RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history: PART FOUR.

To be honest, I never really expected to be writing a Part Four to this journey, but I really should have known better. The tale of getting Run Like Hell to the public could never end as easily as a simple Kickstarter campaign, right? I swear things have been so insane with this project for so many years that when this is all finally finished, I’m going to feel a large gap where all this constant tribulation used to be. Anyway, here we are with a recap of everything that happened since the Kickstarter ended last June.

For those who never read the beginning of this project’s insane journey, here are links to how we got here:

The long and torrid history of Run Like Hell:  PART ONE

RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history:  PART TWO.

RUN LIKE HELL – The long and torrid history:  PART THREE.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned this in past postings, but it bears repeating. Obviously there are some instances where specifics can not be discussed. There are times when legal teams, contracts, and a lot of ugliness held sway. These are not situations that I will delve into for obvious reasons. I may reference vague generalizations, but specific name-calling and complete descriptions will not happen. Just know that sometimes being the nice guy stops working, and you have to kick some ass to get things done.

And now, on to an unexpected PART FOUR.

THE FIRST RED FLAG.

So it was June 4th, 2013. The Kickstarter campaign finally came to a successful close, and everything seemed to be going my way. To add a bit more to this story, I had also just recently sold a TV show with a high profile actress to ABC Family during the same period (I’m sure you’ve already seen past updates about that.) It was an insane time where everything was nutty, but things seemed like it was going right. I was given all kinds of promises about timelines and completion dates, etc, about the book, and because of this information, I gave August 2013 as a delivery date for the final product. I was actually even told there would be “preview copies” done in July for me to take to the San Diego Comic Con, but I decided to put August as a safety. Oh man, was I wrong.

The first red flag came pretty quickly. Initially, I never thought Run Like Hell was going to printed in paperback. I always thought since I was raising all the money myself, I’d just do it all in hardcover. So image my surprise when I saw it listed on Amazon… in trade paperback. Now initially this was pleasantly surprising for me. I thought, hey cool, now I’ll have hardcovers for the Kickstarter campaign, and trades for the wide release. Makes the Kickstarter books that much more exclusive, and that much more cool. I thought APE had a big master plan for all of this. The only problem was… my contact at APE seemed to forget all about the hardcovers. He thought he was only doing trade paperbacks.

Yes, there was some initial confusion, but it seemed solved. I wrote multiple checks (with all the raised Kickstarter funds) to APE for two separate printings, one for trade paperback, and a later one for hardcover. Bear in mind, I made ZERO money on this project. Of all the money raised, 5% went to Kickstarter, which is their fee. 5% went to Amazon Payments, which again is a requirement through Kickstarter. And all the rest went to APE for the printing, with only a little left over for all the shipping I’ll be doing to send these babies out. *Note: yes, to make matters worse, the check for the hardcovers LITERALLY got lost in the mail. I discovered that yes, that actually does happen! It’s not just a fake excuse or an old wive’s tale. Of course that would happen on this project, right? Sigh… Anyway, I digress. Long story short, the money was all spent, and everything seemed back on track.

So in addition to the August release of the limited edition hardcovers, all sorts of planning was going on for the unexpected trade paperback release as well. For instance, NYCC was in October, and my artist Karl wanted the book for that since he was attending. APE also had plans to release it wide in October 2013 to coincide with Halloween, which makes perfect sense given the book… then it got moved to November because there was another high profile project that they were focused on… then it got moved to December… Yeah, you get the idea. Long story short, ALL these plans went POOF. And the books were nowhere to be found.

DISAPPEARING MONEY AND NO BOOKS TO SHOW FOR IT.

