A few years ago my husband and I went on a fancy cruise to Alaska’s Inland Passage.  We’re glad we did, we couldn’t have visited the area any other way, and it was well worth seeing.  But a week was not enough to accustom us to the curious ways of cruise companies.

First comes the financing.  We pay a fee that is supposed to cover everything.  Then come the offers for on-shore excursions.  This is where the cruise line makes much of its money.  We chose only a few of the simplest offers and did well exploring on our own the rest of the time.  No doubt we missed some big sights, but we found many interesting nooks and crannies.

As for the ship, the food was fine, but what else was there to do?  The library was useless.  There was art, jewelry and more to buy, none of which we needed.  The ship got us where we wanted to go.  That, fortunately, was enough.

This past year I have had a similar cruise experience getting my book about John Emerson Roberts published.  I chose to go with a major company because I was stuck on the index, and because I had footnotes, I had to buy a fancy package.

Like Holland America or Carnival Cruise Lines, the directors of my cruise thought they knew what would work best for me. I spent a lot of time saying no.  “No, this is not what I want.”  “No, this isn’t right yet.”  “No, you have the title wrong.”  “No, this is a non-fiction book; don’t use fiction-style page headers.”

At last the book is at the dock.  Then the on-shore offers begin.  The company makes its money, it turns out, on marketing.  “For 2,500 dollars, that’s 20% off . . .” or “This is a $4,000 package but we’ll give it to you for $3,500.”

“This book has a niche market,” I say again and again.  “How will this blanket emailing, this TV ad offer, this one-time New York Times ad, reach my target audience?”  I get no answer.

The first-year payment on the fancy website they created, but did not give me access to, has just run out.  So I abandon the cruise ship and set off on foot with my shipment of books.  The adventure has taken a new turn.

And I start this blog.