Drinking From the Cup of Harassment
Now I'm rapidly exhausting the stock of "The Remix of Orchid" by sale, by submission of perusal copies to the distributors, booksellers, by dispatching review copies…and by presenting complimentary copies. There is nothing sacrosanct about the policy of distribution and it is liable to change if the publisher is the author himself. As for me, I have no patience to wait till my investment is back so that I can dispatch complimentary copies. Nevertheless, I'm sure now, my money will be back: occasional free distribution of the book has not done any harm to its bottom line. Everything is in control now. "The Remix of Orchid" is not going to leave me broke.
This, in brief, is the mid-course assessment. I've plan of coming up with another print/edition of the book during this year. That's almost sure. My well-wishers advise me that the book should be left to perform the best it can. In the process if it brings a few bucks to me, why should I be so touchy about it? After all, business is no bad word.
That said, I'm now jumping to a misery story.
A new author has to be harassed by everyone, say the agents, the publishers, the critic…. The list is long, and the bookshops are also included.
My internet search gave me the information that there is a reputed bookshop in Cannaught Place in New Delhi in the name of "The Bookworm". So, "The Remix of Orchid" should be displayed there-that was my resolve. Why not genuine book lovers get a chance to browse my book there?
So, I tried to talk to them by phone. That was in the month of January, on 31st January to be precise. One Mr Anil Arora is the owner, but I could not talk to him as he was not there. In his absence, One Ms Kim received the call and informed me that I should talk to him the next day after 12 o' clock.
The next day I tried, then on another day, then on a third day and it continued. I must marvel at my own patience. All the time I was told by Ms Kim that Mr Arora was not there. But I did not lose patience. Finally, on 21st February I succeeded. Mr Arora--even if I have not seen him-sounded soft and receptive. He heard my proposal to display and sell my book at his outlet and said that I should send a copy for perusal.
I was happy for the time being over whatever success I could get. Then when my book was ready in the month of May, I sent a copy, carefully packed and flawlessly addressed. I did not send it as an ordinary post; I sent it as a registered parcel. It was more expensive a service than the other affordable ones offered by post office, yet I didn't mind spending a little extra. Purpose: the book should reach Mr Arora in tact, fresh and presentable.
Then I waited. After a while, say in 10 days' time or so, I ascertained over phone from Ms Kim (Mr Arora was not available, as usual, to talk to me as Ms Kim reported) that my book had reached there. Her tone was sweet and satisfying, as usual.
Now the old story. Dial Bookworm, talk to Ms Kim, 'Mr Anil Arora is not available-try tomorrow after 12 o' clock'… I did not allow it to prolong and this continued only for a couple of times.
Come 26th May, 2007, the day of decision. It was not from Mr Arora, the proprietor of Bookworm; it was from her mouth, Ms Kim's mouth:
'We don't take books from authors directly; we buy books from the distributors.'
'Then why did you ask me, in the first place, to send a perusal copy?' I challenged.
'Well, I'll return your book.' Ms Kim replied.
I knew she did not mean what she said. The book won't come back. However, I have earned what I should have: a month-long harassment.
Government offices are not the only places one should go to, to get harassed. Even a private bookshop can harass, if a self-published author willingly goes there to shop that.
A. N. Nanda