After the publishers shut down, and stopped answering the phone, or e-mail, I decided to go straight there. It was the only thing to do. I was uneasy with the fact they still had my files. Somewhere, in a liquidated office in Dublin, lay the formatted Manuscripts and covers of my two books.
This presented two major problems. The first being they could disappear forever. The computers could be sold/auctioned/formatted or thrown into a skip.
The second being the books could be published again without my knowledge and sold without my consent.
So I went straight there and knocked on the door. It was a building that housed a variety of different businesses. You could see the list on the wall. The space where the name of the publishing house had been was now empty. All that was left was a deserted office upstairs with a waste paper basket and a smell of cold carpet and sweat.
Downstairs, the woman at the reception desk told me she didn’t know anything except the name of the solicitor dealing with the wind down. She gave me his number and I called him. He told me the CEO had had some kind of heart issue. He was in Spain getting experimental treatment. I said that was great but what about my royalties? He’d seen the accounts he said, and they weren’t pretty. Weren’t pretty at all. As regards getting any money it was “…highly unlikely….’ I wasn’t the only one in the same position. He’d gotten numerous calls. Do you know anything about the files, I asked him. They’re in a factory in West Dublin he said, do you want to give them a call? No, I said, give me the address.
Later, at the factory in West Dublin. It was some kind of manufacturing plant. I walked in, down a dusty corridor and ended up on the factory floor. It was populated with people wearing goggles, dressed in overalls, feeding some kind of plastic or rubber into complicated machines. Eventually someone asked: ‘Are you alright there?’
I told him the story. He said I needed to talk to Pamela. She was in the office by the front. And they don’t usually let people wander in the back door so could I leave now please?
The office was bright and smelled like lemon. Pamela was courteous and polite. She had the files and said it was awful what had happened. So many people left high and dry. However, there was nothing to stop me printing directly with her. I’d cut out the fees paid to the publishers and get the books direct from herself at a significant discount.
This was an unexpected turnaround. I could now get the novels at source, basically at cost price, or close to it. No more handling fees, processing charges or inflated quotes for big orders. Just pure books.
She’d also send me the files for my own personal use. I’d always have them now, ready to go if I ever found a cheaper option or wanted to send them to another publisher. All in all, it was the best possible result and another leap towards creative independence.
We have an outstanding order here, she said, for 300 copies, do you want me to go ahead with those?
Sound, Pamela, I said. Belt away sure.