Mine was the last book published by Realmwalker Publishing Group.
It came out April 5th, about a week and a half after the company imploded over a series of business fall outs and other concerns. Keeping up with a jam-packed schedule of releases led to a build-up of pressure akin to the leakage of gas, while problems with payroll provided the incendiary match. Everyone could smell the sulfur, everyone could hear the hiss – but when the fireman among you says not to worry, your worries dissipate. They creep back later when the intrusive sensation persists, but for the moment you are placated. After all, they are the fireman. This is what they do.
By the time of launch all my rights were returned to me, and while my novel gives publishing credit where it is due, I essentially was and am now a self-published author.
Not the kind of thing I envisioned upon signing. The requisite time to produce my debut properly was divvied to newly-acquired authors whose re-releases could theoretically be republished in short order and with less effort. With the principal cover artist on holidays for March, a replacement was found who hailed from Brazil. Some miscommunication went down between he and RPG, and after two weeks he had produced nothing but the .PSD of a pre-existing picture of his. Company president James Drake was sufficiently horrified as to not let me even see it. With two weeks to go I had no cover. I enjoy the grit and fanfare of the cover I have now, but it would be a lie to say it was not a last minute thing.
When the whole community went belly up a few days later, there was lots of driftwood and silt to sift through. My book vs. the outrage and confusion of a whole body of newly published authors. It did not stand a chance at seizing the time necessary to be properly produced. With the release date looming, Drake and I worked an inordinate amount of hours–From the morning of Sunday, April 3rd, to midnight on April 5th, I was awake 58 of 60 hours –to no avail. In the end Purge of Ashes mostly missed its release date, took yet more time to get a softcover online, and then had some last minute issues still being resolved. Oh, and because of this the shipment of softcovers inbound for my book launch spent the party in a cargo container at Pearson Airport in Toronto. I called every company involved a billion times, but UPS was incapable of getting them for me on a Friday night and refused to work Saturday. Not one deadline hit.
The release of Purge of Ashes was an unmitigated catastrophe. Any momentum I had built through posting my 30 Days of Balance articles and hoopla over on Twitter was erased by the miasma of confusion over if and when the books were available. This was rotten. With tales like these one might imagine me fuming and irate – but that’s not me, and what’s more there was plenty of good that came from the mess of the last three weeks.
- For one, James was good on his promise to work diligently on my book regardless of the status of Realmwalker. While there was a foreboding sense of ‘too late’ hanging above everything we did, he did produce a book for me which has a solid cover and looks GREAT in the interior. He listened to my many questions and included lots of my suggestions, even for little things like the imbalance icons for the page count. He spent 56 of those 60 hours awake as well, doing most of the actual work. And as a pardon for the payroll flames of yester-week, did so entirely for free.
- Things could have been A LOT worse. The book did, in fact, get finished. I did not lose any money. I did not have to explain to everyone I know about why I actually wasn’t going to have a book in under a week. RPG could have fled with its tail between its legs and left me stranded, instead of admitting defeat and facing the fall out. A small consolation given what happened, but a consolation yet.
- I take being an author much more seriously. When I first got in contact with RPG Imbalance had been collecting dust. I was torn between pushing for representation and self-publishing. I was part of no communities. I was just a guy who had spent the better part of his free time for seven years completing a works. Now, in the process of promoting my release, I have met a cool cadre of authors, read a lot about the publishing industry, and dealt with much of the ever-present flak of being a newcomer. Everything has worked to aid me in better managing the project. Six months ago I had no such insight.
My only real concern is that fantasy aficionados who follow the ins and outs of the industry will look at RPG’s broad collection net and decide that, by virtue of being a new author hired in such a sweep, my novel is but krill.
While this concern is real to me, it is likely unfounded. From what I can tell experienced authors have seen it all before and offer guidance instead of scorn. Other authors pushing the self-publishing Sisyphus boulder raise their fists in solemn salute. To their credit, Realmwalker held off branding Purge of Ashes with the company logo to help ensure the novel did not suffer by association. This was a venerable act that further indicates the tragic nature of the implosion.
How much was smoke and mirrors? Somewhere more or less than we authors all thought, no doubt.
But I’m pretty proud of the accomplishment of the fellow I see in the mirror, and to the Purge go the smoke and ashes.