wonder • wander
a collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones
Four hundred, sixty-five dollars and fifty-eight cents is the exact amount of money owed to me by BookBaby, the company that printed and “distributed” my memoir: STILL MOVING. Four hundred, sixty-five dollars and fifty-eight cents is the total amount of my earned commissions on book and Kindle sales from December 29, 2000--the pre-publication date--through the end of April, 2021.
Let me break it down a bit more. The “retail” price of my memoir is $17.95. The less than laudable figure of $465.58 represents this naive, overly-eager, first-time author’s dollar share of sales on: 125 paperbacks ($360.03); 22 Amazon Kindles ($73.70); 2 Bookbaby Bookshop sales ($17.95); 1 “i-book” ($3.50); and 1 Amazon Kindle-CA ($3.51). On a better side—if not a truly “the good side”, in December, I had the foresight to purchase two hundred and fifty paperbacks at the special customer price of $10.80 a copy. These I sold privately—or gave away. For the purpose of this rant, I did not factor in those sales.
Now, through simple arithmetic, I have deduced that four hundred and sixty-five dollars ($465.58) is thirty-two dollars and forty-two cents ($32.42) short of the number that my author’s cut must reach before BookBaby cuts me a check.
This is Life—not “death of a thousand cuts”!
Surely, the magic number of five hundred dollars ($500.00) looms on my near-future BookBaby Author’s accounting page.
Note to Self: do not permit your confidence and optimism to waiver or be thwarted by the reality of your current (and far less than stellar) publishing circumstances. You are “still moving” towards a resounding small “S” success. May is such a friendly and promising month.
As any first-time author, who has dreamed of good reviews and positive results and who has traveled the long and winding road of independent publishing, will attest: a self-publishing adventure is not for the faint-of-heart. Most, who have traveled this road—fraught with unintended consequences and helpful and unhelpful revelations--might pause before recommending this path to the easily discouraged.
In the beginning, (wherever that was) I actually thought writing the book would be the most formidable road-to-authorship hill to climb. In my case, getting to the acceptable PDF stage took years. And more years.
With the creative, fun, writing part of my journey had been conquered to my satisfaction, a bigger task confronted me: dealing (and fighting) with a professional editor. Oh, the editing and re-editing! Oh, the criticisms and critiques; the disagreements and misunderstandings!
One might surmise that that fourteen-month ordeal represented the most difficult part of producing a book. Pause. Breathe…
Actually, no. My fragile little memoir still had to weather the storms of confusing and frustrating DESIGN decisions. Disparate opinions were borderline abusive. Consensus was elusive on everything: the front and back covers; the typeface; the paper color and weight; the margins; the spine; the photographs; the dingbats.
What, pray tell, is a “dingbat”? Isn’t that how Archie Bunker referred to his wife?
Frustrating squabbles and intractable opinions about design and marketing concepts stalled the desired progress. The entire production year was full of difficult discussions, major and minor misunderstandings. Far too many hurtful remarks knifed through cyberspace. Senseless arguments among my hand-picked team of valued supporters and creative professionals made my head spin. Tragically, it redounded to the loss of a treasured friendship. Deeply painful. And maybe, in the end, that was the most difficult part of it all…
So, to reiterate: May is a particularly friendly and promising month. And who doesn’t love June!
Hey, Sparkle, remember when we shared that apartment in Greenwich Village, back in the early 60s? And remember how we used to buy a “dime bag” of marijuana from Shawn Phillips but it was really a nickel bag because Shawn, the cute and talented twelve-string guitarist, always kept half for himself?
And remember the afternoon we hung out with Shawn and his famous friend Barry McGuire at the Hotel Earle, near Washington Square and smoked pot and Barry surprised us one afternoon (or was it night?) by snapping amyl nitrate capsules under our noses?
For the first time? Remember?
Days later (I’ll never forget) you and I went to the pharmacy on Sixth Avenue and bought tampons and then pretended like, “Ooops! we almost forgot--your grandmother asked us to buy something for her heart palpitations!”
“What was it? Amyal? Ameryl? Nite something, nite, nitrous? Oh, yeah, amyl nitrate! Yeah.”
And the pharmacist sold us a whole tin of it. For your non-existent grandmother. And we popped one ampule while we were walking back to our apartment and started laughing uncontrollably and fell down on the sidewalk. That was hysterical! Remember? Remember all of that? Did we--for even a minute--stop to think how stupid it was? No, we did not. Was it dangerous? Yes, extremely dangerous. Did we care?
Oh, and remember when we used to go uptown to buy cocaine from Ray, the impeccably dressed, exceedingly classy, and mysterious black pimp who had a brace of white Afghan hounds? And remember how we joked that he didn’t know how to pronounce his own last name? Prochez? Pershay? Pacher? Preshee? Did we think we were invincible? We did. Were we? It seems that we were back then, way back then.
When did the invincibility charm of wild youth wear off, Sparkle? When did the magic protection spell expire? When did the charm of stardom turn into the sudden and jarring alarm of has-been-ism? Is this pain and discomfort felt by two perpetual wannabes better or worse than the pain of becoming a “has been”? And is that more or less painful than living life as a “never was”? We weren’t “neverwases” were we?
Wonder & Wander
A collection of thoughts, musings, and milestones from author, wonderer, and wanderer, Linda Durham.
Copyright © Linda Durham | Site Design by Angulo Marketing & Design
Linda Durham is a human rights advocate, adventurer, author of Still Moving, The Trans-Siberian Railway Journey, An Art and Friendship Project, and a Sixties Manhattan Playboy Bunny. She is the founder and director of Santa Fe's Wonder Institute, which sponsors art exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and salons focused on discovering and implementing creative solutions to contemporary social and cultural issues. For more than three decades, Durham promoted New Mexico-based artists as the hands-on owner of contemporary art galleries in Santa Fe and New York.