As for the problems with Two Hearts and the audiobooks, from what I understand, Two Hearts should be going out in October, but the audiobooks will take longer. They told me that they might send out Two Hearts on its own and ship the audiobooks whenever they come in. Also, if the audiobooks aren't ready in the next few months, they might burn their own CDs just so they can give us SOMETHING while we wait for the real version. I'm not sure if it was Two Hearts or the audiobook, but apparently one of the companies they hired to put it together tried to raise the bid after Peter & Co. started complaining that it was taking longer than expected, and another company (or perhaps the same?) sent them a rough copy that was really crappy and they had to find a new company and start all over.
quote:The Last Unicorn - An Untold Story
Written by Joshua Keezer
The Last Unicorn is a very popular story both in book and movie format. It is a beloved classic cherished by thousands. And it is perhaps the only well known book by Peter S. Beagle. The story behind The Last Unicorn is a sad one but with luck and fan support, it can become a good one.
Peter S. Beagle has spent the last five years of his life living on rice and beans. Despite the DVD release of The Last Unicorn that sold over 500,000 copies internationally, Peter hasn't been paid a single penny. Why? Because the company that is selling the DVD says he isn't owed a penny.
I had the opportunity to meet with Peter S. Beagle and his publisher Connor Freff Cochran. Connor said it best, Peter is too nice of a guy. I'll relate the story as best as I can to you.
Peter S. Beagle is an amazing author. In one of the stories he discussed at DragonCon, he talked about how one of his teachers submitted a Sonnet he wrote to a publishing contest and that Sonnet earned him a full scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh. He has other books available besides the Last Unicorn and if you have had the chance to read any of them, you can tell just how great an author he is.
However, Peter S. Beagle's amazing talent and overall great guy has come with a price. He has gone through a couple of bad agents who have done him in poorly. Plus some bad luck have left him in a very hard shape. Let me tell you about the Peter S. Beagle I met at DragonCon this weekend.
In 2000, Peter S. Beagle published the book A Dance for Emilia which was written, in part as a manner of coping for a good friend of his who had died. This friend he wrote to frequently. On occasions, this friend would refer to one of his friends name Freff in the letters to Peter. After 9/11 Connor Fref Cochran went to a signing in New York while trying to deal with the grief from 9/11 and he ran into at the same signing Peter S. Beagle. They realized that they both were the friend on the other side of the letter.
Connor and Peter became close friends and Connor quickly learned some things about Peter S. Beagle. The biggest, and most important, was that Peter S. Beagle was struggling desperately financially. He lived on rice and beans and Peter admitted at one point he stole food from a grocery store just to feed his family. That's right, the beloved author of a classic story is trying to keep his home from being foreclosed on and stealing to feed his family.
Connor asked himself why is such an amazing author doing so poorly. And when he looked into it, he discovered just why. In a very, very brief nutshelf, Peter S. Beagle is a really nice guy and has been letting people walk over him. So Conner is getting involved to make things right.
I'm not going to get into every detail here. Because we are talking tons of stories. But the biggest story was mentioned early on. Peter S. Beagle has never been paid for the Last Unicorn on DVD or VHS in its most recent release. The rights to the movie were owned by a company that did nothing with the movie. The company was purchased. That company was purchased. And then that company was purchased. Then the company that had the rights realized they owned the rights to the movie and began selling the DVD across the world. But because of all of the company buy outs, the current company says they do not owe a penny to Peter S. Beagle.
Conlan Press is in the process of preparing a massive lawsuit to get Peter what he is owed. Because they do not have information on the number of VHS unit sales, they are unsure how much is due to Peter S. Beagle. But they conservative estimate puts it around $1.5 million dollars.
Currently Connor and Peter are working together to try and get Peter back on his feet fully and they will be getting into a legal campaign soon. Connor didn't get into the details of what they are planning on doing. But it looks like the first thing they want to do is get the true story behind The Last Unicorn spread.
If you want to help, the first thing you can do is go to http://www.peterbeagle.com/raven/ and signup for their mailing list. With the mailing list, you get updates for new books, occasionally freebie stories. Plus as needed they will include information on how you can help them by who to write and what needs to be said.
The most important thing of all is you can spread the word. Share this information with everyone you can. The more people who know and sign up to The Raven, the better it will be in the long run.
