Writers Can Learn From Ramesh Ferris

By now, bookworms from Whitehorse to Cape Spear know Trafford Press released numerous copies of Better Than a Cure without notifying the Yukon author, Ramesh Ferris, or his collaborator, John Firth.

But, what’s most important, says Ferris, is that “the message of polio eradication not be diluted by this mistake.”

Ferris’ fans know everything he does promotes polio awareness.

When Ferris found out that Trafford had stolen his thunder, it was Firth who was the “level-headed one of the team”. It was exactly that publishing experience that led Ferris to ask Firth to ghostwrite Better Than a Cure.

“He got me to calm down and see it can be fixed,” says Ferris. “It was a mistake that can happen.”

Except it’s happened before with Trafford. As the story of Better Than a Cure was picked up by media in Fort Francis, Edmonton, Thunder Bay and Nova Scotia, comments on arts listservs and writers’ chat groups recounted similar tales of Trafford’s scrambled ‘scripts.

Production quality seems to hang on their $400 editing service. Authors who, as Ferris says, “went outside [Trafford’s] editing services,” find them loathe to take responsibility for errors. He advises writers to ensure clear communication and keep everything in writing.

Trafford and print-on-demand publishing started as Bruce Batchelor’s experiment. Among other titles, Batchelor wrote Yukon Channel Charts, and his reputation as an author led other authors to trust their work to him.

Trafford would print as many copies as the market demanded, make short runs affordable, give authors more input in the production process and work fast – the point that sold Ferris and Firth.

“Mainstream publishers tend to take up to two years to move a manuscript to book form,” said Firth. The pair wanted a quick turnaround to coincide with the first anniversary of the conclusion of Ferris’ hand-cycling journey.

That date was delayed when Trafford was sold to Author Solutions in Indiana, although Ferris has only ever dealt with Trafford.

When the first copies did arrive, they were unacceptable and Ferris rescheduled his launch for April, which was enough time to quietly correct the errors. “The message and content was mine, but there were several issues with grammar and line editing,” he says.

That doesn’t explain the unapproved launch, but early supporters who purchased flawed copies of Better Than a Cure will be able to exchange them on April 12 at the official launch.

Watch for details in March for the official April 12 launch at www.johnfirth.ca or www.rameshferris.com.

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