This is a LONG one, bitching at first, then great fun and pics.
What a mighty weekend, after a few not soo mighty weekdays.
I am in the 3rd printing of my book (www.songsandstories.net ) Of the 3 orders placed for my book. The order has been screwed up 3 times – NOT a good record AuthorHouse. The 1st time, my “Author Rep,” “assigned to help me in any way they can to make my book a success” was “out for 3 days” – so my book was delayed 2 weeks (I know the math doesn’t add up, I am just telling you the excuse used). I lost sales of 250 books, or more, – because I was a featured speaker at a convention for festival organizers, people from all over Canada, Ireland and the U.S., with no book! These folks put on Celtic festivals, work with tourism boards and travel groups etc..- kind of a made to order market for my book, they are talking up things in their home states/countries, and gladly support worthy causes, the grassroots spreading words about my book could have been huge. Instead they had nothing to take with them but a flyer. I was crushed.
All I got from Authorhouse was excuses. Once they finally got the order placed, it arrived in a day and a 1/2 – remember that number. I was livid at the lost sales. There are numerous hints of future problems before this, but I figure it is new, we will work it out. An example, I asked my rep for info about a program they had, to get your books in Borders/Barnes & Noble/Joesph Beth Booksellers, under a local author banner ( ONE store, not all). I sent 3 emails about this too him. No response. I finally get a hold of him, after 3 weeks. I ask him about what I had emailed him about. He couldn’t remember what the question was (so he hadn’t done anything on it). I tell him, and he says “Oh yeah, I got your emails.” Period! While I am delighted that he got them, I would probably appreciate that he actually respond to them. No “I am working on it,” or I am waiting for …” NOTHING. So he got them but didn’t bother to respond to his customer. MY Author rep is so unconcerned, I ask to speak to his boss. (by the way, I got my book in Borders, Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton and such, ALL oif them, all by myself, at no cost to me).
The boss talks to me very briefly. It is Friday. He says he is going to look into it, and get back to me on Tuesday. No problem. I have managed as many as 300 people at a time, I understand. You need time to research, read the client contact notes etc… Tuesday passes, so does Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with no return call. I get a form email, telling me how I can buy, at what I feel is exhorbitant prices, more services from Authorhouse (an example is, they charge $150 to copyright the book while anyone can do it themselves, for $31). This is supposed to be his answer to my saying I was not getting any support from my rep?? He passed the buck back to the very rep I was struggling with -It wasn’t a partnership at all. So instead of taking care of the customer himself, he had his employee send me a form email.
NINE Weeks later, when having ANOTHER problem, I mention to my rep that I STILL haven’t heard from his boss. His bosses response? Oh I didn’t realize there was still a problem. i.e. he had passed the buck, again, hoping I would go away (this is a recurring problem in my contacts with AuthorHouse). He says he is going to reassign me to another rep, but that doesn’t happen either.
The second time I placed an order, I got no explanation, but the book was delayed again. Once the order got placed, I got it in 3 days – yes, remember that number again.
Then I sold out at Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Festival! Very Cool! Things are looking up.
Due to even more problems with my rep ( I had Kenny’s, one of the largest sellers of Irish books in the world, want 10 copies , they were featuring it isn their August catalog – that is VERY cool, very exciting and hopefully, the start of breaking into Ireland big time. Now Authorhouse has a distribution center in London, so I wanted Kenny’s to order from them directly, saving a ton of time and money is sending from here to there, with customs etc…. We went back and forth, with my rep, trying to work it out. He emails me “This guy is wasting my time and yours.” I have NEVER felt ANY customer was wasting my time, NEVER, but evidently Authorhouse does. I was so delighted they wanted my book! So, eventually, I just ate the bullet, sending Kennys the 10 books, at a LOSS of about $30 to me).
That’s the final straw and I finally get reassigned to another guy. I can’t just pick up the book and go elsewhere, publishing doesn’t work that way – so I am stuck with the company. The new guy does seem way more on the ball, sends me some info, resources and things like that. Ahh, a partnership, helping me to maximize opportunites.
