Seeing Your Work into Print Part Two: The Digital Revolution by Robert EarleBy
by Robert Earle
Find Your Place in the Digital Revolution
At sixty-one, I own a lot of books and was brought up reading things on paper, but here is the deal: we are in a fantastic, unpredictable revolution caused by online and ebook publishing. If you are a writer, you have to find your place there.
I began to confront this fact a few years ago when a novelist and poet in North Carolina asked me why I kept publishing my stories in print magazines. I said I liked the physical artifact and permanence of print magazines. “But who reads them?” she asked. “Why not send things to online magazines? Then everyone in the world can have a look.”
I said, “Well, you may be right. Let me think about that.”
That led me to discover the astonishing world of online magazines and generated a lot of story publications for me. Because of the Internet, we are in a short story renaissance, there’s no question about it. The same goes for books, essays, and poems. I still like books on paper and read them constantly, but I also read books a lot more on my e-reader.
Most recently, I decided to work with a company called MC Writing to publish a novel called THE MAN CLOTHED IN LINEN: THE MESSIAH OR HEROD’S SON? in e-novel format only, and for reasons I will explain, I ultimately decided to limit the point of sales to Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore.
Is Kindle Exclusivity in my Best Interest?
Initially I placed THE MAN CLOTHED IN LINEN: THE MESSIAH OR HEROD’S SON? on both Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook sites.
But I backed off Nook when Amazon offered a deal to include the book in its premium member lending library. I’m still in a 90 day trial period on that front, however, and I don’t know whether this exclusivity is really in my interest. Obviously Amazon and Kindle are the giants of e-book publishing and want the field to themselves. Whether that’s good for authors and readers isn’t clear yet.
One thing is clear to me: By revising THE MAN CLOTHED IN LINEN to make it shorter and by working with a professional e-book publisher, I have managed to fulfill my aspirations for it. If you read the first two independent reviews (on the Kindle page), you’ll see they are highly complementary.
Benefits of eBook Publishing
There are certain things I really like about ebook publishing:
- The author receives a decent royalty percentage.
- E-book publishing is environmentally friendly.
- The process is relatively immediate.
- Once you get over your inhibitions about acting as your own publicist and have built a “platform,” you can be sure your publisher won’t forget about you and remainder your work.
- In fact, there is no “remaindering” (yet) in ebook publishing.
- There is a tremendous literary blogosphere that a writer can directly, or with the aid of enterprises like Promotion a la Carte, contact in order to solicit reviews or interviews.
- You learn a lot about yourself as you see your work directly into print.
Don’t Forget Your Main Readers
Let me conclude with something I thought through rather restlessly last night: I had just done the second of two on-line interviews and realized that I emphasized the book’s focus on Jesus as an historical individual and the socio-political crisis between Rome and Palestine into which he was born…but I had neglected to emphasize something very important about the novel: the role in it of women! Just as in today’s world, women played vital roles in the classical world. So my novel features Livia, empress of Rome; Selene, daughter of Cleopatra; and Herodias, wife of the Tetrarch Herod Antipas.
But an even more important female character in THE MAN CLOTHED IN LINEN is Joanna, who is mentioned in the New Testament as the wife of Herod Antipas’s steward and who, along with other female followers of Jesus, helped bring his ministry to fruition. In THE MAN CLOTHED IN LINEN, in fact, Joanna is partly responsible for Jesus’ birth, for saving his life as an infant, for protecting him as a boy, and for giving him support and comfort en route to the cross.
So when I realized I’d sent off these interviews and not said, “Hey, keep in mind that the historical facts point to the vital role of women in early Christianity and they are critical to my story!” I mentally kicked myself.
Any good publicist would realize that women read more books than men, and they understandably are drawn to extraordinary individuals like Joanna, who is one of my favorite characters in the book. “So mention Joanna the next time!” I told myself.
And there, you see, I have just mentioned her. I’m learning. And so will you.
AUTHOR BIO: Robert Earle was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania and educated at The Hill School, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins. In addition to The Man Clothed in Linen: The Messiah or Herod’s Son?, he is the author of The Way Home, a novel; Nights in the Pink Motel, a critically acclaimed memoir of a year in Iraq; and dozens of short stories that have appeared in literary magazines across the U.S. and Canada. Robert Earle also was contributing co-editor of Identities in North America: Search for Community. For twenty-five years he was a senior diplomat and national security official, serving in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Washington, and New York. He lives and writes in Arlington, Virginia. Learn more at http://redroom.com/member/robert-earle and http://robertearle.wordpress.com/.