Book Making

The author of Ecclesiastes, traditionally thought to be Solomon, when commenting on the overall futility of existence wrote, “of the making of many books, there is no end.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) He saw the abundance of books as a further illustration of futility: one can never read all the books that one would care to read, and no matter the number of books written, there are always more questions to answer and stories to tell.

As an author, I find myself overwhelmed by the number of books I am currently working on, as well as those that are hopping up and down in my head demanding to be written, like excited third graders in my wife’s classroom, shouting “pick me, pick me” upon being told that one of them will get a Popsicle.

I have two books that are substantially done and are in the hands of my first readers—only one of whom has reported back to me, and then on only one of the two books. I’ve incorporated the recommended changes and found a few other bits and here and there that needed adjustment that I noticed in correcting the flaws my reader found. But I have two other novels, one science fiction, one historical fiction, that are in need of some serious rewriting before I’ll allow my first readers to gaze upon them.

On top of that, I’ve got books that I’m processing for publication as e-books, which require proofreading and formatting before they’ll be ready, not to mention the designing of the covers. So far I’ve made fifteen books available for purchase as e-books on Amazon. Currently, I’m averaging about one book sold per day, which works out to about a hundred fifty dollars per month. Not a huge amount, admittedly, but more money than they were generating sitting on my hard drive. And, theoretically at least, the numbers are supposed to go up as time goes on—if those who encouraged me to do this are right. Based on their experiences and the experiences of the many, many other authors that they know who have done this, my books appear to be falling into the predicted pattern, given the number that I now have available on Amazon: 15 e-books.

So far I’ve allowed three of the books to go on promotion as free downloads, each for about two or three days at a time. The number that went for free ranged from a high of 440 to a low of 95; one book ended up number one for “sales” on Amazon during those two days—though in an obscure subcategory. I don’t get any royalties for the books when they are going for free; but it seems an inexpensive method of advertising, since it doesn’t cost me anything out of pocket. So far, the experiment in indie publishing seems to be working.

Consequently, from Solomon’s perspective, I’m certainly guilty of “the making of many books.” But I also think about his words from the standpoint of a reader. In my

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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