Guest Post with Erin Lale

I've just published three volumes of ebooks of my collected works: Polymath: Collected Nonfiction, Renaissance Woman: Collected Art and Poetry, and Universal Genius: Collected Fiction.
Over the last 26 years since my first published work, I've written a very long list of different things, most of which were published in print magazines and newspapers which are now out of print and were never available in electronic form.  Assembling and e-publishing my collected works presented three major challenges. 
The first challenge was what to leave out. I decided not to reprint all of the columns I wrote for the sports page of The Sonoma Index-Tribune, for example, because most of them were only of interest to people in the time period in which they were written.  In the fiction volume and the art and poetry volume, I left out a lot of lesser works, especially poetry written in my youth that some editor had decided to publish but which no longer met my own standards.  I also had to leave out two short stories that I wanted to include, because I no longer had a copy of them, despite efforts to keep a copy of all my published works over the years; that made me even more resolved to find and e-publish as much of my work as I can, to keep all I've accomplished over the years from drifting away on the wind like smoke from my funeral pyre, leaving nothing left of me in this world but ash and dry bones. 

The second challenge was the necessity of retyping almost everything.  Almost everything I still have from the print era exists only in hardcopy, so I had to type it all into a file on my computer.  All of the things I've published were originally produced on a computer, but most of my early work was written on a Kaypro 2X in CPM format, using those big old floppy disks that don't physically fit in a modern computer's disk slot. I know that books can be scanned if one has a scanner, but I have only the absolute bare minimum equipment because I don't have a  lot of money.  Retyping everything has two consequences; first, typos, of course, and like the first editions of nearly every print book in existence, I know my new e-books probably have some I didn't catch; second is the temptation to change things.  I did tighten some of the fiction in Universal Genius from its published form, resulting in some of the stories being a little shorter. I resisted the temptation to change anything in the first story in Universal Genius, The Timelessness Machine, because it's a classic first published in the first volume of Sterling Web. 

The third challenge was assembling all this writing in an aesthetically pleasing form that, hopefully, someone might want to buy. Originally I was going to put all of this writing in one volume.  But Polymath has a lot of academic papers, which draw a very different audience than science fiction and fantasy.  I thought of publishing the fiction and poetry in one volume, since they are both mostly sf and f. But not everyone likes poetry. I also considered four volumes, with the art and poetry separate from each other, but once I eliminated the vast majority of my published poems, which I no longer really liked, the poetry volume would have been rather short without the art.  That's how I ended up with three volumes. 

 I hope that eventually I can publish print editions of my collected works, but that's not a high priority for me because almost all of the writing in these volumes has already been published in print. Also, the art and poetry volume could not be printed in its present form for the same reason I can't email it to anyone or publish it on the Nook: there is too much art.  For email and the Nook, the problem is the file size.  For a print edition, the problem is the cost of color printing.  A print edition would have to be priced prohibitively high.  I've already created a print edition file with most of the art cut out, but I'm cogitating on that a while before I decide if I like it that way. One of the main differences between print and electronic publishing is that if I find errors in my book after it's published as an ebook, I can fix it in a few days at no cost, but print is forever. It worked really well for me to come out with the ebook of my first book, Asatru For Beginners, first, and come out with the print edition later, although I hope it doesn't take me 8 years this time! 

Thank you Erin Lale for taking the time to stop by. For more information on these books check out
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