If you were thinking of buying my book....
If you were still thinking of getting hold of a copy of my first book Out of the Tunnel (see reviews in side bar) then you'd best order it quick.
The Friday Project, the book's independent publisher, has recently gone into liquidation, owing hundreds of thousands to creditors - for example, MPG Books, a Cornwall-based book manufacturing firm are owed over £150,000.
Harper Collins are still not commenting about whether they are going to acquire the publishing company.
As usual in such cases, authors, editors and freelancers - who are termed 'unsecured creditors' - are right at the bottom of the pile in terms of getting payments that we're owed from the liquidators, so as for our royalties and fees for work done - well, we might as well write them off.
Like many fellow-authors and freelancers, I'm owed money; in my case it's royalties due for the thousands of copies of my book that were sold. My advance was small - but many other authors got no advance at all - this isn't that unusual with an indie publisher.
As well as upset authors, investors and suppliers, there are cross editors and freelancers who did hours of work, which they will likely never get paid for. Some poor people have been excitedly waiting for their books to be published, having laboured over their manuscripts for months or years - and now they have found out that it will likely not happen, so all their dreams are currently in ruins. I hope that their books will find a new home - TFP say they are trying to place books with other publishers. But once a book has been published, it usually has a certain life-cycle, before its sales decline - sometimes weeks, sometimes, months - and it would be pretty unusual for it to be republished by someone else. Several people I know have already been told that their books will not be published. We don't know what will happen to remaining stock of those who were published.
It is hard, and people are very distressed. Unsurprisingly and understandably.
Many authors were told 'not to bother with agents' by The Friday Project. Fortunately, I do have an agent - the wonderful David Godwin, who represents some of the UK's best authors. To be represented by him is a huge help and gives me confidence that my writing career will weather this storm.
I'm luckier than many TFP authors. I write semi-regularly for the Sunday Times News Review, and I do freelance stuff, and I am working on my second book. I am also in discussions about film rights for my first book, with a US producer and a US screen writer who have both separately expressed interest. So at least I am able to hold my head high and know that this awful situation is no reflection on me as a writer - my book got good reviews, and was well-received. One of the best things was to have so many positive emails and facebook messages from readers - I have kept them all and I feel rich for having them. That's something to be happy about.
Out of the Tunnel reached many, many people - despite there being no money for advertising. I worked very hard last summer doing the PR that all authors are contracted to do, and with help from the excellent Midas PR, and David Godwin, and my contacts, I achieved a lot of coverage, including serialisation in the Mail. I tried very hard to be professional and not to let anyone down - even though with Mum's sudden illness and death that summer it was a difficult time for me and my family. My Mum had a catastrophic stroke two days after the book came out in early July. She died in late August. She never finished reading the book, but she was so very proud of it and I remember the excitement on her face as I presented her with one of the first copies.
As I said, it's highly unlikely that I will personally get any money if you buy or bought my book, which is bit of a shame for me, (and for the small charity I was going to give a percentage to) - but I'd like to think that the remaining copies will be sold and read, rather than languish in a warehouse. Who knows, they may be collector's items in years to come. Well, you have to be hopeful, don't you?
Writing Out of the Tunnel was never about earning lots of money - if you leave a job in advertising and think you'll make a packet as a writer you're deluded, especially if you write the sort of book I did. I knew that my book dealt with troubling and painful subjects, and I am actually surprised and pleased that it sold as much as it did. But it would have felt good to get my first royalty cheque in my hands - a big moment for any first-time author.
Writing that book and reliving it all was actually fairly grim, but I had to write it. It was 'a great pressing weight of a story that wouldn't let me be'. I needed to get it out there - so I could then write about other things, other people's stories - and move on, be free to look to the future. I don't regret writing it. I'm proud of it for what it is.
The Friday Project quickly developed a reputation for discovering some great new writing talent on the web and they were nice people to deal with. I wonder what went wrong? We're still trying to find out.
TFP was always set up to be acquired. It picked 'the best of the web to make the finest books' and it had a big catalogue of titles. It had expensive offices. It published too many books too fast, it failed to meet its million-pound fundraising target. Their bank pulled their overdraft facility back in February last year. It got embroiled in legal wrangles, notably with JK Rowling's lawyers after TFP decided to put out an unofficial Harry Potter-related book. There were obviously a series of money problems, and publishing being the risky business it is, it folded.
My thoughts and sympathies are with everyone involved with the fall-out of The Friday Project - I'm in contact with many of the people involved and we're trying to support each other. Through this adventure I have met lots of talented and delightful people. I am sure that many of them will go on to have flourishing careers in writing, and hope that this set-back doesn't knock their belief in themselves as writers.
Quarsan, The Man who Fell Asleep, E-Luv , Monday Books, Wilf, Mark Farley, Novelr, Eoin Purcell, Guardian blog, Literary Saloon, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Jamieson Wolf, Eoin Purcell again
An interview in January 2008 with TFP,
M.D Clare's blog
Commercial Director Scott's blog