For those who don’t know the story – I began writing my first novel, Living the Dream, on a whim in 2007 the day after I had a strange dream. When the first draft was finished, I let a few people read it and the consensus was – with a little polish it would be worth publishing.
So, I commenced to polishing.
I couldn’t afford to pay an editor so I just kept going through it and going through it, modifying, tweaking and adjusting.
Eventually I finished – either because I got to a point where I thought it was done, or because the thought of reading it one more time was just too much!
The question then became – what do I do with it? I had never thought that far ahead.
I started doing research on how manuscripts become the books you see on the shelves in Barnes and Noble. What I learned was that in order to get a major publisher to release your book you basically had to, first, beg an agent to take you on as a client. Once you had an agent, the agent then tried to get your work to the big publishing companies. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but the number of new clients taken on by agents was far from encouraging, and the odds of said agent getting your book in front of a representative from any of “The Big Six” – as the traditional publishing companies were known at the time – were somewhere south of the proverbial snowflake in Hell.
At the time, independent publishing was a fairly new market, but since I wasn’t willing to play a game with such long odds of success, I decided to give it a shot.
I bought a book called “The Fine Print of Self-Publishing” by Mark Levine.
It was a treasure trove of information which took nearly all of the guess work out of the process.
Mr. Levine even rated the top self-publishing companies based on a number of criteria.
Using this guide, I chose a company called Dog Ear Publishing to turn my dream into a reality.
Shortly afterward, I was holding my first novel in my hands.
I won’t lie – it was nearly as exciting as the first time I held my son.
By the time my second novel, Water Hazard, was ready for release I had secured an editor, who, as luck would have it, was just starting her own self-publishing company.
We worked together for a few books until I reached a point where I knew enough about how things were done to go solo.
I formed my own company, Blindogg Books, and purchased a block of ISBNs.
Since then – I have been my own publisher.
Living the Dream was still in the hands of Dog Ear, however. So, whenever I needed copies, I had to buy them from Dog Ear, at their price which was much higher than the price Amazon was charging me for the rest of my catalog.
Out of mostly sentimental reasons – Dog Ear held my hand throughout the process of making the manuscript begun on a whim into a reality – I decided to leave Living the Dream with them.
In early 2020 I had three people ask me for copies of Living the Dream.
Unfortunately, I only had two left.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just call Dog Ear and order some more.
After several unanswered calls to Dog Ear I decided to call the president himself – Mr. Ray Robinson. They were that kind of company where the president gave out his personal cell phone number.
I left several voice mails for Ray – never receiving a return call.
I sent a few emails to people I had dealt with, but never got a reply.
At the time, COVID-19 was just rearing its ugly head and much the country was on lockdown. I attributed the lack of response to that, and ordered a few copies of the book on Amazon, paying the full cover price.
A few months later I was contacted on LinkedIn by a woman who was also a Dog Ear author.
Long story short (I know – too late!) Dog Ear was apparently out of business, Ray Robinson was in the wind, and authors were unable to get copies of their work or even get the files of their work in order to have books printed elsewhere. Worst of all, Dog Ear had also stopped paying authors the royalties they had earned.
There is a facebook group dedicated to Dog Ear authors who are trying to resolve the issue, which I have joined, but so far efforts have been fruitless.
A Google search of Dog Ear shows article after article detailing Dog Ear’s demise along with hundreds of stories similar, if not nearly identical, to mine.
I wish this story had a happy ending…
Unfortunately for me and every author who chose Dog Ear as their publisher the outlook is bleak.
The ones I feel for the most are those whose entire catalog is with Dog Ear. Whether one book or ten – not being able to get copies of your work, or the royalties to which you are entitled, just plain sucks!
Bottom line, the status of my first novel is in limbo.
Ordering through Amazon will get you a copy because the printing company still has the files – which they cannot surrender because their contract is with Dog Ear – not the authors.
In the meantime – I can no longer get copies in bulk.
With the recent release of my latest novel, Fool’s Gold Rush, I will probably be doing book signings. Inevitably somebody will ask me for a copy of Living the Dream…
At which time I’ll have to tell them that, for me, Living the Dream has become a nightmare.
As always – thank you for reading