So I placed another order on Monday. Tuesday comes, I get a message that there was a problem. I call them (notice, they didn’t call me), get the problem worked out and place the order. They are very aware that I need the books by Friday. The author rep says I can’t guarentee that they will arrive by Friday (implying since there was a problem and the order was delayed one day.) I acknowledge that, and figure I am ok, 1 1/2 days and 3 days in previous orders, I can even wait until Saturday, if I absolutely have to, that’s 5 days. My “Author Rep,” tells me, “here is my home phone, call me if you need ANYTHING, after hours. I am here to help you make your book a success.” He sounds so good, on paper.
Now, It is Tuesday. I need the books Friday, to go to Dublin for the meeeting early Saturday. I got the first books 1 1/2 days after order, the 2nd 3 days after order. There is time, right?
Festival organizers were gathering for a meet and greet and discussion of issues relevant to us early Saturday morning – Dublin is only 2 hours south of me, so no problem (I help put on Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Festival, started by my father, www.clevelandirish.org). I was on the committeee that put together this year’s fest organizers convention in Pittsburgh, PA. – remember, the one where I was speaking at – AND HAD NO BOOKS, so I needed to be at this meeting, to discuss issues, and to begin the prep for the next convention, city/site selection process etc…
Friday passes, no book – 4 days after the order. So I have to bag the organizers meeting, wait for the book to arrive on Saturday and book like hell to Dublin, where I am scheduled to speak and sign, from 6 to 8. Not too bad, I can do that, I can leave as late as 3:30 (I do have a lead foot). 11:00, 12:00 1:00 all pass, 2:00, 3:00. I HAVE to go, even though I have no book. I made a committment to be there, I will be there. At this point I am so pissed I can’t even speak.
I leave, and call my dad, who lives 1/2 mile from my house and ask him to drive by later, see if the books arrive, then I will drive back from Dublin early Sunday morning, get the books and go back, to speak and sign from 4:00 to 6:00. A pain in the butt, but you gotta do the right thing.
Remember that my new rep gave me his home number? I call it and get this message – “The number you are calling is not yet connected.”
What a CLUSTER*UCK!
I get to Dublin at 5:15 (I SAID I had a lead foot). Go to where I am to present, and find a 2 table, 10 x 10 tent, no mic, no chairs for people to sit and listen – there will be no presenting here. I set up my little display stuff, figuring I can at least talk about the book and maybe get a few orders anyway.
So, I get this REALLY cool view, from my signing booth:
Yes, it is sand. They do a different one each year. This one is on golf, obviously.
Now Dublin, Ohio is a MONSTER festival, drawing over 85,000 people last year, 2nd only to Milwaukee Irish Fest, which I am going to and presenting, next week. In the course of the 2 hours, a little less than 40 people pass by my tent on Saturday, 12 on Sunday, no orders taken, but I do talk to a few people about the book. I met Myspacers Annie, who runs a fest in Raleigh, N.C. in October, and Princess Kim, who I met up with later, but lost in the maaaassssivvve Saturday night crowd. Annie kindly invites me to come to Raleigh with the book! Friends come by too and I really appreciate their support. Merv & Mary, who are deeply involved in putting on Cleveland’s Irish Festival, even came back to my booth at 8:00, and help me get all my stuff back to my car afterward! Now THAT is a true friend, they are the best of the best.
So dad calls me late that night, during the middle of the Saw Doctors show – NO BOOK!
He can’t hear me, I can’t hear him, but I got the idea.
It is time to just forget it, make the best of it and enjoy the festival itself. Dublin Irish Fest is a city run festival. They have lots of volunteers during the event, but are one of the very few festivals that are not all volunteer run, they have a paid staff that put on the fest, as well as other events, during the year. The director is one of the most dynamic people I have ever met and is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get the job done ( I saw her carrying sweat towels – yeah, exactly what it sounds like – for the performers at one point, delivering them to a stage). She’s a true leader and the Dublin Fest organizers are classy, classy people, who get the big picture of corporate partnership, building the festival and treating people well.
