It looks like we have some closure on "Rayzor's Edge."
You remember "Rayzor's Edge." It was the book that I did with Rob Ray. The publication came out in November 2007. Happily for me, the hard-cover edition sold out in Western New York in less than four weeks. It actually was the best-selling winter sports book in America at times, according to the sales counter kept by Amazon.com.
The publisher was Sports Publishing LLC of Illinois. I had gone through a few odd experiences along the way with it, including stories from other writers about not getting paid. I also had an editor with the company who lasted, oh, about a week and a half before departing.
Was I nervous about that? You betcha, to quote a certain Alaskan ex-politician. But we (Rob and I both) got a check for our advance in January once we had fulfilled our publicity obligations. We had to pay the photographer out of that, but that was the deal and we fulfilled our end of it.
The paperback version finally came out in late April of 2008. That was nice, except for the fact that it arrived AFTER the Sabres had been eliminated from the playoffs. You might guess that it hurt sales, and you'd probably be right.
We were supposed to get paid in May and November. My guess was that we had sold 4,000 copies of the hardcover edition, but when asked about it (and getting some badgering from me) the publisher said we hadn't reached a high enough number in sales to get more money. Honestly, I didn't see how that could be possible, but I simply swallowed. Besides, we were never told how many copies were actually printed, so it was hard to know how much we might be owed.
The Sports Publishing Web site more or less stopped updating in June, and soon I started getting notes from the bankruptcy court of Chicago, Illinois. The Court got my address wrong, filling me with confidence. I checked with a lawyer who read the contract and said it might help me move closer to the front of the line when it came to payments. In other words, I might get 10 cents on the dollar instead of zero.
Every so often, for months and months, I'd receive a legal notice about some procedure. A few months ago, I got a note saying that the court had agreed to pay the lawyers a fee for their services. My first reaction was "What did they ever write?" However, I wasn't exactly ready to drive to Chicago to complain.
Finally, a short while ago, I received another notice saying the filing had been dismissed. What could that mean? I checked with a local lawyer, and she said the leftover assets probably had just been given to the main creditor, probably a bank, and there was nothing left for me or anyone else. Nice, huh?
I still don't know how many copies were sold, or how much I would have gotten in better times. I'm still glad I wrote the book; it's a good story that a lot of people liked. Besides, it could lead to more opportunities for me. The book also will be an ad for Rob for the rest of his life and thus help him in the years to come.
But as Scott Morrison of Toronto once told me, "Don't expect to get rich writing a sports book." He was right about that.