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And the next Who Pooped book is…

We have a contract for my 18th book in the Who Pooped in the Park? series! This one will be titled Who Pooped in the Cascades?, and will cover the whole U.S. span of the Cascade Range through Washington, Oregon, and California. Farcountry Press will be publishing the book, and I’m working with a new editor on this one. Has anyone else noticed how easy it is to find out who wrote and illustrated a book, but how hard it often is to find out who the editor was? Well, let’s get that part out of the way right from the start: my new editor is Will Harmon, and I look forward to working with him on the next few books.

Obviously, this is a huge area to cover. I considered the Death Valley edition to be a challenge, with its disparate ecosystems, but the Cascades book has a lot of iconic scenery I’d like to cover. My highlight list for the book includes four national parks (Lassen, Crater Lake, North Cascades, and Mt. Ranier), two national recreation areas (Ross Lake and Lake Chelan), a national forest (Mt. Hood), and two national monuments (Oregon Caves and Mount St. Helens).

As my regular readers know, I select ten animals to feature in each Who Pooped? book, and then sprinkle as many more animal cameos as we can fit. In this book, I’m using mostly animals whose range extends over the entire area from Mount Lassen to Ross Lake. I’ll post some more about the animals over the next few months as I work on the text for the book.

Rob Rath will be my illustrator again. I’m trying to work in even more two-page spreads and panoramic scenery than usual in an attempt to do justice to the scenery of the Cascades. This book will also have some comments and sidebars about volcanoes, since the Cascade Mountains are home to most of the volcanic activity in the contiguous United States.

I expect the book to be released next May or June, but Farcountry hasn’t announced an official release date yet. There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and that goes double in the publishing industry!

UPDATE AUG 2013: The book is now out!

Book contracts, textbooks, and going out-of-print

Closed Captioning HandbookWhen I wrote The Closed Captioning Handbook, I had no agent, so I negotiated the contract myself. It looked pretty straightforward, and it looked like I was covered in the event of the book going out of print; rights would simply revert to me. I was wrong.

The Closed Captioning Handbook was not intended to be a college textbook, but it became one. When several schools were using it as a required text in closed captioning courses, my publisher (Focal Press, then an imprint of Elsevier and now owned by Routledge) raised the price of the 400-page book to $71.95. It seemed like a high price to me, but with a son in college, I’ve seen much worse textbook prices.

Then, last November, I got an email from a college asking if they could buy books directly from me. I contacted the publisher, and was told the same thing the school had been told: The Closed Captioning Handbook is out of print.

I immediately began planning. I would do some updates (the book was written in 2004), reformat the book for print-on-demand (POD), and release it for a lower price. At the same time, I’d put out ebook versions that were even more affordable for poor college students without affecting my royalty income. Alas, this was not to be.

The college had been told: “Our inventory department has been unable to locate stock. It’s an ‘out of stock’ book that we no longer carry.” (I have a copy of this email). When I talked to Focal Press, however, I was told that the book would probably be reissued as POD. This bypasses the rights reversion and leaves control in the hands of the publisher. In the meantime, a semester came and went and students had no textbooks.

I told the college several times that I thought I’d have rights back imminently, but was unable to come through for them. In the past, I’ve said I didn’t need an agent. I’ve written 23 books without using one (20 of those through traditional publishers), and the contract problems are beginning to appear. Would it have been worth giving up 15% of my income on this book to have an agent? Seven years ago, I said no. Today, I think my answer would be different.

[Update 12 July 2011: It appears that the book is back in print, and I’ll be doing a book signing later this month.]

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