Life experiences can be an incredible tool in learning. The knowledge gained from our day to day walk is just as valuable as anything taught in a book. And sometimes, life brings you a set of circumstances where you get to share your experiences with others. Such is the story of Elmer Toller who, at nearly 60 years young, transformed the body of his life experiences into a book. However, a shady publisher with a bad business model ‘shelved’ Elmer’s plans. Now what? Such is the focus of this series of articles I’m doing in the hopes of bringing about a sense of commonality and brotherhood. Stories of other writers, like me, that fell on the sword of a bad publisher who, to coin a phrase, done them wrong. My hope is that by sharing our stories, we can ENCOURAGE other writers who have found themselves in this same spot.
Even during a 4-year stint with the United States Air Force in his younger years, Elmer Toller was
always been a self-professed student of life. Always watching the world, absorbing all he could from the experiences that came his way, and eager to sit and chat with the most interesting of characters. “Over the years, I've met and enjoyed many people with diverse backgrounds… from WWII veterans to those from many parts of the world. Listening to many cultures has provided an insightful viewpoint on life.” He was inspired to draft a few letters to the local newspaper editor and had several published. Little nuggets of human interest stories and they were well received. That was enough to inspire Elmer to turn his passion for the human study, into something more.
Toller began drafting his work, a series of essays, based on the insights gleaned from the body of his life experience. His opportunities to travel abroad and work in various fields during his life gave his stories depth. He had thoughts to share on fields that spanned socio-economics, politics, and good ol’ down-home common sense. When he completed his manuscript, he searched for a publisher and lo’ and behold, it was Tate Publishing that answered the call. “On June 2, 2015, Tate Publishing of Mustang, Oklahoma requested my manuscript…the acceptance was on the 4th of that same month which seemed fantastic.” Fantastic, and indeed, a bit fast.
As with so many other stories we have heard, the overall process seemed to be handled well in the beginning. Everything changed when the book was near completion. Immediately the marketing and publicity fell short of expectations. Communication slowed by a continual overturn of employees and constant email delays. Toller’s request for Royalties to be direct deposited was continually denied, and upper level management would not respond to Toller’s direct emails inquiring about the lack of promised sales reports.
In the end, Elmer Toller’s books were never marketed the way he was told, nor was his royalty check’s paid accordingly. Though his book was made available on Amazon, Barnes & noble, and even Walmart’s websites, he never knew how many sales he attained before Tate Finally closed their doors; leaving him empty-handed. In a closing statement with me Elmer said plainly, “I hold no claims to being the smartest in our world, yet I do believe that any intellect must be tempered with some common sense before it may hold any validity.” To which I respond with, ABSOLUTELY! But one thing that Elmer has shown is a tenacity to push on no matter what. Truly a skill ONLY gained by the perseverance thru a life well-lived. Elmer’s book, Letters to the Editor is NOW and once AGAIN, available to on Amazon DESPITE Tate Publishing’s shady biz. All proceeds go direct to the author himself and NOT into the pockets of a publisher who refuses to pay royalties. Sounds like a pretty wise move to me. WELL DONE Elmer....well done.
And if we can learn anything from Elmer’s story it’s this, even the best-intentioned writers can have the wool pulled over their eyes by a business model that is BUILT around misdirection and slight of hand. Don’t be discouraged, but rather, follow Elmer’s example and KEEP FIGHTING. Add Toller’s tale to the list of lessons that can be learned. When it comes to your writing, sometimes you must FIGHT for your voice to be heard, and for your experiences to really be valued. Be intentional, be prayerful, proceed with your eyes-open. If you are passionate about writing, then hone your craft and JUST KEEP WRITING!
To read more stories from the trenches about Tate Authors, click here.