Preface to Radiant Darkness:
20th Anniversary Edition
August 1, 2000 my first book Radiant Darkness was published by iUniverse.com. It is hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since that fateful day. I thought it was time to republish my first book with additional stories. It was definitely the perfect opportunity to celebrate my modest beginning and the moderate success that followed.
How did this first book come to be? Well, it began with working at Barnes and Noble. While I was there, a manager pointed out that Barnes and Noble had purchased the majority stock in iUniverse.com. As a part of a promotion, they were offering employees a chance to publish a book for free or purchase $100 in books. While the free books were tempting, I could not pass up the chance to be published.
I had been circulating various manuscripts around to publishers since 1990 and not had much luck. I wasn’t sure what manuscript had the strongest potential to sell. I had written a ton of things that had not been published. I had dabbled in Romance, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Young Adult as well as Poetry and Nonfiction.
After doing some research, I decided to publish a collection of Short Stories. Short stories are notoriously difficult to market. Unless you place a number of short stories with magazines or journals, a publisher is unlikely to take a chance on a short story collection. I had a lot of short stories and thought this was my best chance to get them out there.
The Summer of 2000, I gathered a group stories that were somehow similar in tone or theme and tried to come up with a title. I had been listening a lot to Sarah MacLaughlan’s CD Surfacing and one of her lyrics came to mind. In “Building A Mystery” she sings “You come out at night/That’s when the energy comes/And the dark side’s light/And the vampires roam.” I latched onto the phrase Dark Side’s Light. Eventually that evolved into the similar sounding title Radiant Darkness. Everyone I ran the title by really liked the Oxymoronic Title, so it stuck. At the time it was the only book on Amazon.com with that title.
In 2009, Emily Whitman came out with her own book entitled Radiant Darkness. However, her book about the teenage Persephone paralleled more with my third book Persephone’s Echo. My book Persephone’s Echo came out in 2008 and dealt with Greek Mythology. I have no idea if Emily Whitman ever read my books, but I have to wonder if she did.
Anyway, I found some Beta Readers to help edit my collection. My friend Sarah edited a couple of stories, including; Wings of Desire and Treasure, while my Grandmother read Sleepless Summer. A co-worker at Barnes and Noble named Joe edited my story Shadows. I sent my friend Diane an email with Soul Glimpse, which she said just didn’t work for her. That is why I left it out of this edition, but added a couple of other stories.
I made sure to submit the complete collection to iUniverse.com before my big move to Greensboro, North Carolina, where I was attending Graduate School. Shortly after it was available, I ordered a number of copies to place in the Barnes and Noble I transferred to in Greensboro. In addition to that, I was able to set up a book signing at my store in Greensboro, as well as my former store in Mansfield, Ohio. While only a couple of people showed up to the one in my new town, I had a larger turnout in my hometown when I went back in October of 2000.
I never got any official reviews, but I spoke with North Carolina Author Clay Harvey (AKA Leo Atkins) about my book. After he read it, he said it was not particularly marketable because it was “artsy-fartsy” or too literary. He thought the erotic parts detracted from the overall story and weren’t needed. He encouraged me to find a genre and stick with it.
In the end, I didn’t sell a lot of copies of my book. I sold a number of them while working, because I put up a display next to my cash register along with a sign reading, “This author is ringing you up!” Half the people I rung up never even noticed the sign. A number of people asked me about it, but didn’t purchase the book. A handful of people bought it on impulse. That tactic didn’t last long though because a manager asked me to take it down. I thought it was nonsense, but I took it down anyway.
A few weeks later, a girl and her mother recognized me in the store. They stopped me to tell me they had purchased my book and enjoyed it. It was the closest thing to fame I’ve experienced so far, and it was both cool and kind of disconcerting. It felt weird to have someone recognize me that I didn’t know or remember meeting. At the same time, it was an honor to have been memorable to them.
The next year, the thrill of being a published author wore off. It was time to focus on my next book. I took the proceeds from Radiant Darkness along with a coupon from Barnes and Noble and was able to publish my second book—a book of poetry entitled Journey Without A Map. The coupon to publish for free had expired. Barnes and Noble offered like 20% at that point. Eventually, Barnes and Noble would sell their stock and iUniverse.com would evolve on their own.
The full price to publish with iUniverse.com was too expensive, so I changed to Publish America for my third and fourth books. I published with All Things That Matter Press in 2012. Finally, in 2015, I discovered CreateSpace through Amazon.com. Once I learned how to self-publish, I went to work publishing all my work through my own imprint Purple Rose Ink Publishing.
To date my bestselling book is my nonfiction book The Physics of Emotions. I don’t make much off of my books, but feels great to have them out there. I am impressed by the fact that my best selling book sells from Amazon.de or the German version of Amazon.com.
In looking over my catalog of books, I see the evolution of a writer. Radiant Darkness was one of many milestones, but it was important one. It helped to give me confidence and helped me learn from my mistakes. It made me feel like I was finally making progress. I am extremely happy to have been able to publish on my own terms and been able to continue publishing over the years even if didn’t make me rich and famous. I hope that others continue to enjoy my work and that my story can inspire others.