The New Literary Revolution


B. Rae Montgomery

There are some so-called purists who subscribe wholeheartedly to the belief that if you're not on the Broadway stage, you're not really in the Theatre. Or if you're not in Hollywood, you don't make REAL movies. But those of us that live in other parts of the country know better.
Fine theatre and outstanding performances can be found not only in New York City, but also in Chicago and Los Angeles, and even in little-known communities like Rifle, Colorado and Bristol, Indiana. Independent film studios in North Carolina and Florida are producing some outstanding, Oscar-caliber films. Entertainment is entertainment, no matter where you find it.
The same adage holds true in publishing as well as film or television or theatre. Just because a writer's work is not available in paperback with a sexy cover or in hardcover with a glossy jacket, many people do not consider the work a real book. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Those who believe that a shift in reading habits is at hand have things only slightly wrong," reports a recent article in Fortune Magazine. "Americans have been doing part of their reading on screens ever since the age of silent films. Add the personal computer, closed captioning, portable electronics and the Web, and you enter a world in which the written word is no longer synonymous with the word on paper."
Some in the print publishing industry seem unwilling to accept this concept as fact. Beware, I say. Without learning to adapt to the changing times, you may look up one day and notice the readers and writers you depend upon for your very existence have moved on without you.
At the turn of the 20th century, the idea of space travel lived only in the minds of visionaries such as Jules Verne. As we celebrated the birth of the 21st century, we stared at live television pictures from the Mir Space Station and watched in awe as the Internet presented us with spectacular images of a meteor crashing into Jupiter.
Fifty years ago, the computer was only a gleam in someone's eye. Today, 30% of American shoppers will do their Christmas buying via the Internet and one computer software CEO has amassed a personal fortune that could nearly pay off the national debt.
As technology grows and mankind adapts, so also must the publishing industry follow suit.
Some major bookstore chains are still turning a deaf ear at the mere mention of an E-Book. Why they do this is a mystery to me. After all, when I was going through the dictionary the other day, I found the word "E-Mail."
Can you believe it? Right there in today's Webster's II! How marvelous. If electronic mail is considered part of today's language, why not "E-Book?"
Without exception, an aspiring author spends anywhere from a few weeks to a few years writing, rewriting, polishing and perfecting a manuscript, hoping to become the next Tom Clancey or Nora Roberts. But as writers everywhere know all too well, there are only so many slots available in any publisher's monthly calendar. Consequently, Electronic publishers are swiftly becoming the "in" place to submit a manuscript.
These new publishers aren't afraid to take on a manuscript that falls outside the 'normal' parameters of mystery or romance fiction. Quite the contrary. E-publishers welcome new concepts and unique story lines. They know that E-publishing will never completely replace the printed word and that the two mediums can co-exist quite well. We're not living in a range-war society any more. We've learned that sheep and cattle can graze on the same land without destroying each other. But there are still a few die-hards out there who will never accept the inevitable.
The Internet explosion and the World Wide Web have opened up doorways and corridors that have never been available before; indeed, never even dreamed of. Even if the John Grisham wannabe sells the Great American Novel to an E-publisher, his or her work is not over. Indeed, it has only begun. I learned that fact the hard way.
After many years of trail and error, and countless rejection slips from the print houses, I recently had the thrill of selling my very first book -- to an E-Publisher. The sight of my name on a CD-ROM cover was exceeded only the joy of announcing to my circle of friends that I was officially an AUTHOR! "That's great," they said, "Where can I buy your book?"
Where indeed?
If my name was Danielle Steele, then my publisher and my agent would work overtime setting up personal appearances and talk show spots and book-signing tours all over the place. But I'm not the incomparable Ms Steele. I must walk the proverbial streets, stomp the book-selling bricks and get my book on the store shelves so I can honestly answer my friends’ questions.
A number of literary pathfinders have begun to blaze the trail for those of us to follow. Carol Givner, best-selling E-book author made the crossover to Barnes & Noble earlier this year when her E-book "Bing, Bang, Boom!" showed up on the new-releases table beside John Grisham's newest hardcover.
"I never imagined my book would wind up there," says Givner. "There's no E-book section in any of these stores yet."
Many E-book authors like myself are asking "Why not?"
Why is it that the major booksellers aren't jumping on the E-book bandwagon? Why do they seem to balk at the notion of including E-books on their shelves? Why do some bookstore clerks look at you in wide-eyed confusion and say, "Oh, if it’s on a CD, then we’d have it over in the music department."
Wake up and take a good look over your shoulder, people! That shadow you see creeping up on you is the next evolutionary step in publishing. Either join the parade or get out of the way.
Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
A spell-binding, can’t-put-it-down, hook-you-with-the-first-sentence book, no matter which medium makes it available to readers, is still a book!