Monday, December 12, 2011

I need some ideas/help.

I have a problem that I'm hoping some of you can help me with.
Thanks to a personal loan (on very generous terms) from folks who would like to remain anonymous, I've been able to fund the work on Trouters to date, supplemented by my pension. However, due to some unfortunate surprises, I'm just about at the end of my financial tether. The shortfall is US$12,000. It would be great (well perhaps not exactly great, but you know what I mean) if I could say this shortfall was due to 'high living', but unfortunately it isn't, so I need to find more money.
First thought, of course, would be a job. Due to visa restrictions in Fiji, I can't look for work here, and in any event the wages would not be of any great help. Those still involved in flying, or recently retired, will understand that going back flying is not a viable option. Nobody wants to hire a 59 year old pilot who is not in current flying practice (current medical, instrument rating and class rating) and for me to achieve that lot would take about six months salary and certainly two to three months at the fastest. I don't have either the money or the time, I'll be sixty in May, at which point I can no longer fly single-pilot ops in Europe. Trust me, flying is not an option. So, anybody got a job, or know of anything going? Anything legal considered, but minimum wage stuff might be a bit unhelpful, I may 'take back' one of the books from the agent and self publish on Amazon, but again this is no quick fix.
Which leaves me with a third option, which is to ask for help. The email address is
Peter {DOT} bernfeld {CHANGE TO AT} Gmail {DOT} com
A final twist is that I've been given a warning that the club is thinking of doubling my monthly hard fees sometime next year, from F$500 per month to F$1000 per month. I have a suspicion that this is somebody trying to acquire a boat on the cheap as that has been tried before, but whether or not that's true, it makes the whole business unsupportable unless I have a job or a loan.
My options at this point are stark. Either I get more money by some means, or I will simply have to walk away from the boat in the not too distant future. When I say walk away, I mean the sort of money I would most likely be offered for it is around F$20,000, that's around US $10,000. Probably less, if I am having to bail out.
So, any ideas? I'm not looking for charity, for a few reasons I'd rather be able to arrange a loan (avoiding customs problems in Fiji, avoiding somebody pulling a fast one to get their hands on my home) and lastly getting work outside Fiji. Like I said, anything legal considered.
I had a question within a few minutes posting the above on my sailamail blog. Before I answer that, let me give a brief rundown of what's been happening with the book. The manuscript was accepted by a literary agent in August last year (2010). In April this year (2011) she found an independant publisher in the UK who liked it and a contract was signed in June. The book was e published, but there were many formatting errors, which frankly was the publishers' responsibility. There were also quite a few typing errors which the agents' proof reader didn't pick up. The proof reader was fired, but that still left the immediate problem. Anyway, the book was temporarily suspended on Amazon and Smash Words and the agent and I worked solidly for two weeks, checking the formatting, proof reading and making a few minor alterations. I had literally just sent off the final chapter when an email arrived from the publisher. They had run into financial difficulties and were breaking several contracts, one of which was mine. Basically they were dropping any manuscript that wasn't ready to publish immediately, and although I had finished, the agent needed about another week to finish her checking, so that was that. I have a small amount of royalties due for payment in early January, about three weeks of being available generated some interest/sales and looked promising. Not to totally 'float my boat' anytime soon, but it looked like I might get a small amount every quarter, to help things along. Right now, the agent has three of my manuscripts, one is a series of children's bedtime stories and we're hoping to find an illustrator who will take a chance and work on a shared royalties basis. One is historical 'faction', and the other is the slightly reworked one that was published and withdrawn.
OK, so why not self-publish. In a word, marketing. I could self-publish at just about zero cost on both Amazon and Smash Words, but there is no marketing support. The thing about a publisher as opposed to a company which self-publishes books is that they have a vested interest in sales. They will also have an 'in' with retail outlets for paperbacks and those retail outlets will also advertise, something that I couldn't afford to do. Certainly, using facebook and Twitter help to gain publicity, but that I think is no substitute for solid marketing, something at which I have only hazy notions anyway. Another friend pointed out to me that an e book 'might go viral'. It might, but the chances are it won't. Ex crewmember C suggested I 'do a reading on U tube', for the same reason. That remains a possibility. What I may do is 'take back' one of the manuscripts, if the agent agrees, and maybe try self-publishing, despite all my misgivings about it. I know the agent is very wary about this, the publishing industry is in a state of rapid change at the moment, but right now are very much against self-publishing, and the agent thinks might be predjudiced against any author who does so. I don't know, but I'm not too keen to take the chance. A friend has self-published and his sales are modest, but rising slowly. The books are good reads and deserve to do well, in time he might well find that his sales are respectable, purely by word of mouth, but he has also signed up with the same agent, the book that she accepted he had to withdraw from Amazon.
So, that is why I have not self published.


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