BOOK BEAT Naples Sun Times February 28, 2007
by Philip K. Jason
Naples High School and Duke University graduate Eric Spencer has launched a campaign aimed at the democratization of authorship. Our society has already seen the democratization of information access and opinion-mongering through the development of the internet. Book authorship has been heading in the same direction through vanity presses, single-author publishing houses, and print-on-demand services. Eric Spencer, now a 27-year old businessman, wants to accelerate the process. He, along with co-author Dr. Neil Shulman, has just published Get Between the Covers, a work that encourages and aids all of us to “Leave a Legacy by Writing a Book.”
Spencer insists that just about everyone has a book buried inside, almost like a seed, ready to be nurtured and developed. While many people suspect this and still don’t know what to do about it, others have yet to discover that their life experiences, their special interests and perceptions, and their areas of expertise make them candidates for authorship. For the former, Spencer has useful advice; for the later, he opens a door to unsuspected and exciting possibilities.
Because book publishing is now so easy, Spencer feels that it should be encouraged – and not only for the author’s personal satisfaction. A large-scale wave of the writing and production of many more thousands upon thousands of readable books has the possibility of uplifting basic literacy and improving the writing skills of masses of people. The process of working industriously and intelligently on a book will lead authors to sharpen their communication skills. Skeptics might say that Spencer is only encouraging more junk to find its way into print, but he insists that people should and will take pride in their work, making it worthy of publication and readership.
But Get Between the Covers is not essentially a how-to book about writing. It gives some cursory attention to the editing process that is almost useless in its sketchiness. Basically, Spencer and Shulman leave that kind of advice to others. This book is about attitude building, inspiration, habit-formation, and implementation.
In twenty-three digestible chapters, the authors cover a range of useful topics. The first part of the book has eight chapters that focus on getting the reader committed to his or her writing project and guiding the fledgling author to see it through. The next four chapters make up the second part, boldly titled “Demystifying the Mighty Giant: Welcome to the Publishing Industry.” Here begins the nitty-gritty of the book, taking the initiate through traditional publishing, agentry, and the retail bookselling industry. Part 3 – “Paths to Print” – steers the reader through the various older and newer methods of bringing a book to the marketplace. It stresses print-on-demand, self-publishing, custom publishing, vanity publishing, and even e-books. For each approach, Spencer and Shulman assess the pros and cons. A decision about which route to take depends on an individual’s personality, time horizons, and risk tolerance.
Part 4 of the book is a pastiche of anecdotes and advice, much of having to do with marketing and career building. There is also an appendix of useful resources.
There is more to the Get Between the Covers initiative than a mere book. Important as it is in itself, it is only the first step in a campaign to position Spencer and Shulman as key facilitators for hundreds and thousands of book projects. Spencer says he want to be a “portal” to the yet-unpublished masses. He and Shulman are already networking on college campuses (especially writing programs), with various associations (like AARP), and with players in the publishing industry toward building a book-brokering empire.
Their own book is a demonstration project. Using their own advice and entrepreneurial know-how, they found an unfilled niche in the market, developed the product, brought it out through AuthorHouse – a popular print on demand imprint – and devised the marketing strategy for it to premier in 7th position at Amazon.com on December 28. Sustaining good sales has assured a March launch at major bookstores across the country.
Naturally, you can find out more about the book and the author at getbetweenthecovers.com.
Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at email@example.com.