Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Publisher Speaks Out on Growing Pains and Problems
It's time I wrote my own blog...and least this one. While my blog writer/helper does a great job, the buck still stops here when things get said that shouldn't be.
Case in point, Moonlight Mesa probably owes prospective author Rusty Richards an apology. His response to a blog posted last week, however, raised a lot of issues here causing me to give serious thought to the muddy, lumpy path I'm on. It's certainly not paved, at any rate.
My first goal in getting into this publishing foray was to publish great Western books that were overlooked by other publishers because maybe the writer didn't have "connections" or couldn't get an agent, or any number of reasons. Such is the case with Jere D. James and Saving Tom Black. (Incidentally, Saving Tom Black was test-marketed this past weekend in Pine, Arizona, where it outsold every other title, two to one.) I know for a fact, that Jere was rejected by every publisher on the planet, and it's their loss. In fact, Saving Tom Black may well save Moonlight Mesa.
Stoney Greywolf Bowers is another fine person who truly deserves a book in print. Stoney is a veritable icon of Western life, having been a working cowboy most of his life, "punchin' broomtails," who embodies a dying way of life in this country.
Casey Tibbs, the subject of Rusty Richards' biography, more than deserves a book, and it is a project that we at Moonlight Mesa have been very interested in doing from day one. But, while Jere and Stoney were/are unknowns, Rusty Richards and superstar Casey Tibbs are not.
Besides publishing great works that are overlooked or ignored by the big publishing houses, our other goal here at Moonlight Mesa is to do right by the authors who entrust their creations to us. We are, in fact, way too generous with our royalties, but that's not going to change soon even though it should, because it's the writers' creativity that truly deserves the rewards! We want to help authors by exposing their books to the public in any venue that we can. We cannot buy shelf space in Barnes and Noble or Borders, unfortunately, and so we do a lot of leg work and pounding the pavement, believing in our goals and our books, hoping desperately that the deserving writers get a big break. Is this naivety, or determination? You tell me.
A comment made over the weekend by a booth visitor, however, gave me serious pause and put quite a damper on my normal overload of enthusiasm. The comment went something like this: "Obviously Moonlight Mesa isn't all that successful or you wouldn't be selling books yourselves at a Craft Fair in Pine, Arizona." And that comment spoke volumes about my upstart, overly-ambitious, pollyanna dreams and schemes.
I'm not throwing in the towel, not by a long shot. But the sobering comment stole a bit of my confidence and panache, and it left me with an as yet unanswered question: Can I truly walk my talk? Will I EVER be able to walk my talk?
Rusty's biography of Casey Tibbs is sterling. Rusty and Casey deserve THE BEST, and that's not us...not yet, anyway, particularly given the visitor's cutting comment this weekend. I'd love to do this project, but it would be a gigantic leap of faith on Rusty's part to agree. The issue is not attorneys or contracts. Peddling Casey Tibbs at craft fairs, poetry readings, and other Western festivals in a vendor booth is simply demeaning to the respect owed Casey Tibbs and to Rusty Richards' years of diligence in researching and penning this vital tribute to one of America's truly great rodeo stars. My desire to do this project remains; it's my conscience that troubles me.
(Blogger-dude will resume the blogs later this week.)