“Dennis, the market has changed. The industry has changed. Publishing has changed. You’re not the only author in this position.”
“Yeah, well that jerk is offering me 45% less than he did for my past five books! My position is on all fours on I-5 taking it up the poop chute from a big rig called ebooks!”
I slam my fist on the table. That’s the physical equivalent of an exclamation point. My agent looks at me, sighs, and says, “Exclamation points are only used in comic books, Dennis.”
“If comic books are paying advances like I used to get, I’ll bang one out this afternoon. Where the hell is the money going? If ebooks are outselling paperbacks, and there are no publishing costs, no printing, no binding, no warehouses stacked with books, where is the money?”
“These are hard times, Dennis. Lots of people out of work, you know.”
“Yeah, I hear there is a crises in the printing business.”
She glares. Those with no appreciation of sarcasm have no business in this business.
“Be creative. Think out of the box and off the page. Look at movies, for example....”
“What else am I supposed to do with a movie, fondle it?“
"You’re an ass. Movie and television have all sorts of ways of making money. Product placement for example. Other authors use it, why not you?”
“Product placement. Manfacturers pay to have their products featured on screen in movies. Look how many times Pepsi shows up in Terminator 2. Authors are doing the same thing. Did you read Lawrence Block’s `The Burglar who had Butterfingers’?”
“Not yet. It’s in my TBR pile right after `Mr. Monk Takes Lexapro.’ Okay I get the idea, but it seems like a complete commercial sell out to me.”
“Exactly, Dennis. This is the publishing business, not the altruism industry. The idea is to make money. The book is simply one more delivery method for the commercial.”
She keeps babbling on and on, as animated as Clutch Cargo. For those of you immune to pop culture reference dating back farther than 2000, that means she looks like bad CGI.
I let her pay for the coffee, and she could tell my mind was elsewhere. Damn right. She got me thinking, and thinking good.
Sometimes I’m brilliant. I have a plan.
First, I go to my local gun shop and tell the salesman that I want the best handgun for safety, reliability, and self-defense. Well, this dude knows his inventory, and he’s a real pro.
“If you’re looking for a handgun with the ultimate in self defense and reliability,” he says enthusiastically, “look no further than this Glock® 19 Pistol.”
"Honestly, guns scare me," I admit this to the guy, and he doesn’t bat an eye, or call me a wuss.
“With your safety in mind, this Glock® 19 Pistol has the "Safe Action" trigger system that uses a partially tensioned firing pin lock and a drop safety to prevent unintentional firing and the simple finger on trigger, safety off, finger off the trigger, safety on psychology.”
“Designed to last, this Glock® 19 Pistol has all parts coated in tenifer to give your firearm the additional hardness and longevity you want in a handgun. Safe, dependable and reliable, this Glock® 19 Pistol is a favorite among law enforcement agencies and is sure to be your favorite too.”
He was absolutely correct. I love it.
Damn, I gotta admit I’m brilliant. Being a mystery author, I knew how to plan this whole thing.
Four days later I returned to New York, and quietly stalked the publisher who wanted to cut my advance by 45%. When the newspaper ran the tragic story of his death by an unknown assailant, I clipped it out and mailed it, along with this short story and an invoice, to Glock’s corporate headquarters.
Now, if i can resist the temptation to brag about it, all I gotta do now is sit back and wait for a check.