The original, St. Martin's Press cover for my 1997 novel BEYOND THE BEYOND was horrible. It was a giant penis bursting out of a TV set against a piss-yellow background. I'm not kidding. You can see ithere. I know for a fact that it killed sales. I was sent on a national book tour and everywhere I went, the booksellers said "we can't stick that book in our window, there's a penis on the cover!"
So when I did the Kindle edition, I asked my talented and wildly creative sister Linda Woods, a professional artist and author (Journal Revolution: Rise Up & Create! Art Journals, Personal Manifestos and Other Artistic Insurrections), to design a new cover in the same style as the one she designed for the Kindle edition of my first book, My Gun Has Bullets (which also had a horrible St. Martin's cover when it was first published). BEYOND THE BEYOND is a sequel to MY GUN HAS BULLETS, so I thought some consistency was a good idea. Isn't that what branding is all about? But while the Kindle sales for MY GUN HAS BULLETS have been brisk, the sales for Beyond the Beyond are flat. The culprit? I think it was the cover…again. It mayhave looked too much like the cover for My Gun Has Bullets and might have been confusing people into thinking it was the same book.
So Linda has tweaked the cover for me. It's the one on the right. It will be interesting to see if a new cover makes a difference…
Here are my Amazon Kindle sales figures and royalties for July as of today at 5:49 pm. All the titles are priced at $1.99, except for THREE WAYS TO DIE, which sells for 99 cents (Click on the image for a larger view):
I sold 444 copies of THE WALK and 54 copies of THREE WAYS TO DIE in June. If sales continue as they are, I'll fall a little short of those numbers this month (and far short of the Kindle sales enjoyed by Joe Konrath and John August, the authors who inspired me to do this). Even so, it's found money for an out-of-print book and a collection of three, previously-published stories.
Encouraged by even those small numbers, and with nothing at all to lose, I added Kindle editions of my out-of-print novels MY GUN HAS BULLETS on 7/14 and BEYOND THE BEYOND on 7/17. It's too soon for me to draw any conclusions about how they are selling.
When I was ten or eleven, I was already pecking novels out on my Mom's old typewriters. The first one was a futuristic tale about a cop born in an underwater sperm bank. I don't know why the bank was underwater, or how deposits were made, but I thought it was very cool. I followed that up with a series of books about gentleman thief Brian Lockwood, aka "The Perfect Sinner,” a thinly disguised rip-off of Simon Templar, aka "The Saint." I sold these stories for a dime to my friends and even managed to make a dollar or two. In fact, I think my royalties per book were better then than they are now.
For the last month, I've been home alone with the dog while my wife and daughter were visiting the in-laws in France. On Monday, a day before my family was set to return, our water heater cracked and flooded several rooms in our house. I spent much of Monday and Tuesday dealing with the plumbers, insurance adjusters, and disaster-cleanup people. My weary family came home Tuesday to a bunch of a torn-open walls, half-a-dozen fans going, and no hot water. For the last few days, we have been dividing our time between our house and a nearby hotel, where we have been showering. Insurance is covering most of the clean-up and repairs (and the hotel, of course), but it has still been an enormous inconvenience. We'll have hot water on Tuesday…but today we uncovered more water damage today, so the disaster crew opened up more walls and more fans were brought in.
In the midst of all this, I had two pitch meetings last week…one face-to-face (a pilot pitch), and one over Skype to studios overseas (a feature pitch). I don't know how the pitch here turned out, but the overseas pitch was a home-run. It's for an international action movie, a co-production between a European studio and a Chinese studio. The movie will be shot in Europe and China. We closed my deal on Friday and I've spent the last few days plotting the story in detail for another meeting this week…when I could get the greenlight to write the script. It's all happening very fast…and I like it that way. It reminds me of network television.
In the midst of all this, I've had to temporarily set aside my MONK book, which I must get back to next week as well, no matter what happens with the movie script. But I am over 100 pages into it, so I'm feeling pretty secure that there won't be a problem meeting my deadline. Afterall, I wrote MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE while I was writing, producing, and shooting FAST TRACK: NO LIMITS in Germany…and I completed DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE WAKING NIGHTMARE while I was writing & producing the TV series MISSING…with two broken arms. The truth is, I do my best work under pressure.
