There is a very interesting behind-the-scenes story involving the first edition of my book Computer Networks Curso Completo in 2001, which I never published publicly. But to tell that, we have to go back a bit in the past.
The bulk of my first book, Hardware Curso Completo, was written in 1995. Between the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996, I asked the four biggest publishers specializing in computer books in Brazil to publish it. Three of them (Campus, Makron and Berkeley) rejected the book, saying that hardware books do not sell and that it is too expensive to produce (too many illustrations).
After the book was published, people from the publishing house Campus (later bought by the Dutch publishing group Elsevier, which is the name by which it is best known today) kept asking me if I would change publishers. Did they call me with a short conversation “when are you coming here to the center to have coffee with us”? I always ignored those requests. After all, they didn’t want to invest in my career when I was just a foreigner, but now, when I was successful, they want me in the house, without investment?
By the way: I pinned their rejection letter on the wall. It was a daily reminder of my perseverance in the face of rejection.
In 2001 I wrote the book Redes Curso Completo, in about nine months. When the book was about to go to the printer (that is, the book was ready and revised, it just needed to be printed), Campus contacted my publisher at the time, wanting to buy my “pass”. They wanted to offer me to change publishers and take all my books there. With that, the publisher paused the printing of the book, waiting for the outcome of the negotiations.
We had a series of meetings, but I didn’t like their way of working. They looked at the content in my networking book and wanted me to modify all the content to fit what they thought their clients wanted. Plus, for every book I wrote, they wanted to know what books were competing from other publishers. I got the impression that the house did not want me to write books with the unique vision of an author who already had an audience, but someone who would write books on demand to compete with other books already on the market. .
I found this reasoning quite disqualifying for my work. They started from the wrong assumption that I write books in order to compete with others who already exist, and not as if I were an author setting trends: it was others who “copied” me, not the other way around. It is enough to see that until 1996 there was only one other hardware author on the market (Laércio Vasconcelos), and that independently, because the publishers considered that the topic “hardware” was not selling, as I explained. After I launched my books, several other authors came riding the wave.
Also, I wouldn’t throw away nine months of work just because another publisher thought the book should be different, completely ignoring not only my vision for the book, but disqualifying my sensitivity to know what content my audience wanted. wants to consume.
Another detail is that I wouldn’t make money to switch publishers: the old publisher should have received a hefty sum to sell my Campus Pass (this was due to the effects of the leonine contract I had with the former publisher).
The last straw was that they thought that I and the publisher were bluffing that the book Redes Curso Completo was already ready, at the printer, just waiting to be printed. They thought the book didn’t exist, and I used it as a bargaining chip. Maybe that’s why they insisted that I write a different book than the one that was finished.
I declined the offer, and a week later the book was in bookstores and became a bestseller.
After I left my old publisher due to the issues already explored in Part 10, would you believe that the publisher Campus approached me again? I went there one more time to talk to them, but the conversation was the same…
Looking back, I don’t regret my decision not to change publishers, even for the two years of the story above which I had to leave the old publisher and be out of the market for several years. Because at the end of the day, I would go to a house where I would not have creative freedom, and as an author, that is unacceptable. But the main point of the story is to show a real example of how some people want a bonus but don’t want a burden: they don’t want to invest in professionals at the beginning of their careers, but after they’ve worked their asses off to prove they’re superstars, they want it, no cost.
To be continued soon…