Today, I have done a number of things I have been planning for a long time. I turned one of my limited-edition books into a print-on-demand and then made it available on Kindle. I decided to begin serializing some of my books on this blog. Let me explain all of this.
The print-on-demand book is called Beo-Bunny. It is a spoof of Beatrix Potter’s story about Peter Rabbit. My take is that Peter goes out to fight McGregor, just as Beowulf went out to fight Grendel. After all, if McGregor and his wife ate Peter Rabbit’s father, as Beatrix Potter tells us, then like Grendel and his mother, they, too, must be ogres. The idea came to me just as I finished Beowulf, A Hero’s Tale Retold (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). I decided to have some fun after such a serious project. So, I painted pictures in the style of Beatrix Potter, and wrote a little story in Old English or Anglo-Saxon that was simple enough that anyone could read (but to make sure, I did provide a translation).
Here is the cover to the book.
Here are the first few pages of the story. (To order a copy go to Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Beo-bunny. The Kindle version should be ready by October 1, 2012)
This was not the first time that I have done such a thing. For The Cloudmakers (Houghton Mifflin, 1996), I published a limited-edition book purporting to show that the story I wrote came from a Tang Dynasty manuscript (which was not true, of course). For Island-below-the-Star (Houghton Mifflin, 1998), I made up a story about a tattooed man from the Marquesas Islands. For Seeker of Knowledge (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), I wrote a twilight-zone story about how the Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered. I have other stories as well in various stages of completion. (For more about this, please go to http://www.manoapress.com)
I guess that all of this just goes to show how much concentration and energy goes into writing and illustrating a book. When a particular project is over, the energy has to be released. My release is to make fun of what I had been doing.
Someday, I’ll make all of the stories available as print-on-demand books, but for now, I’ll test the waters with Beo-Bunny. I’m also testing out Kindle. I don’t have a Kindle myself; so I don’t know how it will look. Kindle is not my first choice, but it is rather easy to do. With CreateSpace, where I did my print-on-demand book, they make converting a paper-edition into a digital edition a simple task. Reading through all of the contractual terms, the pricing modes, royalties, etc, was a bit of a chore, but, in the end, I decided that, since I could cancel at any time, why not give Kindle a try? I figure, too, that at $2.99 a copy, no one loses.
I did have a fleeting thought, as I was clicking off boxes in my Kindle application: all of the rules and regulations do not augur well for the artist/author/creator. Right now, royalties are great, but I have a feeling that such fantastic deals will not last long. Before we creators know it, we’ll be right back where we were last century with a 10% royalty, if we are lucky. I really do believe that the bean-counters, the Romney entrepreneurs of this world, will do their damnedest to stuff the genie back into the bottle. Here is one example: for Kindle, under certain circumstances, you have to pay to have your book digitally delivered. The price is per megabyte. This “freight charge” seems to me to be just the first step in making sure those guys get most of the money.
Now on to something new—serialized books.
Why not? Besides the occasional blog entry about some aspect of children’s book writing and illustrating, I thought it would be fun to post some of the books I have written. Why not let people enjoy them? After all, I have more stories in my drawer than I’ll ever get published or want to publish for money.
The first book I have chosen is a long one called Scrapbook. Scrapbook lies somewhere between a graphic novel and and word novel. As with a graphic novel, I am asking the reader to piece together the story from elements other than a traditional paragraph-on-paragraph story. But, instead of images, I am presenting artifacts: letters, postcards, clippings—the kinds of odds and ends found in a scrapbook that tell the story of a person’s life.
The story centers around Rozelle G. Hodges, an Indiana Jane, if you will, who went in search of the fantastic beasts, peoples, and plants described in John Mandeville’s medieval best seller, a travel book describing the known world (See more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mandeville). Framing the story of Rozelle G. Hodges is that of Kenneth Dore, an eighteen year old who has just lost his parents and his grandmother. How the lives of Dore and Hodges are interwoven is the pith of this story, and I hope that it will be as much fun for you to read as it was for me to write and illustrate.
My plan is to post a portion of this story every few weeks. Happy reading . . . and let me know what you think. I also hope that the format below is legible. [Click on each image to enlarge.]