Having met the charming and convincing Jeremy Thompson of MATADOR publishing house at the London Book Fair earlier, I was persuaded to re-publish both The Barros Pawns and Purgatory Road with them, the so-called vanity side of Picador Publishing, so as to make use of their UK marketing force.
In mid-June 2011 I got an email from Matador notifying me that ‘Purgatory Road’ had been reviewed on ‘Reading Fuelled by tea’ blog, and re-printed in the Self Publishing Magazine (Issue 19, Summer 2011). It seemed to be really quite positive.
A South African tale of crime, terror, escape and constantly looking over one’s shoulder for the past to catch up, Purgatory Road grabs the reader’s attention from the first chapter as the protagonist reacts unnecessarily violently to attempted extortion. While the subject matter remains unconvincing for the first third of the novel, the plot motors along and we sense Everyman’s darker side in John. With some surprise, I found myself two thirds in and the story slipped along to a conclusion rich with conflict and intrigue.
Earle conveys the African setting marvellously – a strong sense of dialect comes through almost effortlessly (although he could rein in the exclamation marks), and the beauty of the rugged veldt is well portrayed. John’s motivation is initially puzzling, but the character is strongly developed (as are the supporting cast) and quite likeable, by the end.
The cover is a little unnecessarily loud, (Matador had used my design but changed the colour from sepia-orange to red) but it does serve to convey the brutality within and warn off a timid reader. The quality of the self-published book was pleasantly surprising – while the cover could be thicker and a chapter heading had displaced itself, the general standard of publication is excellent. A solid debut effort from a promising author.
Among the decisions to make was the quantity to have printed, but I had read from their small-print that copies of over 300 in their warehouse would draw a storage cost, so asked them to print 300 of each. They replied that 500 would be what to go for as review copies and sales would soon reduce the number to below the number that would attract storage costs, so I agreed.
Having a bank account in the Channel Islands was convenient for payment at first, but then HSBC closed my account due to my not being resident there, although other South African UK account holders told me they had no such stipulation. Up to that date Matador had made no payments, but I considered it to be early days.
Two years passed. The numbers in their balance did indeed reduce to below the 300 mark for Purgatory Road, but not so for The Barros Pawns whose balance stopped at 302. I was being charged £20-00 per month for storage, deducted from my balance, none of which I had actually received. I had by this time informed them about the account closure, but they had assured me that they would EFT monies to the South African bank account which I had supplied. Nothing was credited to me. On enquiry, I was first informed that they could not transfer funds to a South African bank, then later, when I complained, that they had paid me in full. When I asked for an account print-out as proof of payment, I was told that these records had not been kept, being too old.
Adding insult to theft, I was then informed that they could no longer store any of my books after two years, and that they would be pulping their stock at my expense. I was both angry and frustrated at not being able to fight back from so far away. The only thing I could think of was refusing to pay for pulping, and demanding that they give their remaining copies to local libraries or even to charity shops.
Another frustration is the fact that these two titles in eBook form have not been re-directed to my control, although Matador assured me that they released their own account to them in the eBook market. I wrote to Amazon about this and was informed that the original submitter has to arrange for transfer, which had not been done. So any sales in this sphere must therefore still accrue to the Matador account…
I really hope that other authors who have dealt with Matador have more success, especially those actually living near enough to broach them about shortcomings face to face.
In the meanwhile, I was selling a few soft-cover copies, from my local printing, on two visits to the Saturday market in Sedgefield on the Garden Route, a two hour trip away, meeting some interesting people and offering advice to some budding authors.
The thought of writing a blog to get my name out there, as well as practicing my writing, was beginning to take shape. The writing of novels is the easy part, but the marketing is murder.
I do hope others have had more satisfactory dealings with Matador, and no doubt you will comment here about your experiences, for better or for worse, until debt do you part.
If anyone should do me the honour of purchasing either of these as eBooks, please do not buy under these covers on the left as I will not receive a penny. Rather buy under these other two covers below. I thank you!