annie Abby became my post for IU this week. Miz Abby's question -- "Why are you helping me? You don't even know me!" -- is more or less a direct quote from the European author after we gave her all of our advice. But you know, that's just what indie authors do. We do it because we've been there.
But I meant the post to be not just a celebration of indie authors; I meant it as a cautionary tale, too. This Brave New World of e-publishing is a great place, but it's anything but serene. Those waters that look so warm and inviting are infested with sharks -- sharks who are eager to bite you in the wallet.
I hate those sharks. I really do. I hate how they take advantage of innocent, unsuspecting people who dream of being published. I hate how it's legal for them to do that. And I hate how the sharks' parents never taught them that being kind is better than being wealthy.
Anyway, this is why I tell you guys to be careful when you pursue your publishing dreams. Don't pay somebody money you don't have for something you can do yourself. And please, please, please don't quit your job until your next step is a sure thing.
Thanks to everybody who voted for Seized in Big Al's Books and Pals Readers' Choice Awards! I lost to Hugh Howey's Wool, but I appreciate your support all the same, I'm still grateful to have been nominated, and I don't see any shame in losing to the 800-lb. gorilla.
Congrats to my fellow nominees, including IU staffers K.S. Brooks and Laurie Boris and alumnus David Antrobus. And a big round of applause for Laurie and David, who won in their respective categories. You guys rock!
Speaking of the 800-lb. gorilla, he had a great post in Salon this week about our Brave New World. In the article, Howey says he can't envision a scenario in which self-publishing wouldn't be the best choice today. That prompted Chuck Wendig to post the opposing view on his blog. Both are entertaining reading; Wendig's is shorter, if you're pressed for time, but my money is obviously on Howey.
Oh, one more thing: You'll see, at the top of the column to the left, a place to enter your e-mail address so that I can send you a little newsletter thingum when I have really big news to share. Like, for instance, Annealed's release date. I'm not going to spam you and I'm not going to sell your address to anybody else, I promise. Thanks!
This moment of cautionary-tale blogginess is brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.