The music was (oops, it is 12:25 p.m., Monday – the books have arrived!) great – Saw Doctors, Cathie Ryan, Irish Tenors, Prodigals, Hothouse Flowers, Brigid’s Cross – great day for music. I saw the amazing Liam O’Mainlei of Hothouse and one of the most amazing performers – incredibly gifted musician, composer, arranger, performer … and the list goes on and on… join the Saw Doctors, what a great show:
That’s Liam in the cap, above
Then, the best part of a festival – the afters party! A ton of performers gather in various places around the hotel, have a few pepsi’s and sing songs/play tunes. The first time I looked at my watch it was 4:40 a.m. Seeing O’Mainlei and Gregory Grene, of the Prodigals, each jamming, someone singing a different song, someone else singing in Gaelic (Irish). Oh it was awesome. 5:30 went by in a flash too. Then to bed. Had a late (10 a.m.) breakfast with Nan (Pittsburgh Irish Fest Director), and Dana (Potomac Irish Fest), then headed out to the nearby grounds.
I got to see one of the truly great ballad singers and a songwriter whose reputation grows with each new song she writes/ records – Cathie Ryan. Cathie will be featured in the 4th book in my Festival Legends Series, Safe in the Hands of a New Generation. She was a founding member of Cherish the Ladies and her vocal talents remind me of the full, gorgeous voice of Frances Black, but Cathie’s voice stands alone. I just closed my eyes, leaned back and let it wash over me like the coolest breeze on a simmering day. Lovely, lovely voice, lovely, lovely woman. Did I mention I just love her voice? and she is one of the warmest, most down to earth people I have ever met. She has played our fest 2x before as Cathie Ryan Band, including this year, as well as many times with Cherish the Ladies. But I don’t get to see many of the bands at our fest, too busy, so I really relished being able to stand and enjoy.
Speaking of simmering (no, I wan’t referring to Cathie, pictured above, although that is certainly true), Sunday was HOT! I love the heat but a lot of people do not and Sunday was much quieter than the mad fun and packed fields and stages of Saturday. My R.A. joints were cryin (from the humidity I suppose – the alcohol from the nite before couldn’t have anything to do with it) but Patrick Murphy, of Gaelic Storm, was lookin pretty cool when I caught him by surprise on this one:
I snuck in a few minutes of the incredible Green Fields of America before my signing time – Mick Moloney’s seminal group, now playing about 30 years, in various lineups. Green Fields were the first to have dancers and musicians on stage together and Michael Flatley (of Riverdance fame) was their first dancer. It seems that every great musician had time with Green Fields and most make guest appearances as their scheds allow, even now.
Mick has so many accomplishments and successes (including forming and guiding Green Fields of America and Cherish the Ladies and winning the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship), that I couldn’t begin to do justice to the list here. He is a renowned and accomplished musician as well, and the stage was loaded with talent, with Mick, Robbie O’Connell, Billy McComiskey and more. Mick and Robbie are both featured in the 2nd book in the Festival Legends series, Trads & Ceilis, due out around February, God willing.
(Robbie, then Mick, The amazing Billy McComiskey is in black, 2 down from Mick)
(Robbie and Mick)
Later that night, I put all my stuff away from the signing and slipped in to watch Mick and Robbie do a presentation of songs and stories, just the two of them telling stories, singing songs and telling more stories about the songs. I could have seen only them, sat there for 3 days straight, and been so happy. It was amazing to watch as one song reminded them of another and we got to hear some stories from the road, how/when they learned a song, or some background on the songs and the times when they were written. Oh it was just something I will not forget.
I stayed for the finale, where John Whelan led almost ALL of the performers from all of the different band who played over the weekend on stage at the same time, in various songs and tunes. I left around 9 and was home by 11. Other than the !@#$vamp;*() books, it was a fun weekend.
Now I am going to find some investors, people who will help me get this book series off the ground the right way, with no more screwing around. the book is deeply relevant, on a historic topic, extremely educational and timeless, plus it’s entertaining too. Send me to them, or them to me, if you know of any one who can help.
||Currently listening :
The Farthest Wave
By Cathie Ryan
Release date: By 26 April, 2005