Travel writing bits and blues

April 19, 2007

For over ten years, I wrote Moon Handbooks: Tennessee, which came out in four editions over that time, plus a book on the Smokies, which I co-wrote with Mike Sigalas. The day I got my hands on the first copy of the fourth edition, I got a call from the designated hatchetwoman at my publisher, Avalon Travel Publishing , telling me I was fired from my own book. That’s a long story for another time. As the late Kurt Vonnegut says, so it goes.

Fortunately for me, I own the copyright to all the text in the 500-page book, and I have put almost every word of it onto my website, Tennessee Guy, of which this blog is a part. While some unknown soul is laboring on the fifth incarnation of the Tennessee book, my last edition remains in bookstores, making money for me and the knaves who cut me loose.

But not too much money, it seems. I remain on an email list of Avalon authors, and they are singing the blues about a steep decline in royalties for the last quarter of 2006. Several are reporting drops in income of one half, two-thirds, or even 75 percent. My last royalty check is one fourth of its predecessor. One longtime Avalon author tells us that we should consider writing travel books as a hobby, and to “look for another revenue stream.”

While I have all sympathies for my fellow authors, many of whom depend on those royalties for their livelihood, a lesser person would chortle at the plight of my former publisher and gleefully anticipate the laying off of particular individuals. But I digress.

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