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94-Year-Old Traditional Author Experiences Self-Publishing Culture Shock
After successfully publishing two novels with major New York houses in the 1960s, author Ernest Frankel took a half-century break to do TV, only to wake up in the new world of self-publishing feeling as disoriented as Rip Van Winkle
After retiring from TV, Frankel got back to novel writing and completed his third book, a heavily researched, 660-page historical "page-turner,"
Reluctantly, Frankel agreed to self-publish Gateway to Everywhere under his own imprint, Hither Lane Press, using Amazon's CreateSpace, Kindle, and IngramSpark. "What's hard about it is you're trying to do everything that the publisher once did for you." At first, he couldn't shake his nostalgia for the good old days. "I remember when publishers had salesmen who would go all over and talk to bookstores in every town and urge them to take a 100 books. It didn't make any difference to the bookstore because they could build a tower of books in the front window and if they didn't sell them, they could be shipped back to the warehouse. That certainly doesn't happen anymore."
"In the old days, I'd sell thousands of books and get a 100 letters," Frankel adds. "Now I sell a hundred books and I got one email from a friend who went into a bookstore in Japan and saw Gateway to Everywhere and bought it and read it on the plane home!" That Frankel enjoyed! Nonetheless, Gateway has won three awards and got a rave review in the MidWest Book Review – so it's not like Frankel isn't getting any appreciation for his work. He is.
In fact, Frankel has discovered what most self-publishers eventually discover which is there's are some really good things about it. For one, the author is in control of the project. One of the pitfalls of traditional publishing, as Frankel so painfully found out, is that the publisher calls the shots. Back in 1960, Tongue of Fire was originally supposed to be published by Macmillan, but they backed out when Senator Joe McCarthy threatened to ruin them if they published Frankel's book. Frankel was devastated. Dial Press came to the rescue and the book ended up doing well. The big reveal is, when you self-publish, you're in control and they can't stop you! That makes it all worth it! Just this year, Frankel decided to re-published Tongue of Fire adding a subtitle: The Story of an American Demagogue in order to make the political nature of the novel very clear. He even admits that he prefers the new, low-cost book cover design he got through a website called Fiverr.com over the original "dust jacked" done by Dial. Then there's the time factor. When you're 94 and you have more books inside you ― and you know the traditional publishing process can takes years ― self-publishing is a blessing.
Gateway to Everywhere by Ernest Frankel. ISBN: 9780692755266;
Tongue of Fire: The Story of an American Demagogue by Ernest Frankel, ISBN:
Ernest Frankel can be reached through his daughter, Elin Schwartz, at