Just click and read

Oak Harbor publisher puts her books online

  • Sunday, October 15, 2000 11:00am
  • News

“Susan Johnson is a publisher with a difference.For the past two years, the Oak Harbor woman has been quietly at work establishing her own publishing business. But the books that bear her MountainView Publishing Company imprint are not your traditional paper and ink productions. Johnson publishes e-books that customers can buy on-line and download from her Web site – or order in the form of a computer disk. They can then read it off their computer or download it into an e-book reader, Johnson said. E-book readers are handy little items that can hold several full-length novels. They have backlit screens and weigh hardly anything at all. This brings about all sorts of possibilities from reading in bed without waking anyone up, to never being without reading material. If one book you’ve downloaded is boring, you can click on the next one.The decision to become a publisher rose from her interest in both Christian fiction and Internet publishing.I had been reading a lot about this new wave of publishing, and it excited me, she said. I noticed there was a decided lack of Christian fiction out there. … [so I decided] to venture out into the e-publishing world and carve a niche for Christian fiction. I love editing books, so it seemed tailor-made for me. But learning how to do the job was a huge undertaking that she tackled in her spare time, since she also works at the Navy Hospital. I had to learn how to make a Web site. I think I checked out 20 books from the library before I finally had it figured out, she said. Then I had to figure out the design and layout. Next I had to wade through hundreds of submissions to find just the right books. I had to find cover artists, packaging, etc. Once the books were acquired, I had to edit them and convert them. It took nine months before the site was open for business and the first books were up for sale.At the moment, Johnson has around 26 titles on her list, with several more due out soon. I love other kinds of books, too, she said, so I included some romance, mystery and one fantasy/sci-fi book. There are also a couple of young adult books and one children’s picture book. Because of my faith though, the books that do not fall under the Christian category do not contain any material that would be offensive to my Christian readers.So far, she says, her bestsellers consist of two inspirational romances, a mystery, and Andree Ploss’s memoir of her Algerian childhood.Customers can read book excerpts on the Web site and order online using credit cards, or by mail, sending a check or money order. Prices are bargain level, averaging $4.95 for a disk and $3.95 to download a manuscript. Short stories are available for $1.It wasn’t hard to attract both local writers and others from further afield, Johnson said. Once people know you’re a publisher, they seem to come out of the woodwork. I advertised in market newsletters and it went from there.The company doesn’t pay advances yet, but authors do get royalties. At the moment, she can’t handle any more titles. I’m currently overwhelmed with work and closed to submissions, she said. Her Web site has a guidelines section for authors and when she is open to submissions again, she’ll post the information there. But she could handle more customers. Getting the word out for a beginning online publishing venture takes time, but she’s hoping the news will spread from reader to reader. To check out MountainView books, go to the Web site: http://www.whidbeybooks.com. ———-Find out moreE-readers are available through the World Wide Web. Check out barnesandnoble.com and click on e-books for information about different models that range in price from $200-$600. The Franklin Ebookman, which is listed on other sites, is less expensive. “

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