"Poor is the man whose
pleasures depend on the permission of another."
Here is part two of the interview conducted by Anastasia Gonis.
Clancy Tucker: A Writing Life Begins with Self Publishing, by
Anastasia Gonis ©
"I approach what I know is an important issue. Clancy has rejected four contracts
for his manuscript from publishers in Melbourne, Sydney, New York and the UK
because they wanted the rights to his manuscript. He was eager to elaborate on
what it was that they were offering in contrast to what he was wanting. ‘An
expression I often use is ‘I am the C in the circle - ©, I own my work. My
point is that I see the relationship between an author and a publisher like a
marriage. For example, in New York, the contract person in the company wouldn’t
alter one full stop in the contract. My view was that if that’s how tough they
are with the contract, what were they going to be like to work with?
They all went to literary lawyers, and I paid a lot of money for the lawyers to look
at the contracts, but they still wouldn’t change. Other writers don’t do that.
They just sign the contract.’ It disturbs Clancy that he didn’t find the appropriate publisher for his work and he’d no alternative than to Self Publish. But he takes things in his stride,
this tough Aussie bloke. ‘It can be frustrating. But, as I often say to people,
you have to be very passionate. This is a very tough gig. As I’ve found out in
the last six months, that writing is one thing, the other side is the business
side. You can’t afford to sign a dud contract. You have to be a business person
as well as a writer.’
But how do you become that if you have no knowledge of the business side of
writing? ‘I’ve spent the last thirteen years, full time, learning about all sorts of things. I
have piles of manila folders on Talks to Schools, Copyright, Self Publishing,
eBooks etc. So, over the years I’ve collected all this information slotted into
these folders. Friends of mine that are writers come to me and ask, what do you
know about EBooks, and I’ll lend them my folder. My aim thirteen years ago was
to get published. But then, along the way, you win awards.
‘This is a side issue, yet related. I’ve been lobbying to get Self Published authors
included in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. We have managed to get poetry
included in the award which surprised me because Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson
is on our ten dollar note, he wrote Waltzing Matilda, and the poetry award category has just been included. ‘I’ve written some fairly detailed letters to the first assistant secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department. I almost think we’ve become close friends. I’m
like a dog with a bone. I think it’s a major issue and one of the major issues
made to her as I rattled off all the book contests that I netted. None of them
discriminated against self-published authors. So, if there’s no leadership
coming from the Prime Minister’s Department in regard to her award, it doesn’t
augur well for publishers like me struggling in the wilderness.
Self Publishing doesn’t come cheap. The cost for Clancy’s book was substantial as he
had professional editors work on the book and poetry editors for the poetry. The
editor who looked at the work was a very good one. It was Julie Jay from Rebus
Press. She considers me one of her best clients because most of my writing is
very clean. Roughly, including the poetry, the cost was $1500. Then
we go to the cost for the publishing. ‘I got nine quotes. I’m very practical
because it’s a tough gig. From the nine quotes I picked the second cheapest.
The reason I picked them was because they were the only ones that sent me a
sample of the printed book (mock book). I took it outside, kicked it, tried to
bend it, stomped on it, threw it, and it survived. I thought: this is a top book!
And when I said yes, go ahead, and paid the money, I had nine boxes delivered
three days later to my house. Some of the others were pick-up in Melbourne,
pick-up at various other places. I was pleased as h**l! The man I dealt with was Italian and he speaks Italian and Thai. So do I. I’ve been going to South-East Asia for thirty-eight
Self Publishing has become very popular. Many new writers with obvious talent have
chosen to Self Publish. Could it be that mainstream publishers make it too difficult
for them? ‘I think they do it out of frustration. A lot of my friends and associates have
asked me, did any of those four publishers come back the next day to
renegotiate? I said no. I firmly believe it’s because the average publisher
gets 2,000 manuscripts a year. If they’re going to meet someone proactive like
me who challenges contracts; that goes to a lawyer, they’re not going to deal
with me. There are 1,999 other people who are going to sign the contract
anyway. ‘On that point, I’ve even had discussions with the former head of the Australian
Society of Authors, Dr Jeremy Fisher. I asked him why the average contract in
Australia is 17 years. He said, ‘what would you have?’ Three years, I answered.
It’s like a marriage. There’s the writer dealing with the publisher, how do you know how the relationship’s going in two years time? So, if everything’s going swimmingly in two to three years time, I’ll just resign the contract for another three years. ‘This is the important point, and I’ve met people who have done this – authors that have signed a dud contract. If it’s 17 years, it’s absolutely locked up for that time. So the publishers can sit on it. I’ve even spoken to authors that have had two books published and two years later haven’t received a cent. They’re forced to consider legal action. ‘But you can imagine what would happen. It would be seven years in court; it would probably be sorted out on the steps of the courthouse at the end of those seven years. My point is to avoid all that. A lot of my friends say that I’m the only one that they know of that Self Published, purely to enter book contests.’
Part three will be posted tomorrow. Keep writing!
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Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker.