Randy Blythe Explains How He Got His Book Deal
Randy Blythe’s new Dark Days Tumblr blog offers a candid look behind-the-scenes of all things pertaining to his forthcoming autobiography documenting the whole Czech Republic ordeal from beginning to end. And it’s absolutely fascinating. Which should surprise no one, because Blythe’s proven time and time again over the past few years that he’s a phenomenal writer.
In the blog’s first real entry (excepting an intro post when the blog launched), Blythe reveals how he got hooked up with a well-known literary agent and major publisher, something most aspiring authors would donate a kidney for, much like unsigned bands “that sit around pissing and moaning in their home town bars, hoping to get ‘discovered.’” I know next to nothing about the publishing world so I found this part especially fascinating, although, as with just everything, it ultimately comes down to who you know. He also talks about how he went from wanting to take some time off to get away from band life completely to diving headfirst into writing the book before the memories faded.
A month or so after my exoneration, but still before the appeals trial, lamb of god’s booking agent, Tim Borror, started hitting me up via email and a voice message or two, telling me he knew a literary agent who wanted to talk to me. I had already had a few initial talks with a wonderful and not-to-small independent press about a concept for a photo essay book I had in mind (and still plan on doing, with the same press if possible), and Tim’s messages could only mean something I wasn’t thrilled at all about: any literary agent wanting to talk to me right then would want me to write one thing and one thing only: the story of what happened in Prague. This actually started to make me feel panicky (which is something I almost never feel- I’m not a panicky kind of dude. Panicking gets you dead); the thought of going back through all this stuff, reliving and even recreating the whole experience literally made my heart beat faster. I blew Tim off, and didn’t return his calls. After a while of getting no answer from me, lamb of god’s manager, Larry Mazer, started emailing me “Hey, Randy, Tim is trying to get ahold of you about a literary agent”. Christ. I was getting it from two guys I work with now; two guys I like personally and consider friends. But writing a book about going to prison was the last thing I wanted to do, so (not without a good amount of guilt) I blew Larry off too, until he pulled a classic manager move and actually got me on the phone about something else, then said
“So are you gonna call Tim Borror back or what? He’s been trying to get a hold of you for a while now”.
Crap! Trapped. Managers of rock bands are devious creatures who will trick you into do all sorts of things you have no desire to do if you don’t watch them like a hawk.
“Fine. I’ll call him back. But I don’t want to write a book about Prague. Fuck that. I need to forget about that stuff for a while.” I sighed, then rang Tim up.
Tim confirmed what I already knew: this agent wanted to talk to me about writing a book about Prague.
Fast-forward just a bit, and Randy finally connects with the agent, Marc Gerald:
When I was in prison, I knew I would write about it eventually. Maybe if I didn’t screw it up too badly, my story could help a few people one day- who knew? But this was really recent, and it still hurt me. The memories were still really fresh, and I wanted to distance myself from them. I told Marc this, that I didn’t think I was ready yet, but that maybe I would be one day.
“Yes, I understand. But, Randy… your memories will start to fade.” he said quietly.
And that was basically it. That’s how a literary agent I tried my best to avoid talking to convinced me to at least be willing to think about writing this book. He was right- they would fade. I kept an extensive, very detailed journal in prison; but even reading old entries now, I can’t remember some of the things happening that I wrote about, or I have to sit and really think hard to conjure up the images that go with some the writing I did in Pankrac Prison. Most of it is as clear as day, but some isn’t.
I told Marc I had to come to NYC where he lives soon, to record a few episodes of The Crucible, the radio show I host from time to time on Sirius/XM, and he suggested we meet up and discuss how to put together a book proposal. I agreed to meet up, and we made plans.
“Thanks Randy, I’m really happy to be working with you,” he said, and hung up.
We’re working together now? I thought Oh well-I guess I have a literary agent.
Less than a month later I had finished writing my book proposal. Marc sent it out to publishers, several of which gave us callbacks, and I had preliminary talks with a bunch of editors. There was a brief auction, and then I had a deal. Less than two months had gone by; from Marc’s first email to me, until the day he called me to say
“Congratulations, you have a publisher.”
Read Blythe’s full blog post for a much more detailed, step-by-step account of how things came to pass, and also some important background that explains his mindset at the time — recently back from prison and wanting to distance himself from the whole ordeal, but having to tour to recoup all the legal fees the band incurred and constantly having to answer questions about something he didn’t want to talk about at all. Check it out here.