Now this is only a tiny tip of the story. I spent quite a bit of time with Conner and was at all but one of the panel discussions with Peter S. Beagle. I have other stories such as the deal with the live action movie that will, at this rate, never be published. But how about some good news.
There is a sequel to The Last Unicorn about to be published. It is one of many books that they are currently working towards releasing. And those who sign up for The Raven get all of the news and even free sneak peaks.
Please spread the word. Copy and Paste this story into your livejournal. Write your own version. Post to to Myspace or other blogging sites. Post it on Forum boards. Ask others to do the same. It is the least you can do.
quote:Connor Cochran here -- Peter's business manager, and publisher of Conlan Press. My bad judgment is the cause of your complaint, so please place all blame on me. Back last spring, trying to move things faster (and therefore generate more support for Peter during these trying times), I cut short our vendor search and chose a specific set of manufacturers for TWO HEARTS and the LAST UNICORN audiobook editions. The professional credentials and client lists of the companies I chose looked impeccable, but my instincts proved dead wrong, because both pulled fast ones when we were ready to press the "go" button.
The first problem took place in late May, when the bindery tried a bait and switch, saying they could no longer get the paper and cloth we specified from their original samples. Unfortunately, the alternatives they offered for the same price were crap, and they wanted $12,000 more in order to match the old quality. Without going into huge detail about the problem I notified everyone by email of the delay and gave an estimate of how I expected things to be going, based on how long I thought it would take to find a replacement. Then the audiobook CD manufacturer I'd chosen made their considerably less subtle move.
When we finally had the art right for their manufacturing templates, their sales rep mentioned that there had been "some minor subvendor price increases, but nothing to worry about." He suggested we just go ahead with the run and sort it out later. Burned by the bindery, I asked for a new quote instead -- and hit the ceiling when it came in $19,500 higher. There wasn't enough money in our total sales and investment to cover these increases, and in any case giving in would have meant no profits and therefore no money for Peter at the end of the day. So we canned the audiobook vendor too and I gave my co-publisher, David Roudebush, the task of finding replacements for my bad choices.
David has run his own ad agency. He handled huge ad budgets when he was an executive at AKG and dbx and Otari. (He also used to do custom guitar and amp work for Aerosmith and the Cars, but that was in a different phase of his life...) By nature he is a tougher nut at these kinds of negotiations than I am. It has taken him several months, but after going through a huge number of candidates he has finally got things down to final choices. He's also got them bidding against each other in order to get us the best possible price and schedule, and making sure the numbers are locked in by contract. Good man, David.
We should have a reliable release date quite soon, and I will blast a general announcement to the world the minute we do. Meanwhile I've been answering people by phone or email as best I could given that final replacement vendors hadn't been selected yet.
Back when we started I thought the hellacious problem was going to be the web technology needed to automatically deliver the audiobook online. Ironically enough, THAT bit has been working fine since we launched in March. We've delivered hundreds of audiobooks via download without a problem. Trying to get decent-looking books and packaging made without getting ripped off, though...that's been the headache.
On the plus side, the new bindery David found for TWO HEARTS is coming in cheaper than the old bid, so we've been able to shift to two colors and add illustrations. And in another bizarrely coincidental moment, the west coast sales rep for the bindery David chose for our upcoming regular-size books turns out to have put himself through UC Santa Cruz by being a waiter in the French restaurant where Peter used to play guitar and sing every weekend. (We've even found an old photo with both of them in it.) -- Connor Cochran Business Manager for Peter S. Beagle and publisher of Conlan Press
December 4th, 2006 "” Our manufacturing problems appear to be behind us, and the clouds are parting. Here's the plan:
* The collector's edition of Two Hearts is now scheduled to go to the printer in January, and to ship in late March.
* The MP3-on-CD Last Unicorn audiobook edition will go to press in February and ship along with Two Hearts.
* We are trying very, very hard to get the 8-CD audiobook lined up on a schedule that will let it ship along with Two Hearts, but there are parts assembly issues that may force us to ship it later and separately.
When everything is behind us and all three products shipped, we'll finally move ahead with the other publishing we've planned. There's a lot to come in 2007.
quote:The woman gave me a peach and watched me bite into it, too hungry to thank her. She asked me, "Girl, what are you doing here? Are you lost?"
"No, I'm not," I mumbled with my mouth full. "I just don't know where I am, that's different."