This article originally appeared in Mystery Scene Magazine back in 1997. I thought I'd repost it here to mark the publication of the Kindle edition.
An awful lot of people in the television industry see shrinks. Those who don't, write novels.
Well, that's my theory, any way.
I figured it was either write a book, or go into psychoanalysis. Writing a book seemed like a better alternative, since you can actually make a few bucks while you sit and whine about how crazy the business is and what the craziness does to you.
I wrote my first novel, My Gun Has Bullets, while writing/producing a really terrible, syndicated action show. In that book, a good, decent cop named Charlie Willis is gunned down by a lunatic TV star on her way to a sale at Neiman-Marcus. To cover up the crime, the studio buys him off by making him the star of his own action series. But things go bad when someone loads his prop gun with real bullets and he kills his guest-star. I trashed everything and everyone that drove met nuts about the TV business…and there was a lot, having written and/or produced such series as Hunter, Baywatch, Spenser: For Hire, Cosby Mysteries and Diagnosis Murder, to name a few.
I felt a lot better after I wrote the book.
But I didn't get around to writing the sequel, Beyond the Beyond, until a couple years later, when I became a writer/producer on SeaQuest. Within weeks, I was getting email death threats from deranged fans, including one lady who was enraged weren't consulting her for advice or staying true to the "fanfic" (fan-written, self-published fiction). Another lady, calling herself an "Admiral in the United Earth Oceans," was convinced one of the characters in the show was in love with her.
Of course, it reminded me of what the actors and writers on Star Trek must go through (which I knew well, since many of my friends have worked on the show). And that reminded me that a spin-off of Star Trek was the cornerstone of a new television network. And that made me think about the whole Star Trek phenomenon…and the emergence of new TV networks…and the consolidation of media empires.
Before I was a TV producer, I worked as a reporter covering the entertainment industry beat for Newsweek, Starlog, American Film, Electronic Media, and Los Angeles Times Syndicate, among many others. During that time, I wrote extensively about the birth of the Fox Network and was the first person to break the story that Paramount was reviving Star Trek as an all-new, syndicated series. So I already had a lot of background in both the business of TV and the business of Star Trek and had given this stuff some thought before.
Suddenly, I felt a book taking shape…
What if someone bought a studio decided to use it to launch a new network? And what if the cornerstone of that new network was a revival of cult, 60s science fiction series – with an all-new cast? How would the lunatic fans and original cast react?
There was a story there…and I also had a lot more personal demons to exorcise now, too. And I was fresh from my experience on SeaQuest.
In Beyond the Beyond , Charlie Willis is now a special security officer for Pinnacle Pictures. When the studio revives the cult series Beyond the Beyond as the launching pad for a new network, two forces fight for control of the show, a vicious talent agency that uses blackmail, torture and murder to keep its clients on the A-list, and a homicidal legion of rabid fans led by an insane actor who thinks he's in outer space.
The publisher calls it a dark/comic thriller about TV. But I'll tell you a little secret: most of it is true, drawn either from my own experience or those of my friends in the TV business.
And like the first book, I felt great after I finished it… though somewhere out there a shrink is going hungry because of it.
"The hilarious follow-up to Goldberg's witty debut, My Gun Has Bullets…Beyond the Beyondskewers the entertainment business, which Goldberg knows well," Oline Codgill, Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
"As in his riotous novel My Gun Has Bullets, TV writer/producer Goldberg once again bites the hand that feeds him, laughing all the while. Inspired silliness," Publishers Weekly
Ex-cop Charlie Willis handles "special security" at Pinnacle Pictures. His job: to protect the studio and its stars, to stop scandals before they explode, to keep the peace in the land of make-believe. When Pinnacle revives the cult, 1960s TV series "Beyond the Beyond" as the cornerstone of a fourth network, two powerful forces fight for control of the show-a talent agency that uses blackmail, torture, and murder to keep its clients on the A-list, and a homicidal legion of rabid fans led by an insane actor who thinks he's in outer space.
