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.1I’m sure many of you have heard what saying assumed makes of me and you.


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