If one would walk into our house or office, the obvious first thing one would notice: books, many, many, many books. Predominately history books but there are shelves dedicated to Anthony Trollope, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Saul Bellow, Charles Dickens, Wright Morris, Evelyn Waugh, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joyce Cary, James Joyce, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Rhys, Jane Austen, George Gissing, J .D. Salinger, J.K. Rowling to name but a few and not even including my shelf.
When E.B. was writing Sidereal Days, as a traditionalist, he saw only one route to getting a book published. The same route he used with Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War, published by Abrams in 1999. Find an agent, who finds a publisher, who not only publishes the book, but has the means to distribute and find an interested audience for the book.
So he followed that route. Finished the book and looked for an agent. It was a tough sell—not because the book wasn’t good because it’s fabulous. But because the industry changed! And no one wants to take a chance on an unknown….
We didn’t realize the significant changes going on at the time. After his first agent rejection, he tried again. The second agent’s return e-mail suggested that things weren’t like they used to be. He continued on the traditional route after her e-mail, but an article in the Wall Street Journal caught his eye—and captured both of our imaginations. The article was about the new world of digital publishing.
It’s funny how things happen. My traditionalist husband, who throughout the whole computer/information age has been buried in books, reads the article and sees the benefit of going digital. I wasn’t skeptical, I just always thought the WSJ was only good for a few stock tips, interesting editorials and a quick peak at the news!