This is going to be interesting. I’m going to kidnap a Letter to the Editor out of the Glacier Reporter, converting Adolf Hungry-Wolf to a guest blogger unawares. I’m judging that since he is attempting to be transparent, he won’t object to me expanding the light. But I’m not doing it for quite the same reason as he did, which you can deduce from the content of the letter. (One of the favorite games on the rez is “you do something and then I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it.” Then, after you’re thoroughly insulted, the next line is “can you loan me a twenty?”) I’m just going to delete comments from dedicated AHW haters, so don’t waste your energy. You’ve said it all before and it doesn’t reflect well on you.
The real point of posting this is that many readers are interested in how to get published, what the issues and costs might be, and other practicalities. Adolf is a “just do it” guy.
TO THE EDITOR:
Season’s greetings and heartfelt thanks to the many people of the Blackfeet community who have given me strength, encouragement and kind words regarding my new four-volume set of books called “The Blackfoot Papers.”
It was a pleasure to spend three full days at the Blackfeet Community College Christmas Bazaar, meeting friends, relatives and readers of all ages, from about age 6 to 87. After 44 years of work to assemble this project, the positive response from so many people has been my greatest reward.
Because these books are very expensive, I’ve also heard a few comments suggesting that I must be “getting very rich.” Since this is a serious concern -- and a legitimate question -- I’m writing this to explain the finances concerning these books.
First, let me point out, once again, that I spent 44 years working on these books without getting any sort of payment or financial support. No wages, grants, tribal or government funding.
I started this project when I graduated from high school in 1962, and decided to end it 40 years later in 2002, encouraged all that time by the elders who helped me.
By 2002 I had a large steamer trunk filled with photos, papers and other material, but nothing that actually resembled these finished books. To get these books where they are now, I put almost everything else in my life aside for the next four years. I spent those four years almost full time -- day and night, seven days a week -- turning that trunk full of material into these four books.
Although I need to make a living like everyone else, I still received no money whatsoever during those final four years. I can only shake my head in wonder when I hear someone suggest that I did this “to get rich.”
Now that the books are finally out, I am left -- first and foremost -- with a bill to the printer that comes to $284,299.52. That’s nearly one-third of a million dollars that I have to pay, just to get my 44 years of work printed and bound.
In addition, I need to pay back about $200,000 for the final four years of production costs. This includes the scanning of some 3,000 photos, all the text and designing work on computers, and the proofing. Out of that amount, I also want to pay myself at least a fair wage for the last four years of full-time work. May I point out that most of you would probably not have done that work unless you were being paid for it right along, never mind the previous 40 year of work for which I want no money.
Those who bought books directly from me at Blackfeet Community College in December received a discount on the regular prices. Actually, most of the books so far have been sold through the tribally-owned Blackfeet Heritage Center in Browning, which is the official distributor for sales in the United States. From these sales, I only receive 50% with which to repay my debts. It will require the sale of most of the books in my first printing before these debts are fully paid.
At the front of each book I have stated clearly that once the book has repaid its costs, profits from further sales will be used to support Blackfeet heritage and culture. Anyone in the Blackfoot Confederacy can apply can apply for such support, with further details coming at that time.
On a different note, I apologize if I have made any mistake regarding Blackfeet history or the history of your family. Because this was a one-man project, I accept whatever faults may have been made.
Contact me with your questions, corrections or additions for lataer reprintings.
The most important thing about The Blackfoot Papers is that all these rare photos, stories and history are now going to be readily available to the Blackfeet people for countless generations to come.
That I have had the honor of compiling such a work is a far greater reward than any amount of money.
Adolf Hungry Wolf, Skookumchuck, BC, Canada.
I’ll add some other things:
1. Adolf lives in a log cabin with no amenities like indoor plumbing or electricity. In short, he lives like a 19th century person, Indian or not. This means his overhead is low.
2. The standard academic pay for Canadian books is 5% of the NET profit of the press. Of course, one just hands in the manuscript and one is assumed to be making a living as a professor.
3. The reason the printer will extend such generous terms is that Adolf and his family have a history with the printer going back decades, during which many books about Blackfeet were produced. The printer only printed -- no editing, promotion, etc. But he always got paid.
4. Some institution somewhere ought to be giving serious thought to the final resting place of that steamer trunk full of photos and notes.
5. The book that Bob Scriver made to record his artifact collections (NA materials, RCMP uniforms and guns) was published by himself (he picked up the bill, hired Marshall Noice to take the photos, wrote the copy, paid for the layout and printing, and copyrighted the result -- whatever that means now that he’s dead and the Montana Historical Society -- they tell me -- cannot claim the copyright) has sold on Amazon for $800. The collection is now dispersed. It no longer exists except partially, though it was bought by the Royal Alberta Museum. The book, however, mysteriously reappears now and then.
I’ll have to send this to AHW via snail mail since he doesn’t have electricity for an Internet connection.