"Goldberg uses just about everything he can think of to send up the studio system, fandom, Star Trek, Trekkies, agents, actors… you name it, he'll make you laugh about it." Analog
"An outrageously entertaining take on the loathsome folkways of contemporary showbiz," Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Goldberg has an observant eye and a wicked pen!" Washington Times
"Beyond the Beyond reads like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland set against the venal world of the TV industry. It's wonderfully revealing and uncannily accurate," Vancouver Sun (Canada)
"Some of the easily recognizable actors, agents and producers who are mercilessly ribbed may find it hard to crack a smile at the author's gag-strewn prose, likewise those seekers after politically correct entertainment. But the rest of us should have no trouble….the novel's satiric slant is strong enough to have an effigy of Goldberg beamed into outer space at the next Star Trek convention," Los Angeles Times
"Pinnacle Pictures has decided to revive a 25-year-old cult sci-fi TV show called Beyond the Beyond, but somebody keeps killing off the new cast. Is it the Hollywood agent who eats human flesh? The aging actor who still thinks he's a starship captain? The fans who live only to attend conventions? This sharp roman a clef goes where no Hollywood satire has gone before-altering just enough facts to avoid the libel courts but still smacking of a certain je ne sais Trek. It probably won't make Goldberg, a television writer and producer (Baywatch, Spenser: For Hire, seaQuest), the most popular boy on the Paramount lot, but it's a stingingly funny novel just the same. " -Entertainment Weekly
"An outrageously entertaining take on the loathsome folkways of contemporary showbiz." -Kirkus Reviews
"For the most part, this is a pleasant fantasy and a harmless escape, but there could be a fringe group out there almost exactly as Goldberg describes them in outlandish detail. It all could be true. It works hilariously. Don't miss Lee Goldberg's Beyond the Beyond. It's one to beam up!" Mark Levine, Ventura Star-Telegram
Did Gilligan and his fellow castaways ever get rescued? Is Dr. Marcus Welby still making house calls? Is Marcia Brady single? What kind of father did Beaver Cleaver grow up to be? Those burning questions and many, many more about your favorite TV characters are answered in my book Television Series Revivals: Sequels and Remakes of Cancelled Series,which examines every TV series remake and sequel produced from 1955-1992.
The book, which was originally published in hardcover in 1993 by McFarland & Co., is now available in a $16.95 trade paperback edition from iUniverse through the Authors Guild's Back-in-Print program (and at no charge to me).
The sequels and remakes of nearly one hundred shows, from ADAM-12 to WKRP IN CINCINNATI, are examined in detail and include airdates, cast lists and production credits. There's also a special section on animated revivals and sequels, like STAR TREK and GILLIGANS ISLAND.
Here's what Booklist had to say about the book:
Have you ever wondered what happened to the castaways on "Gilligan's Island"? Many people have, and that is why producers, directors, and actors come together to revive canceled shows for reunion specials, feature films, or whole new series. Television Series Revivals is a compilation of information on the various mutations original series have undergone since cancellation. "Star Trek" is a good example of this phenomenon. It originally aired on network television in the late 1960s. Due to the immense popularity of the show in reruns and its cultlike fan clubs, the series was revived, first as a cartoon series, then as a series of motion pictures, and finally as a new series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
Entries are arranged alphabetically by original series title. Each entry follows the same format: the air dates and network of the original series; a plot synopsis for the revived series, film, or special; background information on the show; the title of the new show; its network and broadcast date. Information about each show came from a variety of sources: releases, reviews, and periodical articles. Plot synopses may be a bit confusing as the author combines the plots of all revivals, sequels, or remakes into one narrative. For a series such as "Eight Is Enough," which was followed by "Eight Is Enough: A Family Reunion" and "An Eight Is Enough Wedding," it is difficult to tell where one story line leaves off and another begins.
For a series to be included in this volume it must have featured continuing characters and have been in cancellation for at least one year, not simply on hiatus. Certain kinds of shows are not included: those based on literary characters (e.g., Sherlock Holmes); anthologies (with the exception of "Twilight Zone" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"), variety shows, and game shows.
An appendix listing "Animated Revivals" and a bibliography of related titles round out the work. The index includes show titles, actors, and producers and directors. Black-and-white photos of cast members are provided for some shows.
As long as television viewers express nostalgia for the shows they once watched, producers will continue to revive them. Public library customers and librarians will find Television Series Revivals a useful and entertaining volume.