It was early in 2015 when I was attending a writers workshop in Tokeland, Washington and discovered Booktrope. Jen Gilbert, one of the partners in that publishing house listened to my pitch and agreed to publish Kolea, my first novel. Booktrope was a remarkable idea in which authors were teamed up with managers, editors, proofreaders, and cover artists. Each member of the team was paid out of a percentage of the royalties and had great incentives to make the project work. The publishing business is brutal, and this startup managed to produce more than nine hundred books in it's short existence and was a godsend to many of us who had the experience of not even a polite e-mail or postcard of rejection from the publishers we wrote to.
Many of the Booktrope family were devastated at the announcement at the end of April, 2016 that the house was closing its operation June first. The complicated contracts between team members had to be renegotiated or bought out, and a flurry of correspondence between them took place. People hinted at litigation, the national pastime of the United States, and there was a lot of internet sobbing going on. But some of us have looked at it differently.
My team and I negotiated buy outs of our contracts accompanied by releases that allowed me to republish Kolea through a small house in Red Deer, Alberta called Dragon Moon. It is owned by Gwen Gades, the person who designed the cover for Kolea. Several other of her clients did the same. Other small publishing ventures are gladly taking on the work from other Booktrope authors.
My new book, Tales from the Parks, an autobiography of my adventures in National and State Parks. was in the final stages after edits and proofreading and was submitted for formatting and design a week before the closure notice. I pulled it back and decided to self-publish the book. Elizabeth Flynn, an excellent editor from Seattle has agreed to format the book and coach me through the process. Gwen Gades is designing the covers and I am learning more than I ever wanted to know about publishing books. There is a flurry of creativity going on among the survivors of this publishing demise.
I am not angry with Booktrope. I'm disappointed for them that it didn't pan-out. That is the destiny of most start up ventures. In fact I am very grateful for the chance they took on me when I couldn't even get a turn-down notice from publishers in Hawai'i. As soon as the new book is launched I will begin work on another book of fiction. Hele on, (get moving), as they say in Hawai'i.