Learned from the First

Today's Post
Ten years ago my first novel An Odyssey of Illusions was published. I got full rights back two years later and chose to let it go out of print.

I learned many things from the publishing process.

I consider myself a formerly unaware product of thinking I had a publisher when I was just contracted to a printing house. I’m not saying victim because I did not read between the lines when I got an immediate, “We would be happy to publish your book,” response to my query. Excitement and naivety took over immediately.

There were clues and not even in fine print. I could buy author copies for 75% of retail. The publisher said my selling each on my own, would bring me more than the 10% royalty in my contract. I admit to having a level of puffed upness for having my first book published and bought 50 copies for family, friends, and to sell. Then I bought 10 more, thinking I could sell more.

Those who read my book told me that it was a great story but there were flaws in the mechanics.

Because I had published several technical articles in respected journals without suggestions from editors for presentation changes or punctuation omissions. I had just assumed that the editors of the publication house had read the book and found none.[mfn]I’m sure many of you have heard what saying assumed makes of me and you.[/mfn]


I was encouraged by the publisher to submit the book to the Erick Hoffer awards program. That cost me an entry fee, but I was thinking the publisher saw value for me in that adventure.

Then the royalties started rolling in – $47.90 total. Well, I spent $1299.32 for copies, publication fees and shipping; and there was the $60 Hoffer entry fee. My net for the book was -$1311.42.

I realized that I was vanity-published and understood that XXX was like a puppy mill for books. I sometimes wonder how many others learned the same lessons.

There are a few other hard lessons self-foisted upon me with the experience but sharing them is for another time.

Even with the high tuition for the lessons, the never to be repeated experience was of value – well sort of.

Story Validation Hoffer Finalist

I received the following and permission to attach a sticker to An Odyssey of Illusions: “After our rigorous first round of judging, less than 10% of the titles become category finalists. … Finalists are selected by category scoring. There are typically 1-6 books per category selected as a finalist. Finalists fall into approximately the upper 10% of all books that entered the contest.

The copy read by the committee was a corrected copy of my manuscript. I did not make the final cut, but I feel that the story I presented had been validated.

I used a slightly modified version of “Odyssey” as the first part of Iniquities of the Fathers cover