With all the old-time publishing companies, bestselling authors and media moguls joining the e-book stampede, a golden opportunity has revealed itself to me. I'm taking all the money I got in my big windfall (see my October 17 Huffington Post blog) and investing it in a traditional publishing company.
This is not at all a random publishing scheme. My keen eye has uncovered a rich opportunity in the business that no one else has seemed aware of. I am singlehandedly going to bring back the hardback book. And where the giants of the publishing industry have so miserably failed, I will succeed by I'm following some sound business practices.
First step: Find a potential blockbuster, i.e., a previously unpublished author with a big idea and sign him up at the right (lowest possible) price.
As you know young adult books are the hottest thing going. And you can't get younger adults that at the grade school level which is where I went last week. I talked to Mrs. Stampleman, a teacher at the Kings Highway School in Westport, CT.
"I'm looking for your most creative story teller," I explained.
"Oh," she said without hesitation, "that would be Buddy McCormick."
"Bring him on," I said.
"He's in time out."
"All the better. The last thing I want to do is interfere with his studies."
She brought buddy in to meet me. He was short, had black scraggly hair and a Steven King gleam in his eye.
"So, Buddy, I understand you're a great story teller."
He looked at me for a long time. I could tell he was weighing whether or not to trust me. (And that was before I even showed him the book contract.) Finally he said:
"Mrs. Stampleman beat me with a ruler and then locked me in the coat room all morning."
I knew immediately I had struck literary gold.
"Spellbinding! Truly exciting! Tell me more, Buddy."
"My Mommy and Daddy robbed the Westport Bank and they bought drugs with all the money and so there was nothing for me and my sister to eat."
"Sensational! Gripping! Completely original! Let me ask you this, Buddy. Do you like to write?"
"I don't know how."
"What? Why can't he write?" I asked Mrs. Stampleman.
"He's only five. He's in academic pre-school and we're just learning the alphabet now."
"Well, we've got to put him in an accelerated program."
"All our programs at Kings Highway are accelerated," she sniffed.
"Have you read The Hunger Games, Buddy?
"What about Harry Potter? You must have read Harry Potter."
"Well, that's probably just as well," I said, patting him on the head. "We don't want to be accused of plagiarism, do we? So Buddy, how would you like to be the author of best selling children's books?
"Great. I'll draw up a three, no a five-book contract and you can sign it."
The follow up meeting with Buddy occurred the next day during Snack. He had obviously thought about my proposition and had some questions of his own.
He held the pen poised in his pudgy little fingers and looked up at me through new acquired black-rimmed glasses. (The author's photo was going to be adorable.)
"Will I be getting a big advance?" he asked.
"Not so big," I said.
"How big?" He held up his round little arms.
"This big," I said, holding my two fingers about an inch apart. He thought that over for a moment.
"Are you going to publicize the books?"
"What about a book tour?"
"No, little guy, no book tour."
"Is there going to be any promotion at all?"
"No, no promotion whatsoever."
"Because that's not what a traditional publisher does, honey."
He made a mark on the signature line of the contract that wasn't exactly a signature but I'm sure it will do. Now, we our well on our way to making publishing history.
My next acquisition: I sign up an unknown author and get him to write something that causes a fatwa to be imposed on him, thereby insuring yet another bestseller for my little publishing company.