Saturday, February 06, 2010

publishing disaster

I received a call from my marketing manager the other day. He sounded apologetic. I asked him what was wrong. He told me that the company who published my book 'The Wonderful World of Joseph McCrumble' appears to be no longer trading, or at least they have been taken over by another company under dubious circumstances. I asked him whether this was the reason why I never received a royalty cheque. He said 'To be honest Joseph, you might have lost out on a few quid, but I'm pretty sure you just didn't sell any books'. I asked him, after reminding him the HE was supposed to be MY marketing manager, what HE should do - as I am in no position (still in the barn, still poor) to take this any futher. 'Not all is lost!', he said breezily as if struck by a good idea. 'Stand Up for Africa have it in stock at their website. We just have to tell people not to but the book through Amazon, Blackwells or any other retailer. That way the royalties go straight to the charity. OK?'

'Sure, Mark', I replied. 'So how are you doing these days - it's been a long time since you were in touch. I thought you maybe forgot about us.'

'No way Joseph. I've just been a bit busy. New job, new house, new prospects. It's all pretty good here. You thinking of moving out of that barn any time soon? We'd love to visit but we can't spare the time to travel down. You know how it is. But, hey, if you're passing this way any time don't be a stranger, yeah?'

'Sure, Mark', I said quietly, resisting the urge to put two vocal fingers up. 'Actually, it's still pretty hard down here. No money, no job. Several people are, in fact, depending on Ravel's job as a part time gardener. I've taken on a few things here and there but it's all been seasonal or temporary. I'm overqualified. Who wants to employ a PhD scientist to pick cherries?'

'Yeah Joseph, I guess it must be a bit tough. But hey - why don't you lie on your CV and say something like you've done nothing but pick cherries your whole life.'

'Lie?', I squawked. 'I can't lie, it would ruin everything I stand for. No lies, never!

'So you're standing for poverty and zero-rated aspiration are you Joseph? It's not like I'm suggesting you make up a qualification...'

'Never!', I interjected. 'Sorry mark, I just can't. Well, anyways, it was great talking to you. If you are ever passing this way, we are the third barn after the green cottage next to the woodland burial site. Bye.'

I put the phone down, momentarily proud of my stance. But then I saw Ravel walking towards the barn, his head low, his hands and clothes soiled. Dolores opened the door and let him in. He smiled at me and pulled out his week's wages, handing them all over to me before taking his seat at the dinner table. I counted the takings. It was less than the previous week's by at least 20%. There wasn't enough to feed us all, let alone pay for the new sweater I promised Dolores for our wedding anniversary. The words of my marketing manager rang in my ears as I drank my parsnip soup. Maybe it was time I put my pride to one side. After all, it's not like anyone would actually notice, would they?