Today a few synapses fired in old Frank’s brain and he came to some pretty striking realizations. As you all know by now, I started this website because I wanted to prove to agents and publishers that despite their hemming and hawing, there is an audience for FUTUREPROOF. I figured if I could get some folks over here to read a few chapters for free, then give their impressions, that the book would sell itself—not only to you all, my incredibly supportive and enthusiastic readers, but also to the less enthusiastic in the publishing world, who I took for merely over-worked and jaded by the amount of crap they have to wade through just to find something actually worthy of both critical praise and commercial success. But now, with upwards of 200 positive comments in the guestbook and close to as many emails from readers all over the country and the world, I am beginning to think there might be something more to it than that.
I’ve kept some things out of the public eye for a while now because I didn’t want to get myself or this book blackballed (which I’ve heard can indeed happen), but now I figure it’s time to level with everybody. The truth is, I’ve been turned down flat-out by over 50 agents, only three of whom have ever requested more than just the first three chapters I’d initially sent them with my query letter. Since I started this website and began getting so many incredibly positive responses from readers, I have also recieved rejection letters from 14 agents and publishers. Just a week ago, an agent who had received my letter detailing the great success of the site, called and left me a message on my home phone asking to see the rest of the manuscript. I can’t express to you how fucking big that is. Agents never call writers unless they are REALLY interested. And this was a big-name New York agent. I was stoked. I figured that this marked the beginning of the next phase. Then, two days ago, I received in the mail a Xeroxed rejection letter from this same agent. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I figured it had to be a mistake. The letter must have been mailed accidentally, a gross oversight by an over-eager office assistant. So I sent the agent an email asking her if this was indeed true, that she had expressed such enthusiasm for FUTUREPROOF a mere four days earlier only to send me this form letter without any explanation AT ALL for why she had turned me down. I got no reply. Of course, this did not and DOES NOT sit well with me. In fact, it comes across as incredibly unprofessional. So all day yesterday and most of today I was in a deep funk. It was as though she’d read some or much of the manuscript, had been disgusted or put off by its content, and despite all the reviews on the site raving about the book, turned away without a second thought. It just made no sense to me. “These people must not want to make money,” I told my wife. Well, I guess I kind of yelled it. Because how many first-time writers can come to an agent or a house with this kind of pre-published support? I thought I was doing everything right to be a publishing success, and to get (what I consider to be) a worthy addition to the literary world into the hands of people that might be effected by it.
Then, today, while making my normal internet rounds, I came across this article on Slate. It’s called “THE NEW POWER GENERATION: How You’ll Know When the Boomers Have Lost Control of the Media.” I read the article and suddenly all the pieces started falling into place. I remembered the line in a letter from an editor at a major publishing house who earlier this year told me that, while my writing was lucid and effective, “the category-killing success” of books like James Frey’s made it nearly impossible for FUTUREPROOF to succeed in the market. Basically, her logic went that because A Million Little Pieces was so successful (and this was before Oprah even picked it), the public’s interest in that kind of lit was sated and they were ready to move on to something new. This logic, of course, flies in the face of all reason. Normal reasoning would say to the normal rationale that if A is successful, then B (which is similar to A) has a good chance of being successful, too. But here I was, staring at this Slate article, and all the pieces were falling into place. The people in positions of power not only do not get FUTUREPROOF, they don’t like it. It’s not an easy book, I know this. There is content within that is disturbing, stomach-churning and uncomfortable in this book. It addresses and confronts some very difficult and normally-avoided issues. Like Race. Later in the book–and I know you guys don’t know this yet because I haven’t let you read all of it–the infamous “N-word” is used by people that aren’t black. How could I write something that insensitive, you ask? Because that’s the way some people talk, that’s why. And the only way to really get to the bottom of these issues is to confront them head on. Period.
So now it’s beginning to set in that this is going to be much more of an uphill battle than I’d originally suspected. And it might take a lot longer than I’d hoped to get this book published by conventional means. But I’m determined and convinced, now more than ever–and I know that our cause is righteous–that it is time we TAKE our fair share of power in the market-place if they won’t give it to us. So I’ve decided to make FUTUREPROOF available by means of Print On Demand. This will take a little while to accomplish, what with the time for set-up and all, but hopefully within a month, for those of you who want it, FUTUREPROOF in its full, complete form will be available to you for around $15. That price will cover the publishing costs alone. I will be making absolutely NO money on it at all, and that’s the way I want it. Because getting this book published is about so much more than just making money for me. It’s about PRINCIPLE. And I’ve decided that making FUTUREPROOF printable on demand can only help forward its eventual publication by a legitimate house with the power and potential to make its existence known to far more readers than could ever know it through the means currently at my disposal. And since I’m self-publishing with P.O.D., I don’t have to worry about compromising copyright, and everyone will be able to see what exactly is scaring away the agents too cowardly or out-of-the-loop to know a worthy piece of literature when they see it.
To any agents or publishers reading this, let me just level with you by saying that I’m not trying to step on any toes here. I’m just a guy who wrote a book that feels, along with many others, that it should be given its day in the sun like anything else that has made it into the spotlight on far shakier legs. Because while I’m not one to stand around shouting my own praises, you can’t tell me that FUTUREPROOF is less worthy of publication than, say, anything by Nicholas Sparks. Or Scooter Libby. Or Bill O’Reilly. Or Danielle Steele. Or anything else force-fed to the masses like so much Soylent Green.