Q: Tell me about your book Fire And Fame. How did you hook up with Joerg Deisinger?
Carl: I met Joerg in ’98 in Nuremberg, Germany, where I’m currently living. He lived around the corner from me at the time and worked at USG Records, so we ran into each other on a regular basis. I was never a huge Bonfire fan, but we had a common interest in rock, metal and movies, so there was never a lack of things to talk about. He moved to Thailand in 2004 and narrowly escaped being killed by the tsunami that hit on 26th December. By rights he should have been killed; only dumb luck saved him. When he first approached me about the idea of writing his memoirs I didn’t really see the sense of it – I had no idea just how popular Bonfire had been in Europe in the early days – but I understood his reasons. His first hand experience with the tsunami and the aftermath, I think that was kind of like a mirror being held up in his face, saying “look at your life and don’t fucking take it for granted.” He asked me to work with him on the book because of my experience as a journalist, and I agreed based on our friendship. What sold me on the project was the fact that I had an active role in shaping the book rather than being a mere translator. Anybody with the skills could have translated his story, but I was able to use my voice to tell it. Fire And Fame was a 50-50 split with regards to creative control, so while it is indeed Joerg’s story I was able to put something of myself into it as well.
Q: Why did you self-publish the book? Did you approach publishers about it?
Carl: Quite frankly, after the amount of work we put into this book both Joerg and myself were reluctant to give up control over the project. We did some checking prior to going the indie route and having Fire And Fame printed through Books On Demand, and we discovered that the average publisher’s policy dictated that the company had to sell ‘X’ number of books (a few thousand at least) before we’d see any kind of profit, and then we’d only receive a euro or two per copy. Meanwhile, BOD’s policy splits the profits from the cover price down the middle. Granted, if you go through a publisher they take care of all the promo and assorted legwork whereas this way we’re stuck doing everything ourselves, but just like signing a record deal, going with a publisher is a crapshoot. You never know what kind of representation and promo you’re going to get until you’re deep into it. Going independent, we’ve retained all the rights to our work and we call all the shots.
The other reason for going independent was that we worked on Fire And Fame for a long time and wanted to get it out there sooner rather than later. Drumming up interest and seeking out a publisher – particularly for a book of this sort – is time consuming. I think we were both tired of sitting on the material, because we knew it was good. After over two years of slugging it out we wanted to have something concrete in our hands.
Q: Would you self-publish future books?
Carl: I’m undecided. I certainly haven’t ruled it out. The problem with the do-it-yourself approach is that real life has a tendency of getting in the way. Basically, there aren’t enough hours in the day to take care of promoting the book at the same level as a publisher and the promo department. If I could find a publisher with a proven track record of getting material out through the proper channels without demanding the client sign away his or her life, I’d consider it. While I do indeed understand the business side of things, I hear about some of these publishing “deals” and wonder just how unbelievably stupid one has to be to sign on.
Bottom line is that I would love to sign a publishing deal and get books out on the shelves, but not if it means signing over my hard work to line someone else’s pockets. Not very realistic in this day and age, I suppose, but one can dream…
Go to this location for the complete interview.