Finding an old shame

October 13, 2014 booksPublishing

Book cover It is well known that authors may have problems reclaiming their rights when a publisher goes bankrupt. It can take months, and even if they are recovered, sometime there is no one to write a letter of confirmation. You may even wind up paying the firm handling the bankruptcy to write you one.

Less well known is when getting the rights back isn’t a problem but getting the story back is. I wrote a short some years ago that went out through lulu and then a publisher. It was so many years ago that that I was even using a different pen name. Rights duly reverted recently with no issues, but the company apparently didn’t have archives that far back. However in the years since I wrote it the computer and harddrive have both broken, I’ve changed my backup system completely. I was not worried because I had backups – I thought.
  • There was a gap in the physical backup drives in the period I wrote the story.
  • The online backups that should have contained it were taken in the period when a certain company corrupted them.
  • had apparently wiped the version I put on there, and did not have the files available.
  • The hard drive from the computer of the time made clunking noises.
  • In two house moves, my hard copy had gone wandering…
I do have Society of Author’s membership, so it was beginning to look as though the only way to get the story back would be a trip to the British Library to retrieve their archive copy and retype my story.

There is a happy ending: my current publisher had a hard copy. I have had to swear many oaths not to damage it in any way, but I currently have a copy to retype. Better yet, I thought it was an old shame: the writing was unpracticed, the research sloppy and it wears its politics on its sleeve. All of those are true, but it remains a gripping short story and it will probably be coming to Amazon in the very near future.

I don’t think there will be any problems selling my publisher on that idea…