History of an Unpublished Novel
It started with a title, which became an idea, which became a story, which became a manuscript, then became a book. Change of cover design and author’s name and a journey that is still in progress.
Red Wine for Breakfast is the most published novel you’ve never heard of. The novel has had three agents, been optioned for a movie, has five publishers and was one of the very first print-on-demand titles to hit book store shelves.
Before M.J. Rose reached fame for her e-book on a disk, Red Wine For Breakfast was published by Book-On-Disc.Com (June 24, 1999). Before Dan Poynter made his fortune as the marketing guru in the Print-On-Demand industry, Red Wine for Breakfast was one of the first books published in that format, first by AOL’s Writer’s Club, then by iUniverse who bought out AOLWC. (July 2, 1999).
To say the novel has been there, did that, is an understatement and the fact that with all it had going for it, sold a mere 5,000 copies is a mystery every author has been trying to solve since the first time a pen and ink was put on paper.
But this isn’t a tale of what might have been, only what was and sharing it with all who have interest may entertain, or delight, or bore you to tears, but for better or worse, here it is;
The title was derived from a conversation I had in a bar with a good friend who mentioned that he enjoyed a glass of Beaujolais in the morning. I joked why would anyone have red wine for breakfast? Later that night wrote it in my diary that it sounded like a great title for a book.
That was 1972.
Two marriages, three daughters and 25 years later Red Wine for Breakfast did indeed become a novel. In 1996, for those of you who remember that long ago, the internet was in its infancy. Cell phones were a luxury and ebook readers were a device used by the crew of the Starship Enterprise. None of which I owned at the time. What I did own was a computer, HP laser jet printer and a WordPerfect program that would format a document in a book format.
What I also owned was a stationery store which was conveniently located next to a full service print store. The first printing of Red Wine for Breakfast was spiral bound with a red card-stock cover that cost me $10.00 per copy to print that I sold at my store for $14.95. Customers would buy the book, I’d sell out the five or so I printed, then walk over to the print store and print another five and sell them one at a time. You could say I was the original “Print-On-Demand” publisher long before the term, or the industry was ever heard of.
I did sign with an agent in Los Angeles who sent the manuscript off to several mainstream publishers, most of which are no longer in business. With each rejection, I found something positive to spin, but when Doubleday rejected the manuscript after 9 months, my agent gave up and we parted ways.
Then came the movie producers. I won’t bore you with the details; you can read the nasty tale here: A Hollywood Horror Story
A few months later, AOL was forming a new club for aspiring writers who wanted to have their books published at very little cost. I was looking for a printer who would charge me less that $10.00 per book and also provide something called an ISBN number so my books could be sold in stores other than mine.
AOL Writer’s Club became the first publisher of Red Wine for Breakfast. As a published author, I began going to writer’s meetings and events. I met another author who had published her books in a CD format for people who wanted to read her books on their computer. I met her published, he liked my book, so Book-On-Disc.com became the third publisher of Red Wine for Breakfast.
Shortly after the novel was on Amazon in CD format, I receive an offer I couldn’t refuse from a new publisher who was in the process of buying out the Writer’s Club and wanted all the titles and a new contract with all their authors. The company was iUniverse. the fourth publisher of Red Wine for Breakfast.
Because they were buying out our contracts, there was no charge for any of the authors to had iUniverse publish our books. It didn’t take very long for that promise to go the way of the “Be a published author for only $99” deal. The Print-On-Demand revolution was fading quickly. At that time another author who had also signed with the Writers Club decided to open his own publishing business and wanted me to join him as his premier author.
Lighthouse Press became publisher #5 in 2001. Red Wine for Breakfast also received a new cover and a new author; Raven West. The book did fairly well for a number of years, then another new publisher who was branching out internationally contacted me with what was a too good to be true deal and Lighthouse and I parted ways in 2009. Chalet publishers were now #6 for about five weeks. Not unlike iUniverse way back the day, most of what they promised never materialized. I wasn’t that surprised to discover they went out of business in 2012.
Red Wine For Breakfast is now in the digital world of ebooks with Smashwords, publisher #7. I still own all the rights and occasionally when I have a few hours, will pick it up and re-read the story. As soon as I can reformat the cover, I’ve since re-published with Amazon’s Createspace and Kindle, who will be publisher #8.
I always said that overnight success takes about 20 years. I have at least another 2 to go!
- Posted in: Commentary