“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” — Toni Morrison
Several years ago, I was approached by a client for whom I had recently designed a book. They wanted me to convert it to an ebook. Since this was a fairly new medium, I had no prior experience. Before committing myself to the project, I decided to experiment. I had previously written and illustrated three unpublished works of fiction (Parables, Butch and Charnel House), so — by trial and error — I figured out how to design, format and generate them as ebooks. I converted all three to a Kindle-friendly format and uploaded them to Amazon. I purchased one of my own books, downloaded it to my Kindle and was thrilled to see it actually worked. I then accepted the project.
Parables had its genesis with the short story “The Vagabond” (a retelling of The Prodigal Son), written in 1980 and submitted to Campus Life magazine. The editor loved my accompanying illustration but passed on the story. Soon forgotten, I stumbled across it in a filing cabinet in 1989 and began writing additional stories inspired by the parables of Jesus. Eventually, I submitted them to several publishers and discovered no one publishes short story collections unless they flow from the pen of an established author.
In 1991, I began work on a suspense novel titled Butch (see the Morrison quote above). After completing half the novel, I sent the first three chapters to Crossway Books. A month or so later, I received a letter requesting the entire novel. Over the next several months I worked feverishly to complete it and, by summer’s end, mailed the manuscript. They liked it, and I was excited. (I even began writing a sequel, which they also expressed an interest in publishing.) Then after several rewrites and months of waiting, Crossway ultimately passed on Butch, deeming it “too violent.” Ouch!
Discouraged but undaunted, I sent the first three chapters to several other Christian publishers. Baker Bookhouse immediately showed an interest and requested the manuscript. This time all I received were glowing remarks and no rewrites. However, again after months of waiting, I received word that they, too, were passing on it because it was “too didactic.” Huh?
At this point, with the sequel two-thirds completed, I shelved my writing aspirations and refocused on what I knew I was good at: graphic design.
In 1997, I finally completed the sequel, Charnel House, and printed and hand-bound limited editions of it and Butch to give to family and friends. In 2005, I converted both to PDF files for similar distribution, something I’d already done to Parables.
Back to the Present
This past week, I received an email from Kindle Direct Publishing that they were depositing funds into my checking account from sales at Amazon UK. It appears they made my ebooks available in England. This year, I made a whopping $5.81 in royalties from the British Isles. And, as if things couldn’t get any more exciting, three days later I received word that I had earned $7.70 in royalties here in the good old USA. (It’s not hard to understand this windfall of cash when you realize that Butch is ranked Number 332,559 on the Paid in Kindle Store Bestsellers List. And all of this without one single dime spent on marketing and promotion!)
If you’d like to discover what all the literary excitement is about, follow this link to Butch and read the first three chapters free. Or check out my other books on Amazon.
I’m already spending next year’s royalties.