Hay's Daze

Hay’s Daze: Publishing your book can be painful

I’ve noticed lately that everybody and his dog has written, is writing, or plans to write a book. I noticed because my dog did write a book, even though he was fictional and I don’t have a dog. Harold Is A Dog is the book fictional Harold wrote and I knew it was fictional because in this book Harold happens to be a talking dog that can drive cars and also time travel.

Such is the way with writing books, you can create your own world or visit the past or jump to the future or makeup something that’s never been make up before. And I’m glad that people are giving it a go.

The world can always use more good stories. Writing them down isn’t easy though, in fact, it can be like yanking those annoying little hairs out of your nostril – eye-wateringly painful. As a writer with seven eye-wateringly painful books published I can say with some fervor that this is the bad news: writing is the easy part. If you’re hoping to “get published”, prepare to rip out a whole lot of those annoying little nose hairs.

Some folks write their stories just to read them to the cat and have no intention of going down the bumpy road of publishing, and that’s great, especially if you have a cat that actually listens to you. But many of us want to be able to look on a shelf and see our very own BOOK sitting there glowing brightly like a rectangle of pure gold, our name shining and pulsing right there on the spine. And if our little book happens to hit the New York Times Bestseller List and large (or even small) buckets of money come our way, well, so much the better.

The harsh reality, however, is that if moola is the number one reason you are writing your novel, you’re probably better off spending all those hours and that effort digging for gold in your backyard. With a spoon. I looked it up, and this year close to four million books will be published. That’s four with six zeros! One million books are published annually by main stream publishing, over three million by self-published authors. Yikes. Which brings us to that treacherous topic in the world of books: the ubiquitous “Vanity Press” trend.

If you have scribbled away at your kitchen table for years or filled dozens of notebooks in a cafe (hey, it worked for J.K. Rowling and her “Harry Potter” series) and you will do just about anything to have your magnum opus published, you will surely bump into a “Vanity Press” or two. I know I have.

These publishing companies look very much like mainstream publishers but just when you are thrilled beyond belief that they are “interested in your manuscript” you find that they only want several thousand of your personal hard-earned dollars to publish your book. But there’s a helpful saying I ran into in the book world: “No reputable mainstream publisher will ask the author to pay them to publish their book.” Period. Excellent advice, trust me.

But if you just want some copies to share with family and friends or a cat who likes books, there are book printers that won’t cause you to pony up your life savings or have a literary cardiac arrest.

All of which is just a shameless way to say: ‘Hey, I have a new book out: it’s called “Christmas Shorts – Six Curious Christmases, Six Strange Stories” and you can get it by emailing yours truly. It’s sitting there on my shelf, glowing like a little brick of gold.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. You can send him story ideas to harleyhay1@hotmail.com.

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