Throughout the rest of 2013, delays upon delays upon delays kept piling up. I was utterly confused by it all. All we really had to do was finalize the back cover, and the credit pages, and that was it. The book was looooong done (for years.) But for some reason this posed more problems that you’d ever believe. Long story short, I discovered, the hard way, that my little opus was just simply not a priority for a few of the people that were supposed to be pushing it through the finish line. I further discovered later that the one of main reasons for this constant “dropping of the ball” was that the point man on my project, and one of the heads of the company, surprisingly LEFT his post at APE, thus leaving a lot of people and projects high and dry. Me and and my project were seemingly collateral damage in this scenario. He obviously didn’t really care about the book if he was going to be leaving. So yes, AGAIN… regime change almost destroyed my project, for a third or fourth time (depending on how you look at it.)

I was flabbergasted that all of this could happen again. I had raised the damn money. I paid for the printing and book myself! And all the money was gone. How could I seriously be going through all this garbage again??? Meanwhile, I was receiving numerous emails from backers asking where the book was. Some were nice. Some were not so nice. But I understood their anger. They paid money for a product, and promised a timeline, and it wasn’t delivered. The problem was, at the time I had no idea what was going on either, nor had any answers for anyone. I thought it was for sure one final death rattle of a doomed project.

Mainly because of the in-limbo/gone(?) Kickstarter money, this was around the time when the aforementioned attorneys, contracts, and ugliness took place. Certain threats were made, and ready to be backed up. I admit I think I wrote some of the most angry emails, and partook in some of the tersest phone calls, of my career. It wasn’t fun. But thank GOD, certain things started to move. I didn’t want things to go in the direction they were about to… Attorneys and legal tangos are NEVER a good time. And I should add that this was not really APE’s fault at all. It was a few other individuals that kept dropping the ball. Let’s just call them “middlemen.” Damn you middlemen.

FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY.

Finally. That is definitely the most appropriate word. Finally in the opening months of 2014, things started to open. Finally I started to get some answers. Finally I started to get some headway. Finally. I have to give a shout out to the COO of APE, Brent Erwin, for really stepping up for me. He helped with a lot of these “finally’s” and decided to take it on himself to finally make things right. A new sense of righting some wrongs took place, and things started to happen again. My worries about my disappearing money, and zero product, were eased. But as part of this enlightenment, as an insulting bonus, I discovered that some of the stuff that I was told was finished last summer NEVER EVEN TOOK PLACE! Grr…

Frustrations aside, I am, as I will always be, a believer in the “all’s well that ends well” philosophy. Because quite honestly, if I wasn’t, I’d have dropped dead long ago from the stress of it all.

So finally, after all’s said and done… I’ve got my books.

To commemorate this “finally”, here’s a brief photographic tour of that pinnacle. It happened yesterday, April 8th, 2014 — a full TEN MONTHS after the Kickstarter campaign ended. I already posted this on Kickstarter to my backers, but I’ll repost here for anyone who didn’t see it. This is a sampling of what it looks like for an almost decade long journey to start to have a sense of completion.

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Here is my escort through the Indiana Jones-like warehouse toward my books that just arrived by barge from Korea. That’s the pallet of my books to his left.

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This is just some weirdo making sure this is really happening. Yep, both Trade Paperbacks and Hardcovers. They. Are. Real.

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Loading them all up! My wife’s leg guest stars in a special cameo.

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And here they are. Limited edition hardcover copies created exclusively for the Kickstarter backers. And in the boxes below them, a few trade paperbacks for the rest of the world.

I honestly can’t hardly believe they’re real.

And now that I have my books, I’ll be sending out all the Kickstarter orders and finalizing the rest of the plans for the release with APE. Quite honestly, I have no idea what that’s going to be. Promises were initially made, but by now you should realize that means nothing. All I care about is that I hope as many eyes as possible can get their hands on, and read the book. That’s seriously all I care about. Heaven knows it’s not about money, or else I’d have chosen a much different career. Run Like Hell has been a lengthy labor of love, with an insane amount of lessons learned, but hell, the book is finally published.

Like I said before… All’s well that ends well.

Phew.

Thanks again for coming along with me on this journey. All I can say is that hopefully there’s not a PART FIVE.
Jeff