Why being a trusting person often gets me into trouble

Not everything is always as it first appears.

It’s probably happened to every one of us at some time or other; we listen to honeyed words and allow ourselves to be ‘led up the garden path’.

It’s often happened to me, to be honest, as I hear only what I want to hear and take things on trust, without checking into facts. The most recent was being encouraged by a publisher to submit my memoir in view of publication, only to discover a big financial contribution was required.

So, I replied:

“Thank you, but no. I wrote this book to be an asset, not a liability. If I should want to self-publish, I could do that much more cheaply on the internet. Fortunately a few weeks ago at the beginning of May, a friend warned me that you are the type of publishers that ask for money after leading a writer on for months, so I got over the disappointment back then. I was only waiting to see how much you’d be asking as I couldn’t believe it would be as much as the £3,000 I’d been told it would be. Well, you were a £100 below that figure!

“A publisher from the Writers and Artists year book back in 2000 played the same trick on me but he was only asking £300, and at that time the book had been written on an Amstrad computer so they’d have had to have paid a typist about that sum to copy it for editing and printing. Nevertheless, I refused then as I am now.”

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The friend who’d warned me is a solicitor and her comment on the associate editor’s reply was “Goodness! What a load of twaddle!”. See what you think.

After thanking me for my email, the publisher said, “I am, naturally, disappointed that you have decided to decline our offer of publication. But I would like to respond to a couple of points you make.

“Firstly, I would like to stress that we are not self-publishers. We operate a hybrid publishing model, which in practice means that all submitted manuscripts are considered for a non-contributory publishing deal, but if the work is not acceptable for that, we offer a contributory contract in which the author contributes about a third of the overall cost of publication. In this way we are able to sustain our open submissions policy.

“We certainly do not ‘lead writers on’ – our approach to publishing is clearly stated on our website. We are similarly open and transparent in our response to telephone and email enquiries we receive from prospective authors prior to submission.

“We do unfortunately encounter a great deal of prejudice largely borne out of ignorance – the distinctions between various publishing models are much more complex than they used to be. Also on our website we have posted an article about ‘hybrid’ publishing, and its place in the wider context of the publishing industry.”

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Now, to give them their due, I came upon those publishers in a roundabout way. Back in November, I’d Googled one publisher and somehow got linked to a different one, i.e. the publisher who proceeded to hoodwink me. When I looked them up in the Writer’s Handbook, there was no mention of paying towards the publication.

At that stage, in November 2016, my memoir was only in hard copy form and needed to be retyped so it could be sent online. I was editing it as I went and that took several months. Every so often I contacted the publishers to let them know I was still typing away and I was assured they would wait. My solicitor friend learnt who the publishers were when I had posted on my Facebook page that I had a publisher interested in my memoir. 

In case you want to know, the memoir, The Auberge Years, is about my experience of running a small hotel with a public bar in France. This is my introductory blurb:

At age 47, in the summer of 1989, I went to France looking for a dilapidated cottage to restore and use as an occasional bolthole to get away from a difficult new marriage, but instead I bought the hotel in which I stayed. That solved my marriage problem because running an hotel needed my full-time attention, and my husband and I divorced a few years later, but setting up in business in France was not easy and I faced many a challenge. If it were a work of fiction, it could be said I was rather overdoing the challenging episodes! There were also some unusual and oddly amusing moments, those that fate throws in the mix from time to time to give life a comic twist. 

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Incidentally, I was hoodwinked in the purchase of the hotel, which was called the Auberge du Chateau (Castle Inn).

When I was first told it was for sale, the price quoted was for the business tenancy only but I didn’t realise that. To buy it freehold, the purchase price was more than double, as I discovered later. Then added to that, the purchase tax: I thought it was only on the building but no, on the tenancy as well and then, after signing the contract to buy I learnt that it was on the surface area of all rooms for public use and that included the hotel bedrooms as well, so the building was taxed twice over! At that stage, if I’d backed out I’d have lost my 10 percent deposit.

But don’t worry, an Irishman accountant living and working in France, came up with a solution and this is revealed in my memoir.

So, here I am, back to square one, in the search to find a publisher. But I am used to facing up to challenges and I believe in the motto, “try, try and try again”.

Have you ever been ‘hoodwinked’?